The Best Hardcore / Metalcore / Deathcore - Metal Storm Awards 2016

1.  Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us 143
2.  Oathbreaker - Rheia 89
3.  Whitechapel - Mark Of The Blade 73
4.  After The Burial - Dig Deep 68
5.  Every Time I Die - Low Teens 26
6.  Forevermore - Integral 16
  Morrow - Covenant Of Teeth 16
8.  Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (write-in vote) 12
9.  Killswitch Engage - Incarnate (write-in vote) 9
10.  Carnifex - Slow Death (write-in vote) 8
  Ewïg Frost - No Dice 8
12.  Heaven Shall Burn - Wanderer (write-in vote) 7
13.  Hatebreed - The Concrete Confessional (write-in vote) 5
  Kvelertak - Nattesferd (write-in vote) 5
15.  Jinjer - King Of Everything (write-in vote) 4
16.  Ignite - A War Against You (write-in vote) 3
  Jared Dines - The Dark (write-in vote) 3
  Knocked Loose - Laugh Tracks 3
19.  Suicidal Tendencies - World Gone Mad (write-in vote) 2
  Night Verses - Into The Vanishing Light 2
Total votes:

After the tragic loss of guitarist Justin Lowe, After The Burial bounces back stronger than ever with its most inspired and passionate release to date. Dig Deep does exactly what its title states, pulling out of the depths the most complex and innovative songwriting the band has unleashed since the classic Rareform. Dig Deep contains some of the most stunning guitar work of any release this year and goes to great lengths to fit those works of art into suitably auspicious songs - all in all, a fitting tribute to Justin Lowe and proof that After The Burial will continue to be one of the most outstanding names in its genre.

Strange, stumbling time shifts abound on Low Teens, helped along by layers of screams and frenetic pounding. Somehow, Every Time I Die can wrangle hard-hitting hooks out of these chunky, punky grooves and alternatively heavy rants, marred by free-flying guitar garnishes that add a variety of odd flavors to Low Teens. This is a hardcore album through and through, but Every Time I Die takes enough creative liberties to make Low Teens a jarring, idiosyncratic, and memorable release.
"High Octane Anarchy" nicely sums up Ewïg Frost's Motörhead-worship punked-up speed metal. Like a "Twister" tearing "Through Deserts And Dust", 13 songs, 30 minutes of ugly, gritty, rip-roaring "Black Mountain Madness". Get yer smash on!

Instead of just throwing musical paint against the wall, Forevermore laid down some highly purposeful aggression and melody to create a clear picture. Yes, aggression AND melody. The balance of these is so well done, which is what keeps the sound fresh through all tracks on the aptly named Integral. Progressive elements dazzle this record and show incredible depth and texture, combined with sometimes heartbreaking guitar leads that smoothly caress us, while other times they rip mercilessly through our ears. Along with great yells and extreme vocals, subtle harmonies in the clean vocals give extra texture, layers, and a very slight creepy vibe that is most welcome.

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Dissonant breakdowns, dissident attitude; Knocked Loose is here to bash your skull in with the rawest hardcore riffs on the block and vocals that could shear a sheep. There's no room for posturing or image-selling or core kid antics here. All Laugh Tracks wants to do is crush opposition with heavy chugging and raw anger. If you've lost faith in modern hardcore, if you think that the scene has gone to the dogs, Knocked Loose will set you straight. Wait, no. Knock you loose. Yeah.

Anyone familiar with Anopheli, who did pretty well in last year's MS awards, will instantly recognize and appreciate the cello-infused, post-hardcore / crust punk goodness on display here. That's because Morrow is the sibling band of Anopheli, featuring almost all the same members. Yet despite the unmistakable comparisons between the two bands, Morrow stands out in its own right, as Covenant Of Teeth is a dark, heavy, atmospheric whirlwind of aggression and emotion.

"Welcome to the Salty Spitoon. How tough are ya?"
"How tough am I? HOW TOUGH AM I? I had a bowl of Nails for breakfast this morning."
"Yeah, so?"
"Without any milk."

All-encompassing brutality. Complete sonic devastation. Head-crushing hardcore hell. This is the legacy of Nails.

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You probably didn't expect this type of band on MS, but here come the Metal Storm Awards to surprise you! None of the other albums from the past year merged an alternative rock catchiness with mathcore, and even Converge-ish aggressiveness. Of course, that's not all of the influences here. But who cares about the genres anyway? Just listen.

Rheia is as layered and complex a "hardcore" album as you're likely to find (as if a single label could be applied to it), slipping seamlessly between rolling waves of post-metal riffs, blasting strains of black metal butchery, understated interludes of phantasmic calm, and the most crushing and atonal of hardcore rampaging. On top of all that is Caro Tanghe's psychotic vocal performance, which calls to mind Julie Christmas and all kinds of vicious, predatory beasts. Oathbreaker is a dark and multifarious band that produces virulent and unsettling music; they aren't for everybody, but that's no excuse not to give Rheia a whirl.

With Mark Of The Blade the Whitechapel dudes might signal a new direction for the band. While the aggressiveness and traditional breakdowns do still exist, a slightly softer, more melodic musical approach can't be denied. Production-wise, the bass is very heavy in the mix and Phil Bozeman does not only deliver a solid vocal performance throughout, he shines with his clean vocals, especially on "Bring Me Home".