Sky Came Burning - Patent Pending
I readily admit that some of the songs on this album are not very good (and with only 9 tracks, that's usually a bad sign), but some really tickle the nostalgia center of my brain. There are some definite bits of Killswitch Engage throughout, along with some hints of Static-X (mostly in the vocals) and early 2000's metalcore to be found. The album is a little rougher than most modern metalcore albums; there isn't that glossy sheen coating everything. This rawness helps the band feel more "real" than a lot of their contemporaries, even if they're not exploring any new territory.
Callejon - Blitzkreuz
I've been paying attention to Callejon for a few years, noting they had potential, but they never seemed to capitalize on it; they were always a bit just below average. On Blitzkreuz, however, they've finally pulled it all together to create a fun, electronic-tinged melodic metalcore album. Not quite as trendy as many current metalcore bands, Callejon put a lot of focus on melody and making songs that are catchy as opposed to making sure they stay within their genre's strict confines. Imagine It Dies Today mixed with a modern Bullet For My Valentine flair and toss in some hip-hop flow from time to time (I realize that sounds horrible, but it's only slightly awful).
From the Eyes of Servants - Change the World
If you don't pay close attention, it would be pretty easy to mistake Change the World for a new Comeback Kid album. The only things that are missing are a few big, catchy choruses. Beyond that, this is a solid hardcore effort that falls into the same vein of what you'd hear from Verse orThis Is Hell (earlier career). There's not a lot else to say other than this is very, very solid and plays to the genre perfectly.
Galaktik Cancer Squad - The Gathering
Just ignore the band name. Yeah, it's lame, but that shouldn't detract from enjoying a hefty compilation of the band's previous works into one nice package. The Gathering is 74 minutes of black metal tinged atmospheric sludge metal. Predominantly instrumental (there are a few harsh black metal vocals here and there), Galaktik Cancer Squad excel at creating epic, lengthy compositions that channel the spectrum of bands from Isis toWolves in the Throne Room. This effort comes at you with a full wall of sound and rarely lets up.
Guardians - The Alignment
Progressive metalcore is like candy to me, and The Alignment is a big ol' Snickers bar loaded with breakdowns, start/stop riffs, melody, and punishing drumming. Take some of the best parts of August Burns Red, Architects, Misery Signals, and After the Burial and you've got a good sense of what to expect from Guardians. There may only be nine tracks on this album, but all of them are executed perfectly, getting the most out of every moment.
Signal the Firing Squad - Abnegate
I initially wrote these guys off after their debut, Earth Harvest. Their brand of deathcore with technical elements seemed sloppy and wasn't really all that compelling. On their sophomore effort, however, they've transformed into a deathcore band that has some stellar technical moments. Their riffs are precise, thick, and bludgeoning when they need to be. I'm still not a huge fan of their fairly standard and uninspiring deathcore vocals, but everything else about the band exemplifies what is needed to make a successful technical deathcore album.
Tigerscout - Home Less
Imagine a much more pissed-off version of La Dispute mixing it up with some early Thursday and maybe even a tinge of The Chariot, but also staying true to the traditional screamo aesthetic. There's a lot of musical craziness and abrasive passages swirled together into this 11 song EP (many tracks don't even break the 2 minute mark). There's no room for fat on this effort, and that's absolutely perfect.
Aviyn - Aviyn
If you hate the Rise Records sound, move along. If you find yourself sometimes drawn to it, then you could do a lot worse than Aviyn. Ever since the early 2000s, I've loved metalcore that fully utilizes the harsh/clean approach. Bands like From Autumn to Ashes and Beloved were two of my favorites. As time has progressed, we now have a newer take on the sound they started. You have bands like The Devil Wears Prada and The Air I Breathe and Of Mice & Men who have made the harsh/clean style of metalcore more aggressive, breakdown filled, and keyboard tinged. Some hate it, but I enjoy it. And it is this latter class of metalcore bands that Aviyn falls smack dab into the middle of. If those band names are appealing to you, then you shouldn't miss this album. Just don't get your hopes up for their Deftones cover… it's kind of lacking.
Choking on Illusions - Guide Me Home
I feel like there are less and less melodic hardcore bands around today. The scene has shifted to metalcore and deathcore or gleaming, shiny post-hardcore. Even melodic hardcore heavyweights The Ghost Inside went a bit soft on their last album. Choking on Illusions don't play that game. They're quite comfortable playing melodic hardcore that would feel right at home in the early to mid 2000s, often eschewing breakdowns in favor of more traditional hardcore elements. They do slip into a few metalcore tropes here and there, but it's pretty rare. Instead you'll hear influences ranging from Comeback Kid to No Trigger to Strike Anywhere.
Write This Down - Lost Weekend
When Decoy covered Write This Down's debut album, it was noted that the album was a bit all over the place, traversing many of the trendy genres of the time. On their sophomore album, this is still the case, but they've narrowed down their focus a bit. The majority of the songs on Lost Weekend have a southern rock/metal bend to them, but that doesn't stop the band from still treading into the realms of metalcore, pop-punk, and straight up alternative rock. You can hear bits of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, He Is Legend, Chevelle, Anberlin, and Taking Back Sundaystrewn about this album, sometimes to good effect, other times not as much. Still, this is a compelling album simply from the standpoint that the band is not afraid to branch out and take chances on seemingly every song.
Enabler - All Hail the Void
There is no slowing down the pace of Enabler's hardcore/metal concoction. This is piss & vinegar infused, distorted, abrasive, crusty, metal-tinged hardcore. It's like the members of Enabler took the best parts of the bands they used to be in (ie: Harlots, Shai Hulud, Earth Crisis, Trap Them) and fused them all together into a rage-filled album intent on punishing you in all the right ways.