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The Best Hardcore / Metalcore / Deathcore - Metal Storm Awards 2020





Ice-T is obviously known to the world first and foremost as a rapper, but he's coming awfully close to matching his hip-hop output with Body Count's discography; the time may come when he is introduced as the frontman of a hardcore band - and a damn great one, too. Carnivore is the band's third album since a ravenous resurgence in 2014 and it's as packed as ever with skull-smashing slams and threatening thrash. Ice and Ernie C have kept this band going for just over 30 years now, and while they clearly have plenty of vitality and musicality to fuel new music, Body Count keeps increasing in relevance, too - just flip on the news and you'll figure out what makes them such an angry band. You can turn the volume down, but you can't stop the bum-rush.

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Boris - NO

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Much of Boris's renown comes from their less-structured, noise-based releases, the amplifier-worshiping tides of drone that come in the form of Feedbacker, Flood, Dronevil, and the like, but what really defines Boris as a band is having no definition whatsoever, and as they slide along the whole psychedelic wavelength of drone, doom, stoner, ambient, noise, rock, post-rock, and punk, they sometimes slip into an abrasive, asphalt-tearing, distortion-spewing hardcore album like the elegantly entitled NO. NO preserves the band's molasses moods from time to time, but the bulk of the album is a hoarse, sludgy, no-holds-barred assault that might shock fans familiar with only the atmospheric material. Whatever style Boris plays, the sound is impossibly massive and heavy for such an unassuming trio, and even something as stripped-down as punk gains ten layers of fuzz and ten tons of weight when given this kind of treatment.

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A soundtrack for tales of domestic violence and revenge might not sound like the most obvious choice for a rocking record but Couch Slut certainly begs to differ. This noise rock outfit wastes no time in delivering hard-hitting tracks that scratch the suffocating surface of sludge from time to time. If you actually do want to take a chance on rock'n'roll, then be ready to get crushed by the bassy and distorted riffs that pack a severe punch with a rocking and catchy vibe to further increase the crazy factor. And that's without mentioning the vocals of Megan Osztrosits, which are so vicious and filled with madness that they would make Aileen Wuornos look like a sweet woman.

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A vicious first display of their blackened hardcore style, The Signs Of Spiritual Delusion announces Belgian/Russian four-piece Cross Bringer as a juggernaut of aggression, but one that still appreciates the merits of atmosphere, including a scene-setting opening track that gradually raises the intensity to draw listeners into the record. From that point, Cross Bringer unleash a barrage of blackened hardcore riffs, blast beats, D-beats, and pained shrieks. The blackened guitar tones and chords add a sinister air to the savagery of the hardcore, as well as providing occasional opportunities to expand the band's sound into a less frenetic and more eerie direction. As a brief, blistering, yet dynamic 30-minute burst of music, The Signs Of Spiritual Delusion is a strong example of the benefits of merging black and hardcore sounds as a method of conjuring up potent forms of sonic violence.

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End... no, sorry, End (USA) are a hardcore supergroup of sorts, as it shares members with Counterparts, Fit For An Autopsy, and Misery Signals. Splinters From An Ever​-​Changing Face continues to expand metalcore's newfound focus on suffocating atmospheres through sheer bludgeoning force, often tipping its toes over the grindcore border in terms of how fast and intense it is, but breathers and left turns are sprinkled throughout, and with its pretty concise runtime it creates one hell of a vitriolic vibe.

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At a scant 15 minutes, Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress outpaces some of our proper grind nominees this year, and it isn't about to be outdone in abrasiveness or attitude, either. Every instrument is blown out to its crunchiest extreme, served up with all of the distortion that could be mustered in a 30-mile radius and held to a surprisingly tight arrangement out of sheer disdain for everything around it. The death and thrash influences are palpable, but then, so is everything else - Gulch is a band that flies by fury, smashing every note to bits and letting each measure serve as a warning of what might happen if you piss them off. It's a short album, however heavy, so go on and try it on, if you dare. The power of violence compels you.

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A monolithic double-disc feature incorporating light touches of classical instrumentation and full-fledged electronic infusion, Of Truth & Sacrifice takes hold in its effort to assert itself as Heaven Shall Burn's strongest output to date, finessing the balance between delivering a pertinent message and encapsulating the wide array of emotional experiences brought on by the hysterics of 2020, not to mention the more generalized generations of insanity that precluded it. This ~100-minute experience offers not only the trademark aggression of a band whose influences draw from some of the most extreme acts of their time, but executes with structured precision the accessible melodies of songwriters who know just how to entice the ears and ensnare the attention of differing, and even opposing, demographics.

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An unusually metallic strain of screamo, Virginia's Infant Island include elements of post-rock, (post-)hardcore, noise, and extreme metal into their blistering sound to set themselves aside from the legacy of screamo bands coming from their state. The full-pelt blast beats, aggressively distorted noise samples, and sections of thick, low-end riffing sit alongside the characteristic tortured vocals and post-hardcore drums/guitars to produce something darker and more abrasive. At the same time, post-rock shimmers and hints of ambience are included at select moments to provide an elegance to the album despite its intensity. Beneath is brief, clocking in at around 25 minutes in total, but manages to find the time within that duration to satisfactorily explore the different aspects of Infant Island's sound, from the delicate to the obliterative.

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Kvelertak have managed to remain fresh-sounding across four albums and just over a decade of existence; running with a new drummer and a new vocalist, continuing to incorporate more classic heavy metal and less of the black metal that initially formed part of their sound, these Norwegian punks are sounding as tough, groovy, and exciting as they were when they burst onto the scene to much acclaim back in 2010. Splid occasionally breaks for some jammy singalongs and rocky solo sections, but it generally holds a steady pace and slices through malaise with tight choruses and buzzsaw riffs (the punk kind, not the Swedish kind [they're Norwegian, after all]). Half the genres of metal in existence today can be categorized as some variation on the "hardcore punk + metal" theme, but rarely do they sound this upbeat, musical, and downright fun; even when Splid becomes faster, darker, and heavier, it still retains a loose punk energy and a party attitude.

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A giant so powerful that it might collapse under its own weight at any second. That is the apocalyptic vision created by Leeched with their sophomore album, To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse. It is by far one of the loudest and most impenetrable metalcore albums out right now. The negativity pouring from this release does not bring to mind depression but only pure, unfiltered anger. Leeched managed to show, not so kindly, that it is possible to create a very emotional album in which rawness and heaviness beyond belief don't have to be compromised. Every riff, breakdown, blast beat, and vocal line is immensely furious and specifically designed to cause discomfort. This is further driven by the noisy industrial edges all around the tracks to make for a very inhuman, abrasive sound.

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