metalcore 2000s
[Photos via Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold]

In the early 2000s, a swath of new bands emerged across the states. They started a new wave of American heavy metal and inspired the sound we know metalcore to have today. While many of the bands from that time are gone or have drastically shifted their sound, the albums that dropped around then are still regarded as highly influential to the genre today. 

Here are 12 albums that helped shape metalcore in the early 2000s.

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1. Converge – Jane Doe

Although Converge started out in the ’90s, 2001’s Jane Doe built them up to where they are now and has been massively influential in metal and hardcore. The album’s raw aggression has become a hallmark in the genre, inspiring countless bands since its release. 

2. Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing

If you’re looking for definitive early 2000s metalcore, Killswitch Engage’s Alive Or Just Breathing captures just that. The record still holds up today, but listening to it now, you can see exactly where metalcore bands today got a majority of their ideas. 

3. Hatebreed – Perseverance

Hatebreed perfected the mix of Slayer riffs and Madball breakdowns by the time they released Perseverance in 2002. Their style has been copied by unending numbers of hardcore bands since. 

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4. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine 

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After releasing their Irony Is A Dead Scene EP with Mike Patton, the Dillinger Escape Plan drastically shifted their sound from the grindcore-leaning math metal on their debut. Miss Machine fused their ultra-heavy sound with poppy choruses and ambient melodies, forming what we know mathcore to be today.

5. Bleeding Through – This Is Love, This Is Murderous 

While most metalcore bands were drawing on elements of Swedish death-metal bands such as At The Gates, Dark Tranquility and more, Bleeding Through took it to another level by bringing in symphonic elements. This Is Love, This Is Murderous set them on a path to being the most recognizable symphonic metalcore band.

6. Eighteen Visions – Vanity

Even though Eighteen Visions eventually went the route many Orange County metalcore bands did by softening their sound for a more rock-oriented approach, they were truly leaders in the genre’s beginnings. Their 2002 record, Vanity, is a perfect snapshot of how bands were merging hardcore and metal together. You can still hear the influence they have on bands making their way to the top.

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7. Avenged Sevenfold – Waking The Fallen

Before ditching almost all elements of metal in their sound, Avenged Sevenfold were a huge part of the Orange County metalcore boom. Waking The Fallen was a monumental moment for the band, bringing the genre to the forefront of conversation in metal at the time and launching them to a place where they could later soften their sound, whether their original fans wanted it or not.

8. As I Lay Dying – Frail Words Collapse

Before As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis divided fans, the band were one of the leaders of modern metalcore. It all started with breakthrough Frail Words Collapse, which had a perfect blend of Swedish death-metal elements with soaring melodies. Their push in the Christian metalcore scene helped form a whole other subsection within the genre, too. 

9. Trivium – Ascendancy 

Although Trivium have been consistently putting out top-tier metalcore without ever really changing their style, none of their albums capture the early feeling quite as well as Ascendancy. The record packed in plenty of soaring melodies and shredding riffs, while frontman Matt Heafy’s vocals were everything people looked for back then.

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10. Unearth – The Oncoming Storm 

Unearth brought a high level of technicality to their sound that other bands would be jealous of, but not every riff in their catalog needs to shred. The band brought a perfect mix of insane solos to make metalheads happy, breakdowns to make hardcore kids pleased and a new melodic sound that set them on a path of longevity.

11. Every Time I Die – Hot Damn!

Southern rock and hardcore never really seemed like a thing that could be combined well before Every Time I Die championed that movement, but Hot Damn! had plenty of slick rock riffs without sacrificing any of the heaviness. The band found a way to push hardcore punk together with rock riffs while giving it a metal coating that other bands took note of.

12. Norma Jean – Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child

Norma Jean’s Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child is their only record to feature Josh Scogin before he went on to form the Chariot and ‘68, but it still holds up today as a pillar of Botch-worshipping metalcore. Heavy, feedback-induced breakdowns and a hard but melodic approach to their sound resulted in a record that later pushed for bands to embrace their noisy sides.