2009—a tremendous year of defining albums from big bands and soon-to-be game-changers in metalcore—seems like a lifetime ago. The Devil Wears Prada released their iconic third album, and blessthefall started a new era with vocalist Beau Bokan.
Many bands did their part in cultivating the genre to its peak. Among the many memorable releases, we’ve picked out the heaviest breakdowns turning 10 this year.
1. Architects – “Early Grave”
Right off the bat, “Early Grave” crushes us with a filthy, odd-metered breakdown. Sidestepping from their mathcore roots, Architects take advantage of Sam Carter’s clean vocals in Hollow Crown while still retaining the same chaotic energy with complex guitar work from the late Tom Searle. The song ends with another monumental breakdown that blasts through the dissonance.
2. The Devil Wears Prada – “Assistant To The Regional Manager”
The Devil Wears Prada’s With Roots Above And Branches Below is the epitome of 2009 metalcore—a powerhouse of flagship anthems. Combining thick guitar chugs with Mike Hranica’s visceral screams is the ultimate recipe for an explosive breakdown. “Assistant To The Regional Manager” is definitely high up on the list in blending these seamlessly. The outro of this song should explain it all.
3. Phinehas – “I Am The Lion”
Taken from their debut EP, Phinehas’ “I Am The Lion” put the band in the spotlight with their thrashy, As I Lay Dying-inspired guitar riffs and whiplash-inducing breakdowns. “I Am The Lion” radiates with its intense circle pit moments and serious shredding, but the ending breakdown ultimately takes the cake for the heaviest and the most brutal mosh pit experience you’ll ever have.
4. August Burns Red – “White Washed”
When it comes to writing innovative breakdowns, August Burns Red already had it all down to a science in Constellations. This album exemplified how they’ve honed their craft by amplifying their strengths and exercising their weaknesses. “White Washed” kicks off with a subtle guitar melody that hums over a hard-hitting beat. Driven by alternating drum variations, this marks one of the most iconic breakdowns on the record.
5. Every Time I Die – “For The Record”
Every Time I Die aren’t your typical hardcore band, but they know how to get rowdy when it’s called for. Throwing down with Southern-rock influences while pushing the boundaries of hardcore, New Junk Aesthetic raises havoc and keeps up with the band’s relentless momentum. “For The Record” is a gift that keeps on giving and delivers the band’s raw intensity in full.
6. Asking Alexandria – “A Prophecy”
Among the countless breakdowns from Asking Alexandria’s Stand Up And Scream, the bridge of “A Prophecy” remains to be one of the most memorable breakdowns on the record. With shimmery synths shining through an overly simple yet heavy breakdown, “A Prophecy” best encapsulates the album. And don’t forget that final breakdown.
7. Converge – “Dark Horse”
Masters of their own sound, Converge have evolved with the scene to rise as one of the most influential bands in metalcore. Throughout the band’s rich discography, Axe To Fall is no exception when it comes to turning a sweaty crowd into a total death machine. “Dark Horse” is enfolded in merciless brutality with rapid speed and precision, paying homage to their hardcore sensibilities.
8. We Came As Romans – “Dreams”
While We Came As Romans take pride in their synth-infused, anthemic singalongs, “Dreams” reveals the band’s sonic contrast of heavy and melodic, capturing the best of both worlds that define their trademark sound. An underrated banger from To Plant A Seed, “Dreams” is one of the more diverse tracks to include destructive breakdowns coupled with ornate guitar work.
9. Miss May I – “A Dance With Aera Cura”
Breaking into the scene with full force, Miss May I take melodic metalcore and pull it to its limit, fomenting the heaviness of deathcore with rapid-fire double bass drumming and Levi Benton’s ferocious growls. “A Dance With Aera Cura” is filled to the brim with pick-thinning riffage and soul-crushing breakdowns, making it the perfect opener for an ambitious and unrelenting debut. Take note of the ending breakdown in particular. Miss May I will be playing Monument in its entirety this summer with tickets available here.
10. A Day To Remember – “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End”
Who could forget the pre-breakdown callout that climbed its way to become a short-lived Vine meme? “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End” starts right from the pit with a promising intro and delivers hard. This track conveys A Day To Remember’s sonic versatility with a cocktail of mosh-stirring chugs, riffs and crowd-pleasing hooks, encapsulating what made Homesick a career-defining record for the band. Oh, and don’t forget to disrespect your surroundings.
11. Stray From The Path – “The Things You Own End Up Owning You”
Produced by Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor, Stray From The Path’s Make Your Own History bursts at the seams with belligerent bangers. “The Things You Own End Up Owning You” calls for absolute mayhem through a frenzy of ruthless beatdowns, bruising blast beats and Andrew Dijorio’s vicious highs and nasty lows, which are just one of the many tricks up their sleeve.
12. blessthefall – “Five Ninety”
Shortly after Craig Mabbitt’s departure, Beau Bokan took the reigns in Witness and opened a new chapter for blessthefall. With a fast, thunderous breakdown accompanied by a fret-igniting guitar lead, “Five Ninety” shows off Bokan’s range and control. It also highlights the band’s heavy progression from their debut.
13. Within The Ruins – “Arsenal”
From the start of their career, Within The Ruins challenged existing formulas and added a whole new layer of technicality with Creatures. “Arsenal” introduces a new breed of heavy with its flawless coordination of intricate rhythms and pulsating guitars, seamlessly proving that the band’s experimental vision is symbiotic to their individual talents. The ending breakdown wraps up the song with sheer brutality.
14. Suicide Silence – “Disengage”
Mitch Lucker’s outstanding vocal range and showmanship is like no other in No Time To Bleed. Along with the insanely heavy songs from No Time To Bleed, “Disengage” immediately raises tension with a menacing riff, sludging through the ominous ambience. Halfway through, the song collapses into a destructive breakdown with Lucker’s monstrous screams adding extra oomph to the mix.
15. Adept – “An Era Of Treachery”
Hailing from Sweden, Adept took their first big step writing fun jams in the vein of Asking Alexandria and the Devil Wears Prada. With riff-oriented verses, octave chords, gang vocals and minimalistic breakdowns, Another Year Of Disaster nailed every metalcore trope from the time, especially in the standout track “An Era Of Treachery.”
16. Texas In July – “Hook, Line And Sinner”
Taken from Texas In July’s debut full-length, I Am, “Hook, Line And Sinner” propelled the band to fame, setting them side by side with acts such as August Burns Red. Fueled by raging riffs and intriguing drum chops coated with mixed time signatures, both the songwriting and the breakdowns make the song one of metalcore’s heaviest gems.
17. Born Of Osiris – “Now Arise”
While A Higher Place was Born Of Osiris’ first studio album, they were already masters of writing polyrhythm-fueled, eclectic deathcore. Being sonically ahead of the curve, “Now Arise” dives headfirst with a rapid, djent chug. It drives the song full throttle while incorporating atmospheric and electronic elements that give the band their signature sound.
18. Oh, Sleeper – “The Finisher”
Oh, Sleeper refined their sound in their sophomore release, Son Of The Morning, by adding wider choruses and harmonious riffs that would complete their biblical narrative of the battle between God and Satan. With an intense guitar sweep soloing over a resilient breakdown midsong, this breakdown is one of the biggest, most memorable highlights of the album.
19. The Word Alive – “Battle Royale”
The Word Alive embarked on their journey by creating hook-oriented metalcore epics with their 2009 debut EP, Empire. The EP greatly defined their studio album, Deceiver, that followed in 2010. “Battle Royale” perfectly captures the band’s heavy essence that laid foundation to their nuanced sound, marking the only track to appear on the EP and their debut full-length. The Word Alive will be playing Deceiver in its entirety this summer with tickets available here.
20. For Today – “Joel (The Watchman)”
With each song named after biblical figures, Christian metalcore quintet For Today took it up a notch in their sophomore release, Portraits. Illuminated with a blend of mellifluous riffing and eruptive moments, “Joel (The Watchman)” brutally raises hell and uniquely tantalizes the experience with its audacious breakdowns and a haunting pre-breakdown line.