The Five Quintessential Mathcore Records

The Five Quintessential Mathcore Records

Parker Traman

Mathcore, oh mathcore. It’s a genre that conveys many depths of musical expression and boggles the mind as to what actually counts as a part of its umbrella. Taking hold in the mid-1990’s, mathcore boomed towards the turn of the century, with many bands among the scene becoming big names among the metal world. Combining elements of hardcore, grindcore, jazz (yes, jazz), and math rock, it’s an intense genre that warrants countless forms of experimentation, and allows for hardcore music’s most unique sounds. So with that, allow me, the guardian of music, to provide five records that are the tippity top of the mathcore totem pole.

#1:) Jane Doe (2001) by Converge:

There was zero doubt with my first choice on this list. Jane Doe is, quite frankly, the greatest album of all-time, providing a harrowing experience full of twisted, disjointed rhythms, ferocious vocals, heart wrenching lyrics, and production that sends the heart racing towards oblivion. Twelve tracks of brilliance (complete with beautiful cover art by vocalist Jacob Bannon), Jane Doe is a masterpiece of music, and might be the single greatest piece of artistic expression ever laid upon the earth.

#2:) The Always Open Mouth (2006) by Fear Before the March of Flames:

While if I was being 100% honest with this list, I’d be providing five Converge records, I have to be fair. So with that, here’s an album that can tickle the fancy of the more emo-leaning crowd. Fear Before’s best album by a country mile, The Always Open Mouth gives us a much slower experience, lacing emo and pop rock tendencies with classic mathcore sounds to provide one of the more unique examples I can possibly give. If I was to give a traditional listener a mathcore recommendation, I’d hand them this record, because there is truly something for any listener here. Plus the song titles are goofy, that’s amazing!

#3:) We Are the Romans (1999) by Botch:

Of course this has to be on the list, as We Are the Romans might be THE album for most mathcore listeners. Often considered the first pure mathcore record, Botch was able to capture lightning in a bottle here, as every song practically laid the foundation for any future mathcore releases. And this isn’t a case of a classic being a classic just because it inspired a lot of people, this album backs it up with a near flawless track list. This is also a rare example of the guitar work being the best part of the record, as Dave Knudson provides one of the most irreplaceable tones in the history of music in general.

#4:) All is Not Lost (2008) by Architect:

And here I am with the most obscure entry on this list, with Syracuse-based outfit Architect’s debut record, All is Not Lost. Teetering on the line between mathgrind and mathcore, this record is unrelenting, and is undoubtedly the heaviest album here. I say this seriously, this is every anarchist’s dream in terms of music, both lyrically and sonically. Plus the closing track, “The Giving Tree”, is one of the greatest songs ever made, and it’s not even a mathcore song at all.

#5:) No Absolutes in Human Suffering (2012) by Gaza:

Now I will say that this record would probably be number two on this list, but I don’t really know what genre to consider this as. Is it mathcore, math grind, sludgecore, or something more obscure? Well, I gave up my search and just put it in as a mathcore record at the eleventh hour. Now ignoring the, uh, history surrounding the band (involving a rape allegation against the vocalist), Gaza’s final record provides something special, as it grows on me with every listen. Furious, slow, and heavy as all heck, No Absolutes in Human Suffering is an album that inspired me through and through. Although out of any record here, I can understand someone’s hesitation when approaching this record (considering the band’s history and of course the overall sound of it).

So yeah, listen to these records, I love them. Or don’t, I can’t control you. Eat Arby’s.