From the good and the bad, to the incredible and the cringe-worthy, the past year has definitely seen its fair share of metal-based tunes. Thankfully for your sake, we’ve sifted through the unworthy to bring you the heaviest of the heavy breakdowns of the past 12 months. We’ve got a little bit for everyone: metalcore, hardcore, progressive, and just downright mind numbingly tough.
The Acacia Strain - “Nailgun"
The Acacia Strain’s “Nailgun” is essentially a larger than life boulder that simply cannot be moved—it’s that brutal. After one listen through, meeting frontman Vincent Bennett in a dark alley may just become No. 1 on your list of things not to do.
Beartooth - “Body Bag”
Caleb Shomo has moved far beyond his crabcore days in Attack Attack! and now fronts Beartooth—one the most refreshing bands to come out of our scene in recent memory. In “Body Bag,” Shomo and co. manage to build up as much tension as a punk-rock party jam will allow, and then completely drop the floor out from everyone around the 2:45 mark. From a fast-paced guitar chug to Oshie Bichar's sludgy bass riffing, “Body Bag” is essentially the standard for pit-inducing breakdowns everywhere. Warning: this may cause you to flail your limbs uncontrollably for no apparent reason.
Code Orange - “My World”
2014 was an extremely crucial year for Code Orange, as they ushered out the old (shortening their name from Code Orange Kids) and brought forth their new breed of absolutely stupid-heavy metallic hardcore. Case in point: “My World,” the eighth track from their latest studio album, I Am King. The song as a whole is potentially the heaviest cohesive song structure you’ll hear in your lifetime, and when it reaches the 2:10 mark, you can virtually perceive bones breaking in some far-off mosh pit.
Fit For A King - “Slave To Nothing”
Showcasing an overwhelming sense of refinement on their latest studio album, Slave To Nothing, it’s safe to say Fit For A King have found their niche. On the record’s title track in particular, the band team up with For Today frontman Mattie Montgomery to take their retooled sound to entirely new heights. While you can obviously assume that FFAK and Montgomery bring the heavy together, go to around the 2:56 mark to hear just how dense it can get.
Gideon - “Expose”
Halfway through 2014, AP called Gideon’s third studio album, Calloused, one of the most anticipated records of the rest of the year, citing its “potential to change the way people look at heavy music.” On “Expose,” the band get right in your face and do just that. The track is an avalanche of metal-infused hardcore that keeps building and building until the tension at the 2:20 mark snaps and decimates everything in sight. Gideon have something truly special on their hands with Calloused.
I The Breather - “Soul:Seek”
Say what you will about I The Breather’s latest album, Life Reaper, but it’s near impossible to deny the cohesive line they draw between chaos and control on “Soul:Seek.” The track seamlessly weaves itself in out of thrashing verses and an ascending chorus until, with about a minute remaining, the band tosses control out the window.
Kublai Khan - “Ghost Pains (III)”
Simply put, Kublai Khan aren’t here to screw around. This Texas-based quartet mold metal and hardcore into a breed of straightforward destruction. “Ghost Pains (III),” the lead single from their latest LP, Balancing Survival And Happiness, boasts not only this sense of uncomplicated honesty, but potentially the most indomitable display of musical power executed in all of 2014. When the track reaches the 1:39 mark, you can imagine mosh pits opening up as far as the eye can see, with every last person moving side-to-side.
Northlane - “Rot”
If you don’t know who Northlane are yet, you do now. Despite going through some line-up instabilities this year, the have returned stronger than ever and are ready to take the metalcore scene by stormin 2015. “Rot,” their first track to feature new frontman Marcus Bridge, foreshadows the band’s future. While the entire track is a worthwhile listen from conception to completion, the reason they made this list can be found near 2:39. It may be brief, and perhaps even subtle, but Northlane manage to execute one of the heaviest moments of 2014 while weaving in and out of one of the year’s best songs.
Unearth - “The Swarm”
With Unearth having formed in 1998 and released their sixth LP, Watchers Of Rule, earlier this year, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about breakdowns. On “The Swarm,” they manage to touch base with some punk, thrash and some distant speed roots, all the while keeping true to their classic metal sound. Even if you’ve never listened to Unearth before, don’t be surprised to find yourself nodding along by the time they jump into one of the most fun breakdowns of the year.
Within The Ruins - “Gods Amongst Men”
Within The Ruins have a vibrant past of making metalcore not only fun and memorable, but absolutely neck-breaking heavy as well. The band justified their place atop metal’s finest earlier this year with Phenomena, an 11-track onslaught of earth-shattering heaviness. The record’s first track, “God’s Amongst Men,” showcases the band’s ability to breath fresh air into an over-saturated genre. The song’s breakdown is not your average mosh-call-chug-chug-chug; it’s an in-depth conglomeration of technicality meets down-tuned destructiveness.
The Word Alive - “Broken Circuit”
The Word Alive have come a long way since their days as Craig Mabbitt’s side project. Now, the band are arguably one of the biggest, most prolific in our scene—and “Broken Circuit” is just a small testament to that. From the track’s driving, in-your-face verses to a chorus that could soundtrack a revolution, “Broken Circuit” rips from start to finish. It’s near the end however, when TWA boast their ability to hang with the heaviest of the heavy. After a concise transition out of the song’s chorus for a final time, frontman Tyler “Telle” Smith lets out a screech that’s backed by down-tuned chugs and sporadic electronics. While it may sound like a generic formula on paper, TWA manage to bring life to an old trick.