Deathcore has gotten a bad rap, and the criticisms against it are most definitely justified. Most bands are a carbon copy of one another, and it’s hard to make a distinction between any of them. If you think that’s unfair, send yourself down the Youtube rabbit hole by searching for “deathcore” and randomly pick any three bands to see if you can tell the difference. Fear not people, there is a surefire way to tell if your band is plagued by the same old same old. It’s called the Chug-O-Meter.
The Chug-O-Meter comes as a response to a video called “Deathcore Bands Use The Same Riffs” recently posted by Youtube user Zero_life_left. The video lives up to its name and is put together in such a way that articulates how many popular bands in the genre use the same notes and phrasing in their riff compositions.
The video does a great job of demonstrating how deathcore riffs sound the same from a musician’s standpoint, but it also makes its point clear to anyone who has no musical acumen by stacking riffs from different bands against one another over the span of five minutes. Just watch this video and you’ve heard literally every deathcore song ever written. That’s where the Chug-O-Meter comes in. This useful tool measures how much chug is in a band’s songs on a scale of 1 to 5. 2.5 on the meter and above, you’re in danger of being lost in an already crowded musical field.
To appropriately illustrate the measure of the chug-o-meter, we must start with the lowest of low hanging fruits: Emmure. This is what not to do with your deathcore band. We don’t need to get into how the band is universally loathed among many in metal/hardcore circles for its generic and uninspired music that is played almost exclusively on the E string of the guitar. And because we’re going low, we’re not even going to feature the actual song “Children of Cybertron” here. Instead we’ll go with this cover that many of you have likely seen of this kid playing it on a hockey stick he made for the purpose of shaming Emmure. After one listen, we should seriously consider rebranding Emmure’s music as Flatbrim Djent. Feel free to use that term in your musical discussions with friends. With enough exposure, we could turn it into a very useful bandcamp tag.
When put against the Chug-O-Meter, Emmure is way above the 2.5 threshold and is coming in hot at 5 and counting. The amount of chug here is way too much, and we’re not sure if these folks have the mental capacity to tone it down even in the slightest.
The Taste of Blood was a band that had come and gone before deathcore peaked. Predator, their only album, came out at a time when many hardcore bands were beginning to fuse death metal into their sound, but this particular album stands out because it really strikes a balance between both hardcore and death metal without seeming too heavy-handed in favor of one or the other. The Taste of Blood switches up the pace routinely throughout Predator’s ten tracks while spreading out the breakdowns instead of piling them up one after another as so many deathcore bands do. There’s actually a fair amount of melodeath going throughout the record that works well in the context of their songs. Lastly, the production on this album has some fantastic drum tones. It doesn’t sound like a senior in high school banging out his term paper on a typewriter. The guitars also have a nice warm tone to them that doesn’t sound like they are being squeezed through a tube of toothpaste. The production here is definitely a feather in their cap, and more bands could benefit from going a little less digital.
As you can see, The Taste of Blood rates a solid 1 on the Chug-O-Meter, well below the the 2.5 threshold. The chugs are well represented here, but the band does not rely on them exclusively as part of their approach.
The next selection is not a deathcore band per se. Ion Dissonance profiles as more of a chaotic mathy skronk hardcore band. On their 3rd album, Minus The Herd, they veered into deathcore territory a little bit, and the track “Void of Conscience” is a good example of that. The opening of the song starts off with chugging riff that would lead you to believe that an all too predictable standard deathcore drumbeat would accompany it. What we get instead is a Suffocation-esqe breakdown that makes use of fast double kick drums over the riff. This song more or less follows a verse/chorus-type structure with almost groove style riff anchoring the verse portion. For the chorus, the double kick drum manifests itself again, this time with a riff that wouldn’t sound uncommon in an early Fear Factory song. Ion Dissonance thrives by taking the previously mentioned band styles and clashing them with their own unique style of playing.
The Chug-O-Meter rates this track as a 3, which is a little over the threshold. This is a rare case where going over on the meter is not a strike against the artist since Ion Dissonance’s style of playing stands out here without rendering the riffs as generic-sounding. Ion Dissonance will also be releasing a new album later this year, and you can stream a new song here for a better representation of what they sound like.
Out of all the bands that carry the deathcore tag, Fit For An Autopsy is the one that best embodies what the genre should sound like if performed correctly. Their 2013 album Hellbound was the perfect blend of death metal and hardcore that utilized a balanced attack of both genres. Mercenary growler Nate Johnson (no longer with the band) was a cut above just about any deathcore vocalist clone who basically copies The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Bennett’s lows and mixes them with those stupid Suicide Silence witch cackles (please stop doing that, you sound only a shade better than this kid who sounds like a seagull choking on a pebble). On the track “Dead In The Dirt,” FFAA hurls pinpoint precision death metal riffing complete with blast beats and thrashing drums to give way to concussion-inducing breakdowns that will leave you just like the song title says.
Fit For An Autopsy rates a 2.5 on the Chug-O-Meter. A perfect balance of death metal and hardcore that maxes out on chug, but does not overdo it.
Hope all you deathcore bands learned a valuable lesson today. Do the right thing and help make deathcore
great good decent again.