|Stylistic origins||Hardcore punk|
|Cultural origins||Early 1980s United States and Australia|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, electric guitar, bass, drums|
|Derivative forms||Skate punk, youth crew|
Melodic hardcore (also known as melocore) is a subgenre of hardcore punk with a strong emphasis on melody in its guitar work. It is defined by the fast drum patterns and shouting vocals typical of hardcore, along with chiming melodic riffs. Many of the pioneering melodic hardcore bands, like All, NOFX, Pennywise, Descendents, The Dickies and Strung Out, had styles that have been borrowed by bands across the modern punk and hardcore spectrum, encompassing pop punk and pop-influenced hardcore.
Melodic hardcore initially emerged out of the Los Angeles hardcore scene, with bands such as the Descendents who were formed in 1978. Bad Religion, from the San Fernando Valley, also worked in this vein, recording their classic How Could Hell Be Any Worse? in 1981.
The Faith 1983 EP Subject to Change is thought of as one of the first melodic hardcore records, as significant as the music of Bad Religion or the Descendents; the whole scene would sound markedly different without this precursor. This Washington D.C. band with their last release began to push the boundaries of early post-hardcore.
Dag Nasty is a touchstone band of the genre, formed during the mid-1980s in DC, with Brian Baker (ex-Minor Threat) on guitar and eventually with second singer Dave Smalley of Boston's DYS on vocals. Dag Nasty's sound was somewhat of an extension, of the direction Minor Threat was developing with the Out Of Step LP.
In 1988, the band All worked with a new vocalist, Dave Smalley now an ex-member of Dag Nasty. Gorilla Biscuits came out of the late 1980s hardcore scene, and while they were initially a 'youth crew style' band they eventually evolved an original and highly influential sound with the release of the seminal Start Today album.
Into the 1990s there was a large and diverse melodic hardcore scene. Bands like Bane pushed the genre, taking on post hardcore and other influences. Turning Point, a New Jersey band, was also under the influence of the youth crew movement, but by the time they had passed the growing pains of their demo and first 7", their later material (the 1990 LP It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn, etc.) proved to be the defining example of melodic hardcore sound. These records were to be a direct influence on other New Jersey bands like Lifetime.
The 2000s saw bands like Have Heart, Verse, and Modern Life Is War take the genre is new directions. Bands like Rise Against, Strike Anywhere, Sum 41, A Wilhelm Scream, No Trigger and Kid Dynamite are counted among the most significant melodic hardcore bands of the early 2000s.
Defining musical characteristics
Minor seventh and minor ninth chords are commonly used, in combination with an open-string modal playing style. This style, probably inspired by Bob Mould, was extended by Brian Baker in Dag Nasty and later by Dan Yemin with his work in Lifetime.
Drop D-tunings on guitars and bass is common for post-1990 melodic hardcore to achieve a heavier sound than possible with a standard tuning. 180 to 210 beats per minute is a very common tempo for post-1990 melodic hardcore. Guitar licks and vocal hooks with 5th or 9th harmony is common in post-1995 melodic hardcore. For a dramatic contrast, melodic overtones interleaved with overbearing feedback, bat noises, and pig/boar squeals are often present. Triplets and tapping (both for guitar and bass) are becoming more and more common features in newer melodic hardcore. 4/4 is the common time signature for the genre.
- "Descendents were the model for all 'melodic' HC that followed." Blush, Steven and Petros, George; American hardcore : a tribal history; Los Angeles, CA : Feral House : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2001. OCLC 48658495. Part Two. "LA: How Could Hell Be Any Worse?" p. 79.
- Peter Jandreus, The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977-1987, Stockholm: Premium Publishing, 2008, p. 11.
- American Hardcore, p. 80.
- "Faith Subject to Change and First Demo". Drowned in Sound. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2012-08-11.
- "Faith/Void Split". Sputnikmusic. 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-08-11.
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