|Stylistic origins||Extreme metal, hardcore punk, crossover thrash|
|Cultural origins||Mid to late 1980s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Electric guitar, bass guitar, drums (double kick), vocals (screaming, growling)|
Metalcore is a breed fusion genre of extreme metal and hardcore punk. The name is an amalgam of the names of the two genres, distinguished by its emphasis on breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages that are conducive to moshing. Pioneering metalcore bands—such as Hogan's Heroes, Earth Crisis, and Integrity—are described to lean more toward hardcore, whereas later bands—such as Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, Underoath, All That Remains, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Parkway Drive, The Devil Wears Prada and Bury Tomorrow—are described to lean more towards metal. Sepultura, who have been said to have "helped to lay the groundwork" in the 2000s, and Pantera, who influenced Trivium, Atreyu, Bleeding Through and Unearth, have been particularly influential to the further development of metalcore in the 2000s.
Black Flag and Bad Brains, among the originators of hardcore, admired and emulated Black Sabbath. British street punk groups such as Discharge and The Exploited also took inspiration from heavy metal. The Misfits put out the Earth A.D. album, becoming a crucial influence on thrash. Nonetheless, punk and metal cultures and music remained fairly separate through the first half of the 1980s. Cross-pollination between metal and hardcore eventually birthed the crossover thrash scene, which gestated at a Berkeley club called Ruthie's, in 1984. The term "metalcore" was originally used to refer to these crossover groups. Hardcore punk groups Corrosion of Conformity, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Suicidal Tendencies played alongside thrash metal groups like Metallica and Slayer. This scene influenced the skinhead wing of New York hardcore, which also began in 1984, and included groups such as Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Agnostic Front and Warzone. The Cro-Mags were among the most influential of these bands, drawing equally from Bad Brains, Motörhead and Black Sabbath. Cro-Mags also embraced straight edge and Krishna consciousness. Other New York metal-influenced straight edge groups include Crumbsuckers who formed in 1982. In 1984 Hogan's Heroes were formed in New Jersey. 1985 saw the development of the hardcore breakdown, an amalgamation of Bad Brains' reggae and metal backgrounds, which encouraged moshing. Agnostic Front's 1986 album Cause for Alarm, a collaboration with Peter Steele, was a watershed in the intertwining of hardcore and metal. During this time, thrash metal groups began to borrow a great deal from hardcore punk, and in 1987 Metallica paid tribute to Discharge and Misfits.
Metallic hardcore (1990s)
Between 1984 and 1995, a new wave of hardcore bands emerged. These included Hogan's Heroes, Merauder, All Out War, Integrity, Biohazard, Hoods, Earth Crisis, Converge, Shai Hulud, Starkweather, Judge, Strife, Rorschach, Vision of Disorder and Hatebreed.
Hogan's Heroes drew influence primarily from hardcore bands such as Government Issue, Bad Brains and Misfits, combining it with elements of NWOBHM as well as the extreme metal bands such as Venom. Integrity drew influence from the hardcore band G.I.S.M., thrash metal band Slayer, with others like Septic Death, Samhain, Motörhead and Joy Division. Earth Crisis, Converge and Hatebreed borrowed from hardcore punk and death metal. Earth Crisis's 1995 album Destroy the Machines was particularly influential to the development of the genre. In guitarist Scott Crouse's words; "It was a very mixed reaction. I'm often quoted as saying that Earth Crisis was the first hardcore band with a metal sound. Of course we weren't the first, but I think we definitely took it to another level. We heard a lot of, 'These guys are trying to be Pantera,' which we all took as a great compliment!"
Biohazard, Coalesce and Overcast were also important early metallic hardcore groups. Journalist Lars Gotrich wrote, "Along with key records by The Dillinger Escape Plan and Botch, Give Them Rope (1997) is an underground milestone that helped pioneer what was soon called 'metalcore'. At the risk of sounding too reductive — metalcore was the natural progression where extreme metal and hardcore met, but with spiraling time signatures that somehow felt more aggressive." Shai Hulud's 1997 album Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion became especially influential in the latter part of the decade.
Commercial success (2000s to present)
In the early 2000s, metalcore started to gain more prominence, with several independent metal labels, including Century Media and Metal Blade, signing metalcore bands. A new subgenre, melodic metalcore, strongly influenced by Swedish melodic death metal, has formed and quickly came to the forefront of metalcore's rise to popularity. By 2004, Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache, Shadows Fall's The War Within, and Atreyu's The Curse debuted at numbers 21, 20, and 36, respectively, on the Billboard album chart. Also, in 2006, Atreyu's third studio album, A Death-Grip on Yesterday debuted at Number 9 on the Billboard 200, only to followed up by 2007's Lead Sails Paper Anchor, which debuted at Number 8. All That Remains' single "Two Weeks" peaked at number 9 at the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the U.S. The song peaked on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at number 38. In 2007, the songs "Nothing Left" by As I Lay Dying and "Redemption" by Shadows Fall were nominated for a Grammy award in the "Best Metal Performance" category. An Ocean Between Us (the album that included "Nothing Left") itself was a commercial success, debuting at number 8 on the "Billboard 200".
Welsh metalcore band Bullet for My Valentine's second album, Scream Aim Fire, went straight to number 4 on the Billboard 200, which was later surpassed in 2010 by their third album Fever, which debuted at number 3 selling more than 71,000 copies in its first week in the United States and more than 21,000 in the United Kingdom. Underoath's fifth album Define the Great Line, released in 2006, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 98,000 copies in its first week.
The Devil Wears Prada have achieved much commercial success with their album, With Roots Above and Branches Below, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard 200 upon its release. Trivium have met with very strong success, making the top 25 positions on charts in several countries, including the United States, and top 10 positions in both Australia and the United Kingdom (where it even achieved Gold status). Hatebreed, God Forbid, and As I Lay Dying have also charted.
Underoath's album Lost in the Sound of Separation reached number 8 on the Billboard 200 and sold 56,000 copies in its first week of sales in the United States alone, with Killswitch Engage's self-titled fifth album reaching number 7 on the same chart and selling 58,000 copies. The album Reckless & Relentless by British band Asking Alexandria (which sold 31,000 copies in its first week), and the 2011 album Dead Throne by The Devil Wears Prada (which sold 32,400 in its first week) reached up to number 9 and 10, respectively, on the Billboard 200 chart.
In 2013, British band Bring Me the Horizon released their fourth studio album Sempiternal to critical acclaim. The album debuted at #3 on the UK Album Chart and at #1 in Australia. The album sold 27,522 copies in the US, and charted at #11 on the US Billboard Chart, making it their highest charting release in America.
The vocal technique of metalcore usually employs screamed vocals, common among many 1990s metalcore groups. Today, a significant number metalcore bands combine this with the use of clean vocals usually during the bridge or chorus of a song. The death growl technique is also sometimes used.
The instrumentation of metalcore includes heavy guitar riffs, double bass drumming, and breakdowns. Drop guitar tunings are often used. Most bands use Drop D, Drop C#, Drop C, Drop B, and occasionally Drop A#. Drummers typically use a lot of double bass technique and general drumming styles across the board. Blast beats are also heard at times.
Metalcore emerged from the subcultures of heavy metal and hardcore punk. Although some metalcore groups, such as Hogan's Heroes in their early years, have adhered to abstinence from alcohol and other drugs (typical of the straight edge movement), other prominent ones such as Integrity and Asking Alexandria have not. Converge have lyrically focused on personal anguish and experiences of failed romantic love. There has been a significant number of Christian metalcore bands, building on the genres of Christian metal and Christian hardcore; bands with Christian members include Zao, Haste the Day, The Devil Wears Prada, Norma Jean, August Burns Red, Texas in July, Oh, Sleeper and Underoath.
Melodic metalcore bands include Killswitch Engage. As I Lay Dying, Trivium, Dead by April, All That Remains, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, Bury Tomorrow, Darkest Hour, Shadows Fall, and August Burns Red. These groups took major influence, cues, and writing styles from Swedish melodic death metal bands, particularly At the Gates, Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork. Melodic metalcore often makes use of clean vocals.
Mathcore began with the mid-'90s work of Converge, Botch and The Dillinger Escape Plan. The term mathcore is meant to suggest an analogy with math rock. Mathcore is characterized by increased speed, technical riffing, and unusual time signatures. Bands such as Fear Before also combine the metalcore sound with odd time signatures, as well as progressive elements.
Deathcore is a fusion of metalcore and death metal. Deathcore is defined by breakdowns, blast beats and death metal riffs. Bands may also incorporate guitar solos and even riffs that are influenced by metalcore. New York-based death metal group Suffocation is credited as one of the main influences for the emergence of deathcore. Some examples of deathcore bands are Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, Knights of the Abyss, Carnifex and Chelsea Grin.
- About Entertainment. "Metalcore". "Musical Style". About Entertainment. Metalcore. Access date: November 16, 2014. "Breakdowns are a vital part of the genre, usually used to invoke moshing at live shows. A good portion of the bands in the genre have recently added in solos and a greater emphasis on technical guitar playing, including a heavy use of palm muting. Double bass drumming is prevalent in the genre as well. The sound is polished and the lyrics range from personal to political issues.."
- 1948-1999 Muze, Inc. Hogan's Heroes. "Pop Artists Beginning with 'Hod'", Phonolog, 1999, p. 1. No. 7-278B Section 207.
- HXC Revolution. "History of HC". 2007-07-14. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
Judge, Integrity and Hogan's Heroes were some of the earliest bands to bring this level of intensity to hardcore—an amalgamation of deep, hoarse vocals (though rarely as deep or guttural as death metal); downtuned guitars and thrashy drum rhythms inspired by earlier hardcore bands; and slow staccato low-end breaks, known as breakdowns. Thrash metal and melodic death metal elements are also common in metalcore.
- "Shai Hulud, interview with Punknews.org – 05/28/08". Retrieved 2008-09-21.
As far as coining the term 'metalcore' or coining a sound, I don't think we did. There were bands before Shai Hulud started that my friends and I were referring to as 'metalcore'. Bands like Burn, Deadguy, Earth Crisis, even Integrity. These bands that were heavier than the average hardcore bands. These bands that were more progressive than the average hardcore band. My friends and I would always refer to them as 'metalcore' because it wasn't purely hardcore and it wasn't purely metal. It was like a heavier hardcore band with hardcore ethics and attitude but clearly a metal influence. So we would joke around and say 'Hey, it's metalcore. Cool!' But it was definitely a tongue-in-cheek term.
- "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110, 118.
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- Blush, p. 189. "Cro-Mags were the first band to attract both Skinheads and Metalheads audiences; their music at the point where Hardcore nihilism met Metal power."
- Blush, p. 193. "Howie Abrams (NYHC scene): Mosh style was slower, very tribal – like a Reggae beat adapted to Hardcore. (...) It was an outbreak of dancing with a mid-tempo beat driven by floor tom and snare."
- Blush, p. 192.
- Garage, Inc. at Allmusic.
- * McClard, Kent. Record Reviews Hogan's Heroes - Built To Last 12 |quote="Hailing from New Jersey, Hogan's Heroes play scathing hardcore with extremely metallic guitar riffing, quality bass work, a splattering of machine-gun drumming, and sharp singing. Normally, I would cringe at the metal guitar, but it is done so well and with such crisp clarity that I can't object. In fact it turns out to be really explosive sounding. At times they remind me of a metallic version of old Justice League on speed . Hot! - Kent". No Answers, November 1988, p. 30.
- * McClard, Kent. Hogan's Heroes |quote="Hogan's Heroes is a four piece that plays a speedy type of clean metallic guitar orientated hardcore.Their approach is unique and up-beat. Attitude wise, they are right on. Built To Last is more than an acetylene burst of energy. It is a positive affirmation of the greatness of the alternative hardcore scene.". No Answers, November 1988, p. 13, 14, 15, 16.
- "All Out War Biography". Metal Inside. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
- Ian Glasper, Terrorizer no. 171, June 2008, p. 78, "here the term (metalcore) is used in its original context, referencing the likes of Strife, Earth Crisis, and Integrity (...)".
- Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X. p. 222-223.
- "Kill Your Stereo - Reviews: Shai Hulud - Misanthropy Pure".
Shai Hulud, a name that is synonymous (in heavy music circles at least) with intelligent, provocative and most importantly unique metallic hardcore. The band's earliest release is widely credited with influencing an entire generation of musicians.
- "Shai Hulud - Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion Review". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion is pretty much the prime in early melodic metalcore. So many bands in both the modern metalcore and hardcore scene have drawn vast influence from them, because of how perfect they blend hardcore and metal.
- "In at the Deep End Records".
Regardless of whether or not you liked Shai Hulud, it is undeniable that Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion was an oft-imitated and highly influential release in the mid-to-late nineties.
- Ross Haenfler, Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3852-1. p. 87-88.
- * Kisg, Attila. "Hogan's Heroes - Jersey Straight Edge" |quote="I was always into what I feel is real metal. Early Venom, early (1979) Accept, etc. etc. , and early on in "Impossible Task"(1983) I played no leads or metal-related guitar parts, keeping the style more true to the early vibe. Then as I heard Battalion of Saints, which was after I heard Bad Brains doing leads and around the same time I heard Toxic Reasons I started to feel if you had a point to make play a lead other wise dont bother with it. Thats why I played metal styles with hardcore.". Honest For Truth, June 2008, p. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
- "It was this simple formula that's single-handedly responsible for every band you hear combining heavy metal and hardcore today." "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. p. 110.
- Hatebreed cites Entombed and Bolt Thrower. Q&A with Jamey Jasta, Miami New Times, May 27, 2008. Access date: June 22, 2008.
- Karl Buechner of Earth Crisis cites Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, and Obituary as prime influences. Mudrian also discusses Converge and Bloodlet and their relationship to death metal. See Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X. p. 222-223.
- Gabriel Cardenas Salas, "Blasts from the Past", Terrorizer 180, February 2009, p. 96.
- "Exclusive Interview with Shai Hulud Guitarist Matt Fox". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
When we used to joke with the term, it was just a clever (or not so clever) way of describing a metallic hardcore, metal-influenced hardcore, or hardcore-influenced metal band.
- J. Bennett, "Converge's Jane Doe", Revolver, June 2008.
- Lars Gotrich, "Coalesce: A Tale of Two Ropes", All Songs Considered, 25 October 2011.
- The End of Heartache at Billboard.com.
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- Scream Aim Fire at Billboard.com.
- Define the Great Line at Billboard.com.
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- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Overcome review". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
Overcome offers very dependable melodic metalcore in the spirit of All That Remains' albums past, without succumbing to outright stagnation.
- D. Taylor, Jason. "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses review". Allmusic. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
Atreyu's debut album, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, is an invigorating foray into melodic metalcore in the vein of Darkest Hour, Poison the Well, and Eighteen Visions.
- "Taste of Chaos", Revolver, June 2008, p. 110. "This is the Rockstar Taste of Chaos Tour, a night when heavier melodic-metalcore bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold intend to position themselves as the next generation of bands to actually pack arenas (...)".
- Apar, Corey. "Bullet for My Valentine". Allmusic. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Phil Freeman (16 March 2010). "Alternative Press | Reviews | Bury Tomorrow - Portraits". Alternative Press. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
If you're wondering whether they bring anything unique or unexpected to the table, the answer is no. Is Portraits a pleasurable enough melodic metalcore album while it's playing? Absolutely.
- "August Burns Red - Constellations". Way Too Loud!. July 15, 2012.
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Drawing inspiration from the intricacies of Converge, the varied time signatures of Botch and the temperament of The Blood Brothers, they produced a distinctive combination of hardcore, metal and indie rock that was eclectic, fresh and frenetic.
- "lambgoat.com". Retrieved July 11, 2012.
This is deathcore. This is what happens when death metal and hardcore, along with healthy doses of other heavy music styles, are so smoothly blended...
- Lee, Cosmo. "metalinjection.net". Retrieved November 11, 2008.
...All Shall Perish... Alienacja (Poland), Despised Icon (Montreal) and Whitechapel (Knoxville, TN)... They're all textbook 'deathcore', fusing death metal and hardcore punk.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Heaven Shall Burn". Allmusic. Retrieved May 31, 2008.
Munich, Germany's Heaven Shall Burn specialize in highly controversial and politicized death metal fused with hardcore; a hybrid style often referred to as death-core.
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- Lee, Cosmo (September 2009). "Suffocation reclaim their rightful place as kings of death metal". Decibel Magazine #059.
One of Suffocation's trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore.
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- Haenfler, Ross. Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3852-1.
- Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X.
- Sharpe-Young, Garry (2005). New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Zonda Books. ISBN 0-9582684-0-1.