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The History of the "Hardcore" Music Genre

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How often has someone told you they listen to hardcore bands and has begun to list bands like "Emmure," "Oceano," "Bring Me the Horizon" as examples?

Probably too often.

These people have no idea what "hardcore" is, and it's probably not their fault. We live in an age where so many genres of music have a "core" at the end that people have forgotten what the "core" originally meant.

It doesn't mean you're raising the bar of said genre's standard and it doesn't mean that it's a fusion of hardcore and some other genre. Hardcore was initially used as a term for "Hardcore Punk"- which is punk rock that is more aggressive or more "hardcore" than your general punk rock. Bands affiliated with being legitimate "hardcore" bands are "Black Flag," "The Misfits," "Minor Threat," "SS Decontrol," "TSOL," "The Cro-Mags," "MDC" and other bands of that nature.

A few years after (and during) the hardcore boom, "Thrash Metal" happened. Bands that took the look and sounds of heavy metal but kept the speed, angst and intensity of hardcore. In the aftermath of thrash came bands like "D.R.I," "Sacred Reich," "Carnivore" and "Suicidal Tendencies." These bands were too hardcore to be thrash but aggressive enough to be considered thrash at the same time. These bands were originally called "Metalcore" by some because it was "hardcore" metal. Eventually the genre became known as "crossover" because the bands styles were "crossing over" into other genres and the term "metalcore" became used again in the late 90's for melodic metal bands such as "Killswitch Engage," early "Trivium" and "Underoath."

The 2000's marked the beginning of bands adding a "core" to everything for no reason, causing not only mass confusion, but seemingly endless waves of the worst music ever.

Around 2004 or 2005, "Nu-Metal" (the less said the better) finally began to die and the new "Metalcore" bands began to grow in popularity. Doom, Thrash, Black, and even Death metal had seen better days. "Grindcore" was still relatively underground and not being pushed by most labels yet, but its place in the hardcore timeline comes later. More "metalcore" acts followed and flourished. Their melody, combination of mostly clean vocals with attempted death metal growls and occasional speed slowly but surely lost any real meaning to the term "metalcore." The genre they invented was actually an Amercian response to melodic death metal pioneered in the mid 90's by "At the Gates" and other bands from the Gothenburg metal scene in Sweden. The hardcore elements added were breakdowns inspired directly from the slow chugging coda of "Domination" by "Pantera."

It was 2006 when hardcore officially lost its identity. Bands inspired by "new metalcore" started trying other things, giving birth to "Emo," "Screamo," and "Post-Hardcore;" which was nothing more than emo bands in denial.The only positive thing to come out of these bands was a spike in Misfits merchandise. Bands who wanted to be more aggressive than "new metalcore" started calling themselves "hardcore." Their self-justification was tuning as low as possible, chugging open notes and tremolo picking endlessly with no real rhythm. To seem "more hardcore" they began using seven and eight string guitars in conjunction with five and six string basses, and playing the occasional melody fast. The vocal styles however, remained the same as "new metalcore." The band "Hatebreed" is a prime example of this. Events like "Ozzfest" and the "New England Metal and Hardcore Festival" frequently showcased bands of this nature with one or two thrash bands sprinkled in for the nostalgic fans. It was a dark day for music. Somehow this was in.

2008 marked a change in hardcore. Thrash metal began its resurgence and gaining media attention. The global "retro" craze became a fad and legitimate hardcore bands started popping up again. By 2010 thrash metal was back in full swing along with death metal and crossover. Even doom bands were starting to make their way out of the underground, but nothing was cooler than "Grindcore."

Grindcore is probably the only "core" sub-genre that was and stayed legitimate. A blend of death and thrash metal with the intensity of hardcore, bands like "Napalm Death," early "Carcass" and "Insect Warfare" dominated the 90's underground with their political lyrics and insanely short songs ("You Suffer..." is 4 seconds long). Technically, grind is "Deathcore," but it was just never named that. Something far worse takes that title.

Grind bands such as "Wormrot," "Macgrudergrind," "Rotten Sound" and "Phobia" started to get mainstream attention around 2011. People were largely becoming more aware of what is and isn't "hardcore" and thank Christ they did. Unfortunately, "Deathcore" started about the same time, but the time tested thrash, crossover, grind and legitimate hardcore bands cemented their legacies by outlasting the fad "cores." For those curious, deathcore is a slight improvement over the false hardcore bands of the late 2000's; they use the same song templates with death metal style vocals only.

Currently, grind, thrash, crossover and legitimate hardcore bands are still on top with no signs of slowing down. Traditional heavy metal bands are increasing in popularity as well as death and doom metal. Deathcore is still somewhat in but the hype surrounding it has died down, mostly due to the more extreme cousin of death metal known as "Tech-Death" or "Technical Death Metal." The annual "Maryland Death Fest" constantly showcases all true incarnations of hardcore as well as stoner, death and doom bands. New York's "Punk Island" is another annual fest for the true hardcore fan. "Black Flag," "The Cro-Mags," "Agnostic Front" and many of the original hardcore bands have either reunited or stuck around long enough to finally play to a crowd who knows what hardcore is again. All is becoming right again within the realm of "hardcore."

The next time someone tells you they listen to or play "hardcore" and proceeds to name awful bands of the first decade of the 2000's that have nothing to do with the genre, explain the history of hardcore and the actual type of music they listen to before directing them to legitimate hardcore bands. Hopefully they'll realize their mistakes and start actually playing the music they thought they were playing in the first place.


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