Hardcore Punk

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Hardcore is a punk rock subgenre - or rather a set of punk rock subgenres - which is closely related to heavy metal music, because many hardcore artists include several elements from metal in their music, and many metal artists, likewise, include several hardcore elements in their music (several metal subgenres have their roots in hardcore punk music such as thrash metal, grindcore, metalcore, Stockholm death metal, sludge metal, and nu metal). In fact, hardcore can be said to form a continuum from pure punk to primarily metal-oriented music, and many metalheads consider hardcore to be, if not a metal genre, then at least part of the universe of heavy metal music.

Hardcore arose in the late 1970s and gained considerable popularity in the 1980s. It was originally a reaction against the adoption of mainstream society of the aesthetics and lifestyle associated with punk rock as well as the intellectualization of punk rock in Europe. Inheriting the rock instrumentation of punk rock (vocals, guitars, bass, and drums), hardcore musicians would infuse more aggression into their music, speeding up the tempos considerably and inserting heavy and groovy breakdowns into their compositions. Although a global phenomenon, there are two important geographical centers in the development of the genre - namely, the USA and the UK. American hardcore was inspired by the likes of The Dead Kennedys and The Ramones, fusing it with influences from overseas. There were, and still are, several local hardcore scenes in the USA, with the NYC hardcore scene (which often includes the New Jersey scene) probably being the most influential one, spawning bands like Agnostic Front, Misfits, Warzone, Kraut, Mucky Pup, and The Undead, many of which are of crucial importance to metal music as well. Other important early American hardcore bands were Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (D.R.I.) from Texas, The Accüsed from Washington state, Gang Green from Boston, Minor Threat from Washington D.C., and Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies from Los Angeles. The UK hardcore scene very much sprung from the harsh style of Discharge and The Exploited as well as Amebix which combined elements from early punk rock with elements of NWoBHM, with Motörhead being a particularly important influence; UK hardcore evolved into crust, which would prove to be influential on both death metal and black metal.

Borrowing from heavy metal music, hardcore would itself have an influence on the development of a new subgenre of heavy metal in the early-to-mid 80s - namely, thrash metal, as American metal musicians started to combine the harsh and aggressive style of UK bands like Discharge and The Exploited and US bands like The Misfits and Black Flag on the one hand with the more intricate and technically advanced style of NWoBHM. Despite the similarities in music, the hardcore and thrash metal scenes were separate, and when the members of the two scenes met, violence would often ensue. However, the animosity between the two scenes would eventually disappear, resulting in a hybrid hardcore-thrash style called crossover-thrash, as hardcore artists started incorporating thrash metal elements into their style (perhaps most notably Agnostic Front, D.R.I., and Suicidal Tendencies among others) and thrash metal artists would start to incorporate hardcore into their style (Nuclear Assault being an important example of this). New bands that featured members of both scenes were even established, most notably Stormtroopers of Death (S.O.D.).

Because of the influence of metal upon many early hardcore bands, the term metallic hardcore is sometimes used with reference to hardcore nd crust bands that either make use of elements from various heavy metal subgenres or hardcore bands that are, for other reasons, associated with heavy metal music. In other words, the 'metallic hardcore' label applies to bands at the more metal-oriented end of the hardcore-metal continuum. Typical features of metallic hardcore are the grooves, riffage, and drum patterns associated with hardcore punk and elements associated with heavy metal music, such as guitar leads, double bass drums, palm-muted riffing and, often, productions which, while DIY, are not deliberately underproduced. It should be noted that, here at the MMA, the hardcore subgenre only includes metallic hardcore bands.

In addition to 'standard' metallic hardcore, inclusive hardcore genres on the MMA are:

  • Crust: crust, or crust punk, is tagged here as a sub-genre of hardcore punk, Crust is typically used with reference to the hardcore punk tradition established in the UK by the likes of Discharge, Amebix and Hellbastard. It combines the energy and aggression of punk music with the power and darkness of heavy metal music, early crust punk drew inspiration from the music of the likes of Black Sabbath, Venom, Bathory and Motörhead, while rejecting the lyrical matter often associated with metal at the time. Characteristic of crust punk are heavily distorted guitars and dominant bass frequencies, given the impression of a very dirty sound, and many crust bands also embrace the d-beat drumming style popularized by Discharge, which was in turn inspired by Motörhead. Another typical feature is the use of both very fast tempos and extremely heavy tempos, and harsh guttural vocals are not uncommon. And offspring of crust punk is grindcore which was invented by Napalm Death and Carcass under the influence of Extreme Noise Terror (who would later embrace grindcore aesthetics themselves). Many bands on the Stockholm death metal scene of the early 1990s would incorporate numerous elements from crust punk into their sound as would early American sludge metal bands like The Melvins and Neurosis, while Hellhammer/Celtic Frost would draw inspiration from Discharge, resulting in derivatives of d-beating figuring in black metal. More recently, crust bands have infused elements from death metal, black metal, thrash metal and sludge metal, into their music. Examples of crust bands included in the MMA are Extreme Noise Terror, Amebix, Discharge, Acephalix, Wolfbrigade, Nuclear Death Terror, and Hellbastard. Many modern crust bands have infused so many death metal elements into their music that it makes more sense to consider them death metal bands, in which case the bands, or releases, in question are included under death metal, as is the case of a number of Acephalix and Bastard Priest releases. Other crust bands crossed over into thrash metal territory as is the case of Hellbastard's late releases and Amebix' "Monolith"; in this case the relevant releases are included under thrash metal.
  • Crossover thrash: Crossover thrash, often abbreviated to crossover, is a form of thrash metal that contains more hardcore punk elements than standard thrash. It is sometimes referred to as punk metal, though this is generally incorrect due to the existence of other music genres that combine forms of punk rock and heavy metal, such as grunge, crust punk, and more recently metalcore and its subgenres. While thrash metal is heavily influenced by hardcore punk, the overall sound of crossover thrash is more punk-influenced yet more metal-sounding and aggressive than traditional hardcore punk and thrashcore. The term was coined by the band D.R.I. with their album "Crossover", released in 1987. The term 'crossover' is based on the metaphor of crossing over from one genre into the other, thus capturing artists the operate within the transition zone between thrash metal and hardcore punk. With the metaphor comes the conception of directionality, such that the genre is applied to hardcore and crust punk artists who have crossed over into thrash metal territory, such as D.R.I., Discharge, The Exploited, The Accüsed, Agnostic Front and Suicidal Tendencies (who eventually ventured into alternative metal), and thrash metal artists who crossed over into hardcore punk territory, such as Nuclear Assault and S.O.D. In the MMA database, crossover bands and releases that lean more towards thrash metal are included under thrash metal, while those that lean more towards metallic hardcore are included under hardcore.
  • Thrashcore: thrashcore and the closely related subgenre skatepunk are often placed in the crossover continuum. Thrashcore is basically metallic hardcore played at very high speed (often featuring simple guitar figures performed with palm-muting), sometimes using blastbeats, and makes use of microsongs. Skatepunk is a more melodic, but just as aggressive and fast, variant of thrashcore, used as soundtracks in skateboarding videos (with many of the artists being skateboarders themselves). D.R.I. and Voetsek as well as Cryptic Slaughter, Septic Death and A.N.S. all started out thrashcore bands and eventually took their music in a more thrash metal-oriented direction. In the MMA database, thrashcore bands and releases that are more hardcore than thrash are included under hardcore while those that are more thrash metal oriented are included under thrash metal; some thrashcore bands have taken their music in a more grindcore-oriented direction, in which case they are included under grindcore.
  • Powerviolence: Powerviolence or Power Violence is a style of hardcore punk that grew out of thrashcore. Songs tend to be short and aggressive and are often accompanied by frequent tempo changes and socio-political lyrics. While powerviolence bands remain musically grounded in hardcore punk, the scene has strongly influenced the development of grindcore and some crossover between the genres exist.
  • Post-hardcore: post-hardcore combines hardcore elements with elements from alternative rock, alternative metal, noise rock and sludge metal, and is often also often characterized by an avant-garde approach. Some post-hardcore acts have inherited the metallic elements from metallic hardcore, while others infuse post-metal into their sound. Such metallic post-hardcore bands are included in the MMA - if the hardcore elements are prevalent, then they are filed under hardcore; otherwise they are categorized under the most appropriate metal subgenre as is the case of, for instance, Wolves Like Us. Post-hardcore bands with no metal elements or not relevance to metal are not included in the MMA.
  • Sludgecore: sludge metal was born as a hybrid of hardcore punk and crust punk on the one hand and doom metal, southern metal and stoner metal on the other hand. Some sludge bands emphasize the tempos and aggression of metallic hardcore and crust, prioritizing these over the slow tempos of doom metal and stoner metal. Such artists and releases - if the hardcore and crust elements are dominant - are included under hardcore rather than sludge metal. Examples of such bands are I Exist and Hard Charger.
  • Beatdown: Beatdown hardcore is a style of hardcore punk that tends to be very metallic, often drawing inspiration from brutal and slam death metal, while remaining closer to hardcore than a typical metalcore or deathcore band would. The style sits on the cusp between hardcore punk and metalcore and deathcore, and beatdown bands often cross over into decidedly metal territory. Where they do, bands and releases are filed under metalcore or deathcore on MMA. An example of one such band might be Hatebreed.
  • D-beat: D-Beat is a metal-influenced style of hardcore punk named after and popularised by the band Discharge. D-Beat features a recognizable d-beat drum pattern, usually has shouted vocals and is stylistically and thematically similar to Anarcho-Punk.

The following hardcore-related subgenres are included in the MMA, but not under the hardcore genre:

  • Metalcore: metalcore has its own subgenre, as it has evolved into a popular metal genre of its own.
  • Deathcore: deathcore - a hybrid genre that combines metalcore and death metal - is considered a metalcore subgenre, and deathcore bands and releases are included in the deathcore child-sub under metalcore.
  • Mathcore: as with deathcore, mathcore - highly technical and progressive metalcore - is considered a subgenre of metalcore, and mathcore bands and releases will be included under metalcore (or deathcore). Those math metal bands that have more in common with progressive metal will be included under progressive metal.
  • Grindcore: although derived from crust punk, grindcore has developed into an extreme metal genre in itself and is given a subgenre of its own. Some grindcore acts started out as crust, powerviolence or thrashcore bands and then developed into grindcore bands, as is the case of Extreme Noise Terror. In this case, crust, powerviolence or thrashcore releases are included under hardcore while grindcore releases are included under grindcore.
  • Other punk-metal hybrids: punk-metal hybrids that do not draw on hardcore or crust or related genres, but rather on other punk rock genres are included under the most appropriate metal genre. Thus Kvelertak who combines punk rock, hard rock and black metal is included under hard rock, and Motörhead and Brats who combine early punk rock and traditional heavy metal are included under traditional heavy metal, while Oktan and The Spittin' Cobras who combine dirty hard rock 'n' roll and punk rock are also included under hard rock.

Note that hardcore punk, crust punk, thrashcore, skate punk and other purely punk-oriented artists with little or no relevance to metal music are not included in the MMA database. If a metal band in the MMA has released a non-metal punk-oriented release, that release will be included under Non-Metal, as is the case of Lawnmower Deth's album "Billy" which is a pop punk album along the lines of Green Day.

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Time Signature (leader)
  • Bosh66

hardcore punk top albums

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ICTUS Imperivm Album Cover Imperivm
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WITH HONOR This Is Our Revenge

Album · 2005 · Hardcore Punk
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Vim Fuego
Dismissing With Honor as just another straight edge hardcore band would be a mistake. Their sound is straight from the old school and their message takes precedence over image. Besides, there's very little on `This Is Our Revenge' which could be considered typical straight edge anyway.

Musically, there's nothing here which hasn't been done thousands of times before, but damn it, these guys are tight, and well-performed hardcore is as powerful now as it has ever been. The band aren't afraid to experiment a little either, something which doesn't often happen in this genre. The guitars on "Bottoms Up" have an almost metal tuning, and the song is reminiscent of Poison Idea. Furthermore, the acoustic introduction to "You Always Said" is a nice touch of subtlety.

Vocalist Todd Mackey is turbo charged fury personified but he does have a few variations he can pull out. He's not just a one-dimensional shouter, actually being able to hold a tune or lighten the mood when needed, and he performs a moody spoken section on "Plot Two" to great effect. "20 Strong", a lighthearted song about touring, is more tuneful, sung in almost a So-Cal punk vein. Almost...

The lyrics are quite a change from the genre's norm, for once not targetting the "evils" of drugs, drink and meat, or wittering on about unity and "the scene". Mackey's message seems to be about how modern life is detached from reality, with messed up priorities making people more concerned with the trivial than the important, but the lyrics are such that the ultimate interpretation is up to the listener.

This isn't going to be to everyone's liking, but it's not meant to be. Bands like this make music for themselves and their close-knit fans without compromise, and if you don't like it, that's your problem.

YOUR CREATION The Line Ends Here

Album · 2006 · Hardcore Punk
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Vim Fuego
You know immediately what you're dealing with when you first pick up Your Creation's latest album. 'The Line Ends Here' is hardcore, through and through.

Forget any melodic metalcore pretensions, knocking out third-rate At The Gates impressions. When I say hardcore, I mean hardcore. There's no room for melody with this much testosterone and adrenaline. Vocalist Lance Slaney seems to be in constant danger of bursting all the veins in his neck, like Henry Rollins at full fury. The guitars grind and roar in that ever familiar sub-death metal manner. Drummer Ricky Boam hits hard and loud with no time for messing about with fancy fills.

This is what Hatebreed would be like if Hatebreed ever bothered to do something even remotely interesting. The formulaic song structures which often dog this style of hardcore are conspicuous by their absence. Sure, there are breakdowns, but they don't always arrive where you think they might. "What Matters Most" has a staggering staccato passage mid-song which would probably confuse the average mosh pit. Your Creation also understand the value of varied tempos, rather than just sticking to the tried-and-true mid-pace chug. There's the odd experimental moment too, with unusual instrumentation or discordant riffs, which is not quite in the league of Candiria or Shai Hulud, but adds an extra dimension.

The songs include the obligatory salutes to the scene and the lifestyle, but what would a hardcore album be without those? If you're into hardcore, you already know the score, and songs about dragons, cannibal zombies and Satan's undies wouldn't fit anyway.

Metalcore fans will struggle with this, because it's too much core and not enough "metal", but that's just too bad. Your Creation aren't the sort of band to alter their style to suit anyone but themselves. Expect to lose teeth and break bones if you ever see these guys live.

BLACK FLAG Who's Got the 10½?

Live album · 1986 · Hardcore Punk
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Recorded a year after the solid Live '84 release, this finds Black Flag in a downright odd mood. At points they slide into the macho cock rock posturing and bravado (the title itself refers to a sleazy dick joke) which they'd previously always seemed to have been satirising, but which here they seem to outright embrace. There's an honest to goodness drum solo at one point. Perhaps the somewhat second-tier song selection is to blame - aside from a few classics, most of the songs here consist of less favoured Black Flag songs (Live '84 having hoovered up the best of their repertoire) and the Loose Nut era not exactly being their smartest.


Live album · 1984 · Hardcore Punk
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An extensive live document of the Black Flag tour falling after the sessions that capped off Family Man and yielded Slip It In on the one hand, and prior to the sessions that would produce In My Head, Loose Nut, and The Process of Weeding Out on the other. Sound quality is not exceptional, which may perhaps have contributed to making this a cassette-only release in its original incarnation, but the song selection is decent, with a range of material from recent or soon-to-be recorded albums with just a few Damaged-era tracks sprinkled in to keep the fans of that period happy. Not a classic, but worth it if you are fond of this period of Black Flag's development.


Album · 1985 · Hardcore Punk
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Another fruit of the March 1985 sessions which rounded out In My Head and also yielded The Process of Weeding Out, Loose Nut finds Black Flag in a somewhat more accessible mode than the avant-hardcore of the former or the jazz experimentation of the latter. Essentially a concept album about being horny and frustrated (the guitar tone at points seems to point in the direction of the noisy experiments of Big Black's Songs About Fucking), it's a much more straight-ahead and accessible album than any Black Flag had released since Damaged - which isn't to say that the skewed, oddball direction that they'd taken since then isn't reflected, just that it isn't quite as much at centre stage. It's a lot of fun, but suggests that Black Flag broke up at the last time - after spending so long blazing a trail through uncharted territory, it wouldn't have been fun to watch Black Flag continue in this direction for much longer.

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