Hardcore Punk

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Hardcore punk 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, with its own sub-genre here on MMA, 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. Crust Punk
  • UK82: UK82 is a hardcore punk style that includes those early second-wave punk bands who retained a strong punk sound but added the heavy drum beats and distorted guitar sound of NWoBHM bands to produce a punk and metal hybrid. Examples of bands playing in the UK82 style would be G.B.H and The Exploited.
  • New York Hardcore: New York Hardcore, or NYHC, was more than just a scene. NYHC bands had a distinctive metallic sound incorporating thrash metal riffs and also took influence from the British Oi! movement. NYHC had a strong influence over the development of metalcore and beatdown hardcore.
  • 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 (+ child sub-genres & shared with Metalcore):
  • Bosh66 (leader)

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hardcore punk Music Reviews

TERROR Total Retaliation

Album · 2018 · Hardcore Punk
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Kev Rowland
LA based Terror have always been a name synonymous with hardcore, sticking hard to the faith since their inception in 2002. After six studio albums, a series of live albums, splits, compilations and EP’s under their belts, the scene veterans are back with their latest album. Thirteen songs, less than thirty minutes in total length, they toy with rap on “Post Armageddon Interlude”, but the rest of the time this is abrasive old school hardcore punk mixed with plenty of thrash tendencies. There is nothing pretty about this, this is all about turn it up and disappearing into a mosh full of violence and sweat. More than fifteen years in the scene and they show no signs at all of slowing down yet, if you want true original hardcore then look no further.

ACURSED A Facist State… In Disguise

EP · 1998 · Hardcore Punk
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"A Facist State… In Disguise" is an EP release by Swedish hardcore act Acursed. The EP was released through Distortion Records in June 1998. As the case is with many Swedish hardcore/crust/punk releases from that time, "A Facist State… In Disguise" was recorded at Soundlab studios and produced by the late Mieszko Talarczyk (Nasum, Genocide Superstars, Krigshot) and Mathias Färm (Millencolin), who co-owned the studio.

"A Facist State… In Disguise" features 7 tracks, and a full playing time of 12:51 minutes, so it´s one of those releases that is almost over before it began. It´s a suiting lenght for a release with this type of music though, because the aggressive and predominantly fast-paced hardcore tracks featured on the EP tend to become a bit one-dimensional. Other than that the material is well written, well played, and well produced. The rawness and aggression of the delivery is enough to tilt an elephant and you´re never in doubt that these guys mean business. It´s 1, 2, 3, 4...and never look back. Bloody knuckles, sour sweat, and broken limbs. There´s a political message in there somewhere, but the words aren´t easily intelligible as a result of the raw shouting vocals.

The music is not the most original sounding in the genre, but the burning passion behind the delivery more than makes up for it, and upon conclusion "A Facist State… In Disguise" is a pretty good hardcore release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

PILGRIMZ Boar Riders

Album · 2008 · Hardcore Punk
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"Boar Riders" is the debut full-length studio album by Danish groove metal/hardcore act Pilgrimz. The album was released through I Scream Records in 2008. Pilgrimz were formed in 1998 and they released the two EPs "Goodday mister president (2006)" and "Small minds Great knowledge (2007)", before recording and releasing "Boar Riders".

The music on "Boar Riders" is a combination of hardcore, groove metal, thrash metal, and sweaty rock´n´roll. The material is extremely energetic and hard hittin´ but certainly not without melodic sensibility or cathy hooks. In fact some of the choruses are obviously written to make you shout along to them. The vocals by Max Vegas (Real name: Max Christensen) are aggressive shouting hardcore styled vocals, often delivered on the verge of hysteria. They can be a bit hard on the ears, but they suit the music perfectly.

The music is hardly original, as all elements are recognisable and have been used before by other artists (Fast thrashy riffing, punk´n´rolled hard rocking riffing, mid-paced groovy riffs, and heavy breakdowns), but the combination of elements makes "Boar Riders" stand out. It´s mostly the very convincing and aggressive delivery of the music which carries the album though. Even the few moments where it all becomes a bit generic sounding, are saved by the raw energy and fierce delivery. The fact that the band are all skilled performers isn´t exactly a minus either.

"Boar Riders" features a powerful and raw sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. Not surprisingly the album is produced by Jacob Hansen and mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen. Two very prolific Danish producers. Upon conclusion "Boar Riders" is quite the convincing debut album by Pilgrimz. Fans of high octane energetic groove metal/hardcore with a rock´n´roll twist should be able to enjoy this greatly. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

HALSHUG Dödskontrol

EP · 2013 · Hardcore Punk
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"Dödskontrol" ("Death Control") is an EP release by Danish, Copenhagen based hardcore act Halshug. The EP was released through D-Takt & Råpunk Records in June 2013. It was originally released on 7" vinyl and was limited to 350 copies (100 of them on piss yellow vinyl). The band at this present time (this review was written in October 2015) offers the EP up for free on their Bandcamp profile. Halshug were formed in 2012 and released a demo that same year, but "Dödskontrol" is their first label release.

The music on the 4 track, 9:30 minutes long EP is pretty standard D-beat hardcore. The most distinct sounding feature is the Danish language lyrics, and it´s not even that obvious that they are singing in Danish because of the raw shouting delivery. The band is generally well playing and the four tracks are well written, powerful, and aggressive. "Pretty standard" is usually not a positive expression to use about music, but in this case it´s not meant as negative as it may sound. D-beat hardcore is (with a few exceptions) a stylistically rather limited genre, and the fans of the genre usually don´t want it any other way, so it´s not really fair to judge "Dödskontrol" using a parameter like originality, when Halshug obviously don´t aim at sounding 100% original (as if that was possible anyway...).

What you can judge the EP by is the raw delivery of the music, the well sounding production job, and how catchy the material is, and in those departments "Dödskontrol" score relatively high. It´s hard not to scream along to the choruses on "Skyd Eller Dø" ("Shoot or Die") or "Slå Ihjel" ("Kill"), and if that is true, I think Halshug is half way there. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

MADBALL Hardcore Lives

Album · 2014 · Hardcore Punk
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Kev Rowland
‘Hardcore Lives’ was released on June 27th 2014, and was the first album from Madball in four years. Tracked and engineered by famed Unearth guitarist Ken Susi and mixed & mastered by long-time collaborator Zeuss (Hatebreed, Agnostic Front, Soulfly, Terror, Whitechapel...). The band that started life as an Agnostic Front side-project, with Roger Miret’s young half-brother on vocals, has become totally synonymous with hardcore, the two are interchangeable with the difference being that although there are many bands who can call themselves hardcore, there truly can only ever be one Madball. They truly understand that there needs to be far more than just shouted vocals and punk aggression, and they cram their songs and albums with hooks as well as passion.

Singer Freddy Cricien, explains the album title as follows: “I shouted "Hardcore Lives" on MADBALL's first release, ‘Ball Of Destruction’ - I was twelve then. It wasn't pre planned or written down... it was an ad-lib that I just threw out there and we kept it! Back then there was no choice really, not the way we were recording - two track live at Don Fury's... NYHC style! I feel the sentiment behind the expression still holds true today, maybe even more so. Hence the reason we finally chose to use it as a title. Sure, it's about waving the flag for our genre/culture, etc. - I've always felt that "we as a scene" had to scream just a lil louder... to be heard! That said, “Hardcore Lives” at least to us, is not just about a cool "catchphrase" - it's about that rebellious spirit that doesn't give in... In life, music, whatever. It's about growing, evolving, and maintaining your integrity in the process. It's about family, overcoming adversity, and respect. All the things that matter inside and outside of the music realm. It's for everyone and anyone with an open mind and heart.“

I don’t think Madball know how to release a poor album, and more than 25 years on from the early days and a twelve-year-old singer, they still know exactly what they need to do to satisfy both themselves and their fans. More metal than what many would consider to be “pure hardcore”, this is great. 

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