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)

hardcore punk top albums

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Album · 2005 · Hardcore Punk
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"Origo" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive post-hardcore act Burst. The album was released through Relapse Records in October 2005. It´s the successor to "Prey on Life" from 2003 and features the exact same lineup who recorded the predecessor. "Prey on Life (2003)" saw Burst signing to Relapse Records, after releasing their first two albums on a smaller label, and they generally received a lot of posititive feedback from fans and critics alike.

Stylistically the music on "Prey on Life (2003)" was progressive post-hardcore, which is both aggressive and adventurous in nature, and the basis is the same on "Origo" although it´s overall a relatively different sounding album to it´s predecessor. Linus Jägerskog´s aggressive shouting hardcore vocals are still the main vocal style, but a few more clean vocal sections have been incorporated to the material on "Origo", and it´s overall a more melodic and varied release than "Prey on Life (2003)". Heavy progressive tracks like "Sever" and "Flight´s End" are complimented by faster and more aggressive tracks like "Slave Emotion" and "Stormwielder", and Burst even venture into instrumental post-rock territory on "It Comes Into View", which is a nicely atmospheric track.

In the case of "Origo" it´s not really fair to only mention specific tracks though, as the album is cleverly constructed to be a collective listening experience. Great care has been taken to place the songs on the tracklist to create the right atmosphere or emotion at the right time and it´s a praise worthy effort which pays off in the end, when the listener is left with a feeling of having listened to a journey of creative musical ideas, which comes together as a perfect whole (not completely unlike how "Prey on Life (2003)" is also constructed).

Although the basis of the band´s music is predominantly made up of two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, Burst have opted to include atmospheric keyboards to the music. The keyboards are generally used tastefully and only for effect, so it´s not an omnipresent dominant feature. "Origo" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly, and we´re also treated to high class musicianship from all involved, so upon conclusion this is a high quality album release by Burst. There´s not a single negative thing I can say about "Origo" and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.


Album · 2019 · Hardcore Punk
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Kev Rowland
Any fan of Agnostic Front will look at the front cover of ‘Get Loud!’ and immediately recognise the characters from their 1986 classic ‘Cause For Alarm’, and have an idea of what they are going to find inside. But when a band has been at the forefront of a musical movement for nearly 40 years, with a line-up which has been incredibly consistent in recent times, then everyone should already know what to expect. The godfathers of hardcore are back doing what they do best, mixing hardcore aggression with thrash to create a metallic mosh of sweat and energy. There are 14 songs on the album, which is only 31 minutes long, with only one breaking the three minute barrier yet there is no need for length when it is as powerful as this. Roger Miret has been at the helm since 1982 and he has lost none of his aggression as he has matured, just become more focused.

Miret says, “Something real. I think that’s the secret to our longevity. People see us, and they see something that’s real and genuine, and they want to be a part of that. Who wants to be a part of something that’s fake? If you feel a connection to something and it feels real, you wanna know about it and be a part of it.” This is real, this is hardcore, and to understand what the scene is all about then you need Agnostic Front who show no signs of slowing down yet and are still producing incredibly solid albums indeed.

BEHÖLDER Die Hard in the Düngeon

EP · 2019 · Crust Punk
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siLLy puPPy
New metal coming all the way from the northeast of Brazil in the city of Belem, BEHÖLDER tackles the interesting possibilities of mixing the caustic anarchic visions of crust punk with black metal elements. This band is fairly new and has only released this teaser of an EP in 2019.

DIE HARD IN THE DUNGEON is a short four track EP that only makes it over the 9 minute mark but in its brevity provides a blueprint for a future blackened crust punk sound that finds a lo-fi production job along with grinding riffs and cymbal-rich drumming frenzies of Helltyrant framing the tortured vocal style of Gatecrüsher who also plays guitar.

L. Grinder on bass has the perfect name for this band as it’s never quite clear if this is punk, black metal or grindcore. It’s uncomfortably in between. In all honesty, this is really nothing more than a modern demo released digitally but an interesting snapshot of a band’s early years from a part of the world that doesn’t crank out metal music. Promising but as it is, just OK.

AMEBIX Monolith

Album · 1987 · Crust Punk
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Amebix continue their experiments in blending hardcore punk and the most chaotic side of then-current extreme metal on Monolith. The end result sounds sufficiently close to proto-black metal to such an extent that Darkthrone's later dabblings in crust punk make perfect sense in retrospect, with enough thrash elements that it also sails slightly in the direction of crossover thrash. Perhaps the thing which stops Monolith from going full crossover is a certain sense of the epic - plenty of crossover thrash bands sing about the same subject matter as Amebix, but few give it this sense of awful spectacle that Amebix manage to.

STIKKY Where's My Lunchpail?

Album · 1988 · Hardcore Punk
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siLLy puPPy
Of all the punk bands that have come and gone in the San Francisco Bay Area scene, perhaps none are as memorable as the quirky and progenitor of ridiculous-core STIKKY whose crazy antics were not only instrumental in taking silly themed punk to the ultimate extreme but also along with the Southern California based Infest, was one of the earliest acts to create a hardcore punk hybrid that would become known as powerviolence, a style of punk took the essence of hardcore punk and grindcore and mixed in bursts of thrash metal ferocity along with slower sections that were more akin to sludge metal.

While the band formed in the South Bay in Santa Clara, CA in 1985, STIKKY was an important part of the 80s punk scene at the 924 Gilman Street venue in Berkeley. The lineup started out as the trio of Todd Wilder (lead vocals/drums), Chris Wilder (guitar/vocals), and James Porter (bass/vocals) but Porter parted ways in 87 and was replaced by Chris Dodge who played with the San Jose based punk rock band No Use For A Name. While technically the band never broke up and has hinted at reunions now and again, the band has essentially been inactive since 1990 but in the five years that they were sonically assaulting the public, STIKKY released the two EPs “Cuddle” and “I and I and That Guy Over There” as well as this only full-length WHERE’S MY LUNCHPAIL? which at only 27 minutes long is still quite short.

STIKKY was unique in that it played a ferocious style of hardcore punk in a style that would sit well beside some of the heaviest punkers out there such as Discharge and Amebix but the band developed and refined the silly sense of humor that was quite prevalent in the East Bay punk scene. Just one look at the hilarious album title and it’s obvious that this band was less interested in anarchy and more on board with hardcore jocularity. These guys took the goofy-core as far as they possibly could. Just check out the ludicrous song titles such as “Senator Hart Humped a Dumpling,” “I ♥ Fonzie,” “A Hella Short Song And Not A Very Positive One At That” or “Cheese Is Fantastic” and keep a straight face. I suspect that STIKKY was not only a vital innovator of humorous punk and powerviolence, but seems like it may have influenced the crazy antics of other Bay Area bands like Mr Bungle, Nuclear Rabbit and Faxed Head that took the silly hardcore approach mixed with stellar instrumental interplay.

While the lyrics are as ridiculous as possible, the music on the other hand is serious business. This band was tight as fuck with intense sonic assaults. Todd Wilder was a bad ass mother fucker on drums with precision cut blast beats dominating the intensity. It’s utterly amazing that he was not only the drummer but the lead singer as well. Drumming highlights can be heard in"Pollution Rules" and "Boy, Do Girls Ever Suck” but will blow you away all the way through. Likewise while the guitars mostly reside in the classic hardcore punk style, there are many crossovers into metal turf with virtuosic lead soloing and thrash hardcore riffing. In addition to the music there are a few silly dialogues and even a dog barking on WHERE’S MY LUNCHPAIL? In short, this is a Bay Area underground classic that should be experience by anyone who seeks out the roots of powerviolence and the more humorous side of the punk rock experience.

This album was released twice in 1988. Once on the Manic Ears label with the orange cover art and also on the Lookout label with the same cover art only with a yellow background. As an individual album this was never re-released but it can be found with every other STIKKY track on the all encompassing compilation “Spamthology” which was released on the Sound Pollution label in 1998 on CD. In the search of the elusive LUNCHPAIL, STIKKY created a veritable mix of musical insanity on this one. WHERE’S MY LUNCHBOX? delivers not only the hardcore punk goods but is one of the funniest fucking albums of the entire 80s! Some of the material has also been released on Chris Dodge’s record label Slap A Ham Records as well. Too funny, guys! How did you keep a straight face while performing this stuff? LOL

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