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

VICTIMS FAMILY Voltage And Violets

Album · 1986 · Hardcore Punk
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siLLy puPPy
While the San Francisco Bay Area became a world famous destination for its thrash metal scene in the 1980s, the area also hosted a rich and diverse underground hardcore punk scene which included most famously the Dead Kennedys but also a multitude of more experimental hardcore bands like Flipper, Tuxedomoon and VICTIM’S FAMILY. This band formed in the North Bay city of Santa Rosa in 1984 and remained an underground staple throughout the 80s and still exists as a band to the modern era. The equal dominion of bass guitarist Larry Boothroyd and guitarist and vocalist Ralph Spight who have both been together for nearly four decades now, the duo has experienced the Spinal Tap syndrome of not being able to keep a drummer although as far as i know they are all still alive.

VOLTAGE & VIOLETS is VICTIM’S FAMILY’s debut and featured Devon VrMeer on drums at this stage. This band was known for its bold innovative spirit which made them difficult for music critiques to categorize. In the same stylistic approach of other punk innovators such as NoMeansNo and Minutemen, VICTIM’S FAMILY seamlessly fused the disparate musical genres of hardcore punk, jazz, funk, hard rock, noise, progressive metal and math rock into its bizarre amalgamation of styles. The band enjoyed a busy touring schedule and played with many bands that would later become famous such as Faith No More, Suicidal Tendencies, Butthole Surfers and Camper Van Beethoven. At one point both Mr Bungle and Green Day opened for VICTIM’S FAMILY and while many of these bands went on to experience great success, VICTIM’S FAMILY has remained pretty much an underground anomaly throughout it all.

What sets this band apart from many other punk bands of the era is the extraordinary musicianship on board. VICTIM’S FAMILY was much more sophisticated than the average three chord punk rock act. With meandering off-kilter time signatures at faster than usual speeds, this trio has consistently evoked an awe both musically and lyrically like few punk bands can. These guys played a tight jazz-fueled torrent of punk infused angst that kept them well within the punk scene complete with snarling half sung, half spoken lyrical tirades and filthy raw guitar riffs with the classic punk rock delivers. The band however excelled at hairpin turns that offered trippy excursions into clean guitar non-punk jazziness as well as moments of old fashioned rock’n’roll turned into a sizzling metal guitar soloing performance.

While often compared NoMeansNo and Minutemen, VICTIM’S FAMILY was much heavier, much faster and more unpredictable in its stylistic approach. For example of the 20 tracks on board on this debut, tracks can change from a progressive jazz-fueled metal based rage as in “World of Hate” to a Meat Puppets cowpunk hoedown on “Devon Drool” and then a more traditional punk sound as heard on “Quivering Lip.” The rotisseries of stylistic shifts is what made VICTIM’S FAMILY stand out from the crowds and VOLTAGE & VIOLETS showcased the band’s unique style from the getgo. This band and debut are highly recommended for those who love their punk rock with some serious musical chops. One of only a handful of progressive punk (=pronk) artists to have emerged in the 1980s and still with us today. A musician’s punk band for sure.

IRON LUNG Life. Iron Lung. Death.

Album · 2004 · Hardcore Punk
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siLLy puPPy
In the murky world of hardcore punk where it merges with metal, several niches have emerged that often are almost impossible to distinguish. Take powerviolence for example. This dissonantly fast and furious style of hardcore punk is closely related to thrashcore and grindcore but unlike grindcore has pretty much jettisoned any traces of a classic heavy metal connection. While Siege is credited as the pioneer of this sub-sub-genre between the cracks noisefest, the style has pretty much remained a behind the scenes sorta thing that only true hardcores venture into.

One of the many bands to gain a considerable cult following is the Seattle based IRON LUNG. This duo of Jon Kortland (guitar, vocals) and Jensen Ward (drums, vocals) started out in Reno, Nevada in 1999 before relocating to Oakland, CA before heading up to Seattle. These hardcore punk bands love to release a series of short scattered releases and IRON LUNG has been no different. In its wake has been left a long list of EPs, splits and live albums but very few what anyone would consider full-length albums.

This 2004 release LIFE. IRON LUNG. DEATH is considered the band’s first “album” but album in the chaotic noisy world of the powerviolence means an album’s worth of material is usually less than a half of an hour’s worth of playing time and the 2004 vinyl edition of this album didn’t even hit the 18-minute mark but the CD version released at the same time added a bunch of bonus tracks. These hardcore bands also love jumping from record label to the next and this release alone has found its way onto three as well as available on Bandcamp.

IRON LUNG delivers the expected powerviolence goods on LIFE. IRON LUNG. DEATH. This is a violent explosive set of performances that marries hardcore punk and grindcore seamlessly together with occasional chill outs resulting in oozing sludge metal. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary on this album as the powerviolence subgenre seems to have contained itself within a small range of possibilities. What you get is the usual breakneck speeds with screaming vocals in a raging fury with heavy distorted guitar riffs and breakdowns. Tracks all range close to the one-minute mark and start to sound the same after the album finishes.

Definitely one that gets IRON LUNG in the small club of powerviolence but creative expression is pretty much nonexistence. While perfect for fulfilling those needs of quick and explosive musical expressions, IRON LUNG, at least on this debut, doesn’t have the vision to take the genre in any new direction. Not nearly as developed as bands like Nails or Magrudergrind but all in all a decent but not essential example of this caustic branch of hardcore punk. For those only interested in eruptive irreverent noise with minimal musical motifs, then you’ll love this but these kinds of bands are a dime a dozen and anyone wanting a bit more than just the pure unhinged angst will find this a bit lacking.

TRAGEDY (TN) Nerve Damage

Album · 2006 · Crust Punk
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Warthur
Remember Tragedy's debut? Remember Vengeance? Want a take on them without some of the interesting instrumental bits or the other characterful parts? Well, you're in luck pard, because Nerve Damage basically finds their sound not evolving at all and all the imaginative extra little trappings of their previous albums absent. As a more straight-ahead no-nonsense number it's fun enough - and certainly, crust punk is a genre where "straight-ahead, no-nonsense, no frills" is a more viable prospect than others. At the same time, the comparative lack of musical development doesn't bode well for Tragedy having much left in the tank going forwards.

TRAGEDY (TN) Vengeance

Album · 2002 · Crust Punk
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Warthur
Did you like Tragedy's pessimistic, furious, hopeless howl of fury at a world they evidently fully believe has totally gone to shit as expressed on their debut album? Then you'll probably enjoy it when they offer up the exact same thing here.

But then again, if you already heard it there, do you need to hear it again? If you are very keen on crust punk, perhaps, but for a punk band who go for short albums (this one's under 40 minutes, debut was under 30) and short-ish songs Tragedy are kind of bad at editing. From the way the opening track here, Conflicting Ideas, lets its intro section play out for just a bit too long to the general sameiness of all the tracks, there's a certain repetitiveness here which makes this feel just a little disposable. When the album's done I can't remember how a single damn song went.

NOMEANSNO Wrong

Album · 1989 · Hardcore Punk
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Unitron
"There's only a very very fine line between biding one's time and wasting one's time"

"I FUCKED! A DEAD DUCK, SHIT OUTTA LUCK"

Holy fuck, now this is what I call punk. Fucking dead ducks, spazing about time wasting, come quick for big dicks, this is the no fucks given attitude that thrives in punk when put to right use. Musically Nomeansno simultaneously gives a fuck and doesn't, they have one of the most insane rhythm sections in heavy music, but they have the attitude as if they don't. That's what separates bands like Nomeansno, Atheist, and Mudvayne from technical pretense. They use what they got, and they just happen to have a lot.

Spastic slap bass, sludgy post-hardcore riffing, tortured screaming, dissonant guitars, fun foot-stomping hooks, anxious melodies, lyrical schizophrenia, and even crazy borderline funk metal. When I first heard this album as my introduction to the band, it completely changed my view of what punk can be. It's the attitude I always wanted in punk, without any pretense or obnoxious preaching. Just a group of punks playing crazy ass music, as it should be.

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