Metalcore is a genre of music spawned sometime in the mid 90s by several bands. While metal and hardcore have been mixed before by several crossover thrash bands in the mid to late 80s, this is a much different style. Bands such as Terror, Undertow and Throwdown are thought by many to be some of the earliest in the genre. Though the style has arguably little resemblance to what is commonly classified as heavy metal or hardcore punk, it could be said to be a natural progression of the slower, more metallic form of hardcore displayed in Black Flag's post-Damaged work.


Distinguishing Metalcore Song Structures and Themes

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(also called "Tough Guy Hardcore")

This genre is frequently called "Hardcore" even though it's much heavier and different than the punk subgenre of Hardcore. Much of this genre was ifluenced by the late 80's youth crew hardcore scene in New York, bands such as Sick of It All, Judge, Leeway and Madball have large influence on these bands.

Because of this styles popularity, relation to violence and abandonment of certain aspects of hardcore roots there has always been much controversy surrounding it and a constant backlash to it in many DIY hardcore communities. Some examples of this can be heard in songs such as "Get the Kid With the Sideburns" by Reversal Of Man and "V.R.S. (Victory Records Sucks)" by Good Clean Fun.

The by far most famous band in this category is Hatebreed, who have managed to come across some mainstream musical acceptance, such as being on the soundtracks for Hollywood movies (XXX and The Punisher) and their vocalist, Jamey Jasta, being the host of MTV2's Headbanger's Ball.

This particular style is considered the simplest style of metalcore, with songs averaging around one or two minutes in length and being written in a tradition closer to aforementioned 80's Hardcore punk, with traditional elements such as mosh breakdowns and singalongs, but with guitars having a much heavier, metallic edge to them. Lyrics tend to be focused on personal issues such as self-determination, mental strength, unity (within the hardcore and metalcore scene) and sometimes straight-edge, also a tradition that has been continued from older hardcore bands.

Other notable bands in this style: Throwdown, Walls of Jericho (also famed for having a female vocalist), Terror, Integrity, Most Precious Blood, Bury Your Dead, and Earth Crisis. Some bands such as All Out War are despite their sound being closer to thrash metal than old-school hardcore filed under this style due to their image and attitude to the hardcore scene in general.

Melodic metalcore or "Gothencore"

The music is a combination of melodic and heavy guitars, fast paces and the inclusion of some hardcore elements, such as mosh breakdowns and two-steps. Sometimes, other influences, such as Meshuggah-esque time signatures or softer (often considered "emo" influenced by some), melodically sung parts.

Although the melodic or "Gothenburg Death Metal" genre was pioneered by bands like At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Edge of Sanity, and later Arch Enemy and The Haunted, it has spread beyond the Gothenburg, Sweden metal scenee and has influenced such American bands like Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and Bleeding Through who also share stong roots in the early metalcore and hardcore scenes.

One of the most popular bands in the American category of this style would most likely be Killswitch Engage, who have been signed to Roadrunner Records, a relatively large metal label. Trivium is another band in the same style who have also recently been signed to Roadrunner.

Other notable bands in this style: Unearth,Atreyu,As I Lay Dying, Dead To Fall, The Agony Scene, It Dies Today, Darkest Hour and Undying. Poison the Well are often credited as one of the bands that made this style of metalcore popular with their full-length debut 'The Opposite of December... A Season of Separation', but some would say they also play almost too chaotically (see below) to be placed under this style, and others would say that they have over time progressed away from it, deciding to go in different musical directions with each album released.


See the Mathcore article

Also known as tech hardcore, chaotic hardcore, and noisecore, mathcore is known as the most progressive metalcore substyle for its high level of technical musicianship. It combines the styles of hardcore punk and free jazz with grindcore style riffs. It can be rooted in bands such as Rorschach, Knut, Coalesce and Deadguy.

Other notable bands in this style: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Botch, Burnt By the Sun, Curlupanddie, Daughters, Between the Buried and Me, The Power and the Glory, Creation is Crucifixion, Misery Signals, Scarlet, Blood Has Been Shed and Glass Casket.


Other styles

Of course, considering that hardcore, and by tradition metalcore were in the very beginning based on non-conformity, every now and then a band that isn't easy to peg even within these styles pops up, such as the quirky and spastic pop-influenced hardcore of The Blood Brothers. During 2003 and 2004, a number of bands also displayed some leanings towards 80's hair metal that had not been common before. Forerunners for this were for example Eighteen Visions and Atreyu, who with their respective 2004 releases 'Obsession' and 'The Curse' drew upon a lot of inspiration from such bands as The Stone Temple Pilots, Guns n' Roses and Poison. Atreyu even went as far as recording a cover of Bon Jovi's 'You Give Love A Bad Name' for a limited edition release of their 2nd full-length album, 'The Curse'. Other bands such as Avenged Sevenfold have also mixed pop elements into their sound.


Gothcore is a sub-genre that consists of Death punk and Goth rock influences mixed with hardcore. It mainly dominantly consists of old-school hardcore styling, with some new-school present too. It is more intense than Deathrock and Death Punk and sounds close to Black Metal. Where Black Metal has the overt themes of satanism, Gothcore consists more of the themes of death, darkness, horror, morbidity, attacking organized religon, and pondering faith. Musically compared to Black Metal, the guitarwork is somewhat simpler, recurrently featuring breakdowns as opposed to virtuoso-style leads.

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