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Metalcore is a fusion genre incorporating elements of hardcore punk and extreme metal. The name is a portmanteau of hardcore punk and heavy metal. The term took on its current meaning in the mid-1990s, describing bands like Earth Crisis, Deadguy and Integrity.[1] The earliest of these groups, Integrity, began performing in 1988.[2] Metalcore is distinguished from other punk metal fusions by its emphasis on breakdowns:[3] slower, intense passages conducive to moshing.[4]


Precursors (1977–1984)Edit

Main article: Hardcore punk

Black Flag[5] and Bad Brains,[6] among the originators of hardcore, admired and emulated Black Sabbath. British street punk groups such as Discharge and The Exploited also took inspiration from heavy metal.[7] The Misfits put out the Earth A.D. album, becoming a crucial influence on thrash.[8] Nonetheless, punk and metal cultures and music remained separate through the first half of the 1980s.

Crossover thrash (1984–1988)Edit

Main article: Crossover thrash

Cross-pollination between metal and hardcore eventually birthed the crossover thrash scene, which gestated at a Berkeley club called Ruthie's, in 1984.[9] The term "metalcore" was originally used to refer to these crossover groups.[10] Hardcore punk groups Corrosion of Conformity,[11] Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Suicidal Tendencies[12] played alongside thrash metal groups like Metallica and Slayer. This scene influenced the skinhead wing of New York hardcore, which also began in 1984, and included groups such as Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Agnostic Front[13] and Warzone.[14] The Cro-Mags were among the most influential of these bands, drawing equally from Bad Brains, Motörhead, and Black Sabbath.[15] Cro-Mags also embraced straight edge and, surprisingly enough, Krishna consciousness.[16] Other New York straight edge groups included Gorilla Biscuits, Crumbsuckers, and Youth of Today,[17] who inaugurated the youth crew style.[18] 1985 saw the development of the hardcore breakdown, an amalgamation of Bad Brains' reggae and metal backgrounds,[4] which encouraged moshing. Agnostic Front's 1986 album Cause for Alarm, a collaboration with Peter Steele, was a watershed in the intertwining of hardcore and metal.[19]

File:Converge 009.jpg

Metallic hardcore (1989–2000)Edit

Between 1989 and 1995, a new wave of hardcore bands emerged.[2] These included Integrity,[20] Earth Crisis,[20][21] Converge,[21] Shai Hulud,[22][23][24] Starkweather, Judge, Bloodlet,[21] Strife,[20] Rorschach, Cave In,[25] Vision of Disorder,[25] Hatebreed,[20][25] and Candiria.[25] Integrity drew influence primarily from the Japanese hardcore terrorism of G.I.S.M. and the metal of Slayer, with more subtle elements of Septic Death, Samhain, Motörhead, and Joy Division.[26] And Earth Crisis, Converge, and Hatebreed[27] borrowed from death metal.[28] Shai Hulud's Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion[22][23][24] and Earth Crisis's 1995 album Destroy the Machines was particularly influential.[29] In guitarist Scott Crouse's words, Template:Cquote Biohazard, Coalesce,[30] and Overcast were also important early metalcore groups. These groups are sometimes referred to as "metallic hardcore".[31][32]

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Melodic metalcore (1997–present)Edit

In the late 1990s, a third wave of metalcore groups appeared, who placed significantly greater emphasis on melody.The First metalcore band to have such elements was Zao then later on such bands as Unearth, Bullet for My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Trivium (early), Shadows Fall, All That Remains, Underoath and Atreyu[33][34] emerged and are now the most commercially successful practitioners of metalcore.

File:Killswitch Engage.jpg

Other notable metalcore bands include Haste the Day, Parkway Drive, Darkest Hour, Caliban, Bleeding Through, August Burns Red, Demon Hunter, It Dies Today, The Devil Wears Prada , and The Autumn Offering.[35] These groups took major influence, cues, and writing styles from melodic death metal bands, particularly In Flames and At the Gates.[33][35] Melodic metalcore frequently makes use of clean vocals,[36][37][38] and is significantly less dissonant than other metalcore. Some of these groups, such as Shadows Fall, have voiced an affection for '80s glam metal.[39] Melodic metalcore groups have been described as "embrac[ing] '80s metal clichés", such as "inordinate amounts of smoke machines, rippin' solos, [and] three bass drums".[34]

In the mid-2000s, metalcore emerged as a commercial force, with several independent metal labels, including Century Media and Metal Blade, signing metalcore bands. By 2004, melodic metalcore had become popular enough that Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache,[40] and Shadows Fall's The War Within[41] debuted at numbers 21 and 20, respectively, on the Billboard album chart. All That Remains' single "Two Weeks" peaked at number nine at the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the U.S. The song peaked on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at number 38. Welsh metalcore band Bullet for My Valentine's second album, Scream Aim Fire, went straight to #4 on the Billboard 200.[42] Underoath's fifth album Define the Great Line, released in 2006, peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 98,000 copies in its first week.[43] Hatebreed, God Forbid, and As I Lay Dying have also charted.[44][45][46] Underoath's most recent album Lost in the Sound of Separation has reached #8 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 56,000 copies in its first week of sales in the U.S. alone. Killswitch Engage's self-titled fifth album has reached #7 on the Billboard 200. The Devil Wears Prada third studio album With Roots Above and Branches Below debuted number 11 on the Billboard 200.




Metalcore bands generally feature two lead and rhythm electric guitarists who often play fast riffs with dual leads.Template:Citation needed The guitars are usually drop-tuned anywhere between D and even down to A in some bands, although usually drop-C tuning is used. The drop-tuning achieves a perfect-fifth between the lowest two strings of a guitar, and an octave between the lowest string and the third lowest. This makes the root and fifth of chords quite easy to play together.
Bassists usually follow the rhythm guitar, with cues from the drums.Template:Citation needed Sometimes keyboards are added.


Metalcore vocalists often make use of screaming and the death growl, particularly common among many 1990s metalcore groups. Today many metalcore groups combine growled vocals with clean vocals.[36] Template:Listen


The vast majority of songs are in minor keys, usually in keys corresponding to the tuning of the guitars (c minor for guitars in drop-C, b-flat minor for guitars in drop-B-flat, etc.). The melodies can range anywhere to simple motives consisting of conjuct scalar motion to complex chord outlines. The harmonies often consist of a third played over or under a simple melodic line in the minor scale on the guitar. Keyboards, if used, usually play chords or intervals to give the music a more dense sound.

A defining characteristic of the genre is the breakdown. This is part of a song that focuses almost entirely on rhythm.


Metalcore initially emerged from the milieu surrounding youth crew hardcore, with many of the groups adhering to straight edge beliefs (that is to say, abstention from drugs and alcohol), though Integrity was a notable exception.[2] Earth Crisis proselytized for veganism and animal rights, which had an enduring effect on numerous bands, including Veil of Maya, Converge and Deadlock.[47] Converge was also notable for their focus on personal anguish and experiences of failed romantic love.[48][49] Dwid Hellion, frontman of Integrity, advocated the "Holy Terror Church of Final Judgment", an apocalyptic belief system related to Gnosticism and Catharism.[50] Several members of contemporary metalcore groups are practicing Christians. A few examples are: Zao,[51] As I Lay Dying,[52] Underoath[53] and Norma Jean.[54]



Main article: Mathcore

Mathcore began with the mid-'90s work of Converge[55], Botch[56][57] and The Dillinger Escape Plan[58]. The term mathcore is suggested by analogy with math rock. Mathcore is characterized by speed technical riffing, and unusual time signatures.[59][60] Bands such as Protest the Hero, Ion Dissonance,[61] and Fear Before,[62] are bands that incorporate metalcore standards along with time signatures and progressive elements.


Main article: Deathcore

Deathcore is an amalgamation of metalcore and death metal.[63] While remaining a subgenre of metalcore, deathcore is heavily influenced by death metal in its speed, heaviness, and approach to chromatic, heavily palm muted riffing, dissonance, and frequent key changes.Template:Citation needed Deathcore often features breakdowns and melodic riffs.

See alsoEdit


  1. Template:Cite web
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Template:Cite news
  3. "The best part of every metalcore song is the breakdown, the part where the drums drop out and the guitars slow their frantic gallop to a devastating, precise crunch-riff and everyone in the moshpit goes extra nuts." - Tom Breihan. "Status Ain't Hood". "Live: Trivium, the Jackson 5 of Underground Metal". The Village Voice Daily Voice. October 11, 2006. [1] Access date: July 21, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Mosh style was slower, very tribal – like a Reggae beat adapted to Hardcore. [...] It was an outbreak of dancing with a mid-tempo beat driven by floor tom and snare." - Howie Abrams, Blush, p. 193
  5. Blush, American Hardcore, part 2, "Thirsty and Miserable", p. 63, 66
  6. Andersen, Mark and Mark Jenkins (2003). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. "Postive Mental Attitude". p. 27. Akashic Books. ISBN 1888451440
  7. Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984. Cherry Red Books. p. 5. ISBN 1901447243
  8. Blush, "Hits from Hell", American Hardcore, p. 204
  9. Blush, p. 115
  10. Felix von Havoc, Maximum Rock'n'Roll #198 [2] Access date: June 20, 2008
  11. Blush, p. 193
  12. Christe, Ian: Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (2003), p. 184
  13. Blush, p. 186
  14. Blush, p. 188
  15. Blush, p. 189
  16. "Cro-Mags were the first band to attract both Skinheads and Metalheads audiences; their music at the point where Hardcore nihilism met Metal power." Blush, p. 189
  17. Blush, p. 194
  18. Alternative Press, July 7, 2008, p. 109
  19. Blush, p. 192
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 "here the term (metalcore) is used in its original context, referencing the likes of Strife, Earth Crisis, and Integrity ...", Ian Glasper, Terrorizer no. 171, June 2008, p. 78
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 193259504X. p. 222-223
  22. 22.0 22.1 Template:Cite web
  23. 23.0 23.1 Template:Cite web
  24. 24.0 24.1 Template:Cite web
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Ross Haenfler, Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813538521 p. 87-88
  26. "It was this simple formula that's single-handedly responsible for every band you hear combining heavy metal and hardcore today." Template:Cite news
  27. Hatebreed cites Entombed and Bolt Thrower. Q&A with Jamey Jasta, Miami New Times, May 27, 2008. [3] Access date: June 22, 2008
  28. Karl Buechner of Earth Crisis cites Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, and Obituary as prime influences. Mudrian also discusses Converge and Bloodlet and their relationship to death metal. See Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 193259504X. p. 222-223
  29. Gabriel Cardenas Salas, "Blasts from the Past," Terrorizer 180, February 2009, p. 96.
  30. The History of Rock Music: 1990-1999
  31. Template:Cite web
  32. J. Bennett, "Converge's Jane Doe, Revolver, June 2008
  33. 33.0 33.1 Allmusic Review, Atreyu, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses [4] Access date: June 24, 2008
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Taste of Chaos", Revolver, June 2008. p. 110.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Metal Injection, August 28, 2007 [5] Access date: June 24, 2008
  36. 36.0 36.1 Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses review
  37. Metalrage, 12/30/07 [6] Access date: June 24, 2008
  38. El Paisano, 9/12/07 [7] Access date: June 24, 2008
  39. Dan Epstein, "The Brewtal Truth", Revolver, Nov. 2004, p. 65
  40. The End of Heartache at
  41. [8] at
  42. Scream Aim Fire at
  43. [9] at
  44. Supremacy at
  45. Perseverance at
  46. Sacrament at
  47. Template:Cite web
  48. Interview with My Penis, Revolver, June 2008. p. 114
  49. Template:Cite web
  50. Template:Cite news
  51. Template:Cite interview
  52. FAQ - As I Lay Dying
  53. Template:Cite interview
  54. Template:Cite journal
  55. Template:Cite web
  56. Botch - We Are The Romans Review
  57. San Francisco Bay Guardian : Article : The Gap's attack on kids
  58. TV3 > News > Story > Mathcore band the 'Dillinger Escape Plan' visit NZ
  59. Events for this weekend in New York
  62. "Fear Before The March Of Flames Bio" The Gauntlet. Retrieved on August 3, 2008.
  63. "This is deathcore. This is what happens when death metal and hardcore, along with healthy doses of other heavy music styles, are so smoothly blended..."


  • Haenfler, Ross. Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813538521
  • Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 193259504X
  • Sharpe-Young, Garry (2005). New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Zonda Books. ISBN 0958268401

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