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definition - Metalcore

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Stylistic origins Extreme metal, hardcore punk, crossover thrash, thrash metal, youth crew
Typical instruments Electric guitar, bass guitar, drums (double kick), vocals
Mainstream popularity Underground throughout the 1990s, mainstream popularity throughout the early 2000s to present.
Melodic metalcore, mathcore, deathcore
Fusion genres
Regional scenes
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio
Other topics
Breakdown, straight edge, NWOAHM

Metalcore is a subgenre of heavy metal combining various elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. The name is a portmanteau of the names of the two genres. The term took on its current meaning in the mid-1990s, describing bands such as Hogan's Heroes[1][2], Earth Crisis, Deadguy and Integrity.[3][4] The earliest of these groups, Hogan's Heroes, began performing in 1984. Contemporary practitioners of the genre include Killswitch Engage, Underoath, All That Remains, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, and The Devil Wears Prada.[5]

Metalcore is distinguished from other fusions between punk and metal by its emphasis on general heavy metal characteristics as well as breakdowns,[6] which are slower, intense passages that are conducive to moshing.[7] Sepultura, who has been credited to "lay the foundation" for the genre,[8] and Pantera, who influenced Trivium, Atreyu, Bleeding Through and Unearth,[9] have been influential in the development of metalcore.




Black Flag[10] and Bad Brains,[11] 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.[12] The Misfits put out the Earth A.D. album, becoming a crucial influence on thrash.[13] Nonetheless, punk and metal cultures and music remained separate through the first half of the 1980s.

Cross-pollination between metal and hardcore eventually birthed the crossover thrash scene, which gestated at a Berkeley club called Ruthie's, in 1984.[14] The term "metalcore" was originally used to refer to these crossover groups.[15] Hardcore punk groups Corrosion of Conformity,[16] Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Suicidal Tendencies[17] 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[18] and Warzone.[19] The Cro-Mags were among the most influential of these bands, drawing equally from Bad Brains, Motörhead and Black Sabbath.[20] Cro-Mags also embraced straight edge and, surprisingly enough, Krishna consciousness.[21] Other New York straight edge groups included Gorilla Biscuits, Crumbsuckers and Youth of Today,[22] who inaugurated the youth crew style.[23] 1985 saw the development of the hardcore breakdown, an amalgamation of Bad Brains' reggae and metal backgrounds,[7] 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.[24]

At the same time, thrash metal groups began to borrow a great deal from hardcore punk. Metallica paid tribute to Discharge and Misfits,[25] and Slayer eventually recorded an entire album of hardcore covers.[26] Anthrax covered "Protest and Survive" by Discharge on their album Attack of the Killer B's and "New Noise" by the Swedish hardcore punk band Refused on their latest album Worship Music. In addition, groove metal band Pantera covered Poison Idea.[27] Sepultura, who paid tribute to a number of groups, has been credited as laying the foundation for the development of metalcore as a genre.[8]

  Metallic hardcore (1990s)

  Converge are considered a precursor to metalcore.

Between 1989 and 1995, a new wave of hardcore bands emerged.[5] These included Merauder, All Out War,[28] Integrity,[29] Biohazard, Earth Crisis,[29][30] Converge,[30] Shai Hulud,[31][32][33] Starkweather, Judge,[30] Strife,[29] Rorschach,[34] Vision of Disorder[34] and Hatebreed.[29][34] Integrity drew influence primarily from the Japanese hardcore terrorism of GISM and the metal of Slayer, with more subtle elements of Septic Death, Samhain, Motörhead and Joy Division,[35] while Earth Crisis, Converge and Hatebreed[36] borrowed from death metal.[37] Earth Crisis's 1995 album Destroy the Machines were particularly influential.[38] In guitarist Scott Crouse's words,

It was a very mixed reaction. I'm often quoted as saying that Earth Crisis was the first hardcore band with a metal sound. Of course we weren't the first, but I think we definitely took it to another level. We heard a lot of, 'These guys are trying to be Pantera,' which we all took as a great compliment![38]

Biohazard, Coalesce[39] and Overcast were also important early metalcore groups. These groups are sometimes referred to as "metallic hardcore".[40][41] As journalist Lars Gotrich writes, "Along with key records by Dillinger Escape Plan and Botch, Give Them Rope is an underground milestone that helped pioneer what was soon called 'metalcore.' At the risk of sounding too reductive — too late! — metalcore was the natural progression where extreme metal and hardcore met, but with spiraling time signatures that somehow felt more aggressive."[42] Shai Hulud's Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion became especially influential in the latter part of the decade.[31][32][33]

  Commercial success (2000s)

  Killswitch Engage are considered one of the breakthrough bands to bring metalcore to the international spotlight.

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, metalcore had become popular enough that Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache[43] and Shadows Fall's The War Within[44] debuted at numbers 21 and 20, respectively, on the Billboard album chart. All That Remains' single "Two Weeks" peaked at number 9 at the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the U.S. The song peaked on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at number 38. In 2007, the song "Nothing Left" by As I Lay Dying was nominated for a Grammy award in the "Best Metal Performance" category. An Ocean Between Us (the album that included "Nothing Left") itself was a commercial success, debuting at number 8 on the "Billboard 200". Welsh metalcore band Bullet for My Valentine's second album, Scream Aim Fire, went straight to number 4 on the Billboard 200,[45] later surpassing this in 2010 with their third album Fever, which debuted at number 3 selling more than 71,000 copies in its first week in the U.S. and more than 21,000 in the UK. Underoath's fifth album Define the Great Line, released in 2006, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 98,000 copies in its first week.[46]

The Devil Wears Prada has achieved much commercial success with their album, With Roots Above and Branches Below, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard 200 upon its release.[47] Trivium has met with very strong success, making top 25 positions on the charts in several countries, including the U.S., and top 10 positions in both Australia and the UK, even making Gold status in the UK. Hatebreed, God Forbid, and As I Lay Dying have also charted.[48][49][50]

Underoath's album Lost in the Sound of Separation reached number 8 on the Billboard 200 and sold 56,000 copies in its first week of sales in the U.S. alone,[51] with Killswitch Engage's self-titled fifth album reaching number 7 on the Billboard 200 and selling 58,000 copies.[52] Another recent success is the album Reckless & Relentless by British band Asking Alexandria, reaching up to now number 9 on the Billboard 200, selling 31,000 in its first week. The 2011 album Dead Throne by The Devil Wears Prada debuted at number 9 on the Billboard 200, selling 32,400 in its first week.[53]



The vocalizing technique in metalcore is generally screamed vocals, particularly common among many 1990s metalcore groups. Today many metalcore bands combine screamed vocals throughout with the use of clean vocals usually during the bridge or chorus of a song.


Harmonized guitar riffs, double bass drumming, and breakdowns are common in metalcore. Drop guitar tunings are used almost universally, earlier bands usually used either Drop D, C# or C tunings. More recently certain bands have been known to tune as low as Drop G1 and even F#1. Drummers typically use a lot of double bass technique and general drumming styles across the board. Blast beats are also heard at times.


Metalcore emerged from the milieu surrounding youth crew hardcore punk subculture, with many of the groups adhering to straight edge beliefs (abstention from drugs and alcohol), although Integrity was a notable exception.[5] Converge was notable for their focus on personal anguish and experiences of failed romantic love.[54][55] Dwid Hellion, frontman of Integrity, advocated the "Holy Terror Church of Final Judgment", an apocalyptic belief system related to Gnosticism and Catharism.[56] Several members of contemporary metalcore bands are practicing Christians, including members of Zao,[57] The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying,[58] Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red, Texas in July, Oh, Sleeper and Underoath.[59][60]


  Melodic metalcore

In the early 1990s, a third wave of metalcore groups appeared, who placed significantly greater emphasis on melody. These bands tend to fuse melodic death metal, hardcore punk and sometimes emo.[61] Melodic metalcore bands include All That Remains,[62] Atreyu,[61][63][64] Bullet for My Valentine,[65] Darkest Hour,[63] Eighteen Visions,[63] Killswitch Engage[61][66] and Poison the Well.[63] These groups took major influence, cues, and writing styles from Swedish melodic death metal bands, particularly At the Gates,[63] Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork.[67] Melodic metalcore frequently makes use of clean vocals.[66][68][69] Some of these groups, such as Shadows Fall, have voiced an affection for '80s glam metal.[70] 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."[64]


Mathcore began with the mid-'90s work of Converge,[71] Botch[72][73] and The Dillinger Escape Plan.[74] The term mathcore is suggested by analogy with math rock. Mathcore is characterized by speed, technical riffing, and unusual time signatures.[75][76] Bands such as Fear Before are bands that incorporate metalcore standards along with odd time signatures and progressive elements.[77]


Deathcore is an amalgamation of metalcore, hardcore punk and death metal.[78][79][80] Deathcore is defined by breakdowns, blast beats and death metal riffs.[81][82] Bands also incorporate guitar solos and melodic riffs similar to those in metalcore.[78] New York-based death metal group Suffocation is credited as one of the main influences for the emergence of deathcore.[83]


  1. ^ * 1948-1999 Muze, Inc. Hogan's Heroes "POP Artists beginning with "HOD"", Phonolog, 1999, p. 1.No. 7-278B Section 207
  2. ^ HXC Revolution "History of HC.". 2007-07-14. http://www.freewebs.com/mikeymisfit666. Retrieved 2012-03-18. "Judge, Integrity and Hogan's Heroes were some of the earliest bands to bring this level of intensity to hardcore - an amalgamation of deep, hoarse vocals, (though rarely as deep or guttural as death metal); downtuned guitars and thrashy drum rhythms inspired by earlier hardcore bands; and slow staccato low-end breaks, known as breakdowns. Thrash metal and melodic death metal elements are also common in metalcore." 
  3. ^ "Shai Hulud, interview with Punknews.org - 05/28/08". http://www.ruleeverymoment.com/media/interviews/interview.php?id=43. Retrieved 2008-09-21. "As far as coining the term 'metalcore' or coining a sound, I don’t think we did. There were bands before Shai Hulud started that my friends and I were referring to as 'metalcore'. Bands like Burn, Deadguy, Earth Crisis, even Integrity. These bands that were heavier than the average hardcore bands. These bands that were more progressive than the average hardcore band. My friends and I would always refer to them as 'metalcore' because it wasn’t purely hardcore and it wasn’t purely metal. It was like a heavier hardcore band with hardcore ethics and attitude but clearly a metal influence. So we would joke around and say 'Hey, it’s metalcore. Cool!' But it was definitely a tongue-in-cheek term." 
  4. ^ HXC Revolution "History of HC.". 2007-07-14. http://www.freewebs.com/mikeymisfit666. Retrieved 2012-03-18. "Judge, Integrity and Hogan's Heroes were some of the earliest bands to bring this level of intensity to hardcore - an amalgamation of deep, hoarse vocals, (though rarely as deep or guttural as death metal); downtuned guitars and thrashy drum rhythms inspired by earlier hardcore bands; and slow staccato low-end breaks, known as breakdowns. Thrash metal and melodic death metal elements are also common in metalcore." 
  5. ^ a b c "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110, 118. 
  6. ^ Tom Breihan. "Status Ain't Hood". "Live: Trivium, the Jackson 5 of Underground Metal". The Village Voice. Daily Voice. October 11, 2006. Access date: July 21, 2008. "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."
  7. ^ a b Howie Abrams, Blush, p. 193. "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."
  8. ^ a b "MTVNews.com: The Greatest Metal Bands of All Time". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/metal/greatest_metal_bands/071406/index12.jhtml. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "MTVNews.com: The Greatest Metal Bands Of All Time: Pantera". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/metal/greatest_metal_bands/071406/index6.jhtml. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Blush, American Hardcore, part 2, "Thirsty and Miserable", p. 63, 66
  11. ^ Andersen, Mark and Mark Jenkins (2003). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. "Positive Mental Attitude". p. 27. Akashic Books. ISBN 1-888451-44-0
  12. ^ Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984. Cherry Red Books. p. 5. ISBN 1-901447-24-3
  13. ^ Blush, "Hits from Hell", American Hardcore, p. 204.
  14. ^ Blush, p. 115
  15. ^ Felix von Havoc, Maximum Rock'n'Roll #198. Access date: June 20, 2008
  16. ^ Blush, p. 193.
  17. ^ Christe, Ian: Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (2003), p. 184.
  18. ^ Blush, p. 186.
  19. ^ Blush, p. 188.
  20. ^ Blush, p. 189.
  21. ^ Blush, p. 189. "Cro-Mags were the first band to attract both Skinheads and Metalheads audiences; their music at the point where Hardcore nihilism met Metal power."
  22. ^ Blush, p. 194.
  23. ^ Alternative Press, July 7, 2008, p. 109.
  24. ^ Blush, p. 192.
  25. ^ Garage, Inc. at Allmusic
  26. ^ Undisputed Attitude at Allmusic
  27. ^ [1] at Blabbermouth.net.
  28. ^ METAL INSIDE - Das online Metal, Rock und Alternative Magazin!
  29. ^ a b c d Ian Glasper, Terrorizer no. 171, June 2008, p. 78, "here the term (metalcore) is used in its original context, referencing the likes of Strife, Earth Crisis, and Integrity (...)"
  30. ^ a b c Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X. p. 222-223
  31. ^ a b "Kill Your Stereo - Reviews: Shai Hulud - Misanthropy Pure". http://www.killyourstereo.com/reviews/169/shai-hulud-misanthropy-pure/. "Shai Hulud, a name that is synonymous (in heavy music circles at least) with intelligent, provocative and most importantly unique metallic hardcore. The band’s earliest release is widely credited with influencing an entire generation of musicians" 
  32. ^ a b "Shai Hulud - Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Co Review - sputnikmusic". http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?albumid=24083. "Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion is pretty much the prime in early melodic metalcore. So many bands in both the modern metalcore and hardcore scene have drawn vast influence from them, because of how perfect they blend hardcore and metal." 
  33. ^ a b "In At The Deep End Records". http://www.iatde.alivewww.co.uk/zombieapocalypse.htm. "Regardless of whether or not you liked Shai Hulud, it is undeniable that Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion was an oft-imitated and highly influential release in the mid-to-late nineties." 
  34. ^ a b c Ross Haenfler, Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3852-1 p. 87-88.
  35. ^ "It was this simple formula that's single-handedly responsible for every band you hear combining heavy metal and hardcore today." "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110. 
  36. ^ Hatebreed cites Entombed and Bolt Thrower. Q&A with Jamey Jasta, Miami New Times, May 27, 2008. Access date: June 22, 2008
  37. ^ 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 1-932595-04-X. p. 222-223.
  38. ^ a b Gabriel Cardenas Salas, "Blasts from the Past", Terrorizer 180, February 2009, p. 96.
  39. ^ The History of Rock Music: 1990-1999
  40. ^ "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAI HULUD GUITARIST MATT FOX". http://www.metalsucks.net/?p=5504. Retrieved 2008-10-09. "When we used to joke with the term, it was just a clever (or not so clever) way of describing a metallic hardcore, metal-influenced hardcore, or hardcore-influenced metal band." 
  41. ^ J. Bennett, "Converge's Jane Doe", Revolver, June 2008.
  42. ^ Lars Gotrich, "Coalesce: A Tale of Two Ropes", All Songs Considered, 25 October 2011.
  43. ^ The End of Heartache at Billboard.com.
  44. ^ [2] at Blabbermouth.net.
  45. ^ Scream Aim Fire at Billboard.com.
  46. ^ Define the Great Line at Billboard.com.
  47. ^ [3][dead link]
  48. ^ Supremacy at Billboard.com.
  49. ^ Perseverance at Billboard.com.
  50. ^ Sacrament at Billboard.com.
  51. ^ Lost in the Sound of Separation at Billboard.com.
  53. ^ Up for Discussion Jump to Forums (2009-09-14). "Lady Antebellum 'Own' the Billboard 200 With Second No. 1 Album". Billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/news/lady-antebellum-own-the-billboard-200-with-1005361992.story#/news/lady-antebellum-own-the-billboard-200-with-1005361992.story. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  54. ^ Interview with My Penis, Revolver, June 2008. p. 114.
  55. ^ Ferris, D.X. "The Godfather of Cleveland Hardcore". Cleveland Scene. http://www.clevescene.com/2005-04-27/news/the-godfather-of-cleveland-hardcore/3. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  56. ^ "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110. 
  57. ^ Cogdale, Russ (2005-01-28). Zao's music abrasive yet spiritual. (Interview). Deseret News. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20050128/ai_n11504060. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  58. ^ FAQ - As I Lay Dying
  59. ^ Chamberlain, Spencer; Gillespie, Aaron (2006-07-17). Interview With Underoath. (Interview). Europunk.net. http://www.europunk.net/interviews.php?id=174. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  60. ^ Style, Justin (August 2003). "Blessing the Martyrs". Cross Rhythms (76). http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Blessing_the_Martyrs/8026/p1/. 
  61. ^ a b c Lee, Cosmo; Voegtlin, Stewart. "Into the void: Stylus Magazine's Beginner's Guide to Metal - Article - Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. http://www.stylusmagazine.com/feature.php?ID=2073. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  62. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. Overcome at Allmusic. Retrieved 17 February 2012. "Overcome offers very dependable melodic metalcore in the spirit of All That Remains' albums past, without succumbing to outright stagnation."
  63. ^ a b c d e D. Taylor, Jason. Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses at Allmusic. Retrieved June 24, 2008. "Atreyu's debut album, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, is an invigorating foray into melodic metalcore in the vein of Darkest Hour, Poison the Well, and Eighteen Visions."
  64. ^ a b "Taste of Chaos", Revolver, June 2008. p. 110. "This is the Rockstar Taste of Chaos Tour, a night when heavier melodic-metalcore bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold intend to position themselves as the next generation of bands to actually pack arenas (...)"
  65. ^ Apar, Corey. "Bullet for My Valentine". Allmusic. Retrieved November 8, 2011‎.
  66. ^ a b Metalrage, 12/30/07. Access date: June 24, 2008.
  67. ^ Metal Injection, August 28, 2007. Access date: June 24, 2008.
  68. ^ El Paisano, 9/12/07. Access date: June 24, 2008.
  69. ^ Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses review
  70. ^ Dan Epstein, "The Brewtal Truth", Revolver, Nov. 2004, p. 65.
  71. ^ "Converge biography". Rockdetector.com. Archived from the original on 2007-08-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20070811231615/http://www.rockdetector.com/officialbio,1883.sm. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  72. ^ Botch - We Are The Romans Review
  73. ^ San Francisco Bay Guardian : Article : The Gap's attack on kids
  74. ^ TV3 > News > Story > Mathcore band the 'Dillinger Escape Plan' visit NZ
  75. ^ Events for this weekend in New York
  76. ^ [4][dead link]
  77. ^ "Fear Before The March Of Flames Bio" The Gauntlet. Retrieved on August 3, 2008. "Drawing inspiration from the intricacies of Converge, the varied time signatures of Botch and the temperament of The Blood Brothers, they produced a distinctive combination of hardcore, metal and indie rock that was eclectic, fresh and frenetic."
  78. ^ a b lambgoat.com "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..."
  79. ^ Cosmo Lee. "metalinjection.net". http://metalinjection.net/blog/2007/10/29/cd-review-whitechapel-the-somatic-defilement/. Retrieved November 11, 2008. "...All Shall Perish... Alienacja (Polonia), Despised Icon (Montreal) y Whitechapel (Knoxville, TN)... They're all textbook 'deathcore', fusing death metal and hardcore punk." 
  80. ^ Ed Rivadavia. "Heaven Shall Burn". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p519192. Retrieved May 31, 2008. "Munich, Germany's Heaven Shall Burn specialize in highly controversial and politicized death metal fused with hardcore; a hybrid style often referred to as death-core." 
  81. ^ Lee, Cosmo. "Doom". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r854978. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  82. ^ Marsicano, Dan. "Rose Funeral - 'The Resting Sonata'". About.com. http://heavymetal.about.com/od/cdreviews/gr/rosefuneralrest.htm. Retrieved October 7th, 2011. 
  83. ^ Lee, Cosmo (#059 September 2009). "Suffocation reclaim their rightful place as kings of death metal". Decibel Magazine. "One of Suffocation's trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore" .


  • Haenfler, Ross. Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3852-1
  • Mudrian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X
  • Sharpe-Young, Garry (2005). New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Zonda Books. ISBN 0-9582684-0-1


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