Stylistic origins Crossover thrash, hardcore punk, extreme metal, thrash metal, youth crew
Typical instruments Electric guitar, bass guitar, drums (double kick), vocals
Mainstream popularity Underground throughout the 1990s, mainstream popularity in the early 2000s - present
Mathcore, melodic metalcore
Fusion genres
Deathcore, Nintendocore
Regional scenes
Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York
Other topics
Breakdown, straight edge, punk metal

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 Earth Crisis, Deadguy and Integrity.[1] The earliest of these groups, Integrity, began performing in 1988; some modern 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.[2]

Metalcore is distinguished from other punk metal fusions by its emphasis on general heavy metal characteristics as well as breakdowns:[3] slower, intense passages conducive to moshing.[4] The genre has had a saturation of bands in the last five years. Sepultura has been credited to "lay the foundation" for the genre.[5]



Precursors (1977–1984)

Black Flag[6] and Bad Brains,[7] 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.[8] The Misfits put out the Earth A.D. album, becoming a crucial influence on thrash.[9] Nonetheless, punk and metal cultures and music remained separate through the first half of the 1980s.

Crossover thrash (1984–1988)

Cross-pollination between metal and hardcore eventually birthed the crossover thrash scene, which gestated at a Berkeley club called Ruthie's, in 1984.[10] The term "metalcore" was originally used to refer to these crossover groups.[11] Hardcore punk groups Corrosion of Conformity,[12] Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Suicidal Tendencies[13] 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[14] and Warzone.[15] The Cro-Mags were among the most influential of these bands, drawing equally from Bad Brains, Motörhead, and Black Sabbath.[16] Cro-Mags also embraced straight edge and, surprisingly enough, Krishna consciousness.[17] Other New York straight edge groups included Gorilla Biscuits, Crumbsuckers, and Youth of Today,[18] who inaugurated the youth crew style.[19] 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.[20]

Converge at Neumo's in Seattle, Washington in 2008.

Metallic hardcore (1989–1995)

Between 1989 and 1995, a new wave of hardcore bands emerged.[2] These included Merauder, All Out War,[21] Integrity,[22] Biohazard, Earth Crisis,[22][23] Converge,[23] Shai Hulud,[24][25][26] Starkweather, Judge,[23] Strife,[22] Rorschach,[27] Vision of Disorder,[27] and Hatebreed.[22][27][27] 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,[28] while Earth Crisis, Converge, and Hatebreed[29] borrowed from death metal.[30] Shai Hulud's Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion[24][25][26] and Earth Crisis's 1995 album Destroy the Machines were particularly influential.[31] 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![31]

Biohazard, Coalesce,[32] and Overcast were also important early metalcore groups. These groups are sometimes referred to as "metallic hardcore".[33][34] 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."[35]

Melodic metalcore (1995–present)

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 emo.[36] Melodic metalcore bands include Atreyu,[36][37][38] Avenged Sevenfold,[38] Bullet for My Valentine,[39] Darkest Hour, Eighteen Visions,[37] Killswitch Engage[36][40] and Poison the Well.[37] These groups took major influence, cues, and writing styles from Swedish melodic death metal bands, particularly At the Gates,[37] Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork.[41] Melodic metalcore frequently makes use of clean vocals.[40][42][43] Some of these groups, such as Shadows Fall, have voiced an affection for '80s glam metal.[44] 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".[38]

Commercial success (mid 2000s-present)

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,[45] and Shadows Fall's The War Within[46] 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. 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 #8 on the "Billboard 200". Welsh metalcore band Bullet for My Valentine's second album, Scream Aim Fire, went straight to #4 on the Billboard 200,[47] later surpassing this in 2010 with their third album Fever, which debuted at #3 selling more than 71,000 copies in its first week in the U.S.A. and more than 21,000 in the UK. 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.[48] The Devil Wears Prada has achieved much commercial success with their album, With Roots Above and Branches Below, peaking at #11 on the Billboard 200 upon its release.[49] Trivium has met with very strong success, making top 25 positions on the charts in several countries, including the USA, 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.[50][51][52] Underoath's album Lost in the Sound of Separation reached #8 on the Billboard 200 and sold 56,000 copies in its first week of sales in the U.S. alone,[53] with Killswitch Engage's self-titled fifth album reaching #7 on the Billboard 200 and selling 58,000 copies.[54] Another recent success is the album "Reckless & Relentless" by British band Asking Alexandria, reaching up to now #9 on the Billboard 200, selling 31,000 in its first week. The most recent success is the album "Dead Throne" by Christian band The Devil Wears Prada, debuting at #9 on the Billboard 200, selling 32,400 in its first week.



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 or C tunings. More recently certain bands have been known to tune as low as Drop A. Drummers typically use a lot of double bass technique and general drumming styles across the board. Blast beats are also seen 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.[2] Converge was notable for their focus on personal anguish and experiences of failed romantic love.[55][56] Dwid Hellion, frontman of Integrity, advocated the "Holy Terror Church of Final Judgment", an apocalyptic belief system related to Gnosticism and Catharism.[57] Several members of contemporary metalcore bands are practicing Christians, including members of Zao,[58] The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying,[59] August Burns Red, Texas in July, Demon Hunter, Oh, Sleeper and Underoath.[60][61]



Mathcore began with the mid-'90s work of Converge,[62] Botch[63][64] and The Dillinger Escape Plan.[65] The term mathcore is suggested by analogy with math rock. Mathcore is characterized by speed, technical riffing, and unusual time signatures.[66][67] Bands such as Fear Before are bands that incorporate metalcore standards along with odd time signatures and progressive elements.[68]


Deathcore is an amalgamation of metalcore, hardcore punk and death metal.[69][70][71] Deathcore is defined by breakdowns, blast beats and death metal riffs.[72][73] Bands also incorporate guitar solos and melodic riffs similar to those in metalcore.[69]


  1. ^ "Shai Hulud, interview with - 05/28/08". 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." 
  2. ^ a b c "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110, 118. 
  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. Access date: July 21, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "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. ^ " The Greatest Metal Bands of All Time". MTV. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Blush, American Hardcore, part 2, "Thirsty and Miserable", p. 63, 66
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984. Cherry Red Books. p. 5. ISBN 1-901447-24-3
  9. ^ Blush, "Hits from Hell", American Hardcore, p. 204
  10. ^ Blush, p. 115
  11. ^ Felix von Havoc, Maximum Rock'n'Roll #198 [1]. Access date: June 20, 2008
  12. ^ Blush, p. 193
  13. ^ Christe, Ian: Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (2003), p. 184
  14. ^ Blush, p. 186
  15. ^ Blush, p. 188
  16. ^ Blush, p. 189
  17. ^ "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
  18. ^ Blush, p. 194
  19. ^ Alternative Press, July 7, 2008, p. 109
  20. ^ Blush, p. 192
  21. ^ METAL INSIDE - Das online Metal, Rock und Alternative Magazin!
  22. ^ a b c d "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
  23. ^ 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
  24. ^ a b "Kill Your Stereo - Reviews: 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" 
  25. ^ a b "Shai Hulud - Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Co Review - sputnikmusic". "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." 
  26. ^ a b "In At The Deep End Records". "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." 
  27. ^ a b c d Ross Haenfler, Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3852-1 p. 87-88
  28. ^ "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. 
  29. ^ Hatebreed cites Entombed and Bolt Thrower. Q&A with Jamey Jasta, Miami New Times, May 27, 2008. [2] Access date: June 22, 2008
  30. ^ 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
  31. ^ a b Gabriel Cardenas Salas, "Blasts from the Past," Terrorizer 180, February 2009, p. 96.
  32. ^ The History of Rock Music: 1990-1999
  33. ^ "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAI HULUD GUITARIST MATT FOX". 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." 
  34. ^ J. Bennett, "Converge's Jane Doe, Revolver, June 2008
  35. ^ Lars Gotrich, "Coalesce: A Tale of Two Ropes," All Songs Considered, 25 October 2011. [3]
  36. ^ a b c Lee, Cosmo; Voegtlin, Stewart. "Into the void: Stylus Magazine's Beginner's Guide to Metal - Article - Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  37. ^ a b c d Allmusic Review, Atreyu, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses [4] Access date: June 24, 2008
  38. ^ a b c "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 [...]"
  39. ^ Apar, Corey. "Bullet for My Valentine". Allmusic. Retrieved November 8, 2011‎.
  40. ^ a b Metalrage, 12/30/07 [5] Access date: June 24, 2008
  41. ^ Metal Injection, August 28, 2007 [6] Access date: June 24, 2008
  42. ^ El Paisano, 9/12/07 [7] Access date: June 24, 2008
  43. ^ Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses review
  44. ^ Dan Epstein, "The Brewtal Truth", Revolver, Nov. 2004, p. 65
  45. ^ The End of Heartache at
  46. ^ [8] at
  47. ^ Scream Aim Fire at
  48. ^ [9] at
  49. ^ [10] at
  50. ^ Supremacy at
  51. ^ Perseverance at
  52. ^ Sacrament at
  53. ^
  55. ^ Interview with My Penis, Revolver, June 2008. p. 114
  56. ^ Ferris, D.X.. "The Godfather of Cleveland Hardcore". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  57. ^ "Blood Runs Deep: 23 Bands Who Shaped the Scene". Alternative Press. July 7, 2008. pp. 110. 
  58. ^ Cogdale, Russ (2005-01-28). Zao's music abrasive yet spiritual. Interview. Deseret News. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  59. ^ FAQ - As I Lay Dying
  60. ^ Chamberlain, Spencer; Gillespie, Aaron (2006-07-17). Interview With Underoath. Interview. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  61. ^ Style, Justin (August 2003). "Blessing the Martyrs". Cross Rhythms (76). 
  62. ^ "Converge biography". Archived from the original on 2007-08-11., Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  63. ^ Botch - We Are The Romans Review
  64. ^ San Francisco Bay Guardian : Article : The Gap's attack on kids
  65. ^ TV3 > News > Story > Mathcore band the 'Dillinger Escape Plan' visit NZ
  66. ^ Events for this weekend in New York
  67. ^
  68. ^ "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."
  69. ^ a b "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..."
  70. ^ Cosmo Lee. "". 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." 
  71. ^ Ed Rivadavia. "Heaven Shall Burn". Allmusic. 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." 
  72. ^ Lee, Cosmo. "Doom". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  73. ^ Marsicano, Dan. "Rose Funeral - 'The Resting Sonata'". Retrieved October 7th, 2011. 


  • 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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