“It is just screaming and noise!”, “only aggressive people listen to it” and such other comments are unfortunately common preconceptions people still have about the genres of Hardcore and Metal. While the general acceptance has improved greatly within the last decade or two there are still plenty of such negative stereotypes.
As often with such preconceptions, a lot of them come from a lack of understanding. Thus I will give a historic explanation about the two genres and how they both developed. This will include song-examples to show the different developments within Hardcore and Metal and their consequent sub-genres over the decades.
Before I start with explaining the history of the two genres, I will clear up a very common preconception first - that this kind of music is aggressive and thus makes people aggressive.
While it is true that this music is aggressive, there is a common misconception that people have by equating aggression with violence. This is simply wrong. Aggression is vigor, drive and incentive. Channeling it in a healthy way can lead mankind to great achievements, but channeling when it is channeled in the wrong direction it can become a destructive force.
Thus instead of this music making people violent it works as a valve to release energy and aggression in a healthy way. Hence why more men listen to such music.
Now to the actual topic of the different variants and history of Hardcore and Metal as well as the development of plenty subgenres along the way. This development resulted in both genres overlapping more and more and creating fluid transitions from one to the next while still being distinctive during the 90s. To be able to understand those transitions a certain level of historical understanding is required.
Hardcore originally developed from the Punk-genre and is occasionally still labeled as Hardcore-Punk – usually to differentiate itself from the later developed eletronic/techno hardcore genre. Dead Kennedys and Black Flag can be refered to as the most known founders of that development, but some say that the Sex Pistols were the original and main drive for it.
All that started during the 70s when Hardcore was still as punkish at heart as possible. It based itself on politically oriented lyrics and expressing frustration with the status quo. That frustration could arguably be the reason for the development of a more extreme musical style in order to express the increased dissatisfaction and frustration with anger and rage.
It took another decade for the first bands to start breaking out of those strong and sometimes limiting ties to Punk. During 1981, the first bands changed their lyrical content to become more personal rather than politically oriented while still keeping the music as an expression of raw emotion. This change originally was very controversial within the scene, but has been widely accepted now.
Shortly after this first breakaway from pure Punk, a few bands decided to implement hip-hop elements. The most known example of that is Biohazard who later on also started to become increasingly influenced by Metal.
Despite all those developments, Hardcore still kept close to Punk, using the the music as a means to express raw emotion as well as having a “fuck off” attitude. Said attitude possibly helped bands start to involve different musical elements of Metal within the genre. This resulted in the fairly popular Post-Hardcore subgenre which later on had an increasing relevance in the final breakthrough of Hardcore and Metal overlapping towards the millennial. Prior to this breakthrough, Metal-influences were consequently rejected within the core-scene while other influences like rock, funk and jazz already found acceptance.
Furthermore Post-Hardcore was relevant in the development of the Emo-Hardcore (called Emocore) and it's attached emo-hype which brought exaggerated the emotional lyrics to an absurd extreme. This in combination with becoming more Pop than Hardcore, made Emo(-core) still get rejected within the Hardcore-Scene.
Important chronological song-recommendations for the key-developments of Hardcore:
Black Flag - Rise Above - 1981
Founding fathers since 1980
Minor Threat - Salad Days - 1985
First band with more emotional and personal lyrics.
NoMeansNo – Now – 1991
Showcasing Jazz and Funk influences already since their first releases in 1982
Biohazard – Punishment - 1992
Clear hip-Hop elements within the Hardcore-Sound
Furthermore the following bands offer a decent insight into classic Hardcore (Agnostic Front, H20), the harder and more modern Hardcore (Hatebreed, Sick of it All) and the musically more diverse Hardcore (Vision of Disorder, At the Drive-In, Refused, Glassjaw):
Agnostic Front - Gotta Go
H2O - Nothing to Prove
Hatebreed - Empty Promises
Sick of it All - We Stand Alone
Vision of Disorder - Imprint
At the Drive-In - One Armed Scissor
Refused - New Noise
Glassjaw - Siberian Kiss
Part 2 coming tomorrow.