A Brief History of Metal and Hardcore, Part 1: Punk at Heart!

“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.

A Brief History of Metal and Hardcore, Part 1: Punk at Heart!

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.

A Brief History of Metal and Hardcore, Part 1: Punk at Heart!

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.

#BATTLEROYALE #TeamQuestionMan #TeamEZwinEZlife


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Most Helpful Guy

  • YES Glassjaw. I've actually never met another Glassjaw fan outside of when I saw them live at a festival. The people I've tried to introduce them to said they hate the vocals :( I actually quite like the vocals because they have a unique style to them, but oh well, I digress.
    My personal favorite is Mu Empire by them, but I also like Tip Your Bartender

    I generally am a progressive metal and mathcore (like Converge and their badass song "All We Love We Leave Behind") kind of guy, but I enjoy hardcore and also various forms of punk. Not too big of a fan of classic punk, but I enjoy other stuff.

    I'll be on a look out for part 2 👍

    • I can see how his vocals can be troublesome for people to get into. I had a similar problem with Protest the Hero where the musicalisation blasted me right away, but it took me a while to get into the singing. Today their first proper release (Kezia) is one of my all-time favourites.

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Join the discussion

What Girls Said 3

  • I just wrote a whole thing, and it deleted everything. D:

    Anyway, let's try this again. I think you did a good job introducing the history behind these genres. I have eclectic tastes when it comes to music, but I never bother to look at how these artists, songs, and genres came to be. I just know I like how something sounds and listen away, haha. Thank you for giving me some background, and I look forward to seeing the second part of this tomorrow!

    • God, I hate it when you put effort into writing something and then your browser crashes and its all lost. T_T

    • Oh, me too. I was annoyed with that, but at least it was only something relatively short.

  • Lol after I saw the title I thought of you @riseagainst29 any insight?

  • So proud ;)


What Guys Said 4

  • Good take and enjoyable history lesson - I am open to a lot of genres but punk never really did it for me - I liked some of the so called "Post Punk" of the 1980s but I suppose you could call it punk lite. It could be an age thing I like the metal of the 70s and 80s but as it speeded up and got more hardcore, I fell away from it. I don't go down the negative stereotyping of it, I just say that I never got into it but I can say same about disco and hip hop.

    • Should definitely listen more into At the Drive-In then as they are more of the softer Post-Hardcore while being quite diverse in their musical approach. Great Band. Maybe Mutiny on the Bounty that is a bit more Alternative-Rock than Post-Hardcore might be of your liking as well.

      Else you might want to try yourself out with the Post-Rock genre. While it can be quite dragged with bands like Long Distance Calling, there are a lot of more dynamic bands. MaybeSheWill, And So I Watch You From Afar, Mogwai, 65daysofstatic and God Is an Astronaut.

  • Good take but I'm a little surprised no mention of black Sabbath, Metalica or megadeth. Perhaps in part two you will focus more on metal? It is interesting how these genres evolved and how intertwined they are with seemingly different genre's.

    • I think it was fairly obvious that I focused on Hardcore in this part - so the second part will involve more.

  • Yeah it's just some people are close-minded and have absolutely no clue about the history of the genres that they're insulting. People just don't understand that type of music.

    You did a good job explaining the origin of the genres. And by the way Dead Kennedys are awesome.

  • Vision of Disorder rules.

    I love when bands mix punk and metal together. Eyehategod and Superjoint Ritual are 2 of my favorites in that regard.


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