Hardcore Punk

Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Hardcore punk is what happens when you take Punk Rock and make it harder, faster and more aggressive. Simple.

But also more out-there, and political. It started in North America in the late 1970s. The musicians had (mostly) identical ideologies to the first punk rockers, including the DIY-aesthetic.

Some of the original, first wave of hardcore bands were Black Flag, from Los Angeles, Minor Threat, from Washington DC, and Bad Brains, also from Washington DC. These bands were the beginning of a genre that later branched out into countless different iterations.

New York Hardcore, or NYHC, began in the 1980s with the sounds of bands like Sick of it All and Agnostic Front. Popular bands from the region today are Madball and H20. Bands like Madball were instrumental in the adoption of a "tough guy" sound and image in part of modern hardcore, seen in bands such as Hatebreed, while a band by the name of Judge took the slower approach of My War-era Black Flag and framed it in an NYHC context, creating beatdown hardcore. Other bands in New York, such as the Cro-Mags, adopted Krishna Consciousness.

Japanese hardcore got its start sometime around the early 1980s, with acts like S.O.B., SS, GISM, The Stalin, and Gauze forming the initial wave. Characterized by its prominent noise and d-beat influences, Japanese hardcore was notoriously frantic and abrasive and proved instrumental in the rise of thrashcore and grindcore, with GISM and S.O.B. having been noted as influences by Napalm Death.

Straight Edge is thought to have been begun by Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat. This was a way of life in which the participant would abstain from the vices of the earlier hardcore scene - usually smoking, drinking, and sometimes promiscuous sex. While this movement was for a time characterized by gang violence, its current day incarnation could be seen to be the "Positive Hardcore" scene of New England, which includes bands such as Have Heart, The Effort and Bane.

In the late 1980's and the early 1990's, a new breed of hardcore band began. The first of these is sometimes thought to be Integrity, who hailed from Cleveland. They mixed thrash metal influences with the fresh flavor of hardcore, and sowed the seeds of a new genre, nowadays known as Metalcore. Other bands who were instrumental in this were Ringworm, Rorschach and Earth Crisis. Converge were a band who formed in Boston, Massachusetts. They took the early sound of metallic hardcore and created an enigmatic mix of extreme metal with envelope-pushing sensibilities. Nowadays, they are seen to be the keystone in the influences of the Mathcore subgenre, which includes bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Architects.

In the early 1990s, hardcore also branched out through the work of bands like Fugazi, Rites Of Spring and Embrace. This was the beginning of Post-Hardcore and Emo Music, which have both strayed from their origins and become difficult to define. On the other hand, this time period also resulted in a different movement that aimed to mix the energy and intensity of hardcore and grindcore with the oblique, discordant elements of post-hardcore, noise, and math rock to create the powerviolence genre, which made a name for itself with bands like Man Is the Bastard, Spazz, and Despise You and later helped create the Entombedcore movement in the late 2000s when people began to mix it with metalcore and crust punk.

Bands from Southern California in the early 1990s who were influenced by the hardcore sound of Black Flag and the Descendents, such as NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion and The Offspring, were a huge part of the 1990s Punk Revival. These bands also cemented the genre of Skate Punk and played a part in the popularity of Ska Punk and Pop Punk, influencing bands in the latter genre like Green Day and blink-182.

Needless to say, the work of pioneers like Black Flag and Minor Threat have had an extensive influence on the music of today, whether they wanted to or not.
Some bands commonly referred to as hardcore:


Tropes associated with hardcore and its direct offshoots:
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: In a good way, however. That said, some of the actual anarchist bands defy this, though the Lyrical Dissonance may make this not obvious at first.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Many early bands lacked the metal influence that would become popular from the late 80's onwards. Some of the first bands such as Wire and Crass often had primitive Noise Rock tendencies.
    • Judge is a very militant straight edge band that was more similar in philosophy to it's predecessor Youth of Today than the Tough guy 'Jock-ist' attitude of the Beatdown bands that copied them.
  • Epic Rocking: Rarely but occasional examples pop up, including but not limited to "From the Cradle to the Grave" by the Subhumans (16:51), "Full Metal Jackoff" by Jello Biafra and D.O.A. (13:57), and "Shut Down" by the Germs (9:30)
    • The longest example is "Yes Sir, I Will" by Crass at 43:53
    • Black Flag's My War caused much controversy when it was first released, partially because Side B contained 3 examples: "Nothing Left Inside" (6:44), "Three Nights" (6:03) and "Scream" (6:52). Those weren't their last as they also had "Armageddon Man" (9:12), "Slip It In" (6:17), "You're Not Evil" (7:00), "Your Last Affront" (9:39), "The Process of Weeding Out" (9:58), and "Society's Tease (6:09)
  • Dark is Not Evil: Yes, it is a quite loud, heavy genre, but most hardcore musicians are goodnatured.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of hardcore lyrics tend to invoke this.
  • Doing It for the Art: So much so that it's easier to find bands which don't fall into this trope.
  • The Fettered: Most protagonists in hardcore songs will tend to invoke this in some way or another.
  • Heavy Metal: Hardcore has a long and nuanced history with Metal, featuring a lot of cross pollination. Metal was very influential on what Hardcore Punk became, and metal and hardcore combining has created several metal subgenres such as Thrash Metal, Crossover Thrash, and Metalcore.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: A lot of anarchist bands, such as Crass and Flux of Pink Indians, used violent, abrasive musical styles to convey a message of Actual Pacifism.
  • Miniscule Rocking: A lot of bands have very short songs, though there was also a tendency among bands to expand their song lengths later in their career as they experimented with their sound more.
    • Some of the more impressive examples include the Minutemen's The Punch Line with 18 songs in 15 minutes, D.R.I's Dirty Rotten LP with 22 songs in 17 minutes, and the compilation Short Music for Short People which fits 101 songs by 101 bands onto a 48 minute CD.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually in the 6-8 range, sometimes higher in cases of bands with pronounced Metal influences. Occasionally drops down to a 5, as well. Level 9 hardcore punk is often of a subgenre sometimes known as powerviolence. Level 10-11 hardcore punk is instead something else entirely.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: There's a few examples including Dead Kennedys, Big Boys, Meat Puppets, Suicidal Tendencies, Minutemen, Husker Du, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Gay Kiss and a few others. Many bands are also very thrash metal influenced.
  • Protest Song: Well, it's punk; what did you expect?
  • Teenage Wasteland: Probably the reason why most hardcore punk musicians are pretty young.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Hardcore punk lyrics are mostly somber-natured.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Most hardcore punk musicians tend to eschew high-budget production in favor of a more dirt-cheap, lo-fi one. Subverted with the more recent offspring of hardcore punk, as lo-fi has mostly fallen out of favor.
  • Trope Maker: Popular candidates include Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, The Germs. Some of them exhibit somewhat Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly tendencies compared to the rest of the genre because they played it when it had still been an Unbuilt Trope.
  • Ur-Example: Crass, Jerry's Kids, Middle Class and Wire are frequently considered this. Many of them are quite avant-garde.

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