Hardcore is a subgenre of punk rock characterized by bands who play short, loud, and angry songs with exceptionally fast chord changes on highly overdriven guitars. The lyrics typically are political in nature, and often violently expressive.

Table of contents
1 History
2 American hardcore
3 British Hardcore
4 Diversification of influences
5 Hardcore Bands
6 Reference


Hardcore originated in the United States, primarily in and around major cities like Los Angeles, Washington D.C, New York City, and Boston, as a vehicle for expressing urban and suburban teen angst. Commentator Steven Blush claimed (in American Hardcore: A Tribal History) that hardcore was punk rock adapted for suburban teens. Most hardcore bands had lyrical themes that ranged from righteous indignation at societal hypocrisy--both within and without the punk scene itself--to promotion of some form of anarchism.

American hardcore

Like the British punk wave of 1976 to 1978, American hardcore was an initially tight-knit movement that evolved into an enduring genre. The sound arose in suburban beach communities in Southern California, taking influences from The Ramones, Wire and Sham 69. Bands like The Germs, Middle Class and Fear were among the pioneers of the musical genre. Outside of California, D.O.A (Vancouver) and Bad Brains (Washington, DC) were especially important. A radio show called Rodney on the ROQ played on Los Angeles' KROQ, an influential radio station, helped popularize the sound in California, and a wave of zines led by Flipside brought it around the country. The hardcore scene became associated with violence almost as soon as it was born, especially after the release of the film The Decline of Western Civilization. Skateboarding, slamdancing and stagediving also associated with the scene.

During the first stage, which lasted from about 1980 to 1984, the two definitive hardcore bands were Washington D.C's Minor Threat and Los Angeles' Black Flag.

Minor Threat, particularly in their emphasis on speed, were heavily influenced by Washington D.C's Bad Brains. In 1980 to 1981, Minor Threat combined a blunt and tightly organized sound with the more loose experimentalism of the "first generation" punks of the 1970s. Black Flag, meanwhile, released in 1981 their album Damaged, which pretty much defined the musical aggression of hardcore.

British Hardcore

From England, Discharge emerged as one of the most copied bands, and were among the first to pare down their songs into ultra-fast three-chord blasts, without melodies and without excess ornamentation.

Diversification of influences

Later in the 1980s hardcore music found a kindred spirit with heavy metal and vice versa with bands such as Agnostic Front, DRI, and Sick of It All. Metallica claimed both the Misfits and Discharge as early influences on their own brand of metal. Discharge themselves took a 180 degree turn from hardcore to play slower metal songs, and switched from spiked hair to long hair in the process. Hardcore has since been a genre in which the stylistic line between "punk" and "metal" has often blurred.

There have been numerous trends and movements within hardcore, mostly self-classified according to a particular philosophy or political outlook. Perhaps most notable is the straight-edge "scene" (because many involved would not necessarily want to be called a "movement"), which got its name from a Minor Threat song that espoused complete avoidance of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. Other hardcore scenes include pacifist bands, Hindu bands, and even Eastern Orthodox Christian bands.

Hardcore Bands


Straight Edge


Hindu/Hare Krishna

  • 108
  • Antidote
  • Cause for Alarm
  • Cro-Mags
  • Shelter



  • Suine Anget


  • Jud Jud

Emotional Hardcore (Emo)


Hardcore splintered off into many subgenres. The most popular so far has been "emo", which originally stood for "emotional hardcore" but has come to represent a style and music of its own.