Post-hardcore is a punk rock music genre that maintains the aggression
and intensity of hardcore punk but emphasizes a greater degree of
creative expression initially inspired by post-punk and noise rock.
Like post-punk, the term has been applied to a broad constellation of
groups. The genre took shape in the mid to late 1980s with releases by
bands from cities that had established hardcore scenes, such as Fugazi
from Washington, D.C. as well as groups such as
Big Black and
Jawbox that stuck closer to post-hardcore's noise rock roots.
2.1.1 The Washington D.C. scene
San Diego scene
2.2.2 Moderate popularity
3 See also
Shellac (Steve Albini) in concert.
Hardcore punk typically features very fast tempos, loud volume, and
heavy bass levels, as well as a "do-it-yourself" ethic. Music
AllMusic stated "these newer bands, termed post-hardcore,
often found complex and dynamic ways of blowing off steam that
generally went outside the strict hardcore realm of 'loud fast rules'.
Additionally, many of these bands' vocalists were just as likely to
deliver their lyrics with a whispered croon as they were a maniacal
Allmusic also claims that post-hardcore bands find creative
ways to build and release tension rather than "airing their dirty
laundry in short, sharp, frenetic bursts". Jeff Terich of
Treblezine stated, "Instead of sticking to hardcore's rigid
constraints, these artists expanded beyond power chords and gang
vocals, incorporating more creative outlets for punk rock energy."
British post-punk of the late 1970s and early 1980s has been seen as
influential on the musical development of post-hardcore bands. As
the genre progressed, some of these groups also experimented with a
wide array of influences, including soul, dub, funk, jazz, and
dance-punk. It has also been noted that since some post-hardcore bands
included members that were rooted in the beginnings of hardcore punk,
some of them were able to expand their sound as they became more
Groups such as Saccharine Trust, Naked Raygun, and The
Effigies, which were active around the early 1980s, are considered
to be forerunners to the post-hardcore genre. Chicago's Naked Raygun,
formed in 1981, has been seen as merging post-punk influences of bands
such as Wire and Gang of Four with hardcore punk, while author
Steven Blush notes the band's use of "oblique lyrics and stark
post-punk melodies". Similarly, The Effigies, who also hailed from
Chicago scene, released music influenced by the hardcore of Minor
Threat and the British post-punk of bands like The Stranglers, Killing
Joke, and The Ruts.
Big Black in 1986
During the early to mid-1980s, the desire to experiment with
hardcore's basic template expanded to many musicians that had been
associated with the genre or had strong roots in it. Many of these
groups also took inspiration from the 1980s noise rock scene pioneered
by Sonic Youth. Some bands signed to the independent label
Homestead Records, including Squirrel Bait (as well as David
Bastro and Bitch Magnet) and Steve Albini's Big
Black (just as his subsequent projects Rapeman and Shellac)
are also associated with post-hardcore. Big Black, which also
Naked Raygun guitarist Santiago Durango, made
themselves known for their strict DIY ethic, related to practices
such as paying for their own recordings, booking their own shows,
handling their own management and publicity, and remaining "stubbornly
independent at a time when many independent bands were eagerly
reaching out for the major-label brass ring". The band's music,
punctuated by the use of a drum machine, has also been seen as
influential to industrial rock, while Blush has also described the
Albini-fronted project as "an angst-ridden response to the rigid
English post-punk of Gang of Four". After the issuing of the "Il
Duce" single (and between the release of their only two studio albums,
Atomizer and Songs About Fucking),
Big Black left Homestead for Touch
and Go Records, which would later reissue not only their entire
discography, but would also be responsible for the release of the
complete works of Scratch Acid, an act from
Austin, Texas described as
post-hardcore, that, according to Stephen Thomas Erlewine, "laid
the groundwork for much of the distorted, grinding alternative punk
rockers of the '90s".
Outside the United States, the genre would take shape in the works of
the Canadian group Nomeansno, related with
Jello Biafra and his
independently run label Alternative Tentacles, and that had been
active since 1979. A reviewer noted that the group's 1989's release
Wrong was "one of the most aggressive and powerful opuses in
post-hardcore ever made".
The Washington D.C. scene
During the years 1984 and 1985 in the "harDCore" scene, a new
movement had "swept over". This movement was led by bands
associated with the D.C. independent record label Dischord Records,
home in the early 1980s to seminal hardcore bands such as Minor
Threat, State of Alert, Void and Government Issue. According
to the Dischord website: "The violence and nihilism that had become
identified with punk rock, largely by the media, had begun to take
hold in DC and many of the older punks suddenly found themselves
repelled and discouraged by their hometown scene", leading to "a
time of redefinition". When The Faith put out the EP Subject to
Change in 1983, it marked a critical evolution in the sound of D.C.
hardcore and punk music in general. During these years, a new wave
of bands started to form, these included
Rites of Spring
Rites of Spring (which
featured The Faith former guitarist Eddie Janney), Lunchmeat (later to
become Soulside), Gray Matter, Mission Impossible,
Dag Nasty and
Embrace, the latter featuring former
Minor Threat singer
and Dischord co-founder
Ian MacKaye and former members of The Faith.
This movement has been since widely known as the "Revolution
Rites of Spring
Rites of Spring has been described as the band that
"more than led the change", challenging the "macho posturing that
had become so prevalent within the punk scene at that point", and
"more importantly", defying "musical and stylistic rule".
Journalist Steve Huey writes that while the band "strayed from
hardcore's typically external concerns of the time – namely,
social and political dissent – their musical attack was no less
blistering, and in fact a good deal more challenging and nuanced than
the average three-chord speed-blur", a sound that, according to
Huey, mapped out "a new direction for hardcore that built on the
innovations" brought by Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade. Other bands have
been perceived as taking inspiration from genres such as funk (as in
the case of Beefeater) and 1960s pop (such as the example of Gray
Fugazi during their last pre-hiatus tour, 2002. The band's influence
was summarized by reviewer Andy Kellman with the following statement:
Fugazi meant as much to them as
Bob Dylan did to their
According to Eric Grubbs, a nickname was developed for the new sound,
with some considering it "post-harDCore", but another name that
floated around the scene was "emo-core". The latter, mentioned in
skateboarding magazine Thrasher, would come up in discussions around
the D.C. area. While some of these bands have been considered as
contributors to the birth of emo, with Rites of Spring
sometimes being named as the first or one of the earliest emo
acts, musicians such as the band's former frontman Guy
Picciotto and MacKaye himself have voiced their opposition against the
term. In the nearby state of Maryland, similar bands that
are categorized now as post-hardcore would also emerge, these include
Moss Icon and The Hated. The former's music contained,
according to Steve Huey, "shifting dynamics, chiming guitar arpeggios,
and screaming, crying vocal climaxes", which would prove to be
influential to later musicians in spite of the band's unstable
existence. This group has also been considered as one of the
earliest emo acts.
The second half of the 1980s saw the formation of several bands in
D.C., which included Shudder to Think, Jawbox, The Nation of Ulysses,
and Fugazi, as well as Baltimore's Lungfish. MacKaye described
this period as the busiest that the
Dischord Records label had ever
seen. Most of these acts, along with earlier ones, would
contribute to the 1989 compilation State of the Union, a release
that documented the new sound of the late 1980s D.C. punk scene.
Fugazi gained "an extremely loyal and numerous global following",
with reviewer Andy Kellman summarizing the band's influence with the
statement: "To many,
Fugazi meant as much to them as
Bob Dylan did to
their parents." It has also been noted that the group's
"ever-evolving" sound would signal a more experimental turn in
hardcore that paved the way for later Dischord releases. The band,
which included MacKaye, Picciotto, and former
Rites of Spring
Rites of Spring drummer
Brendan Canty along with bassist Joe Lally, issued in 1989 13 Songs, a
compilation of their earlier self-titled and
Margin Walker EPs, which
is now considered as a landmark album. Similarly, the band's debut
studio album, 1990's Repeater, has also been "generally" regarded as a
classic. The group also garnered recognition for their activism,
cheaply priced shows and CDs, and their resistance to mainstream
outlets. On the other hand,
Jawbox had been influenced by "the
tradition of Chicago's thriving early-'80s scene", while The
Nation of Ulysses are "best remembered for lifting the motor-mouthed
revolutionary rhetoric of the MC5" with the incorporation of "elements
of R&B (as filtered through the MC5) and avant jazz" combined with
"exciting, volatile live gigs", and being the inspiration for "a new
crop of bands both locally and abroad".
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the formation and rise to
prominence of several bands associated with earlier acts that not only
included the examples of
Fugazi and Shellac, but also Girls Against
Boys (originally a side-project of
Brendan Canty and Eli Janney,
which would later incorporate members of Soulside), The Jesus
Lizard (formed by ex-members of Scratch Acid),
Quicksand (fronted by former
Youth of Today
Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits
member Walter Schreifels), Rollins Band (led by former Black Flag
singer Henry Rollins), Tar (which raised from the ashes of a hardcore
outfit named Blatant Dissent), and Slint (containing
members of Squirrel Bait). Acts such as Shellac and Louisville's Slint
have been considered as influential to the development of the genre of
math rock, with the former featuring "awkward time signatures and
trademark aggression" that has come to characterize "a certain slant"
on math rock, while the latter presented "instrumental music
seeped in dramatic tension but set to rigid systems of
solid-structured guitar patterns and percussive repetition".
According to reviewer Jason Arkeny, Slint's "deft, extremist
manipulations of volume, tempo, and structure cast them as clear
progenitors of the post-rock movement".
Unwound emerged from Olympia, Washington.
AllMusic has noted that younger bands "flowered into post-hardcore
after cutting their teeth in high school punk bands". In Washington
D.C., new bands such as Hoover (as well as the related The Crownhate
Ruin), Circus Lupus, Bluetip, and
Smart Went Crazy were added to the
Dischord roster. Hoover has been cited by journalist Charles Spano
as a band that had "a tremendous impact on post-hardcore music".
In New York City, in addition to Quicksand, post-hardcore bands such
as Helmet, Unsane, Chavez and
Texas Is the Reason
emerged. Quicksand and Helmet have also been associated with
alternative metal. Chicago, which alongside the Midwestern
United States has been important to the progression of math rock,
also saw the birth of post-hardcore acts such as the examples of
Shellac, Tar, Trenchmouth, and the Jade Tree-released group Cap'n
Jazz (as well as the subsequent related project Joan of Arc,
which also released their work through Jade Tree). Steve Huey argues
that the release of Cap'n Jazz's retrospective compilation album
Analphabetapolothology helped spread the band's influence "far beyond
their original audience", while also considering the group as
influential for the development of emo in the independent music
scene. Champaign, also in Illinois, was known for an independent
scene that would give way to groups like Hum, Braid and Poster
Children. The American Northwest saw the creation of acts such as
Karp, Lync and Unwound, all hailing from the Olympia,
Washington area. The latter's music has been considered by critic John
Bush as a combination of "the noise of Sonic Youth's more raucous
passages" with a "rare energetic flair which rivals even that of
Texas saw the formation of groups such as The Jesus
Lizard (later to be based in Chicago) and ...And You Will Know Us by
the Trail of Dead in Austin, and
At the Drive-In
At the Drive-In from El Paso.
This last band was known for their energy in both performances and
music, and for their "driving melodic punk riffs, meshed together with
quieter interlocking note-picking".
The genre also saw representation outside the United States in
Refused who emerged from the Umeå,
Sweden music scene. The band,
which made itself known earlier in their career for its "massive
hardcore sound", released in 1998 The Shape of Punk to Come, an
album that saw the group take inspiration from The Nation of
Ulysses while incorporating elements such as "ambient
textures, jazz breakdowns", metal and electronica to their
San Diego scene
The VSS performing in 1997. While formed in Boulder, Colorado, the
group has been associated with the post-hardcore sound developed in
San Diego and led by independent labels like Gravity.
The early-to-mid 1990s would see the birth of several bands in the San
California music scene, some of which would lead a
post-hardcore movement associated with the independent label Gravity
Records. This movement would eventually become known as the "San
Diego sound". Gravity was founded in 1991 by Matt Anderson, member
of the band Heroin, as a means to release the music of his band and of
San Diego groups, which also included Antioch Arrow
and Clikatat Ikatowi. The label's earlier releases are known for
the definition of "a new sound in hardcore rooted in tradition but
boasting a chaotic sound that showcased a new approach" to the
genre. Heroin were known for being innovators of early 1990s
hardcore and for making dynamic landscapes "out of one minute blasts
of noisy vitriol". These bands were influenced by acts like Fugazi
and The Nation of Ulysses, while also helping propagate an offshoot of
hardcore that "grafted spastic intensity to willfully experimental
dissonance and dynamics". This movement has been associated to the
development of the subgenre of screamo, while it also should be
noticed that this term has been, as with the case of emo, the subject
of controversy. The label also featured releases by non-San Diego
bands that included Mohinder (from Cupertino, California), Angel
Hair and its subsequent related project The VSS (from Boulder,
Colorado), groups that have also been associated with this sound.
The VSS was known for their use of synthesizers "vying with
post-hardcore's rabid atonality".
Outside the Gravity roster, another band that played an important role
in the development of the "
San Diego sound" was Drive Like Jehu.
This group, founded by former members of Pitchfork, was known,
according to Steve Huey, for their lengthy and multisectioned
compositions based on the innovations brought by the releases on
Dischord, incorporating elements such as "odd time signatures played
an important role on its development in spite of the band's music not
resembling the sound such term would later signify. In a similar
manner, Swing Kids, composed of former members of hardcore bands from
San Diego scene such as Unbroken, Struggle and Spanakorzo, have
been described by journalist Zach Baron as the moment in which the
"hardcore" sound of bands like Unbroken effectively became
"post-hardcore", known for "covering
Joy Division songs" and for its
sonic "jazz-quoting" and "guitar feedback" experimentation
features. They were also one of the first bands released under the
independent label Three One G, founded by the band's vocalist Justin
Pearson and later known for releasing the works of several other
post-hardcore, noise rock, mathcore and grindcore groups.
At the Drive-In
At the Drive-In have acknowledged the influence of the
post-hardcore sound coming from the
San Diego scene, with vocalist
Cedric Bixler-Zavala citing elements such as "screaming vocals with
over-the-top emotions, calculated, heavy riffs, [...] offbeat rhythms"
and an "incredible amount of energy, chaos and melody" put by these
groups as crucial in the development of his band's sound.
According to Ian MacKaye, the sudden interest in underground and
independent music brought by the success of Nirvana's Nevermind
attracted the attention of major labels towards the Dischord imprint
and many of its bands. While the label rejected these offers, two
Jawbox and Shudder to Think, would sign deals with
major labels. The former's signing to
Atlantic Records would
alienate some of the band's long-term fanbase, but it would also
help with the development and recording of the 1994 release For Your
Special Sweetheart, considered by Andy Kellman as "one of the best
releases to come out of the fertile D.C. scene of the '80s and
'90s". The subsequent tour for the album and the
MTV rotation of
some videos would introduce the band to a handful of new crowds, but
ultimately the album would remain "unnoticed outside of the usual
Likewise, out of the Dischord label,
Interscope Records would sign
Helmet after a reportedly "ferocious" bidding war between several
major record companies, and while
MTV would air some videos by the
group, which by the time of the release of their major-label debut
Meantime, was considered then as "the only band close to the Seattle
grunge sound" on the American East Coast and would be hailed as
"the next big thing", these expectations would "never be fully
realized" in spite of the record's later influence. In another
notable case, Hum was signed to RCA in 1994, selling approximately
250,000 copies of their album
You'd Prefer an Astronaut
You'd Prefer an Astronaut fueled by the
success of the album's lead single "Stars", and while the band had
established by this point a strong underground fanbase, this would
prove to be "the pinnacle of Hum's media attention", as its follow-up,
Downward Is Heavenward
Downward Is Heavenward would sell poorly, resulting in the
decision of RCA to drop the band from their roster.
Silverstein (Shane Told) in concert.
Record producer Ross Robinson, who was credited for popularizing nu
metal with bands like Korn, Slipknot,
Limp Bizkit in the
1990s, helped post-hardcore achieve popularity during the
2000s. Mehan Jayasuriya of
PopMatters suggested that
Robinson's sudden focus on post-hardcore was his "pet project"
designed to redeem himself of "the 'Nu-Metal' scourge of the late
'90s". Robinson recorded At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command
(2000), Glassjaw's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence
Worship and Tribute
Worship and Tribute (2002), and The Blood Brothers'
...Burn, Piano Island, Burn
...Burn, Piano Island, Burn (2003); four albums that are said to
"stand as some of the best post-hardcore records produced" during the
2000s. In John Franck's review of Everything You Ever Wanted to
Know About Silence for Allmusic, he stated: "Featuring extraordinary
Sammy Siegler (of Gorilla Biscuits/CIV fame),
Glassjaw has paired up with producer/entrepreneur
Ross Robinson (a key
catalyst in the reinvention of the aggro rock sound) to take you on a
pummeling ride that would make
Bad Brains and Quicksand proud."
These bands allowed the genre to grow and become much more varied with
At the Drive-In
At the Drive-In taking influence from art rock and rock and roll, and
Glassjaw using elements of both pop music and heavy metal;
furthermore, bands such as Hell Is for Heroes, Hundred Reasons, Hondo
Funeral for a Friend
Funeral for a Friend took significant influence from metal
Pantera as well as hardcore bands like The Hope Conspiracy.
The genre gained widespread mainstream success thanks to post-hardcore
bands, controversially labeled as emo, such as My Chemical Romance,
Alexisonfire, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Thrice, The Used,
Silverstein, Thursday and Hawthorne Heights. Bands also began to
incorporate progressive elements; with bands such as
Chiodos and Scary
Kids Scaring Kids gaining significant success, and bands such as
Damiera, The Fall of Troy, The Sound of Animals Fighting, The Bled,
Norma Jean and The Chariot being left under the wood works; as well as
bands taking influence from metalcore like Ice Nine Kills,
Blessthefall and Pierce the Veil, inspired by acts such as Killswitch
Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu.
Later forms of post-hardcore have garnered more mainstream attention
with bands such as Sleeping with Sirens, whose third album Feel (2013)
debuted at No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 chart, making it one of the
highest charting post-hardcore album by any band to date.
Pierce the Veil's third album,
Collide with the Sky
Collide with the Sky (2012), has also
received much attention. While Madness (2015) and Misadventures
Sleeping with Sirens
Sleeping with Sirens and Pierce the Veil
respectively—incorporate more elements of pop rock and pop punk,
entering territory that many find to be loosely defined as
post-hardcore. Seen also is the emergence of independent post-hardcore
bands like The Men,
Cloud Nothings and METZ, who are described as
moving closer to the dynamics and aesthetics of earlier acts, whilst
diverging deeper into external influences. Reviewers
have also noted the incorporation of a diversity of elements like
krautrock, post-rock, sludge metal, shoegaze, power pop and no
wave in addition to previous hardcore, noise rock and post-punk
Despite originally being used jokingly, the term "The Wave" began
being used to describe a new wave of post-hardcore bands, with
bands generally being experimental, heavily emotional, boundary
pushing and disregarding of gimmicks. The term was originally
only used to describe Touché Amoré, Defeater, La Dispute, Make Do
and Mend and Pianos Become the Teeth, however eventually grew to
include bands such as
Title Fight and Balance and Composure. It
has also been noted that many bands have been influenced by At the
List of post-hardcore bands
Some of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. Please help
this article by looking for better, more reliable sources. Unreliable
citations may be challenged or deleted. (March 2011) (Learn how and
when to remove this template message)
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Bad Brains weren't
emotional? What - they were robots or something? It just doesn't make
any sense to me.
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List of hardcore genres
List of hardcore punk bands
List of musicians in the second wave of punk music
Punk subculture (includes section on hardcore)
Pub rock (United Kingdom)
New wave of British heavy metal
New wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM)
Scottish Gaelic punk
United States (California)
People and groups
First wave punk musicians
Second wave punk musicians
List of punk bands
Women in punk rock
List of punk compilation albums
List of punk rock festivals
Punk visual art
Punk films (List of punk films)
Timeline of punk