By Jeremy M. - Posted on 05 September 2010

 

The Hardcore Language Divide

 

      I listen to weird music. I think that there is something good and worthwhile in hardcore music which is also commonly referred to as “screamo.” The point of this commentary is to first, define hardcore as a musical genre, second, talk about the language divide of singing styles and finally to then take our understanding of that divide and talk about why someone would want to scream their song instead of singing it. I also made a huge list of sub-genres with band lists, I highly recommend that if you want to hear more hardcore you start with those. Finding their music is as easy as plugging it into YouTube or googling the band's myspace/purevolume itself.

 

      Many people really don't have an idea of what hardcore is, which is really kind of tragic because it has an interesting formation and takes many forms. I am not a music major, nor am I skilled in the mathematical part of music creation, my credentials are purely those of the typical fan in the audience, and what I have picked up in talking to bands and promoters over my past four years in the hardcore, punk, and ska scenes I've worked with. As far as I understand it, hardcore began in the 80s with what is called “the 80s hardcore era.” A lot of people know the two big bands of that era, which are Minor Threat and Black Flag who are more punk hardcore than just hardcore. Hardcore in the 80s is fast, cut the song short, has a really short chorus and simple chord progression. There are very few solos. After the 80s thanks to Minor Threat they created this idea of “Straight Edge Hardcore”. A commentary on straight edge is a whole different article entirely, but essentially it just means no drinking or drugs at all. Hardcore kind of went away for awhile until the advent of modern hardcore arrived in the late 90s.

 

      Modern hardcore is really start stop, very slow, chugging breakdowns, gang vocals and it has many anthem type vocals. For example, one of my favorite hardcore anthems comes from a band called Black My Heart in their song “Thick As Blood”. Roughly two minutes into the song the band goes from breakdown to some fast paced playing and then to a gang vocal breakdown. The singer speaks “These are my friends, I have their backs, they are the closest thing to blood that I have.” Then all the people in the crowd usually rush the stage and jump on each other and just scream that line loud. It is the cliché hardcore anthem because it is a short, uplifting statement.

 

The type of screams in modern hardcore tend to be more guttural and deeper, much like light death metal. This has led some critics to call some modern hardcore bands like August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada, and Bring Me The Horizon as “Metalcore”. In my mind, hardcore is all about the vocals, the screams define it the most.

 

      Now it is time for the main issue with hardcore, and that is the lack of ability to be understood by the common listener. It takes a long time to be able to understand screaming on the fly. I've often heard it being called “developing the hardcore ear”. The language barrier is not so vast as you may think however. All it takes to quickly understand screaming is to open a lyric page and then read along with the screams. If you do this enough you start to figure out how bands piece words together when screamed. Usually they take a really long time to say a word with a deep slow scream/growl or say words really fast with a really high raspy scream.

 

     Here is an example, I'll link the song and then post the lyrics. This song is called “Wake the Dead” and the band's name is Comeback Kid, they are more along the lines of 80s hardcore meets modern because they incorporate fast light screaming of the 80s with the chugging breakdowns and gang vocals of modern hardcore.

 

The song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdSYfNMKFfo

 

 

 

Lyrics:

 

This is our city of the dead
Another life holds its weary head
We hope, we try, we live, survive
Counting days, trying to get by
Waiting for the calling
Anticipation in the air
We hope and dream of difference
City sleeping, unaware

Break the silence, WAKE THE DEAD
Running through these streets alone
I'll kick and scream, let's break this hold
'Cause I swear, that this won't render useless
I promise you, we've come this far
And I'm not stopping, I'm not stopping now
Enough hiding in shadows
Wake up, send out this message, it's clear

You said, you said, you said
this time was gonna be different
WAKE UP THE DEAD
[2x]

Coming alive, something stirs inside
This isn't over yet
Shake off the dirt
Swallow regret
Stop living under the weight
Living under the weight of regret
Your regrets
DON'T LOSE HOPE
Your regrets
DON'T LOSE HOPE
Don't let it happen to you
DON'T LOSE HOPE
Which side are you gonna choose?
'Cause I believe, I believe it's in you RISE!

We said, we said, we said
This time was gonna be different
WAKE UP THE DEAD
[4x]

 

 

      The Devil Wears Prada is an example of more modern hardcore, I'll link their song “Hey John Whats Your Name Again?”. Notice the change in vocal styles not just between hardcore and singing, but also the types of screaming. The singer takes a really long time to use the word “congratulations” and also “mutilation” because that part of the song is really a keystone to the whole thing. The video I found is actually two songs in one, the second song is “HTML Rulez D00d” and you can find the lyrics a number of places online if interested.

 

Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON2xbaLzYz4

 

Lyrics:

 

The concept of fashion is the one to blame;
painting the portrait of conviction-less existence.
Well, it must be difficult being so gorgeous.
Well, it must be difficult claiming to be the kings and queens.
but it's all
but it's all
but it's all
but it's all for nothing.
This shall pass, megalomania.
This shall pass, megalomania.
Congratulations on mutilation
for a life,
for a life,
life, life, life,
life, life, life.

I'm gonna hope for you,
I'm gonna pray for you
amongst the reckless and the black.
Salvation lies within.
I'm gonna hope for you,
I'm gonna pray for you
amongst the reckless and the black.
My time is yours my friend.
We all find ourselves so horribly weak
here's an offering
here's an offering
offering
offering

 

 

 

      I think one of the biggest misconceptions about hardcore is that people think that it is just screaming with no words or really simple lyrics, but this is simply not true. Many songs are just as if not more poetic and contain really hard screaming.

 

      There are many sub-genres of hardcore and screamo, just like any other. There is Pop Punk Hardcore which is basically a really light fast punk song with maybe screaming in the background or just in the chorus. Bands like this include A Day To Remember, Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals, Hidden in Plain View, Close Your Eyes, and Such Gold

 

     There are also hardcore bands that are more on the metal side of things, bands like this include Miss May I, The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans, and August Burns Red.

 

     Some hardcore bands defy classification, most notably Horse The Band. They combine classic 8-Bit Video game sounds with screaming and heavy synth or keyboard. Another band known for using heavy synth is Arsonists Get All The Girls. The Blood Brothers are kind of a hardcore band, they were doing screamy type things before modern hardcore even got started, so I really consider them a pioneer.

 

     And finally my favorite, Straight Edge hardcore, which continues to live on in modern times. Bands that are straight edge hardcore purely are Minor Threat, Have Heart, Bane, Black My Heart, Comeback Kid, and Stick To Your Guns. Straight edge hardcore is usually really happy and trusts in the strength of the human spirit.

 

     There are also Skacore bands, which basically combines the horns and upstrokes of ska with screams and breakdowns. This type of music is really really out there and consists of bands like The Flaming Tsunamis, Folly, This Is A Stick Up, Public Access, Stuck Lucky, A Billion Ernies, and The Best Of The Worst.

 

     A sub genre also exists that defines a name. It is heavy screaming, discordant guitars, and almost sounds like noise. It resembles grindcore but really isn't. Bands include IWRESTLEDABEARONCE, I Set My Friends On Fire, and Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza.

 

     IWRESTLEDABEARONCE has a female vocalist who sings and does screams/growls, this is not as uncommon as you would think. It happens in hardcore with them Walls of Jericho, The Agonist (which is more death metal) and Light This City, all of which have female screams/growls.

 

     Finally, the question “Why would you want to scream instead of sing.” Personally I enjoy singing hardcore because of the way it motivates people. Being shocking and out there separates you and makes people who haven't heard you stop for a second as they try to understand you. It is so much more raw than normal singing and it is this massive outpouring of emotion and release of stress. Hardcore shows tend to be a lot of pushing and moshing and stage diving because it is really energetic music. Hardcore dancing is a lot of flailing and stomping and it is a real cathartic experience. I also think that it really appeals to my generation because everyone else seems to be so caught up in the greatness of bands from the 80s and earlier and it is all you hear on the rock radio stations. Hardcore is something we created ourselves and we continue to make ourselves. It truly is for us by us.

 

I'll probably write more things like this and explain other hardcore elements. Thanks for reading.

 

Websites/Resources for finding Hardcore bands and Lyrics:

 

http://www.plyrics.com/ - Probably the best lyric site for hardcore and punk music.

 

http://communityrecords.org/ - Community Records is a small record label out of New Orleans that has several hardcore and skacore bands. Most of the music on the site is available for free download from them.

 

http://www.purevolume.com/ - Purevolume is a decent music website for alternative and underground music.

 

 

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