THE EVOLUTION OF DEATHCORE: A FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS
Ask 100 people their definition of deathcore, and you’ll get 101 answers, each different than the last. But the truth is that deathcore is actually really easy to define: it’s mallcore kids trying to play death metal, and try as they might, they will never quite get it right. Although that sounds like a criticism, it isn’t — the same raw, amateurish charm that made 80s hardcore like DRI and MDC great is the same reason why deathcore bands are awesome, even if they fail at their original goal of playing “sweet metal.”
Sure, their ham-fisted, clumsy attempts at playing “real metal” might be a little facepalm-worthy and/or lulzy at times, but on the other hand, they are a lot more interesting than the same old generic bullshit the br00tal death metal scene has churned out for years. Moreover, hardcore as a whole is just kids who try to play whatever kind of metal was cool 10 years earlier, so if you hate on deathcore you’re hating on the last three decades of hardcore!
In this article, I will present both a framework for assessing the history of deathcore, and my hypothesis about the future of the genre. Specifically, that deathcore has three, clearly-defined phases in its short history: Deathcore 1.0 (ripping off Gothenburgcore/melodeath), Deathcore 2.0 (ripping off br00tal death) and Deathcore 3.0 (ripping off djent/prog/wank/etc).
All Out War = some punk rock dudes from Poughkeepsie trying to sound like Kreator and early Sepultura
BETA/PROTO-DEATHCORE PHASE: Ripping off thrash
In the beginning, there was crossover. The bands most people think of as “seminal 80s hardcore” like Black Flag, DRI, Cro-Mags, and so forth were really just weird stoners emulating dinosaur metal such as Black Sabbath and Motorhead. Later, in the 90s, there were artists like Earth Crisis, Integrity, and Merauder who emulated Prong, Pantera, and Sepultura. These bands have nothing to do with deathcore per se, but it’s important to include them for the sake of illustrating that hardcore has always been the metal of a decade before.
DO U THINK THINK THESE GUYS HAVE EVER HEARD OF AT THE GATES.
PHASE 1.0: Ripping off generic melodeath
In my opinion, deathcore begins with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Darkest Hour, and Unearth. I know a lot of metal nerds will object to labeling these bands as “deathcore,” but hear me out! Sure, they might not sound like Oceano, but if we define deathcore as “hardcore/mallcore kids trying to play a style of metal that was cool 5-10 years prior,” then you would be hard-pressed to find better examples than the above.
One critical difference between this era of deathcore and today’s scene is that it was anything but cool to play this style in the late 90s/early 00s. In stark contrast to the post-BMTH scenescape of 2011, you were definitely not getting rich or laid by playing this stuff in 2001. Although musically speaking I can’t stand this stuff, all the people in these bands are cool guys who grew up in the same scene as I did, so I support deathcore 1.0 bands for that reason alone.
Suiside Silence is basically Corpsegrinder-era Cannibal Corps, only with some breakdowns sprinkled in so the songs are actually interesting (via dynamics)
PHASE 2.0: Ripping off generic br00tal death
I always felt like hardcore kids should be into brutal death metal. I mean, if you like Hatebreed, Bulldoze, and moshing your balls off, why wouldn’t you be into Suffocation, Pyrexia, and Disgorge? Sadly, there was very little hardcore/death metal crossover until the mid 00s. Just when I thought hardcore kids would never get into brutal death metal, you saw moshbros rocking camo shirts and Cannibal Corps shirts, and we entered the era of DEATHCORE 2.0.
This is when deathcore became “cool,” which of course means that tons of posers and other undesirables with giant egos and no passion for the actual music hopped on the bandwagon. Accordingly, DEATHCORE 2.0 is a real mixed bag. On the one hand you have excellent bands like Impending Doom, Suiside Silence and Job For A Cowboy, who are essentially the new face of semi-underground death metal (like it or not, they are the 2k11 equivalent of Morbid Angel or Napalm Death). On the other, you have horrible, derivative bands who play the most generic, awful dogshit, ala Waking The Cadaver or Begging For Incest. With that in mind, it is important for metal scholars to draw a clear, unbiased line between the two sides of DEATHCORE 2.0.
Whitechapel is all “DUDE HAVE U HEARD THAT BAND THE MESUGGAHS OMG THEYRE SO TECHNICAL ALL THEYRE SONGS ARE ALL CHUGGY CHUG CHUG SKRONKY CHUG CHUG SO WE BOUGHT 8 STRING GUITARS TOO”
PHASE 3.0: Ripping off generic djent/prog
Even a cursory listen of the last 12-18 months of deathcore releases makes it plain as day: DEATHCORE 3.0 is on the way. Whether we are talking about The Acacia Strain, After The Burial, the Faceless, or Veil Of Maya, it’s clear that the deathcore of 2011 is cut from a different cloth than that of just a few years ago. Instead of copying entry-level, washed-up bands from 1993 like Dying Fetus, Suffocation, and Cannibal Corpse, they are copying Origin, Meshuggah, and other bands who were popular as recently as 2001.
They’re stealing riffs from tech-death, prog and djent today, but what’s next?? Will DEATHCORE 3.0 bands be on some advanced-level shit like Guttural Secrete, Infernal Revulsion, or Gortuary? Or will they completely fail via going “really technical” and end up sounding like dull, monotonous, 2006-era Unique Leader bands??
Despised Icon were one of the most advanced-level DEATHCORE 2.5 bands, who went so far as to include semi-legit slam riffs such as the one at :45 in this song. Sure, you could tell all along they weren’t a real metal band, but I applaud their efforts to SLAM THAT sICKNESS!
IMO, we are currently in DEATHCORE PHASE 2.5. The flagship bands of DEATHCORE 2.0 like Suiside Silence and JFAC are still going strong, but it is clear that the future belongs to those who copy newer metal bands. But ironically, metal nerds are only just now getting to the point where their sensitive anuses can handle DEATHCORE 1.o bands — point out thatThe Black Dahlia Murder paved the way for Winds Of Plague and you will be chased with torches and pitchforks, but praise Demolisher or Emmure and you will be tarred and feathered by metal elitists… we are living in strange times!
What u think??? What is next for deathcore? What will DEATHCORE 3.0 bands look/sound like??? U mad that I called your favorite DEATHCORE 1.0 band “deathcore”? When did people start thinking of DARKEST HOUR as a ‘legit metal band’ not ‘Mike from BATTERY’s side project that sounds like that band At The Gates’????
Sergeant D. provides frameworks for analysis every day at Stuff You Will Hate.