Music Dorkery

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT THE USE OF THE TERM “CORE”

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boss_ml2metalcore

This morning, I received the following e-mail from reader Parker Werley:

“How does a band get to earn the proud badge of having -core in their genre?”

That’s a pretty simple question, but it’s also kind of thought provoking. So I thought maybe we could explore it here a little bit. Because, honestly, I’m not sure that I know what the answer is.

Obviously the “core” suffix originated with hardcore. When former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris coined the term “grindcore,” I’d wager he meant the “core” part to be a specific reference to hardcore – early grind bands openly cited hardcore acts like Discharge as an influence.

But the phrase “metalcore” is where things start to get trickier. It was obviously meant, at least originally, to refer to bands that blended hardcore with metal. And for some bands, like Converge and Shai Hulud, the label fits.

But at this point, saying a metal band was influenced by hardcore is like saying a metal band was influenced by Slayer – it’s kind of a given (Slayer’s 1996 covers album, Undisputed Attitude, even contained a number of re-imaginings of hardcore classics). People have come to apply the “metalcore” tag to any number of bands, even when their hardcore influence is often negligible, they’ve now evolved well beyond a hardcore influence, or they sound absolutely nothing like any other bands who we can safely say fall into that genre. For example, Shadows Fall and the aforementioned Shai Hulud have little or nothing to do with one another, sonically speaking. I constantly hear people call Lamb of God metalcore, but Municipal Waste, who never get shoved under that heading, have a much more obvious hardcore influence (guitarist Ryan Waste has even expressed his love of D.R.I. to me in the past).

Things get even sillier with deathcore. Take Suicide Silence, for example: does anyone really think these dudes spend a lot of time listening to Cro-Mags? Aside from some gang shouts, what evidence do we have that the members of All Shall Perish are Black Flag fans?

My point is this: the term “core” now seems to apply to any modern metal band that people don’t like and/or use breakdowns. It’s as amorphous as the word “nu.”

And yet, almost everyone seems to know what you mean when you say “core” (or “nu,” for that matter). When Vince coined the phrase “Sumeriancore,” I immediately understood what he was talking about. I don’t even think it’s a derogatory label; but there are bands that play modern technical death metal that are either on Sumerian or sound like a lot of the bands that are on Sumerian, so saying “Sumeriancore” just kinda makes sense.

This may be a conundrum that has no answer. The word “core” instantly conveys a lot about a band’s sound, but it does seem increasingly inaccurate when trying to convey the relationship between metal and punk.

Thoughts?

-AR

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