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The Hard Music Handbook

The Hard Music Handbook

My brother is just getting into independent music, and recently he brought up a point that has long frustrated me about loud music in the independent scene.

“Indie, Emo, Hardcore, Hard Rock, Grunge, Metal….why are there so many titles? I can’t even figure out what I’m listening to any more!” he vented. I simply nodded my head without mentioning that there’s even more genres, thanks to the fact that I haven’t confused him with metalcore, post-hardcore, and emocore yet.

There are too many genre names. I’m going to explain, to the best of my knowledge, everything that I know about these genres. Someone’s going to lambast me. A lot of someones. But until I’m proven wrong, I can never know I was wrong. So here we go. Genres:

Metalcore: Has a core sound of Metal, but throws in some non-metal ideas, such as hardcore breakdowns (we’ll get to those in a minute), melodic pretty sections, and other stuff. Unearth, Atreyu, and many other underground bands fall in this category. It’s the fastest growing (and if you talk to indie snobs, the fastest dying) genre around.

Hardcore: The granddaddy of all hard music genres. When hair metal was taking over in the late 70’s, early 80’s, so was hardcore. Hardcore is the loudest genre around (except Grindcore, but I hardly consider that music, due to the fact its main objective is to instill violent moshing instead of say anything) because it fuses together super heavy guitars, manic screaming/yelling, furious drumming, and shotgun-blast tempos.If it’s not screaming or yelling, it’s not hardcore. The songs are usually short, and the bands often have something political to say. The Number 12 Looks Like You, Yaphet Kotto, Orchid, Mohinder, Give Up the Ghost and numerous others are in the hardcore scene.

Posi-core: Positive hardcore. These guys play hardcore with lyrics that aren’t about sadness, anger, or politics- or at least, not the pessimistic side of those topics. Stretch Arm Strong leads this subgenre.

Post-Hardcore: Takes all the fury of hardcore, and runs it through an artsy filter- the tempos are much slower and the guy still yells, in one scenario. The other scenario is moments of pure hardcore followed by moments that completely aren’t. MeWithoutYou is the best post-hardcore band I know of, and their first album “[A—>B”> Life” proves it. Their singer trashes his voice constantly- even though the music makes dynamic shifts from hardcore to rock to indie rock to not really anything classifiable. Other bands include up and comers On The Might of Princes, Devices in Shift, and In the Arms of Providence.

Punk-core: Combining punky guitar riffs with hardcore breakdowns and/or hardcore guitar with punky breakdowns. Boys Night Out, The Tokyo Smash.

Emo: stands for Emotional Hardcore. This is what happened when Hardcore kids grew up a little and decided that they didn’t always have to play fast, and they didn’t always have to be angry. This is loud, torrential music that is a lot like hardcore, only it isn’t as angry. The singers aren’t always political, and while they most always scream/yell, sometimes they break down into a wail which resembles sung vocals. Sometimes they even sing, but that music still has to be loud, dissonant, and punchy. Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate, Indian Summer, The Shivering…

New-wave Emo: Someone took the term ‘emotional’ and ran away with it. New School emo came from punk- it’s harder, darker punk music, but it’s never that loud. Characterized by whiny singers, cliché vocals about love (mostly unrequited), and a really poser image (we want to be hardcore, but we don’t have the guts to be!). Think Taking Back Sunday, Thursday (although they have a lot more credibility than TBS), My Chemical Romance, Brand New, et al.

Emocore: This title is disgusting. There is no such thing as emocore, because emo itself is a dilution of hardcore. So now we have a dilution of a dilution? Cry me a river and call yourselves rock.

Grunge: I met a kid who didn’t know who Kurt Cobain was the other day. It made me sad. Anyway, most people think Nirvana started grunge and ended grunge, and to that credit, they’d mostly be right. But in between, a lot of bands sprung up, all thinking mostly the same thing: grunge is pop music played really loud and really distorted. This is why all grunge bands are great acoustically- they are essentially very loud pop bands, and if you take away the loudness, you’ve just got a pop band. And really unique ones at that- Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Bush (although some wouldn’t call them true grunge).

Post-grunge: All that hard rock that’s saturating your radio. These guys follow the same idea as grunge (loud, distorted pop), only they don’t do it as well as the originals did. Turn on your radio to find out what post-grunge is, but you’ve got your Chevelle, Nickelback, Letter Kills, Deftones….

Hard Rock: see post-grunge.

And there you have it. Be enlightened. E-mail us if you see something dumb. We’re not afraid.

-Stephen Carradini, with contributions by Scott Landis.