A Dive into Metalcore

Photo Credit: Chris Romano

As you may or may not know, I’m the Metalcore enthusiast at CJLO. Go ahead, call me a “poser” all you want. There is nothing better then a good Metalcore song during these quarantine times, where the only moshpit you might see is a hole in you wall with mushrooms growing out of it.

Since we are still in March and we enjoy our Metal music at the station, I decided to write this article explaining why Metal elitist fans don't like my favorite genre. Of course, this article is going to be biased. I’m listening to Parkway Drive, Norma Jean and August Burns Red while writing this but, I’ll try to be as objective as possible. Here are the four reasons why Metalcore is hated by Metal elitists.

1. A middle finger to two communities

The term Metalcore emerged in the 90s, when a few bands started mixing thrash and hardcore punk together. These artisits borrowed the screaming vocals and the breakdowns from Hardcore and the riffs from Metal.

We can compare Hardcore Punk, or just Punk, and Metal to the Capulets and the Montagues, making Metalcore Romeo and Juliet. Punk and Metal fans have been buttheads in the past, being very proud of their respective communities. 

When some hardcore bands (which are punk bands that pushed the genre characteristics to the extreme) started using a more “metallic” sound was when the term metalcore first emerged.

To put it simply, both Punks and Metalheads are proud elitists of their genre. So, when metalcore came along, it was the bastard union of the two; making it the obvious scapegoat for the two communities. Since Metalcore takes a bit more of the Punk (with the screamed vocals and the breakdowns) compared to metal (the guitar riffs), it’s normal that the elitist Metalheads won’t welcome it into the community.

2. It’s too accessible

Let’s face it: metal elitists are hipsters. And what do hipsters do? They hate on anything that is too trendy or too accessible to the general public. As an example, you can take my girlfriend, who loves bands like I Prevail and Beartooth, but has some trouble getting into Mayhem, Asphyx or Darkthrone

Death Metal, Black Metal and the such aren’t for everyone, either because it’s too heavy, too fast or too dark for the general public.

Metalcore is a mix of Heavy Metal and Hardcore Punk, using melodic riffs to mix it with some breakdowns and some hardcore screaming vocals. To the general youth, it’s kind of way to express some frustration, to rebel a little (not that you can’t do it while listening to some Darken Death Doom metal.)

Metalcore has gotten even more accessible with the Punk Goes Pop trend as few years back where a lot of Metalcore bands took songs like “Glad You Came”, “Bad Romance”, “I Kissed A Girl”, “Wrecking Ball”, and made a metalcore cover of it. 

I remember back in 2014, the local news in Montreal (a.k.a CTV) talked about I Prevail’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”. Of course, when something related to music gets on the news, it’s more accessible to everyone (with the exception of some people burning churches.)

3. The Influence of Emo and Pop on the genre

Some bands seem to be more hated than others. The first one that comes to mind is Bring Me the Horizon (BMtH). There hasn’t been a social media platform where I haven’t seen some people destroying Oliver Sykes and his band. Why? Two reasons mostly.

Reason number 1 - They have too many connections to the emo/scene movements
Reason number 2 - Their latest album(s) being too influenced by pop

One thing that I need to mention about BMtH is that they used to be a Deathcore band when they first started. As you go through their repertoire, you can see that it's pretty diverse from years to years. As they went through different phases, they went through different genres, but some themes remained through it all: the heartbreak, the hurting and all the edgy stuff usually associated with emo and scene.

They might have been the one that brought all the cringy emo fanbases into metalcore, or it might have been Falling in Reverse. Who really knows for sure? One thing is for sure. Most people went through some phases when they were younger and a lot of them are ashamed of themselves and cringing while looking at some old pictures. Elitist metalheads are kinda doing the same with the Metalcore cringy emo fanbase, some of its more emo bands like Bring Me the Horizons.

To add insult to injury, BMtH’s last album Amo (stylized as amo) mostly consisted of pop music, with a few Metal/Rock tints here and there. That kind of finished digging their grave for Metalheads, as pop is the most accessible and the most commercial genre that exist. The album wasn’t bad per say, it was better than most pop that airs on the radio these days in my opinion, but it wasn’t metal.

4.    All the bands sounds the same

This last argument will also be a wrap up so bare with me. One of the most used argument against Metalcore is that all of its bands sound the same, which I would have to agree with to a certain degree.
To its defense, Metalcore became really popular around 2005 to 2010-ish. That was when all the social medias and streaming platforms started being popular too. Since a lot of bands became popular from Myspace (such as Black Veiled Brides, Bring Me the Horizon, Hollywood Undead, Job for a Cowboy and Suicide Silence to name a few). You would think that a lot of others would soon follow their tracks, hoping to become as successful. With the commercial success Metalcore had around 2010, it is understandable that a lot of bands would want the same as many other well established Metalcore bands on the market.

We also live in an era where the music industry is over saturated. Everyone can make decide to be a singer, make a band and start posting music on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music or other music streaming platforms. A lot of Pop or Rap artists sounds the same. Metalcore is the most commercially successful genre of Metal. Therefore, it only makes sense that bands try to copy others’ sound to become successful.

I have seen a lot of people on forums (jazz musicians, metal critics and others) say that Metalcore was simple, unstimulating and generic. Well, this is where we can praise Bring Me the Horizon. Even though their last album was heavily criticized by Metalheads for being more Pop than Rock or Metal, it seemed to start a wave in the world of Metalcore. More and more bands started tweaking their sound in different ways, seemingly searching for something more unique and more personal. While looking to be the gateway band to get people into Rock, this shook the world of metalcore and challenged some bands to modify their sometimes-well-established sound to find a new voice.

In the end, you can like whatever genre of metal you want. But, if you think Metalcore is more Punk than Metal and that makes it "not Metal enough" or "heavy enough", follow the advice that Lzzy Hale, the lead singer of the rock band Halestorm, gave me during an interview. Go see a live show before you judge or say anything about it. You always get a better idea of a genre after seeing it live a few times then listening to a few albums on Spotify.


Jean-Phillppe aka JP, is the co-host of The Iron Club check them out every Sunday at 10pm.