Who invented metalcore? Or who were the first metalcore bands that coined the genre?
Tracking down the origins of “metallic hardcore,” as the unabbreviated term initially was known, is a microcosm of music history — just like any other metal genre, it has its originators, eras, highlights and haters. But it’s a story all its own.
Still, for metal listeners today, the question of who invented metalcore can seem almost tongue-in-cheek. But is it a joke in and of itself? Someone like former Atreyu vocalist Alex Varkatzas once (preposterously) claimed that Atreyu, who formed in 1998, “invented metalcore.” Be serious.
But it’s all part of the gag. As metalheads know, metalcore had already earned a bad rep from some for not being “true” metal; the running joke gained traction after metalcore bands started finding mainstream success in the 2000s. Regardless, metalcore is just another part of the metal ecosystem — no more or less than any other. It should be appreciated for what it is.
Where Does Metalcore Come From?
But looking back, who actually invented metalcore? Well, as with almost any type of music, metalcore as a genre doesn’t have a single inventor. It evolved through a fusion of elements taken from hardcore punk and heavy metal as bands in the ’80s and ’90s started experimenting with combining the aggression and speed of hardcore punk with the intensity and guitar work of metal.
Who did it first? Acts such as Integrity, Earth Crisis and Converge are often called cornerstones in shaping the early sound of metalcore. Integrity, in particular, blended hardcore punk with metal influences in the late ’80s, laying down a blueprint for what would become metalcore music.
READ MORE: 25 Best Metalcore Albums of All Time
But, over time, many bands contributed to its development, each adding their unique style and influences, helping metalcore evolve into what it is today. And we can trace it back even earlier.
Early hardcore bands such as Black Flag showed a taste for Black Sabbath-like metal riffing in the early ’80s, another precursor for what would come to be called metalcore. Even thrash metal had a hand in metalcore’s shaping — the spillover between metal and hardcore is what first led to crossover thrash. Some of these acts were called metalcore.
Black Flag, “Nothing Left Inside” (1984)
The list of artists who helped defined metalcore goes on. Bands such as Botch, Coalesce and The Dillinger Escape Plan also added to the foundation that enabled the 2000s boom. Acts including As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, Killswitch Engage and Parkway Drive all later found popularity, as did many others. Bands such as Knocked Loose and Vein.fm more carry the tradition.
Who First Called It Metalcore?
But pinpointing who first called it “metalcore,” or who first marketed the term, is much more difficult than listing who contributed to the sound.
The guitarist Matt Fox, who helped propel metalcore with his band Shai Hulud beginning in the ’90s, is often cited as someone who assisted in popularizing the word. But it had already been in use, as he freely admitted back in a 2008 interview.
Earth Crisis, “Firestorm” (1993)
“As far as coining the term ‘metalcore’ or coining a sound, I don’t think we did,” Fox said. “There were bands before Shai Hulud started that my friends and I were referring to as ‘metalcore.’ Bands like Burn, Deadguy, Earth Crisis, even Integrity. These bands that were heavier than the average hardcore bands. These bands that were more progressive.”
Fox also lent credence to the jokey nature behind the term. “My friends and I would always refer to them as ‘metalcore’ because it wasn’t purely hardcore and it wasn’t purely metal,” he said. “So we would joke around and say, ‘Hey, it’s metalcore. Cool!’ But it was definitely a tongue-in-cheek term.”
Shai Hulud, “Let Us at Last Praise the Colonizers of Dreams” (2003)
And in 2023, Varkatzas recanted his claim of Atreu inventing metalcore, suggesting the remark was facetious.
But why does metalcore always have to be the butt of the joke? The fusion genre has its founders just like any other; the musical foundations they laid deserve as much respect.
Alas, trying to identify or nail down the very “first” metalcore band or album — or even who first said the word — could prove to be futile.
Bring Me the Horizon, “Shadow Moses” (2013)
25 Best Metalcore Albums of All Time
Gallery Credit: Loudwire