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Melodic hardcore is a broadly defined subgenre of hardcore punk with a strong emphasis on melody in its guitar work. It generally incorporates fast rhythms, melodic and often distorted guitar riffs, and vocal styles tending towards shouting and screaming. Nevertheless, the genre has been very diverse, with different bands showcasing very different styles. Of the pioneering melodic hardcore bands such as Bad Religion and Descendents, some have proven influential across the spectrum of punk rock, as well as rock music more generally. The term "melodic punk" is often used to describe both melodic hardcore and skate punk bands.
Melodic hardcore is broadly defined, however generally incorporates fast rhythms, melodic and often distorted guitar riffs, and vocal styles tending towards shouting and screaming. Many notable bands, such as Dag Nasty and Lifetime use minor interval chords on guitar, such as minor ninth and seventh chords, as well as fifth or ninth harmonies on vocals. Many groups also drop tune their instruments, with tempos commonly ranging from 180 to 210 beats per minutes, with very few bands ranging outside of a 4/4 time signature.
Many modern melodic hardcore bands are incorporating elements of melodic hardcore and emo, relying more heavily upon melody than their hardcore punk predecessors. There are also bands take influence from post-hardcore and melodic metalcore. Canadian melodic hardcore heavyweights Comeback Kid put out their 6th full length "Outsider" in 2017 after being in the scene for 17 years. In this album, Comeback Kid are collaborating fast and furious thrash metal Slayer-like riffs, 90's punk and grunge flavors and tight and bouncy melodic hardcore rhythms to bring new energy to the modern melodic hardcore scene.
The earliest melodic hardcore emerged from the Californian hardcore punk scene by the early 1980s. This includes Descendents, who formed in 1978. Their earliest work was simple, pop-influenced punk rock, but they went on to mix this melodic approach with hardcore, inspiring both melodic hardcore and pop punk groups.Bad Religion, who formed in Los Angeles in 1979, played in a somewhat similar vein, but their approach was more "angry" and politically charged. They recorded their debut album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, in 1981.
The Faith's 1983 EP Subject to Change is thought of as one of the first melodic hardcore records, as significant as the music of Bad Religion or the Descendents. On the release, the band added and moved away from the more straightforward hardcore punk of their earlier work towards a more complex, textured, and melodic sound, accompanied by introspective lyrics; the release is notable for its influence on post-hardcore.
Dag Nasty are a key melodic hardcore band that formed during the mid-1980s as part of the Washington, D.C. hardcore scene, with Brian Baker (ex-Minor Threat) on guitar. In 1988, the band All formed, featuring three members of the now disbanded Descendents. The band made music in a broadly similar vein to the Descendents, and were initially fronted by Dave Smalley of Dag Nasty.Gorilla Biscuits came out of the late 1980s New York hardcore scene, and played a melodic form of the hardcore subgenre known as youth crew. Youth crew itself takes a lot of influence from 7 Seconds, who ventured into melodic hardcore on albums such as The Crew. Turning Point, a New Jersey hardcore band, also emerged from the youth crew movement, but their later material moved towards melodic hardcore, with more complex music and introspective lyrics.
In 1994, H2O formed, mixing melodic elements of Washington D.C. with New York & California hardcore punk. Lifetime was a notable emo group whose sound drew heavily on pop punk and melodic hardcore. Along with other melodic hardcore groups, they had much influence on subsequent pop punk, including bands such as Fall Out Boy and Saves the Day. When Lifetime broke up, some of their members formed Kid Dynamite. During the 1990s, the "Epi-Fat" sound (a variant of skate punk named after the labels that housed its key bands, Epitaph Records and Fat Wreck Chords) was popular, and key bands such as NOFX and Strung Out bordered on melodic hardcore influenced by the likes of Descendents and Bad Religion.
Rise Against, formed in 1999, achieved widespread success by 2004.
Modern melodic hardcore (2000s-present)
Blood Youth are a modern melodic hardcore band formed in 2014.
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