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There’s no way to pinpoint the exact moment when metalcore came about, but there are several highly influential albums or bands who propagated the incorporation of metal into a pre-existing hardcore sound. In the 80s and even before that, the bands who pioneered hardcore played it as a departure from punk, not a departure from metal.
As it was in the case of hardcore from punk, metalcore started out as a departure from hardcore, not a departure from metal. You can, of course, hear hardcore influences in certain metal bands, but for the most part, metalcore has been an underground subgenre with patronage and fandom coming from the hardcore scene instead of the metal scene. In short, metalcore came from certain hardcore bands incorporating elements of other styles.
Here are some of the most influential groups that solidified the metalcore subgenre and helped make it what it is today.
When Earth Crisis hit the scene, many people were taken back by their incorporation of metal influences. In a 2009 interview featured in Blasts from the Past magazine, founding guitarist Scott Crouse said, “I'm often quoted as saying that Earth Crisis was the first hardcore band with a metal sound. Of course we weren't the first, but I think we definitely took it to another level. We heard a lot of, 'These guys are trying to be Pantera,' which we all took as a great compliment!”
A push to revolutionize the sound of hardcore can be heard on their debut EP All Out War and their infamous follow up Firestorm. Their first two full lengths are widely considered to be among the greatest hardcore albums of all time.
Those Who Fear Tomorrow, the debut full length from Integrity was highly influential. Released in 1991, it was not only a precursor for modern hardcore, but an essential step toward the development of the metalcore subgenre. Subject matter and content reflected metal influences much more than hardcore. At the time, hardcore bands tended to have highly political lyrical content. Integrity’s dark themes belonged in part to their influences from bands like Slayer and other thrash metal groups of their era.
Other notable bands in the development of the subgenre include All Out War, Vision of Disorder, One King Down, and Biohazard. Although metalcore has morphed over the years to include many of its own subgenres, its beginnings were in the hardcore community of the early 90s.