Post-hardcore is a genre of music that developed from hardcore punk, itself an offshoot of the broader punk rock movement. Like post-punk, post-hardcore is a term for a broad constellation of groups. Many emerged from the hardcore punk scene, or took inspiration from hardcore, while concerning themselves with a wider degree of expression.

The genre took shape in the mid- to late-1980s with releases from bands from cities that had established hardcore punk scenes, in particular from the scenes in Washington, D.C. such as Fugazi[2] as well as slightly different sounding groups such as Big Black and Jawbox that stuck closer to the noise rock roots of post-hardcore.[2] The style became commercially prominent in the first decade of the 21st century


Hardcore punk typically features very fast tempos, loud volume, and heavy bass levels,[3] as well as a "do-it-yourself" ethic.[2] Music database Allmusic stated "these newer bands, termed post-hardcore, often found complex and dynamic ways of blowing off steam that generally went outside the strict hardcore realm of 'loud fast rules'. Additionally, many of these bands' vocalists were just as likely to deliver their lyrics with a whispered croon as they were a maniacal yelp."[2] Allmusic also claims that post-hardcore bands find creative ways to build and release tension rather than "airing their dirty laundry in short, sharp, frenetic bursts".[2] Jeff Terich of Treblezine stated, "Instead of sticking to hardcore's rigid constraints, these artists expanded beyond power chords and gang vocals, incorporating more creative outlets for punk rock energy."[4] British post-punk of the late 1970s and early 1980s has been seen as influential on the musical development of post-hardcore bands.[2] As the genre progressed some of these groups also experimented with a wide array of influences, including soul, dub, funk, jazz, and dance-punk. It has also been noted that since some post-hardcore bands included members that were rooted in the beginnings of hardcore punk, some of them were able to expand their sound as they became more skilled musicians.[2]


Ryan Cooper of states that the genre began with "the actual hardcore bands themselves",[5] remarking how as acts like Black Flag "began to bore with the formulaic constraints of hardcore, more experimental sounds began to appear in their music".[5] Groups such as Saccharine Trust,[6] Naked Raygun,[7][8][9] and The Effigies,[9] which were active around the early 1980s, are considered as forerunners to the post-hardcore genre. Chicago's Naked Raygun, formed in 1981, has been seen as merging post-punk influences of bands such as Wire and Gang of Four with hardcore,[10] while author Steven Blush notes the band's use of "oblique lyrics and stark post-punk melodies".[11] Similarly, The Effigies, who also hailed from the Chicago scene, released music influenced by the hardcore of Minor Threat and the British post-punk of bands like The Stranglers, Killing Joke, and The Ruts.[9]

During the early-to-mid 1980s, the desire to experiment with hardcore's basic template expanded to many musicians that had been associated with the genre or had strong roots in it.[2] Many of these groups also took inspiration from the '80s noise rock scene pioneered by Sonic Youth.[4] Some bands signed to the independent label Homestead Records, including Squirrel Bait[12] (as well as David Grubbs-related Bastro and Bitch Magnet[13]) and Steve Albini's Big Black (just as his subsequent projects Rapeman[8] and Shellac[8][14]) are also associated with post-hardcore.[4][9] Big Black, which also featured former Naked Raygun guitarist Santiago Durango,[15] made themselves known for their strict DIY ethic,[4] related to practices such as paying for their own recordings, booking their own shows, handling their own management and publicity, and remaining "stubbornly independent at a time when many independent bands were eagerly reaching out for the major-label brass ring".[15] The band's music, punctuated by the use of a drum machine, has also been seen as influential to industrial rock,[15] while Blush has also described the Albini-fronted project as "an angst-ridden response to the rigid English post-punk of Gang of Four".[11] After the issuing of the "Il Duce" single (and between the release of their only two studio albums, Atomizer and Songs About Fucking), Big Black left Homestead for Touch and Go Records,[15] which would later reissue not only their entire discography, but would also be responsible for the release of the complete works of Scratch Acid, an act from Austin, Texas described as post-hardcore,[16] that, according to Stephen Thomas Erlewine, "laid the groundwork for much of the distorted, grinding alternative punk rockers of the '90s".[16]

Outside the United States, the genre would take shape in the works of the Canadian group Nomeansno,[17] related with Jello Biafra and his independently run label Alternative Tentacles, and that had been active since 1979. A reviewer noted that the group's 1989's release Wrong was "one of the most aggressive and powerful opuses in post-hardcore ever made".[18]

The Washington D.C. sceneEdit

During the years 1984 and 1985 in the "harDCore" scene[19], a new movement had "swept over".[20] This movement was led by bands associated with the D.C. independent record label Dischord Records, home in the early 80s to seminal hardcore bands such as Minor Threat, State of Alert, Void and Government Issue.[21][22] According to the Dischord website: "The violence and nihilism that had become identified with punk rock, largely by the media, had begun to take hold in DC and many of the older punks suddenly found themselves repelled and discouraged by their hometown scene",[20] leading to "a time of redefinition".[20] When The Faith put out the EP Subject to Change in 1983 it marked a critical evolution in the sound of D.C. hardcore and punk music in general.[23] Their last release began to push the boundaries of early post-hardcore.[24] During these years, a new wave of bands started to form, these included Rites of Spring (which featured The Faith former guitarist Eddie Janney), Lunchmeat (later to become Soulside), Gray Matter, Mission Impossible, Dag Nasty and Embrace,[25][23][26] the latter featuring former Minor Threat singer and Dischord co-founder Ian MacKaye and former members of The Faith. This movement has been since widely known as the "Revolution Summer".[20][27] Rites of Spring has been described as the band that "more than led the change",[20] challenging the "macho posturing that had become so prevalent within the punk scene at that point", and "more importantly", defying "musical and stylistic rule".[20] Journalist Steve Huey writes that while the band "strayed from hardcore's typically external concerns of the time -- namely, social and political dissent -- their musical attack was no less blistering, and in fact a good deal more challenging and nuanced than the average three-chord speed-blur",[28] a sound that, according to Huey, mapped out "a new direction for hardcore that built on the innovations" brought by Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade.[28] Other bands have been perceived as taking inspiration from genres such as funk (as in the case of Beefeater)[29] and 60s pop (such as t

According to Eric Grubbs, a nickname was developed for the new sound, with some considering it "post-harDCore", but another name that floated around the scene was "emo-core".[32] The latter, mentioned in skateboarding magazine Thrasher, would come up in discussions around the D.C. area.[32] While some of these bands have been considered as contributors to the birth of emo,[5][33][34] with Rites of Spring sometimes being named as the first or one of the earliest emo acts,[4][28] musicians such as the band's former frontman Guy Picciotto and MacKaye himself have voiced their opposition against the term.[35][36][37] In the nearby state of Maryland, similar bands that are categorized now as post-hardcore would also emerge, these include Moss Icon and The Hated.[34][38] The former's music contained, according to Steve Huey, "shifting dynamics, chiming guitar arpeggios, and screaming, crying vocal climaxes",[39] which would prove to be influential to later musicians in spite of the band's unstable existence.[39] This group has also been considered as one of the earliest emo acts.[39]

The second half of the 80s saw the formation of several bands in D.C., which included Shudder to Think, Jawbox, The Nation of Ulysses, and Fugazi, as well as Baltimore's Lungfish.[25] MacKaye described this period as the busiest that the Dischord Records label had ever seen.[25] Most of these acts, along with earlier ones, would contribute to the 1989 compilation State of the Union,[40] a release that documented the new sound of the late 80s D.C. punk scene.[41] Fugazi gained "an extremely loyal and numerous global following",[31] with reviewer Andy Kellman summarizing the band's influence with the statement: "To many, Fugazi meant as much to them as Bob Dylan did to their parents."[31] It has also been noted that the group's "ever-evolving" sound would signal a more experimental turn in hardcore that paved the way for later Dischord releases.[22] The band, which included MacKaye, Picciotto, and former Rites of Spring drummer Brendan Canty along with bassist Joe Lally, issued in 1989 13 Songs, a compilation of their earlier self-titled and Margin Walker EPs, which is now considered as a landmark album.[42] Similarly, the band's debut studio album, 1990's Repeater, has also been "generally" regarded as a classic.[31] The group also garnered recognition for their activism, cheaply priced shows and CDs, and their resistance to mainstream outlets.[31] On the other hand, Jawbox had been influenced by "the tradition of Chicago's thriving early-'80s scene",[43] while The Nation of Ulysses are "best remembered for lifting the motor-mouthed revolutionary rhetoric of the MC5" with the incorporation of "elements of R&B (as filtered through the MC5) and avant jazz" combined with "exciting, volatile live gigs", and being the inspiration for "a new crop of bands both locally and abroad".[44]he example of Gray Matter).[30]