Beatdown hardcore (also known as heavy hardcore, brutal hardcore, toughguy, moshcore, or simply beatdown) is a subgenre of hardcore punk with prominent elements of heavy metal. Beatdown hardcore features aggressive vocals, gang vocals, heavy guitar riffs and breakdowns and lyrics discussing unity, brotherhood, volatile interpersonal relationships and machismo. The genre has its origins in late 1980s New York hardcore bands such as Breakdown, Killing Time and Madball, and was pioneered in the mid-1990s by bands like Bulldoze, Terror Zone and Neglect. The definition of the genre has expanded over time to incorporate artists increasingly indebted to metal, notably Xibalba, Sunami and Knocked Loose.


Beatdown is a genre of hardcore punk influenced by heavy metal that features aggressive vocals (typically screaming), gang vocals, heavy guitar riffs, and heavy breakdowns.[2][3] More heavy metal-influenced than traditional hardcore punk,[4] the sound of beatdown is indebted to thrash metal[2] and hip hop.[5] Many beatdown bands also make use of elements of slam metal.[6] According to writer Brian J. Kochan, the genre "embraces the mystique of the gritty and hard working class lives of those in America's big cities".[7] described beatdown as "heavy breakdowns, growly vocals" and "the occasional metal riff".[8]

One prominent characteristic of beatdown is its close association to hardcore crews particularly New York's DMS and Boston's Friends Stand United, to the extent that academic Jeff Purchla used the term "crew scene hardcore" to refer to the genre in his 2011 essay The Powers that be: Processes of Control in 'Crew Scene Hardcore'.[9] Sociology academic Edgar M. Peralta defined crews as being people involved in hardcore scene who unify "based on reciprocal ties and varying interests, including non-criminal elements such as music or sports, but also including some criminal elements, which often include violence and graffiti", specifically originating as a means to oppose the white supremacist currents in their scenes.[10]

"With these labels, it's almost like spreading the genre too far. Just because we talk about reality doesn't mean were trying to be 'tough'. We're just being truthful. This music was born on the streets. If you don't get it, then you don't get it. If it's not your thing, then it's not your thing."

Freddy Cricien of Madball on the "tough guy" label associated with beatdown.[11]

Lyrics in the genre often discuss being macho,[12] unity, vigilance and interpersonal relationships,[13] particularly betrayal.[14] Jake Tiernan of webzine Heavy Blog Is Heavy criticized the hypermasculinity of hardcore by writing that the hardcore scene encourages a herd mentality and causes physical violence, which defies what punk, hardcore's roots, is about because punk is about individuality. Tiernan believed hardcore's hypermasculinity and socially mandatory moshpits caused exclusion when the scene was initially intended to be about individuality and inclusion.[15]

According to Bandcamp Daily writer Kevin Warwick, after the 1990s the genre expanded from a specific style of metal-influenced hardcore to "encompass a larger variety of mosh-friendly, breakdown-fixated groups", which includes both 1990s-style hardcore revivalists like Absolute Suffering and more metallic groups like Knocked Loose.[16] With this progression, influence from death metal, slam metal and doom metal became increasingly prevalent with MetalSucks writer Max Heilman calling slam riffs "a staple of modern beatdown".[17] Subsequently, the genre's borders have become increasingly blurred with those of metalcore and deathcore.[18]



Madball were one of the earliest hardcore bands to merge masculine, street-wise lyrics with metal-influenced grooves.

In the early 1980s, hardcore punk quickly spread with the emergence of bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, and the Dead Kennedys.[19] When Washington D.C. hardcore punk band the Bad Brains moved to New York, the New York hardcore scene was kickstarted. As the scene progressed many bands began to emerge that took significant influence from heavy metal and hip hop. Some musicians in the New York hardcore scene cultivated a "tough guy ethos" through use of criminal violence and bigotry.[20] For some bands, particularly the Cro-Mags there was an active effort to search out musicians who bore this ethos.[21] This was prominent enough within the band's sound that AllMusic writer Patrick Kennedy called their 1986 debut album the Age of Quarrel the "finest hour... [of] tough-guy hardcore".[22] While this led to widespread criticism from other hardcore scenes of the time, many of these bands began to develop a unique style that was based more around rhythm and less around the influence of punk.[20]

Beatdown's origins are particularly tied to the Lower East Side hardcore crew DMS (Doc Marten Skinheads).[9] Formed in the early 1980s by Jere DMS, the crew's embrace of elements of hardcore, hip-hop, graffiti, motorcycle, skinhead and skateboarding culture, and multi-ethnic membership led to it including members who would go on to form bands including Bulldoze, Madball and Skarhead. The way in which DMS bands would sometimes discuss their crew's brotherhood and criminal activities would play a key role in developing the lyrical themes of beatdown.[10]

One of the most prominent precursors of the genre was the Yonkers, New York band Breakdown. Formed in 1987, they were a part of a new wave of New York hardcore bands similarly expanding the scope of the genre, like Sick of It All, Sheer Terror and Krakdown.[23] The same year Judge released their debut EP New York Crew, which Crack magazine described as the record that took New York's "tough guy mentality to new heights".[24] Killing Time's 1989 debut album Brightside was a key step in New York, by making use of the heaviness of thrash metal while sidelining metal's camp and creating beatdown style groove parts in songs like "New Release". Furthermore, Madball's emphasis on heavy grooves and lack of reliance on the speed which defined earlier hardcore, became the characterizing sound of New York hardcore in the 1990s and birthed beatdown.[25] The band were credited by Riverfront Times as the band that defined tough guy hardcore.[26] In his book The Music Sound, academic Nicolae Sfetcu credited Madball's street life lyrics, Judge's syncopated, rhythmic riffing style and Biohazard's embrace of metal and hip hop as well as bands such as Killing Time, Carnivore, Maximum Penalty and Sheer Terror as the key elements which birthed the beatdown genre.[5]

Origins (mid-1990s)

Beatdown was pioneered by Bulldoze, with their 1996 album The Final Beatdown giving the genre its name.[27][28] Bulldoze, along with Terror Zone, merged the sound of earlier New York hardcore with lyrics of gang activity and heavy breakdowns to set the template for the genre.[29] In their wake followed groups like Next Step Up, Neglect, Confusion and Grimlock.[30] The genre took a particular hold on the New Jersey hardcore scene at the time, with venues including Melody Bar, the Stone Pony and Birch Hill Nightclub frequently playing host to bands like Clubber Lang, Signed with Hate and Force of Aggression. NoEcho writer Chris Suffer called New Jersey beatdown band Shattered Realm's 2002 album " Broken Ties... Spoken Lies "the standard for which all future beatdown style hardcore should try to live up to but not expect to come anywhere close".[31]

In the following years beatdown's ignorant take on heavy riffing would prove particularly influential on the sound of nu metal.[16] Furthermore, Hatebreed formed in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1994, merging classic hardcore with beatdown and metalcore.[32] Their 1997 debut album Satisfaction is the Death of Desire sold over 150,000 copies.[33] By the beginning of the 2000s the genre was declining in popularity, with the dominant style of hardcore become more metallic and noiser groups, particularly those signed to Victory Records.[34]

Recent years (2010s–present)

As the genre progressed, it became increasingly influenced by metal, often death metal and doom metal, an aspect particularly prominent in groups like Kruelty, Xibalba and No Zodiac.[17] Beatdown band Sunami formed in 2019, originally a parody of the genre's violent ignorance, the attention the band received during the COVID-19 lockdowns, particularly on TikTok, led to them selling out the majority of their live performances in the following years. A 2023 article by Revolver credited them as "in the upper echelon of bands dominating the hardcore zeitgeist".[35][36]


Beatdown hardcore is also sometimes referred to as "toughguy", "heavy hardcore", "moshcore", and "brutal hardcore".[37][38] In an interview with Alex Dunne of the hardcore punk band Crime in Stereo, Dunne said that beatdown is sometimes referred to as simply "hardcore", stating that "there's really two hardcores, if you want to get into it". Dunne said bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Lifetime, Avail, and Gorilla Biscuits are examples of hardcore that he grew up with, while examples of the other type of hardcore, which "often gets referred to as 'tough guy' hardcore", is "bands more influenced by Agnostic Front and Madball and Sheer Terror". Dunne described the latter as "what people think of" "when you say 'hardcore' ".[39] According to the website Vice, "there are two types of hardcore. Well, actually, there are about a thousand different subgenres of hardcore but you can put them all into two main categories: tough guy hardcore and non-tough guy hardcore."[40] Vice explained the difference between the two by describing "tough guy hardcore" as "all well and good for when you want to be mad at the world and lift weights and stuff."[40] Aubin Paul of wrote that "the brand of metal-infused hardcore that Victory was pushing" during the 1990s "represents the majority of modern hardcore, with relatively few bands representing the older roots". Paul described "the older roots" (traditional hardcore punk) as " 'classic' hardcore bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag and the Bad Brains".[41] Freddy Cricien of Madball said of the hardcore genre's connection to punk rock: "Our music has always been hardcore. That's nothing against punk rock. We can't not acknowledge the fact that what we created came form [sic] a punk background." Cricien spoke about the "tough guy hardcore" label and its distinction from traditional hardcore punk:

"I think there's too many little labels. New York was one of the first hardcore scenes. It used to be referred to as just, 'hardcore punk.' I feel that New York stripped it and said, 'this is hardcore.' I think that gave it even more of an identity, and I think that's a good thing. I think that movie American Hardcore is over generalizing and is not a good representation of an entire scene."[11]


Main article: Metalcore

Metalcore is a genre known for combining elements (including breakdowns) of beatdown with elements of extreme metal, making metalcore far more metal-influenced than beatdown.[42] Metalcore often features breakdowns, screaming, growling, heavy guitar riffs, and double bass drumming.[43] Some metalcore bands use clean singing in choruses of songs while keeping screaming or growling in the verses of songs. Metalcore began in the 1990s as a much more heavy metal-oriented subgenre of beatdown with bands like Earth Crisis,[43] Integrity,[44] and Shai Hulud.[43] In the 2000s, metalcore achieved success with bands like Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Unearth, Bullet for My Valentine, and As I Lay Dying.[43] These 2000s metalcore bands instead were different from traditional metalcore by combining traditional metalcore with melodic death metal. 2000s metalcore bands often were inspired by Swedish melodic death metal bands like At the Gates and In Flames.[45][46]

See also


  1. ^ ROA, RAY. "WTF is sasscore, and why is SeeYouSpaceCowboy bringing it to St. Petersburg's Lucky You Tattoo?". Creative Loafing. Archived from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019. The subgenre of hardcore takes a little bit of grindcore, emoviolence, metalcore and moshcore and then mixes in gay tendencies and clever lyrics with some fantastically aggro results.
  2. ^ a b "5 Under the Radar Metal Bands That Are Pushing Boundaries". October 21, 2013. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2017. Tough guy hardcore has been around as long as I have. An impressive act here and there have combined circle pits and gang vocals with elements of Metallica-type thrash, but none in recent years have pushed that hybrid to the brink quite like Dallas, Texas' Power Trip.
  3. ^ Julien, Alexandre (October 26, 2013). "A Taste for Blood Official Biography". Abridged Pause Blog. Abridged Pause Publishing. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Gramlich, Chris (October 1, 2000). "Shutdown Few and Far Between". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Sfetcu, Nicolae (May 7, 2014). The Music Sound. Sheer Terror's music, along with elements such as Biohazard's mixture of metal and hip hop beats, Madball's brutal and unforgiving depictions of urban life, and Judge's syncopated musical breaks gave birth to what is variously called heavy hardcore, brutal hardcore, and toughguy. Other notable bands who helped spur the genre on in early years include Killing Time, Maximum Penalty, and the infamous Carnivore.
  6. ^ "SLAMSDANK SLAMS: A Slam By Any Other Name Is Still A Slam (Within Destruction, Horned, Hateful Transgression, Open Wound, Begging For Incest, Infected Swarm)". October 27, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  7. ^ Kochan, Brian J. (2006). "Youth Culture and Identity: A Phenomenology of Hardcore". The University of Maine. Archived from the original on July 27, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2006.
  8. ^ Jim (June 27, 2003). "Hoods – Pray For Death". Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Purchla, Jeff (June 2011). "The Powers that be: Processes of Control in 'Crew Scene hardcore'". Ethnography. 12 (2): 198–223. doi:10.1177/1466138110362012. S2CID 145616134. Actors within the field may often refer to the crew scene as 'beatdown hardcore', 'thugcore', or 'tough guy hardcore'. The third and most common of these phrases is often taken to be demeaning by those involved with the scene. By employing 'crew scene hardcore' as a descriptor, this study aims to avoid imposing what may be considered a demeaning phrase upon actors in the scene...DMS formed in the early 1980s around New York's Lower East Side as 'Doc Martin Skins', which is a reference to a type of boot popular amongst skinheads at the time. Skinheads in punk and hardcore scenes, despite popular connotation, are not a unified faction of racists. The complex racial ideology that has accompanied hardcore, especially in its early days, exceeds the limits of this paper and deserves further research. The DMS crew, as one member informed, does not adhere to racist ideology and has dropped allusions to the skinhead scene. Now the acronym is more likely to mean 'Dirty Money Syndicate', or 'Drugs Money Sex'. The FSU crew started as 'Friends Stand United', and has been also referred to as 'Fuck Shit Up', or 'Forever Society's Underdogs'. The pliability of crew names will be addressed later in the article.
  10. ^ a b Peralta, Edgar M. "HARDCORE CREWS: FRIENDS, CREWS OR STREET GANGS?". Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  11. ^ a b Verducci, Richard (November 17, 2010). "Interviews: Freddy Cricien (Madball)". Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  12. ^ MCCRACKEN, MATT. "NEVER ENDING GAME Halo & Wings EP". Maximumrocknroll. Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  13. ^ Rogowski, Jordan (December 17, 2004). "Skycamefalling 10.21 (2001)". Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  14. ^ Rogowski, Jordan (January 10, 2006). "Black My Heart Before the Devil (2005)". Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  15. ^ Tiernan, Jake (January 22, 2016). "No More Mr. Tough Guy: The Issue With Machismo In Hardcore". Heavy Blog is Heavy. Archived from the original on June 8, 2021. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Warwick, Kevin (November 17, 2016). "Eight Bands Re-Inventing the '90s Hardcore Breakdown". Bandcamp Daily. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  17. ^ a b Heilman, Max (March 15, 2023). "Review: Kruelty mines death metal for the best beatdowns with Untopia". MetalSucks. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  18. ^ Enis, Eli (June 16, 2023). "6 BEST NEW SONGS RIGHT NOW: 6/16/23". Revolver. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  19. ^ "Hardcore Punk Music Genre Overview". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 5, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (March 9, 2015). "How Hardcore Conquered New York". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on January 4, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  21. ^ Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980–1990. Brooklyn, NY. p. 212. ISBN 9781935950127. Underneath his facade and front street thing, Harley below all that is a real artist. Even though he was trying to form this band of tough guys, he had very little tolerance for people who had genuine power; this parade of knuckleheads went by the wayside quickly.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  22. ^ Kennedy, Patrick. "Before the Quarrel – Cro-Mags". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  23. ^ Rettman, Tony (2015). NYHC : New York Hardcore 1980–1990. Brooklyn, NY. pp. 294–295. ISBN 9781935950127. Breakdown is considered one of the first "tough guy" bands to come out of New York. When Breakdown started playing, the Sick of It All demo had just come out a few months earlier. Sheer Terror was still slogging it out with demos, trying to make a name for themselves. The Krakdown demo had just come out, along with Leeway's Enforcer demo, plus Rest in Pieces and stuff like that. Some of the original NYHC bands were slowly disappearing, like Major Conflict, Reagan Youth, and Antidote. Around 1986 and 1987 a whole new wave of bands emerged that were influenced by the original New York bands but added something different.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  24. ^ Black, Billy. "POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE: 5 ESSENTIAL YOUTH CREW RECORDS". Crack. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  25. ^ Enis, Eli (November 15, 2021). "10 ESSENTIAL NEW YORK HARDCORE ALBUMS". Revolver. Retrieved August 22, 2023.
  26. ^ Levi, Josh (August 4, 2011). "Madball". River Front Times. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  27. ^ Steel, Jackson (July 13, 2016). Das Lexikon der Musikrichtungen – Was ist eigentlich Metal ?: Von Heavy Metal über Death Metal bis White Metal (in German). Neobooks. Ein besonderes Subgenre des Metallic Hardcores oder New School Hardcores ist der "Mosh Style", überwiegend auch als "Beatdown" bezeichnet und von Gruppen wie Insurgence und Undertow vertreten. Mosh-Core zeichnet sich durch einen langsameren Tempo Beat, Groove- Orientierung und harte Breakdowns mit Tempowechseln aus, die die Menschenmenge vor der Bühne zum "Moshen" animieren sollen. Als die Begründer des Beatdown Hardcore wird häufig die New Yorker Band Bulldoze genannt. Einige moderne Beatdown-Gruppen fügen ihrer Musik mittlerweile auch Rap-Parts hinzu.
  28. ^ Farin, Klaus; Möller, Kurt (June 20, 2014). Kerl sein. Kulturelle Szenen und Praktiken von Jungen (in German). Hirnkost. Als Begründer oder zumindest als Namensgeber gilt die New Yorker Hardcore-Band Bulldoze mit ihrem Song "Beatdown" von ihrem 1998 veröffentlichten Album The Final Beatdown.
  29. ^ Caporn, Brett. "Self-Realization: A True Lesson in Hardcore by Terror Zone [Re-release]". Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  30. ^ Ramirez, Carlos (June 28, 2016). "Best Beatdown Hardcore Bands". Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  31. ^ Suffer, Chris (July 16, 2021). "20 Underrated New Jersey Metallic Hardcore Records From 1995–2005". Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  32. ^ Richardson, Jake (April 17, 2023). "10 BEST CLEAN SINGERS IN METALCORE". Loudwire. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  33. ^ "Hatebreed's 'The Rise Of Brutality' Enters Billboard Chart At No. 30". November 5, 2003. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  34. ^ Gramlich, Chris. "Shutdown Few and Far Between". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  35. ^ Enis, Eli (August 8, 2023). "SUNAMI STYLE: FROM JOKE BAND TO BAY AREA HARDCORE LEADERS". Revolver. Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  36. ^ BREIHAN, TOM (June 14, 2023). "Stream Sunami's Stupendously Ignorant Surprise-Release Self-Titled Debut Album". Stereogum. Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  37. ^ Sfetcu, Nicolae (May 9, 2014). American Music. Variously called heavy hardcore, brutal hardcore and toughguy
  38. ^ "Immortal Majority". Maximum Rocknroll (141). 1994. if you ask me, they are playing a wonderful mixture of desperate heavy hardcore (aka moshcore)
  39. ^ Ali, Reyan (November 23, 2012). "Q&A: Crime in Stereo Talk Breaking Up, Reuniting, What Cleveland Means, and the Two Types of Hardcore". Village Voice. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Listen to a New Song from Tampa Post-Hardcore Band, Rescuer". Vice. May 13, 2014. Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  41. ^ Paul, Aubin (October 31, 2003). "All Out War – Condemned To Suffer". Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  42. ^ "Resistance" (22–26). Resistance Records. 2004: 111. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  43. ^ a b c d Bowar, Chad. "What Is Metalcore?". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on October 14, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  44. ^ Currin, Grayson (June 26, 2013). "Integrity: Suicide Black Snake Album Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on November 15, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  45. ^ "At The Gates Albums Ranked". Loudwire. May 23, 2017. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  46. ^ Alderslade, Merlin (September 16, 2014). "Under The Influence: How In Flames Changed Metal". Metal Hammer. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2021.