Editorial: Quit Calling It Core!

Alright, kiddies. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away there was this little thing called hardcore. It was mainly created in New York City and served as an offshoot of the punk movement. It was categorized by fierce groove riffs, hefty breakdowns and angry shouts. Most notably, bands like Biohazard and Agnostic Front were the height of this scene, but it later grew to include acts like Hatebreed, Pro-Pain and Madball among others. There are many bands still creating this kind of music today and I daresay that the genre is seeing something of a resurgence.

Fast-forwarding to the mid-two thousands, we have the metalcore movement. Acts like Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Shadows Fall and others were at the height of this scene. Obviously acts like Converge and similar also fell into that mold, though I would not call Converge metalcore simply due to the lack of sweeping clean vocal choruses, which were a staple of the genre at this time. The goal of this genre was simply to heavy metal with hardcore elements and it did so quite well.

Then came deathcore, a movement that I was sparsely interested in, failing to find many bands that I could actually find something in. Most of it was a bit bland, save for bands like Ludicrous and early Arsis, who formed out of that deathcore movement. I truly hate the fact that deathcore normalized the “cookie monster” vocal style that is all too prevalent and expected in modern metal today, turning the genre into a meme. I know this for a fact, as I was sent several YouTube videos where chickens were unleashed to the backing of deathcore, dubbed “metal” there by casual listeners or just memers in general.

For some reason in the previous decade, everyone felt that the word “core” meant a combination of one or more genres. A mixture of pop and metal became pop-core and even nerdy hip hop was and is still referred to as nerdcore. Let’s not forget the painted clowns who turned murder-influenced hip hop music into horrorcore. Though let us be clear, there is nothing “core” about any of these styles of music. If nothing else, many horrorcore songs utilize nineties nu-metal grooves. You wouldn’t even hear a breakdown, which was a major part of both core and metalcore, as those bands actually understood the DNA behind the music they were playing. Even deathcore utilized hardcore elements, because those guys understood this crucial musical DNA.

I recently happened upon a punk rock song which seemed to skirt the lines between satire and truth, (which is actually the whole point of satire in the first place) and I noticed that because of the lyrical nature, a guy commented “is this what incelcore sounds like?”

Obviously, the commenter here was most certainly a zoomer, as the new word for geek, square, exc is now “incel” (which resulted in many self-identified members of that community looking for a new term altogether) and they used it in a fashion that one who probably grew up two or three decades after New York hardcore was born would be inclined to do. That was my last straw, because this is getting a little pathetic. I get that you need a combiner word for some unknowable reason, but why does it have to be core? There is nothing core about punk music. There is nothing core about horror hip hop. There is certainly nothing core about pop music. There never has been and there never will be. Yet for some reason, the core terminology will continue as the IQ rate steadily drops in the west along with the attention span.

Yes, social media is solely to blame for this and because of that, we’re just going to have a bunch of zoomers calling everything core regardless of whether or not they know the terminology behind such a term. Humans seem to desire simple terms, which may be part of our evolutionary nature; but when we do this as a form of adaptation, we often forget the meaning behind such terms. I’m sure there are multiple other instances in which we use descriptor words with erroneous origins, though this is just one of those that I find blatantly obvious. I’m sure that I might be sounding like “old man yells at cloud” here, but the truth of the matter is that not everything is connected to New York hardcore and not everything should be labeled as in connection with New York hardcore. The fact that the word core has been thrown around so much might even result in zoomers forgetting that New York hardcore was and still is a reputable genre in the industry and has been an influence for decades on almost all forms of current heavy metal. Simply put, I think that it’s time we stop referring to everything as core.

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