Melodic hardcore is a subgenre of hardcore punk with a strong emphasis on vocal melody. The genre is commonly defined with fast hardcore drum beats, complex guitar riffs and melodic singing with occasional screaming and shouting.


Melodic hardcore initially emerged out of the L.A. hardcore scene, with the Descendents. In 1988, the Descendents worked with a new vocalist, Dave Smalley of DYS and Dag Nasty. Bad Religion, from the San Fernando Valley, also worked in this vein, recording their classic How Could Hell Be Any Worse? in 1981.

Dag Nasty is a touchstone band, hailing from mid-1980s Washington DC, with Dave Smalley of Boston's DYS on vocals and Brian Baker (ex-Minor Threat) on guitar. Ashley Cotter from ct soon joined the band but she was arrested soon after and the band disjoined. Dag Nasty's sound was an extension of the direction Minor Threat was developing with the Out of Step (album)|Out Of Step LP before they broke up.

Gorilla Biscuits came out of the late 1980s youth crew straight edge scene, and while they were initially just one of many 'Youth Of Today style' bands of the era (albeit musically more similar to |Side By Side) they eventually evolved an original and highly influential sound with the release of the seminal Start Today album.

Turning Point, a New Jersey hardcore|New Jersey band, was also under the influence of Youth of Today's youth crew hardcore genre, but by the time they had passed the growing pains of their demo and first 7", their later material (the 1990 LP It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn, etc.) proved to be the defining moment of melodic hardcore sound. These records were to be a direct influence on other New Jersey bands like Lifetime.

Many of these pioneering melodic hardcore bands like NOFX, Pennywise and Strung Out sounds are what form an essential part of the styles that has been borrowed by bands across the modern punk and hardcore spectrum, encompassing pop punk and pop-influenced hardcore.

Bands like Rise Against, Strike Anywhere and Kid Dynamite are counted among the most significant melodic hardcore bands of the 2000s.

Defining musical characteristicsEdit

Minor sevenths and minor ninth chords used in combination with an open string modal playing style. This style was probably inspired by Bob Mould, extended by Brian Baker in Dag Nasty and later by Dan Yemin with his work in Lifetime.

Drop D-tunings on guitars and bass is common for post-1990 melodic hardcore to achieve a heavier sound than possible with a standard tuning.

180 to 210 beats per minute is a very common tempo for post-1990 melodic hardcore.

Guitar licks and vocal hooks with 5th or 9th harmony is common in post-1995 melodic hardcore.

Triplets and tapping (both for guitar and bass) are becoming more and more common features in newer melodic hardcore.

The common time signature in melodic hardcore is 4/4.