Mathcore

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Mathcore (or experimental metalcore) is a genre of music often seen as a subgenre of metalcore that developed during the 1990s and is influenced by post-hardcore and math rock. Bands in the genre emphasizes complex and fluctuant rhythms through the use of irregular time signatures, polymeters, syncopations and tempo changes. Early mathcore lyrics were addressed from a realistic worldview and with a pessimistic, defiant, resentful or sarcastic point of view.

Metalcore is a fusion genre combining elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. Among other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for its use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages conducive to moshing. Other defining instrumentation includes heavy guitar riffs often utilizing percussive pedal tones and double bass drumming. Vocalists in the genre typically perform screaming, more popular bands often combine this with the use of standard singing, usually during the bridge or chorus of a song. However the death growl is also a popular technique within the genre.

Post-hardcore is a punk rock music genre that maintains the aggression and intensity of hardcore punk but emphasizes a greater degree of creative expression initially inspired by post-punk and noise rock. Like post-punk, the term has been applied to a broad constellation of groups. Post-hardcore began in the 1980s with bands like Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, and Minutemen. The genre expanded in the 1980s and 1990s with releases by bands from cities that had established hardcore scenes, such as Fugazi from Washington, D.C. as well as groups such as Big Black and Jawbox that stuck closer to post-hardcore's noise rock roots. In the 2000s, post-hardcore achieved mainstream success with the popularity of bands like My Chemical Romance, AFI, Underoath, Hawthorne Heights, The Used, At the Drive-In and Senses Fail. In the 2010s, post-hardcore bands like Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce the Veil achieved success and bands like Title Fight and La Dispute experienced underground popularity.

Math rock style of rock music

Math rock is a style of indie rock that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States, influenced by post-hardcore, progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, and 20th century minimal music composers such as Steve Reich. Math rock is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures, counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords. It bears similarities to post-rock.

Contents

In the 1990s, the hardcore punk scene started to embrace extreme metal openly and also was highly ideologized, with most of the popular bands being part of subcultures, leading to bands such as Converge, Botch, Coalesce and The Dillinger Escape Plan to establish the genre (which at the time was known as noisecore).

Subculture group of people within a culture that differentiates themselves from the larger culture to which they belong

A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. Subcultures develop their own norms and values regarding cultural, political and sexual matters. Subcultures are part of society while keeping their specific characteristics intact. Examples of subcultures include hippies, goths and bikers. The concept of subcultures was developed in sociology and cultural studies. Subcultures differ from countercultures.

Converge (band) American hardcore punk band

Converge is an American hardcore punk band formed by vocalist Jacob Bannon and guitarist Kurt Ballou in Salem, Massachusetts in 1990. During the recording of their seminal fourth album Jane Doe, the group became a four-piece with the departure of guitarist Aaron Dalbec and the addition of bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller. This lineup has remained intact since. They have released nine studio albums, three live albums, and numerous EPs. The band's sound is rooted in both hardcore punk and heavy metal, and they are considered pioneers of metalcore as well as its subgenre mathcore.

Botch (band) band

Botch was an American metalcore band formed in 1993 in Tacoma, Washington. The band, featuring Brian Cook, Dave Knudson, Tim Latona and Dave Verellen, spent four years as a garage band and released several demos and EPs before signing to Hydra Head Records. Through the label, Botch released two studio albums: American Nervoso (1998) and We Are the Romans (1999). The group toured extensively and internationally in support of their albums with liked-minded bands such as The Blood Brothers, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ink & Dagger and Jesuit. Botch struggled to write a third studio album, and in 2002 the group broke up due to tensions among the band members and creative differences. Hydra Head posthumously released an EP of songs the group had been working on before they split titled An Anthology of Dead Ends and a live album documenting their final show titled 061502 in 2006.

Characteristics

Music

Mathcore emphasizes complex and fluctuant rhythms through the use of irregular time signatures, polymeters, syncopations and tempo changes, while at the same time the drummers play with overall loudness. [1] [2] [3] [4] In the words of The Dillinger Escape Plan bassist Liam Wilson, their "choppy rhythms that people get kind of tongue-twisted on" are "Latin rhythms" mixed with the speed and "stamina" of heavy metal, drawing a parallel between them and John McLaughlin's use of Eastern sounds within a jazz context. [5] Most pioneering mathcore drummers had jazz, orchestral or academic backgrounds, including Dazzling Killmen's Blake Fleming, [6] Craw's Neil Chastain, [7] Coalesce's James Dewees, [8] Botch's Tim Latona, [9] The Dillinger Escape Plan's Chris Pennie [10] and Converge's Ben Koller. [11] As with the rhythm section, the guitars perform riffs that constantly change and are seldom repeated after one section. Early bands were almost completely atonal with the guitars or all the instruments playing polyphonic dissonance. [1] After the first The Dillinger Escape Plan records, the guitar work of most bands became extremely technical as well and "not only musically challenging, but physically demanding." [1] [12]

The Dillinger Escape Plan American metalcore band

The Dillinger Escape Plan was an American metalcore band formed in Morris Plains, New Jersey, in 1997. Developed from an earlier, defunct project called Arcane, the band originally consisted of bassist Adam Doll, lead singer Dimitri Minakakis, drummer Chris Pennie and guitarist Ben Weinman. During the course of their existence, they underwent various line-up changes; by the time the band ended, the only remaining member from the group's inception was Weinman. The band's final lineup also consisted of bassist Liam Wilson, vocalist Greg Puciato, drummer Billy Rymer, and rhythm guitarist Kevin Antreassian.

Liam Wilson American musician

Liam Wilson has been the bass player for the band The Dillinger Escape Plan since the autumn of 2000 and is a former bass player of the bands Starkweather. Currently, he is a part of Azusa, a project formed with members of Extol and Sea + Air, as well as John Frum, which features a John Zorn collaborator and ex-member of The Faceless.

Latin jazz is a genre of jazz with Latin American rhythms. The two main categories are Afro-Cuban jazz, rhythmically based on Cuban popular dance music, with a rhythm section employing ostinato patterns or a clave, and Afro-Brazilian jazz, which includes bossa nova and samba.

In a 2016 article, Ian Cory of Invisible Oranges described mathcore's emphasis on technical complexity as "the means by which" they attain the aggressiveness of punk, "but never the end unto itself", distinguishing it from "the overflowing excess" of progressive metal. [12] Writer Keith Kahn-Harris has described some mathcore bands as a mix between the aggressiveness of grindcore and the idioms of free jazz. [13]

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

Progressive metal is a fusion genre melding heavy metal and progressive rock that combines the loud "aggression" and amplified guitar-driven sound of the former with the more experimental, cerebral or "pseudo-classical" compositions of the latter.

Keith Kahn-Harris is a writer, sociologist, lecturer, salonist, and music critic. He is an honorary research fellow and associate lecturer at Birkbeck College and an associate fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and a lecturer at Leo Baeck College. He is a regular reviewer for a number of scholarly journals, including Sociology, Sociological Research Online, Journal of Contemporary Religion, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Popular Music History.

Lyrics

Early mathcore lyrics were addressed from a realistic worldview and with a pessimistic, defiant, resentful or sarcastic point of view. They have been singled out for their philosophical and poetic elements. [1] [14] [15] [16] [17] Some bands satirized and criticized the militant branches of the hardcore punk ideologies prominent in the 1990s. [18] [19] Others wrote about deeply personal issues, such as Converge's Jacob Bannon and The Dillinger Escape Plan's Dimitri Minakakis. [20] [21]

Jacob Bannon American musician

Jacob Bannon is the vocalist, lyricist, and graphic artist for the American metalcore band Converge. He is the founder and owner of the record label Deathwish Inc. and the author of many visual works for independent punk rock and heavy metal musicians. Bannon has also composed and performed experimental music as Supermachiner with Ryan Parker and more recently as Wear Your Wounds.

Dimitri Minakakis is an American musician and graphic designer best known as the original singer of the band The Dillinger Escape Plan from 1997 to 2001. Minakakis is of Greek descent.

Although musically rooted in extreme metal, some mathcore artists have shown contempt for extreme metal fictional and horror lyrics. [22] [23]

Greg Puciato singing while hanging head down from the ceiling in 2008 The Dillinger Escape Plan-1.jpg
Greg Puciato singing while hanging head down from the ceiling in 2008

Live performances

Some early mathcore bands incorporated light shows synchronized with the music, [24] [25] while others were noted for their reckless, chaotic performances that usually ended up with fights and injuries. Guitarists Jes Steineger of Coalesce and Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan commonly featured erratic and violent behaviors. [18] [26] [27] In 2001, vocalist Greg Puciato joined The Dillinger Escape Plan and starred the most controversial live performances of the band until their disbandment in 2017, being described by Invisible Oranges as "the perfect physical embodiment of [the band's music]" because of his imposing physique along with destructive behavior. [12]

History

Precedents (1980s to early 1990s)

Early antecedents to mathcore were practiced by post-hardcore bands of the 1980s and early 1990s. Post-hardcore is a broad term to define bands that maintain the aggressiveness and intensity of hardcore punk but emphasizes a greater degree of creative expression. Hardcore punk pioneers Black Flag incorporated characteristics reminiscent to mathcore during their mid-1980s experimental period, including heavy metal laden riffs and lengthy songs, as well as fusion-style time signatures, polyrhythms, instrumental songs and improvisational sections. [28] [29] At that time, their biggest influences were the Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson during its 1972–1975 lineup. [29] Author Steven Blush said that their new direction "proved too much for many fans", [30] yet numerous mathcore trailblazers would later credit Black Flag as an inspiration. [6] [18] [31] [32] [33] Among others post-hardcore bands usually credited are Minutemen, [6] [31] [34] who were heavily influenced by avant-garde rock and jazz, [35] The Jesus Lizard, [36] [37] [38] inspired by progressive rock, [39] [40] Fugazi, [18] [41] [42] [43] and Drive Like Jehu, [18] [38] [44] [45] who drew from math rock and krautrock. [46]

Experimental bands that mixed extreme metal with hardcore punk also cited include Neurosis [26] [41] [47] and Today is the Day. [48] [49] [50]

Early development (1990–1995)

In the 1990s, the hardcore punk scene started to embrace extreme metal openly and also was highly ideologized, with most of the popular bands being part of subcultures, religions or political groups. [18] [51] [52] Some mathcore bands started inspired by straight edge and Hare Krishna groups, including Converge, Coalesce and Botch. [53] On the other hand, the more unorthodox bands that substantially influenced mathcore remained in the underground.

Two bands usually credited as mathcore forerunners are midwesterners Dazzling Killmen and Craw, who at the time were considered part of the "noisier" branch of math rock. [54] [55] [56] Their debut albums were released in 1992 and 1993 respectively. [6] [55] They were characterized by a "metallic post-hardcore" sound but with constant time signature changes and vocals with an "animalistic sound of a man losing his mind". Three out of four members of Dazzling Killmen knew each other from jazz school, while Craw had a classical percussionist and a jazz bassist. [57] Both were joined by saxophonists on some performances. [54] [55] [58]

In 1989, New Jersey band Rorschach was formed within the youth crew hardcore scene but soon developed a more complex and dissonant metallic hardcore style. [59] They were influenced by hardcore punk bands such as Die Kreuzen and Black Flag, as well as thrash metal bands Voivod and Slayer. [31] After their disbandment in 1993, their guitarist Keith Huckins joined Deadguy in 1994 and played on their sole studio album, 1995's Fixation on a Co-Worker . [60] The discordant sound of both bands had a profound impact on the first mathcore bands. [18] [41] [61] [62] [63] [64]

At this period, several pioneering mathcore bands began to form: Botch from Washington in 1993; Coalesce from Missouri, Cable from Connecticut and Knut from Switzerland in 1994; Cave In from Massachusetts and Drowningman from Vermont in 1995. In 1990, Massachusetts band Converge was formed but they started writing and playing what they consider "relevant" music in 1994. [65] Referring to the burgeoning mathcore scene, The Dillinger Escape Plan's founder and guitarist Ben Weinman said:

The [hardcore punk] scene I was in initially was really pretty close-minded... was really revolved around causes: veganism, Christianity, Krishna, straight edge, all that stuff was a huge part of all the bands that were playing ... it became just kind of this clique and this popularity contest. [They] weren't concerned with music, they weren't great musicians, they weren't pushing themselves, they were writing music that just sounded like the bands from before but without that passion and innovation. ... And it was great to see bands like [Dazzling Killmen and Deadguy] who were just music and just killing it, and had so many different influences, were underground, but still musically-driven. ... And I was like: "That's what I want to do!"

Ben Weinman, 2011 [66]

Establishment, milestone albums and first scene (1996–2002)

Converge was formed as an amalgamation of extreme metal, crossover thrash and hardcore punk, but in the mid-1990s they were heavily affected by early metalcore and post-hardcore bands, such as Rorschach, Universal Order of Armageddon and Starkweather. [67] [68] Their second and third albums, 1996's Petitioning the Empty Sky and 1998's When Forever Comes Crashing , developed an increasingly technical and bleak style. [68] [69]

At their first stages, Coalesce and Botch were influenced by Syracuse, New York metalcore and vegan straight edge pioneers Earth Crisis. [18] [70] [71] Vocalist Sean Ingram relocated to Syracuse to be nearer to its scene, but ended up disillusioned with their ostracizing attitude and on his return to Missouri formed Coalesce. They incorporated influences from progressive metal band Tool, with founding drummer Jim Redd stating that they "wanted to be" them "with none of the quiet parts", but only using their "heavy guitars, heavy drums, wacky time signatures, and loud-quiet dynamics". [18] Their sophomore studio album, Functioning on Impatience , became a landmark of the genre in 1998. [15] [18]

Botch initially tried to become a political-straight edge band but got discouraged by the "elitist" and aggressive stance of many of their participants. [19] Their second album We Are the Romans of November 1999 was influenced by Drive Like Jehu, Sepultura and Meshuggah. [72] This album has influenced numerous bands and met high critical acclaim throughout the years, being lauded by TeamRock in 2015 as "one of the greatest albums in the history of heavy music". [15] [73]

In 1997, The Dillinger Escape Plan evolved from the political-oriented act Arcane because they did not want to become part of "cliques" again. [74] They turned around their sound significantly in their second EP, Under the Running Board of 1998, and their debut album, Calculating Infinity of September 1999, drawing from progressive death metal bands Cynic, Meshuggah and Death, as well as King Crimson and several jazz fusion artists. [26] [74] [75] Both records created an extremely technical and fast brand of mathcore, which "launched an arms race in the metallic hardcore scene" and went on to define the subgenre substantially. [12] [76] [77] Relapse Records marketed Calculating Infinity as "math metal" because its sound and the album's title "sounded mathematical", yet this was not the band's intent. [21] [78]

In 1999, Converge released the split album The Poacher Diaries expanding drastically their technical elements, but afterwards main songwriter Kurt Ballou called it "a failed experiment". [79] This inspired him to change his focus to song structure and the "memorable" elements that initially attracted him to music, birthing their 2001 album Jane Doe . This record was the first with drummer Ben Koller and bassist Nate Newton who made significant contributions to the songwriting. [79] [80] Jane Doe exerted considerable influence in extreme music circles and attained a cult following. [81]

Other important albums of this period are 1996's Variable Speed Drive by Cable, [48] 1998's Until Your Heart Stops by Cave In, [82] 2000's Rock and Roll Killing Machine by Drowningman, [83] and 2002's Challenger by Knut. [84]

Contemporary influence (early 2000s)

In the early 2000s several new mathcore bands started to emerge. Norma Jean's earlier records are often compared to Converge and Botch. [85] [86] [87] Other new mathcore bands that cite older mathcore bands as an influence or are compared to them include Car Bomb, [88] The Locust, [89] Daughters, [90] Some Girls, [91] Look What I Did, [92] and The Number Twelve Looks Like You. [93]

2010s–present

Bands such as Rolo Tomassi, Frontierer, The Armed and SeeYouSpaceCowboy have been described as modern practitioners of the genre. [94]

Term

Before the term "mathcore", the style had been referred to as "chaotic hardcore" or "noisecore", [95] [96] though the genre's existence before this time is generally recognized. Sometimes it's also been referred to as "experimental metalcore". [97] [98] In the 1990s, groups now often described as mathcore were commonly called "noisecore" or "chaotic hardcore". Kevin Stewart-Panko of Terrorizer referred to groups such as Neurosis, Deadguy, Cave In, Today Is the Day, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Coalesce, Candiria, Botch, and Psyopus as falling under this label. [99] Stewart-Panko described the sound of these bands as a "dynamic, violent, discordant, technical, brutal, off-kilter, no rules mixture of hardcore, metal, prog, math rock, grind and jazz."[ citation needed ]

The term is generally applied by journalists, rather than by musicians themselves. Jacob Bannon of Converge stated:

See also

Related Research Articles

Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.

<i>Calculating Infinity</i> 1999 studio album by The Dillinger Escape Plan

Calculating Infinity is the debut studio album by American metalcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan. Recorded at Trax East Recording Studio in South River, New Jersey, it was produced by engineer Steve Evetts with the band's guitarist Ben Weinman and drummer Chris Pennie, and released on September 28, 1999 by Relapse Records. The album is the band's only full-length album to feature original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis, who left the band in 2001.

<i>Irony Is a Dead Scene</i> 2002 EP by The Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton

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Dazzling Killmen was a math rock band from the St. Louis, Missouri area. Formed in 1990, the group issued four singles and two full-lengths before officially ending in 1995, with a majority of it released through the independent label Skin Graft Records. Taking influence from hardcore punk and jazz music, the band has been noted by critics to of helped influence genres such as math rock and post-metal

Greg Puciato American musician

Gregory John Puciato is best known as the lead singer of the disbanded The Dillinger Escape Plan and is currently the lead singer of The Black Queen and Killer Be Killed. He is noted for reckless live performances, wide vocal range, outspoken views, and controversy stemming from his bands' performances and interviews.

Ben Weinman American musician

Benjamin A. Weinman is an American musician, most notable for being the lead guitarist for the band the Dillinger Escape Plan. He was the founder and sole constant member through the band's career (1997-2017), and is currently playing guitar with the crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies.

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<i>We Are the Romans</i> 1999 studio album by Botch

We Are the Romans is the second and final studio album by American metalcore band Botch. It was originally released in November 1999 through Hydra Head Records, and a remastered two disc edition was later released on September 11, 2007. A Hydra Head repressing of the vinyl was released on October 25, 2011. The repress sold out on pre-order in under 20 minutes.

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Starkweather is an American extreme metal band from Philadelphia, formed in 1989. They have a complex experimental metal sound often including use of dissonance, intricate tempo changes and avant-garde sensibilities. Starkweather helped pioneer the hardcore punk/heavy metal crossover sound that would later be known as "metalcore", as well as being a major influence on the mathcore subgenre. They have influenced many of today's top selling hardcore/metal bands such as Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and Coalesce among many others.

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<i>Option Paralysis</i> 2010 studio album by The Dillinger Escape Plan

Option Paralysis is the fourth studio album by American mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan, released on March 23, 2010. After having fulfilled their contract with Relapse Records, the band released the album through Party Smasher Inc., their own new imprint in collaboration with French record label Season of Mist. It marks The Dillinger Escape Plan's first release to feature Billy Rymer on drums, since Gil Sharone left the band in September 2008 due to the frequent touring schedule and to focus on his brother's band Stolen Babies.

References

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