- Christian hardcore
Christian hardcore Stylistic origins Hardcore punk
Cultural origins unknown Typical instruments Vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums Mainstream popularity Mid in the US, Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe
Christian hardcore (or Christcore) refers to metalcore and hardcore punk bands that promote Christian beliefs. How these bands promote Christianity, and to what extent, varies between bands. Christian hardcore bands often openly state their beliefs and employ Christian imagery in their lyrics, and may be considered a part of the Christian music industry.
Fans of Christian hardcore music are not exclusively believers in the Christian religion. Thanks to some innovators in the hardcore movement such as Extol, Zao, Living Sacrifice, and the hardcore movement in general, the audience has become less exclusive (Hodges). Though the audience of Christian music has changed over the years, the same underlying message of hope and truth still remains a cornerstone in the lyrics of Christian Hardcore. Hardcore is a sub-genre which evolved from the punk genre in the 1980s. Hardcore is characterized by offbeat rhythms and vocals that follow a fast and driving tempo.
Christian hardcore music started in the late 1980s and 1990s with its region being the United States. Hardcore Music Magazine states that from coast to coast in the US hardcore music flourished, monumental shows played in venues like 1st and 2nd Church in Boston, and random bars and clubs in Los Angeles. The first hardcore punk band that was a major influence upon the Christian hardcore scene was Black Flag. Black Flag was not a Christian band however they produced a positive message in the early 1980s; Black flag was a key influence in the shaping of the hardcore scene. Straight edge music was the predecessor to hardcore music. The standard symbol of the straight edge groups are an “X” on the back of each hand. The phrase "straight edge" was first established in the song by Minor Threat. The usual tuning for hardcore/straight edge music is in drop D tuning. It provides a darker tone and heavier sound to the songs. The lyrics usually focus on darker subjects that stray away from the average social topic. Christian hardcore music, however, usually focuses on salvation and a more Christ-like view point. The bands keep the same sound in the music and same basic tuning. With the evolution of Christian Hardcore music, few bands began to pave the way around the world.
For example, Extol was formed in Bekkestua, Norway. They first become active as a band in 1993 however their first gig was on May 1994. Extol’s music has been put in the genre of black metal, death metal, progressive metal, as well as thrash metal and the band has produced albums under labels such as Endtime Productions, Solid State Records, and Century Media Records. The band was formed by drummer David Husvik and guitarist Christer Espevoll both age 16 at the time. The vocalist position was filled by Christer’s brother Peter, at the time age 14, and added bassist Eystein Holm before their first gig. By 1995 their style was moving toward a more progressive sound. In order to keep with their developing sound the band added Emil Nikolaisen as Extol’s new guitarist.
Zao is another pioneer in the modern hardcore movement. They were first formed in 1993 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. They commonly fall into the metalcore, early melodic hardcore and experimental rock. The Full Armor of God Broadcast host Bro. Scotland Kubinski (AKA: Kuba "The Demon Slayer") mentions labels on the program to his listeners, these labels include Solid State Records, Facedown, Bombworks, Metal Blade, Blood and Ink, Victory and Tooth & Nail Records. Zao has molded Christianity into their lyrics and song content. Zao has stated that they are “not selling Christ, just following Him,” which is evident in their shows and albums. The word zao is Greek which means to have life and their self-acclaimed genre, Christ-centered hardcore. Zao has none of the original members of the band, but still hold firm to the Christian beliefs. The original drummer of Zao is the one who brought the band from the brink of oblivion. Jesse added Daniel Weyandt, guitarist Russ Cogdell, and Brett Detar. The new Zao wanted their first album to not have a feel that the audience was being given a sermon. Leaving their preacher sound and embracing a more relatable sound of utter worship seems to have worked for the band. The band’s religious view and convictions are still in place, the band shows a more sincere sound as never before.
Living Sacrifice is a Christian metal band formed in the late 1980s. They were formed in Little Rock, Arkansas and genres included Groove Metal, Death Metal, Metalcore, and Thrash metal. Living Sacrifice was one of the first bands labeled as Death Metal. The band took a brief break in 2005, but reunited in 2008 and continues to tour and produce albums. Living Sacrifice has influenced many bands inside and out of the Christian-core genre. Tim McTague of Underoath said, “Living Sacrifice was one of the first Christian heavy bands to be respected outside of the Christian scene. They definitely helped pave the way for our band’s crossover.”
The themes of Christian hardcore bands range from promoting Christian beliefs, detailing Christian influences such as the Old Testament, New Testament, and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christian Messiah, or showing the effects of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, many bands do not overtly announce that they are Christians. The reasons for this include attempting not to alienate non-Christian listeners, or to label the band as dealing with subject while the band may deal with many subjects, not just Christianity.
There are many Christian hardcore bands that choose not to announce in an open and straightforward manner that they are Christians. This may be because they feel they will lose popularity among non-Christian listeners. Some Christian hardcore bands are not obvious to identify because their lyrics might only express their views on everyday social and personal issues.
- Facedown Records
- Flicker Records
- Rescue Records
- Solid State Records
- Takehold Records
- Tooth & Nail Records
- Pluto Records
- List of Christian hardcore bands
- List of Christian punk bands, which includes Christian hardcore
- Christian rock
- Christian Hardcore Interviews and Information
- God Save the Teens: Local Kids Seek a New Kind of Church Through Hardcore and Hip-Hop by Lauren Sandler in the Village Voice 30 May - 5 June 2001
- Review As I Lay Dying and Norma Jean by Ben Bishop in HM Magazine
- Rock and Pop > Christian Punk and Hardcore in the Yahoo! Directory
Christian Hardcore Magazines and sites
Christian music Roots and Beginnings Genres and Subgenres Fusion genres Chant ListsChristian bands and artists by genre • Christian country artists • Christian dance, electronic, and techno artists • Christian folk/folk rock artists • Christian instrumental/jazz/swing artists • Christian metal bands • Christian punk bands • Christian vocal artists • Christian record labels • Gospel musicians Other topics
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