Already evolved from its origins yet not as crystalized as the 2000s wave in its sound, post-hardcore in the ’90s was a special kind of life form. These guitar intros will help you find your way into this unique decade for the genre. Check them out below.
Fugazi – “Repeater” (1990)
This was one of those times when a guitar intro made history. The title track on Repeater not only is a standout piece from Fugazi’s debut album—it also gave a start to a new era of post-Revolution Summer hardcore. The guitar opening of “Repeater” says it all: The new hardcore just became more inventive, emotional, and catchy.
Slint – “Breadcrumb Trail” (1991)
Simple and gentle guitar picking in the title track of Slint’s revolutionary record, Spiderland, intertwined with spoken word, turns out to be just a gateway into a powerful breakthrough of squealing guitars and Brian McMahan’s emotional singing. This interplay of contrasting dynamics is a testament to Slint’s short-lived yet immensely influential career to post-rock-leaning hardcore for generations to come.
The Nation Of Ulysses – “N-Sub Ulysses” (1992)
Do you “take pleasure in twilight?” Is your soul “lured by noise to every treacherous abyss?” Then you’ll enjoy the spoken dedication in “N-Sub Ulysses” by the Nation Of Ulysses as much as you’ll obsess over the guitar intro that follows Ian Svenonius’ philosophical verse. This memorable, noisy opening riff, which sounds like post-rock, indie rock and Placebo all at once, opened the floodgates to what Steven Blush called “solid, but a different type of music” in American Hardcore.
Quicksand – “Fazer” (1993)
Founded by Gorilla Biscuits guitarist Walter Schreifels, Quicksand were at the forefront of the post-hardcore/alt-metal wave in the ’90s. And that’s exactly the point in hardcore history that the beginning of “Fazer,” the intro track of their debut album, hints toward. Simple, melodic, heavy and relatively slow, this guitar intro is almost like the whole of Slip in a nutshell.
Jawbox – “Savory” (1994)
We’re in 1994, and we can already forget everything we thought we knew about post-hardcore. With Jawbox’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart, you’ll be entering an entirely new era in the genre. Start with the slightly distorted, noisy yet somewhat positive guitar intro in “Savory” to proceed in your journey across one of the most creative decades for hardcore.
Hum – “Stars” (1995)
If you found yourself in 1995 right now, do you think You’d Prefer An Astronaut? Wrong. You should be choosing Hum and be “out back counting stars” instead. With its pop-punk-like innocence and, later on, a magnificent burst of sleek riffs, this is the intro to what might be the best soundtrack for counting stars in post-hardcore’s history.
Unwound – “Corpse Pose” (1996)
A catchy, playful yet a little grim intro in “Corpse Pose” is a perfect opening for the track’s nihilistic, not-too-serious mood. As the song progresses, the intro riff, through experimental repetition, gets transformed into all sorts of weird creatures. As you meet them, don’t forget to appreciate the added bonus—an inventive bassline that grabs your attention in the beginning and continues to resurface as an independent pattern when you least expect it.
I Hate Myself – “This Isn’t The Tenka-Ichi-Budôkai” (1997)
It’s 1997, and there’s no way we can avoid talking about screamo at this point. Ten Songs, an emotional roller coaster where I Hate Myself blend post-hardcore dynamics, emotional lyrics and screamo vocals, opens up with a track that has one of the quietest intros in this bunch. One minute in, though, you’ll realize that the soothing guitar picking at the start works like a perfect palate cleanser for dramatic walls of guitars and heartbreaking cryouts that will blow you away soon after.
Refused – “New Noise” (1998)
This is a punk staple that you probably know by heart. And yet, give it a listen again. There simply can’t be too many times to hear “New Noise,” the signature piece from Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come that is firmly entrenched as the noise in alternative consciousness by now. And for good reason—the guitar intro here is as iconic as it gets in any genre.
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Mistakes And Regrets” (1999)
When the wind is strong and the clouds are moving fast, you get a peek of sunlight, and then it’s gone. But only for it to reappear again. That’s the principle of the intro on …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s “Mistakes And Regrets,” which both reflects the structure of the entire track and gives a push to the melodic branch of post-hardcore in the upcoming decades.