Hardcore bands are often praised for heavy instrumentals, but their lyrics are equally as important to the music quality. The artists working in this genre have often gone through life experiences leading them toward this type of music, and expressing their emotions in their lyrics reflects their skills in capturing the sentiment of so many people who feel rejected by mainstream music’s hard-focus on easy discussion topics.
Take a look below for 20 of the most lyrically inspirational bands within hardcore.
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Every Time I Die
Few musicians are as good at capturing life’s struggles as poetically as Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley. Buckley’s writing skills are able to expand when he takes on the role of an author. However, his capabilities at capturing his storied life in succinct lyrical passages show that his English degree was well earned.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato is a master of crafting deep lyrics behind the introspective wordplay he frequents. His lyrics are soaked in pessimism and brutal imagery while intertwining odd metaphors that make you pore over each line, looking for new hidden meanings behind the music.
While many in the U.K. are worrying about the class disparity flourishing in the country, Gallows were ahead of the times with a nihilistic view of politics on their 2009 record Grey Britain. While their lyrics painted a worst-case-scenario picture of what could happen a decade ago, they feel far too relevant today, showing how well written and thought out they really were.
Writing concept records is one thing, but Defeater took the idea to a whole other level by keeping everything they wrote contained to a story they beautifully created with their debut. By pulling real-life historical events together with fictional tales, the melodic hardcore act keep you on your toes as you wait for the next piece of the storyline. It continues to get better with each release and allows them to explore new themes of society every time.
Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy is truly a wordsmith with his capability to achieve desolate feelings of isolation, loss and pessimism. The band’s lyrics are relatable while tackling difficult topics that many people experience but have trouble finding ways to describe.
Stick To Your Guns
Stick To Your Guns are a positive force the hardcore scene needs. Their lyrics challenge modern political issues in a way that unites people behind a movement. They inspire us to take an interest in societal corruption instead of laying down and letting things run their course.
Trapped Under Ice
Trapped Under Ice offer up a nasty vocal delivery, and their lyrics are just as hard-hitting as the music itself. The band have a penchant for stringing pessimistic phrases together while relaying the realities of the world’s tendency to reward poor actions for some undeserving people, whereas others continue to slip through the cracks and be forgotten.
Parkway Drive are fantastic at winding a story through their music. It’s put on full display particularly with their strongest album Deep Blue. The record shows their capabilities in forming fiction through harsh truths about society’s lack of honestly with a tale of a man experiencing an existential crisis, leading him to find his way to the bottom of an ocean.
Architects have been masters of bouncing through important topics in their lyrics across the course of their career. Whether it’s their words about politics, personal struggles or even just mundane things such as enjoying the presence of your friends, the band have always been able to capture an idea in a succinct, relatable way.
Rolo Tomassi’s lyrics are as abstract as their music. However, when you start to pick apart the words, there’s a lot to unravel. Tackling existentialism, uncertainty with the world and a general sense of angst, they wrap words together beautifully. The result makes fans reflect on what’s being said instead of forcing it into your face.
Few bands are as inspirational as Hatebreed when it comes to lyricism. Frontman Jamey Jasta’s motivational attitude captures all of the hate and sorrow so many hardcore fans feel. He reshapes it into a positive outlook on how to weave yourself through society.
Walls Of Jericho
Walls Of Jericho are fantastic at picking apart the nuances of horrible people while reflecting on their own personal issues. Their delivery is something many can attach to in seeing the bigger picture with their own downfalls while injecting a positive outlook to compensate for any of the negativity in their words.
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Employed To Serve
Employed To Serve tackle the modern problems we face with technology and how it’s shifted the way people interact with each other with a youthful energy. Their lyrics speak to today’s big-topic issues, whether it’s social media obsession or wealth inequality. It’s far too relatable for anyone growing up in the hardcore scene today.
Stray From The Path
Stray From The Path have become leaders in the political side of hardcore over the past few years. Even before they were busy taking stabs at slimy politicians, they were great lyricists on both personal struggles and relationships. Rising Sun hits like a ton of bricks when you start picking apart songs such as “Mad Girl,” which focuses on vocalist Drew York losing the ability to see his daughter due to unfortunate circumstances.
Have Heart were great at breaking out of discussing issues beyond the hardcore scene while still offering up their thoughts on topics that are meaningful to both bands and fans. As a straight-edge group, they never needed to force that point as hard as others. They still addressed the topic and, beyond that, managed to write meaningful lyrics about pressures on young people, self-image, respect and more.
Knocked Loose are a young band, but their lyrics reflect the dark worldview youth are finding themselves in today. The issues they discuss have always been around, but they’re a whole lot more meaningful when you consider the band members’ ages and the demographic they’re most often speaking to.
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The Amity Affliction
The Amity Affliction are upfront about addressing mental health struggles, which is something society needs more of. They’re unafraid to broach subjects in a straight-to-your-face way, and this kind of unapologetic writing style is a great way to make people confront the growing issue of mental health in our culture whether they want to or not.
Turnstile’s pessimism is rooted in self-reflection, with every stab at someone else coinciding with a moment of looking at your own actions. The band are a positive force for modern hardcore with an understanding for mutual respect and recognizing how to be aware of wrongdoings without being hypocritical, sending a message worth to young fans.
Terror are a hardcore band for dedicated genre fans, and their words are steeped in the culture. The stories they spin are cliches to outsiders, but for the band and their fans, it’s their daily reality, whether it’s positive or negative.
Saying something and doing something are two different things. But Propagandhi walk it like they talk it with their political activism. The band are champions of varying political issues, from sexism, veganism, race, capitalism and more. They bring their strong writing into the real world through their actions, too.