Though a sub-genre of metalcore, deathcore is heavily influenced by modern death metal in its speed, heaviness, and approach to chromatic, heavily palm muted riffing, dissonance and frequent key changes. Lyrics may not always be in the death metal vein, but traditional growls, and pig-like squeals are prevalent, often combined with metalcore vocals. Much of deathcore features breakdowns, a trait which is attributed to hardcore. New York death metal veterans Suffocation, as well as Maryland's Dying Fetus, were among the first death metal groups to make the breakdown a staple in their music.
Deathcore seems to have most prominence within the southwestern United States, especially Arizona and California (most notably the Coachella Valley), which are home to many notable bands and various festivals. In a similar gauge of success, many popular or up and coming deathcore bands are featured on Black Market Activities, the label of The Red Chord's Guy Kozowyk.
Before the rise of deathcore, bands such as Abscess and Unseen Terror used the term to describe hardcore punk/death metal hybrids. Germany's Blood also released a 1986 demo entitled Deathcore, while another German group, formed in 1987 and related to Blood, used Deathcore as a band name.
There is a strong feeling of backlash and resentment towards deathcore from traditional metal and extreme metal fans who feel as though their music is being co-opted and cashed-in for profit. For this reason, many bands find themselves mislabeled or attacked through the Internet and in print in critical chastising, even before normal musical development can occur. This has in turn led to the rejection of the label by many bands, and defending of by others.
Some performers of the genre have even criticized it themselves. Among these artists include Vincent Bennett (The Acacia Strain), Justin Longshore (Through the Eyes of the Dead), and Bryce Lucien (Seeker). Vincent Bennett has stated, "Deathcore is the new nu-metal. [...] It sucks. And if anyone calls us 'deathcore' then I might do something very bad to them." Justin Longshore has said, "You know, I really hate that term. I know we've been labeled as that but I think there's so much more to our music than just a mixture of death metal and hardcore even though we incorporate those elements in our music. To me it seems that is just the new and fresh thing that kids are following." However, other performers have met the term "deathcore" with more acceptance, including the proclaimed "leaders" of the genre Suicide Silence, who claim to have invented the genre. Scott Lewis (Carnifex) has stated, "We're not one of those bands trying to escape the banner of deathcore. I know a lot of bands try and act like they have a big problem with that, but if you listen to their music, they are very 'deathcore.' I know that there is a lot of resentment towards deathcore and kind of younger bands -- some of it warranted. I definitely see some of the monotony in some of the bands that came out. But some of the bands are writing genuine music that they enjoy. If you've got a genuine passion for it, then it's art. It's music and you can't really judge it." Jake Harmond (Chelsea Grin) has also expressed an openness to the deathcore label, saying, "Everyone likes to flap their jaw and voice their own opinion how 'embarrassing' it is to be in a band that can be labeled 'deathcore,' but honestly we have never given a fuck." Many performers of the genre have preferred to call their band's genre death metal, while accepting that their band may be influenced by other genres, such as metalcore.
- allmusic.com Alex Henderson: "What is deathcore? ...it's essentially metalcore... Drawing on both death metal and hardcore..."
- metalinjection.net Cosmo Lee: "...All Shall Perish...Alienacja (Poland), Despised Icon (Montreal), and Whitechapel (Knoxville, TN)... They’re all textbook “deathcore,” fusing death metal and hardcore punk.
- lambgoat.com "This is deathcore. This is what happens when death metal and hardcore, along with healthy doses of other heavy music styles, are so smoothly blended..."
- metaleater.com Ciaran Meeks: "'Deathcore' is apparently a mixture of Death Metal, Hardcore, and Grind, all mixed 'n mashed together to create a brutal and extreme 'new' hybrid"
- decibelmagazine.com Shane Mehling: "“Deathcore” is the subset of metalcore kids playing death metal. ...sounds pretty much like any late ’90s death. ... But what makes this more of a metalcore record is that, unlike most death metal, the songs seem spliced together."
- THE METAL OBSERVER - Review - JOB FOR A COWBOY - Doom (EP) Sean May: "Hailing from the dusty and prosperous state of Arizona... the band continues to bite off more than they can chew; as displayed by the forced and painfully sloppy sweep-picked arpeggios (which do not match the song in any way, just another example of bandwagon-hopping Metalcore copy-and-paste writing)... They have all the popular elements that are all the rage among the throngs of white belt-wearing spinkickers (blasts, sweeps, the "bree bree"s, breakdowns).."
- Dying Fetus band page @ relapse.com Deep growls, grindcore chaos and huge breakdowns have all been elements of DYING FETUS for years... "SUFFOCATION did breakdowns, so did PYREXIA and INTERNAL BLEEDING...we just fell into that crowd..."
- Official SoCal DeathFest banner - held in Santa Ana, California
- Official Deathcore Fest banner - held in San Francisco, California
- roadrunnerrecords.com "Ferret Music has announced the signing of ELYSIA. The California-based deathcore outfit is composed of Zak Vargas (vocals), Mark Underwood (guitar), Steven Sessler (drums), Danny Lemonsqueeze (guitar) and Jeremy Chavez (bass) and formed four years ago"
- pyromusic.net Spiritech: "..., meet Californian quintet Suicide Silence, who have just released their debut album, 'The Cleansing'."
- Blackmarket Activities: News
- Thirst for Blood, Hunger for Flesh
- Human Error reissue
- Blood discography
- Deathcore at Encyclopaedia Metallum
- Interview (Despised Icon). Alexandre Erian: "I don't understand why people take labels so seriously," he continued. "I guess you could call us 'deathcore,' or 'death metal,' or 'death metalcore,' or 'death metal with metalcore influences,' or 'metalcore with death-metal influences.' I like to let the music speak for itself."
- Interview (Through The Eyes Of The Dead). Justin Longshore: "You know, I really hate that term. I know we’ve been labeled as that but I think there’s so much more to our music than just a mixture of death metal and hardcore even though we incorporate those elements in our music. To me it seems that is just the new and fresh thing that kids are following. It will die out just like any musical trend. All these record labels are picking up on it and it’s only a matter of time until they move onward to the next thing. Thank god for Myspace right?"
- Interview (The Black Dahlia Murder). Trevor Strnad: "There’s a whole new turnover of kids into extremity, and it seems to be coming to a boil with the whole deathcore explosion with Job For A Cowboy. There’s a lot of stuff between metal and hardcore that’s been crossing in ways that it never had before. The blast beat is kind of being revered by youngsters as something to grab onto “Oh, that’s crazy!”, the same way breakdowns was the hot thing in the last five years or whatever. It’s an interesting time, and we’re interested to see what happens."
- Bee Roth, David (2008-12-30). Exclusive Interview with The Acacia Strain's Vincent Bennett. MetalSucks. Retrieved on 2011-08-07.
- Justin Longshore (Through the Eyes of the Dead). Decoymusic (March 25, 2007).