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What post-punk was to the original punk movement, this was to Hardcore Punk.
It evolved basically the same way: hardcore bands started experimenting with the basic template, including influences from other genres, and frequently experimenting with loud-soft song structures. Some of these bands included Husker Du, the Meat Puppets and The Minutemen. It is mostly considered to have been influenced by hardcore forefathers Black Flag, who took on influences from various other genres and the use of experimental song structures. Many of them also took influence from the genre of Noise Rock, such as Big Black and Naked Raygun.
One important scene was concentrated around Washington D.C. and, in particular, Dischord Records, with bands such as Fugazi, Jawbox, Embrace, Shudder to Think, and in particular Rites of Spring. Rites of Spring began using more melodic riffs, shifting song structures and deeply personal lyrics. And in this, a new genre was born - Emo.
True post-hardcore lost steam in the early 90's, but emo got more and more popular, with bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker being especially influential and popular. A more aggressive form of emo also developed around San Diego, known as screamo. Yet more subgenres were sprouting up, with post-hardcore bands such as Drive Like Jehu and Shellac and using increasingly complex rhythms and denser, experimental sounds. Math rock was born. The genre may have been taken over by emo, but it never really died - some artists who got known through it, such as At the Drive-In and Helmet, crossed over to an Alternative Rock audience and kept it alive, also crossing it over to a mainstream audience.
Today, with the popularization of "scene emo" (see the Emo page for more info on that), if a band is described as "post-hardcore" it could mean anything. Usually, modern post-hardcore bands will incorporate more Pop Punk or Alternative Rock elements, such as The Used and Escape the Fate. Modern mainstream Metalcore bands such as Killswitch Engage, All That Remains and Unearth will also often incorporate post-hardcore elements.
"The Wave" of post-hardcore is a scene gradually building in popularity with bands like Defeater, La Dispute and Touche Amore. The style harks back to classic post-hardcore as well as elements of math rock, emo, and modern metalcore.
Some bands that formed the first wave of post-hardcore:
- Big Black
- Dag Nasty
- Gray Matter
- Husker Du
- Meat Puppets
- The Minutemen
- Mission Impossible
- Naked Raygun
- Nation of Ulysses
- Rites of Spring
- Saccharine Trust
- Scratch Acid
- Shudder to Think
- at first; they switched to psychedelic space rock for the albums You'd Prefer an Astronaut and Downward Is Heavenward