Although the term "noisecore" has been used by the mainstream media to define hardcore bands from the late 90's to the mid 00's, the true style of noisecore is an undocumented, underground style of "music" that has been around for almost thirty years. This radical style of art (in its truest form) focuses on anarchy and the artists expressing themselves freely and only for the sake of being noisecore artists. No talent is needed to "succeed" in this genre, as anyone can pick up an electric guitar and make noise with it. The whole scene was and is continually run by DIY labels and artists with 4-track tape decks, not caring about quality, standards, or dreams of becoming popular.
A majority of true noisecore bands have a similar motif among their artwork. Following suit with an "anarchist anti-music" theme, the artwork and visual aspects of the music such as logos and demo layouts are extremely unaesthetically pleasing, and often including a symbol of a two musical notes crossed out. Unfortunately, not much is known about the origins of this specific symbol. Many album artworks have a simple manual cut-and-paste method, which actually was used in the 1920s. Though many bands may cut and paste anything, from aliens to anarchism, pathology, anger, and sometimes sex, the method tends to stay the same. Layouts would often be handwritten or typed to look like a typewriter was used. Sometimes, lyrics would be written down, other times just improvised.
The history of noisecore starts around 100 years ago, when Luigi Russolo (a futurist artist) wrote a manifesto titled "The Art of Noises" all the way back in 1913. In this essay, Luigi explains how after the Industrial Revolution, men grew accustomed to fast and energetic sounds because of the urban soundscape, and that music had become too limited to the traditional melodies and variety of timbres. He proposed future music would consist of technological noises and dissonance. You can read his full essay translated into English here.
Throughout the last century we can find many examples of extreme styles of music that would later influence noisecore. Musique concrete was a French style of electro-acoustic music that used voices, instruments, and synthesizers and was not restricted by any melody, rhythm, meter, etc. John Cage, with his radical "4:33" "song" of utter silence during the duration of the track, made probably the most extreme piece of music, making his audience sit through the uncanny silence. Using improvisation, free jazz also contributed to noisecore by being unpredictable and unorthodox. Blastbeats were even invented during the reign of jazz.
Coming up to the 1980's, Japanese hardcore punk was what turned into noisecore. During the 1980's, Japan had a major underground hardcore scene consisted of fast songs with noisy guitars and vocals. Coward, Confuse, and State Children are just a few of the great bands from this scene.
Influenced by Napalm Death, Cryptic Slaughter, Negazione, Wretched, Larm, Terrorizer, Carcass, Electro Hippies, etc., the first noisecore bands desired to play an extreme version of fast hardcore. The first true noisecore album was released in 1987 by Sore Throat. As you can hear, this album barely has any musical qualities. This album and many more that followed closely behind are iconic for real noisecore.
Seven Minutes of Nausea, Anal Cunt, Stench of Corpse, Anal Fist, Deche-Charge and Cripple Bastards are more bands that followed in suit of this crazy style, each wither their own special twist. Cripple Bastards were the first to coin the term noisecore for the extreme style of hardcore they were playing. All the first noisecore bands were on the German label TNT&Records (name changed to Ecocentric Records in the early 90's).
Anal Cunt however managed to actually get a major record deal first with Earache Records (the label that started grindcore) and later with Relapse Records. They were always trying to find new ways to offend people with their lyrics, song titles, and imagery. Their own logo resembled an anus and vulva. Unfortunately, as the band grew more popular, they started to incorporate more riffs and melodies into their music. Releasing "Fucking A" shows just how commercialized they became. Finally when the brainchild of Anal Cunt, Seth Putnam, died of a heart attack in 2011, the band ended.
By the 90's, noisecore had begun to spread, proclaiming its fierce anarchic message. Europe had a huge scene of noisecore bands and projects spreading from the Czech Republic to Spain, the UK, Italy, Germany etc. Many of these bands and projects were releasing their demos within their own homes, recording their tracks onto tapes. Before long, zines started and helped support the underground scene. Friends would mail each other demos, zines, and just friendly letters.
Here is a compilation filled with many projects from Spain during the 1990's.
Adam Rotella started Anal Birth as a noisecore project, but with goregrind influences and gore imagery, thus beginning the genre of gorenoise. Last Days of Humanity would later go on to popularize this gory style of noise. Today this style is most easily identified by low-tuned guitars, constant blastbeats, and pitchshifted or watery-sounding vocals.
Now that we are in a society controlled by the internet, many noisecore bands have had to make a decision on how to adapt. Many noisecore bands today pass by with no internet websites, references, or downloads, but choose to stay underground and mentioned only by the medium of physical issued zines. Others choose to embrace the internet in hopes of finding fans and exposing more people to their extreme message and music. Some noisecore fans think that noisecore should only be recorded on tapes and never released over the internet, yet so many releases can be found, listened to, and downloaded off the internet now.
With techniques using modern recording equipment, some bands have gone on to create a new style of noisecore such as Kusari Gama Kill. This modern electronic noisecore duo make chaotic music using only electronic equipment. Although not exactly true noisecore, most noisecore fans would take a second listen to this band and not instantly write them off.
Noisecore has now infiltrated the entire world. With bands such as Shitnoise Bastards hailing from Malaysia, Deche-Charge from Canada, Porralokka from Brazil, and Sete Star Sept from Japan, noisecore has traveled to the four corners of the world.
Despite a few style changes and conflict among internet and digital involvement, true noisecore is a genre of music that should not be altered to appease any one certain audience (sorry Anal Cunt). Although this style of music has been and will continue to be written off as trash and hated by 99.99% of the world, there will always be a few select people (ME!) who will enjoy the simplistic chaos of noisecore. The DIY culture and anarchic nature of the message behind the music will always be important to any true noisecore band.
So if you enjoy this style of music and have instruments (or know how to program instruments), make some noise. If you can't do that, then start a DIY label or create a noisecore fan-zine. Let's keep this scene going!
Keep it NOISEY!
– The Vociferator (Benjamin Kosanke)