Deathcore is an amalgamation of two musical styles: metalcore and death metal. While similar to slam death metal and deathgrind, deathcore's aesthetics and following are more closely related to metalcore, but is at the same time influenced by death metal in its speed, heaviness, and approach to chromatic, heavily palm muted riffing, dissonance, and frequent key changes. The lyrics may not always be in the death metal vein, but traditional growls, pig-like vocals (known as "pig squeals"),(pig squeals are actually found in grindcore), and shrieks predominate, with metalcore vocals rarely being used. Though the genre's breakdowns are attributed to a metalcore influence, death metal bands have long used breakdowns, as can be heard on Morta Skuld's 1991 demo, Prolong the Agony. Death metal veterans Suffocation were also among one of the first death metal groups to make the breakdown a staple in their music. It should be noted that the New York death metal regional music scene also shares these prevalent breakdowns through the inevitable influence of the local New York hardcore scene over much of the area's sound.
Some bands, such as Abscess, Unseen Terror, and Six Feet Under, have used the term "deathcore" to describe hardcore punk/death metal hybrids. However, these groups have little in common with the metalcore-derived bands of today. "Deathcore" was also used as early as the mid-1980s by at least one extreme metal band, Germany's Blood, though the group used "deathcore" only as the title for their 1986 demo. It should be noted that many of these earlier deathcore groups were formed by members (or future members) of established death metal acts, including Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse, and both Danny Coralles and Chris Reifert of Autopsy.
As with most sub-genres affiliated with modern-day metalcore, there is a strong feeling of backlash and resentment from traditional metal and extreme metal fans who feel as though their music is being co-opted and cashed-in for profit, and that bands such as Job for a Cowboy and Despised Icon don't truly understand or appreciate their sub-culture. Though there are clues to the opposite (stemming from interviews and pictorials of the band members in standard death metal fan regalia, including camouflage shorts and t-shirts), many would argue that metalcore-derived genres have a dominant feeling and aesthetic that does not truly mesh with purist metal subgenres, creating a tacked-on feel to the music that has caused many bands to find themselves mislabeled or attacked through the internet and in print in critical chastising, even before normal musical development can occur.
Deathcore bands of the present enjoy a mild success, e.g. All Shall Perish's 2006 album, The Price of Existence sold 10,000 copies, while Despised Icon's latest LP, The Ills of Modern Man sold more than 2,000 copies its first week.