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Originating from the New York Hardcore scene, closely related to metalcore. Early predecessors such as Breakdown and Outburst incorporated metallic mid-tempo grooves, urban aesthetics and heavy breakdowns into hardcore, leading to bands such as 25 ta Life and Bulldoze (who also named the style) to establish beatdown as a genre by emphasizing these elements.

Beatdown bands often incorporate hip hop influenced vocals that can vary from a rap-inflected delivery to full on rapping, extended spoken mosh calls, simplistic heavy chug grooves, chromatic slam riffs akin to slam death metal and an excessive amount of breakdowns. It is common for bands to use graffiti imagery in their logos and artwork, and their lyrics are generally written with a "tough guy" demeanor. In the late 1990s and early 2000s bands such as No Retreat and One Second Thought pushed the genre into an even more metallic direction by utilizing a significant influence from death metal.

In the early to mid-2010s, bands such as No Zodiac and Mercy Blow fused elements of beatdown with slam death metal in a style commonly known as "slamming beatdown" or "slamdown". In the late 2010s beatdown had a resurgence in popularity with bands such as Sunami, Three Knee Deep and Never Ending Game being significant artists in the hardcore scene. .

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