15 Great Screamo Albums from 2021
We just published our list of the 50 best punk albums of 2021, including music from all across punk's many subgenres, but even 50 is just a small sample size of all the great punk-derived music released this year, so we've put together some subgenre-specific lists for a deeper dive. First up: screamo, which has been having a moment for the past few years, and which continued to progress in interesting, unpredictable ways throughout 2021. Some of the albums on this list lean closer to post-hardcore and emo, others to hardcore and black metal, and others are as straight-up screamo as it gets. Some of these albums venture outside of the genre, so even just calling it a "screamo" list doesn't fully do it justice, but if that word means something positive to you in 2021, there's a good chance that the records on this list are up your alley.
Some of these albums also appeared on the 50 Best Punk list, and several didn't. And 15 is a small number, so if your favorite screamo album from 2021 isn't here, leave it in the comments. Maybe we just haven't heard it yet.
Read on for the list, in no particular order...
For Your Health - In Spite Of
As far as underground screamo goes, For Your Health and Shin Guard's 2019 split Death of Spring is basically a modern classic. It helped introduce the world to For Your Health, but it couldn't have prepared anyone for FYH's debut album In Spite Of, which goes far beyond anything they did on Death of Spring. They aren't even really a screamo band anymore; In Spite Of is a genre-defying album that pulls from the grindy chaos of The Locust and Daughters, the shapeshifting progressive hardcore of Fear Before the March of Flames, the theatrical post-hardcore of At the Drive In, and the sugary emo-pop of My Chemical Romance. It goes from its hookiest moments to its most abrasive moments at the drop of a hat, and it never stays in one place for long. In Spite Of is a whirlwind of harsh screams, soaring clean vocals, tech-y guitars, and busy drums, and it's all topped off by Hayden Rodriguez's verbose poetry, which ranges from observant and introspective to scathingly political. It feels like a highlight reel of 2000s post-hardcore, from its most caustic underground bands to its catchiest mainstream bands, and For Your Health connect the dots in ways that no one back then ever really did.
Pick this up on limited clear/red "butterfly" vinyl.
Portrayal of Guilt - We Are Always Alone / CHRISTFUCKER
Closed Casket Activities / Run For Cover
Portrayal of Guilt's mix of screamo, hardcore, black metal, death metal, sludge, and noise became more fluid than ever on this year's masterful We Are Always Alone, an album that's less "multi-genre" and more establishing a genre of its own. It's by far the catchiest and most accessible thing they've ever done (to the extent of which Portrayal of Guilt can accurately be called "catchy" or "accessible"), but it also frequently finds them at their heaviest and most abrasive. It's their most sprawling album, but they condense the sprawl into a lean album, covering more ground in 26 minutes than some bands do in an hour. And with every track flowing directly into the next without pause, it only feels more towering.
Later in 2021, Portrayal of Guilt released a much different album, CHRISTFUCKER, their first release for Run For Cover. If We Are Always Alone is PoG's "catchiest" album yet, then CHRISTFUCKER is definitely their most abrasive (despite being on a bigger, non-hardcore label and featuring their most high-profile guest vocalist to date: Touche Amore's Jeremy Bolm). It's just as genre-fluid as its predecessor, but it leans more heavily on their goth/noise side than anything else they've put out. (It was produced by Ben Greenberg of PoG's recent tourmates Uniform, who themselves are goth/noise masters.) Two albums in one year can sometimes feel like a lot to take in, but Portrayal of Guilt pulled it off by putting out two albums that are so different from each other. The two albums push the band in opposite directions, and together, they remind you that this band's musical boundaries are limitless.
Pick up color vinyl copies of both Portrayal of Guilt albums.
Dreamwell - Modern Grotesque
The latest screamo/post-hardcore wave continues to grow, and even with great new bands in this realm popping up left and right, Dreamwell's sophomore LP Modern Grotesque emerged as one of the genre's brightest gems in recent memory. With a mix of passionate screams, talk-singing, and lush clean vocals over post-rock-infused instrumentals, it recalls turn-of-the-2010s era greats like La Dispute and Pianos Become the Teeth, and it feels just as triumphant as those bands' breakthrough records did back then. It also does a lot of things those bands didn't do, from shoegazy guitars to metalcore riffs, and it's got powerful, personal lyrics that make it too heart-wrenching to ever feel overly indebted to its influences. When lead vocalist wails "I must have taken part in the violence/I can't have only been a victim" on "Plague Father; Vermin Son," or shrieks "If love can be a sin, then may all of man be turned into a mountain of salt!" on "You Dreamt of Me. I Dreamt of a Mountain of Salt," you feel it in your bones.
Raccoon City - For Nobody, Nowhere
Dog Knights Productions
For Nobody, Nowhere is Raccoon City's first album in seven years, but it's also the first with the Australian band's slightly different band name and lineup, so it's more of a new beginning than a comeback. The album is a huge step up from 2014's Nightlife, incorporating a ton of different sounds from all across the post-hardcore spectrum, from harsh screamo to anthemic clean-sung emo, from post-rocky climaxes to sludgy breakdowns. It's some of the heaviest, prettiest, and catchiest music released in this realm all year, and -- at least in America -- some of the most underrated too. If you've been clamoring for a new Thursday or Pianos Become the Teeth record and you haven't heard this, change that now.
Vientre - Estado de Imago
Vientre are a relatively new band from Colombia, but they sound like the best mid 2000s European screamo band that never was. They tap into the vibe of bands like Daïtro and La Quiete, and they play with all the passion and heart that those bands did 15-ish years ago. Estado de Imago, their third album, may not exactly break new ground, but it feels like a breath of fresh air just because Vientre do it so damn well. They've got the apocalyptic screams, the grand post-rocky arrangements, the perfect balance between beauty and aggression -- everything you need for a top tier screamo album.
Snag - Death Doula
Often times, the best screamo bands have production that sounds like it was done in their parents' basement but with songwriting explosive enough to bring the entire house down, and that's exactly the vibe of Milwaukee band Snag's sophomore LP Death Doula. The raw, low-budget record is full of soaring, towering, post-rock crescendos and drumming that's busy and propulsive enough to power a factory, reminding you that it's possible to sound like a larger-than-life band off the strength of chemistry, precision, and songwriting alone, without an ounce of studio polish. Topping off the stunning instrumentals are harshly screamed pleas that, like on Snag's first album, are begging you to take climate change seriously. It's an issue whose negative impact has been abundantly clear this year, but Snag don't get preachy about it; they sing about it with the same heart-on-sleeve emotion that's defined emo for decades.
Radura - Effetto Della Veduta D'Insieme
Rawness is often part of screamo's charm, but if you like your screamo to be big, clean, atmospheric, and a little melodic, do not sleep on Italian band Radura's latest LP. It's a grand statement, with acoustic passages, post-rock climaxes, spoken word, harsh screams up against melodic backing vocals, and all kinds of other unpredictable stops along the way. It's as accessible as it is experimental, as gorgeous as it is heavy. Fans of anything from Envy to Daïtro to Circle Takes The Square to La Dispute, take note.
Closer - Within One Stem
Too screamy for the indie rock kids, and too indie-leaning for the screamo purists, Closer's sophomore LP exists at an appealing crossroads, and if your taste falls into a similar conundrum, you need this record. Guitarist Matt Van Asselt paints an ever-changing backdrop of mathy emo noodling, strummy indie rock, and sludgy riffage, and drummer/vocalist Ryann Slauson tops it off with desperate, high-pitched shrieks and vivid poetic imagery that sounds like it's coming directly from their soul.
Tenue - Territorios
Plague Of Man/Zegema Beach
Spanish trio Tenue put out one of the most unique screamo releases of 2021 with Territorios, a one-song, nearly-30-minute release that treks through screamo, post-metal, crust punk, and more. A 30-minute track might seem intimidating, but Territorios keeps you hooked the entire time. It's got more ideas than plenty of 10-song albums do, and it's constantly changing, always keeping you on your toes. It's over before you know it, and always leaves you coming back for more.
Hundreds of AU - Acting From Remote Satellites / A Briefing on the Human Condition
Tom Schlatter is a screamo legend who played in highly influential bands like You and I and The Assistant (and did the iconic guest vocals on Thursday's "Cross Out the Eyes"), and he's never stopped making music, whether screamo was in fashion or not. He's been in countless bands over the years, and is currently in more than one band, including Hundreds of AU, who put out two killer records this year: the Acting From Remote Satellites LP and the A Briefing on the Human Condition EP. Both records offer up screamo at its heaviest, embracing elements of black metal and straight-up hardcore and still sounding like the work of people who played New Brunswick basement shows in the late '90s.
Youth Novel - Youth Novel
The story of Youth Novel's self-titled LP is an unlikely one. The Michigan band broke up in 2017 and abandoned an unfinished album at the time, but during the pandemic, guitarist Maya Chun and bassist Jon Riley recruited new vocalist Nathan Whittle and finished the album. The result is one of their best releases yet. At its heaviest, the LP is a sensory overload, with every instrument turned up to 11 and all three members trading screams that sound damn near painful to record, but the record also chills out for some gorgeous post-rock instrumentation. It's an intense record, and a lot to take in at once, but it's always worth it.
Lacrima - Cartography EP
Lacrima is basically a screamo supergroup. The aforementioned Tom Schlatter is on bass, the equally busy Shawn Decker (Coma Regalia, Plague Walker, ache/emelie, etc) is on drums and guitar, and Christopher Rodriguez of the great Massa Nera is on guitar, but most excitingly of all, they're fronted by Funeral Diner vocalist Seth Babb who hasn't been musically active in a while. Seth's voice sounds even rawer and more wearied than it did on Funeral Diner's classic material, and the rest of the band follow suit with a spacious backdrop that really allows for Seth's voice to cut through. It's a raw, bare recording that sounds like you're right there in the room with them -- even though it actually came together remotely during the pandemic -- and Lacrima sound as tight as you'd expect from a band with a résumé like this one.
Supine - No Altar for the Company Man
If you like your screamo at its rawest, noisiest, and most chaotic, don't skip out on this debut full-length from Philly's Supine. To say the recording is rough around the edges would be an understatement, but that's just how it should be for a record like this one. Supine sound like a band where, if one of their amps caught on fire while recording, they'd just keep going. The whole record is in constant motion, sounding like it's ready to explode at any given second. It has a softer side too, like the climactic mid-sections of "Inherited Wealth" and "Dancing, Again," and when those moments pass, it only makes the rest of the album hit even harder.
Amygdala / Listless - Split
Get Better/Quiet Year/Lengua Enfurecida
Similar to fellow Texas band Portrayal of Guilt, Amygdala have screamo in their DNA but they have a whole lot of other strands of metal, punk, and hardcore too. Their 2019 sophomore LP Our Voices Will Soar Forever was one of our favorite screamo releases of that year, and they've done it again on this split with Listless. With vicious screams from Bianca Quiñones that take on abuse, suffering, oppression, and other real-life struggles, Amygdala's half sounds as pissed-off and fed-up as can be, but still in the pained, expressive way that separates screamo from hardcore. Listless, a self-described "revenge band" who share members with .gif from god, are really more of a sludgy, metallic hardcore band than a screamo band, but it speaks to both bands' abilities to defy genre that they work so well together on this split. Together, they prove that heavy music still has so much more to do and say.
Hawak - nước
Zegema Beach/Left Hand Label
Featuring the band's two 2019 singles and eight other new songs, Bay Area screamo four-piece Hawak's debut LP finally arrived in 2021 and it was well worth the wait. It was produced by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Gouge Away, Nuvolascura, etc), which is always a good sign, and it's all over the place in the best possible way. Throughout the ten songs, Hawak offer up screamo that embraces percussive, math rock-infused chaos at times, blissful post-rock at others, and noisy, moody post-hardcore at others. And that still doesn't cover all of it. nước really takes you on a journey, full of unpredictable twists and turns. If you think you can judge it off one or two songs, think again.
Scenario A - Tired Device
Votto- Quindi Noi Sbagliando Facemmo Giusto
Piet Onthel- ambo(l)enitaksu(p)odulu
Orphan Donor- Unraveled
...and no one knew- debris
Demersal- Death Routines
Sadness / To Be Gentle - Atraxy
To Forget - Echoes Take Their Place
It Only Ends Once - Lose You