Following our recent lists on 2000s post-hardcore and '90s metalcore, this edition of 'In Defense of the Genre' is about 25 albums that defined screamo in the '90s and '00s, and remain influential on the current scene today.
I recently did lists on classic albums within 2000s post-hardcore and '90s metalcore, and here's a list of classic albums from another subgenre that frequently crosses paths with both of the aforementioned subgenres: screamo. Like both post-hardcore and metalcore, screamo emerged out of hardcore, and -- as its name implies -- emo. Its roots as an established genre can be traced back to the early '90s, when a crop of bands started taking the impassioned, desperate sounds of the "emocore" bands of DC's Revolution Summer in directions that were even more intense and abrasive. Screamo eschewed the toughness associated with hardcore and metalcore and often favored melodic, soaring passages that shared musical DNA with post-rock bands like Mogwai, Sigur Ros, and Explosions in the Sky, but it also had a type of always-on-edge chaos and represented a heavier, harsher alternative to emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate or "Midwest emo," which often sounded closer to indie rock than to the hardcore bands that emo was built on. The word "screamo" got co-opted by the mainstream in the early to mid 2000s to describe post-hardcore bands that took influence from screamo (like Thursday) and poppier bands like The Used, Silverstein, From First To Last, and basically any band that ever screams in their music, but the type of screamo I'm writing about in this article is the kind that was pioneered in the punk underground of the early '90s and stayed underground even as bands like The Used took off. (Some people refer to it as "skramz" to differentiate from the mainstream stuff, but man do I hate that word.) In the underground, screamo has never really gone away (and its influence has popped up in the music of some more comparatively popular bands like Touche Amore and Deafheaven), but '90s-style screamo is once again having a real resurgence, which is all the more reason that it's a good time to revisit some of the genre's classics.
This list includes 25 essential, classic albums that in one way or another helped shape the genre, and which still hold up and/or remain influential today. It includes the albums that defined the genre in the '90s as well as the ones who pushed the boundaries of the genre in the early/mid 2000s, and to count as "classic," I capped the cut-off year at 2006. And though I think 25 is a pretty substantial number of albums to document a niche subgenre like this one, there were of course all kinds of great albums that couldn't make this list. I stuck with one per band, and no disrespect to the incredible bands that aren't on the list like Ampere, In/Humanity, One Eyed God Prophecy, Angel Hair, Suis La Lune, I Have Dreams, Tristan Tzara, Sed Non Satiata, Usurp Synapse, Love Lost But Not Forgotten, Twelve Hour Turn, Anomie and Kaospilot but the list can't go on forever. The list also isn't a "best of" and it's unranked, because I'm not necessarily trying to say these are the all time best screamo albums (although surely some of them are), just that these are 25 key albums that really helped define the genre and that I really recommend to any screamo/emo/punk/hardcore/post-hardcore/etc fans that haven't heard them. If you have heard them all, maybe this list will make for a nice trip down memory lane and inspire you to revisit some old faves, and if you haven't, I hope you discover something new.
The list is in alphabetical order. I thought about going in chronological order, but decided against it because some of the most essential screamo albums are full-discography compilations of short-lived bands, so going by release date didn't necessarily make too much sense. Read for the list, and feel free to leave your own favorite screamo classics in the comments...
Circle Takes The Square - As The Roots Undo (2004)
Because this list is in alphabetical order, the list doesn't start with a foundational screamo album; it starts with an album that upped the chaos of an already-chaotic genre, pushed the genre's limits to various extremes, and still sounds forward-thinking today. As The Roots Undo was Circle Takes The Square's sole full-length for eight years (until the very good Decompositions: Volume Number One came out in 2012), and it's got more going on musically than plenty of bands with multiple albums ever achieve. CTTS used '90s-style screamo as a launching point, and from there they explored spoken word, avant-garde passages, progressive rock song structures, Underground Railroad spirituals, sweeping post-rock build-ups, and so much more. Screamo is often a genre associated with brevity, but As The Roots Undo favors lengthy songs (one is almost ten minutes long) and it's structured like a concept album, with recurring themes and lyrics, multi-part suites, and songs that are written to flow directly into the next one. For a genre that sometimes deserves criticism for a lot of its bands sounding the same, almost nothing else sounds like As The Roots Undo.
City of Caterpillar - City of Caterpillar (2002)
City of Caterpillar came out of the same fertile Virginia screamo scene as pg.99 and Majority Rule (and shared members with both bands at various points), and their sole full-length is one of the key albums in shaping the sound of the screamo/post-rock crossover. City of Caterpillar really has as much in common with the raw, harsh sounds of early screamo as it does with the gorgeous, soaring sounds of a band like Explosions in the Sky, and you can still hear the sounds of this album reverberating in newer bands today. (Its long songs and atypical song structures also most likely influenced that Circle Takes The Square album.) It nails the heavy/beautiful divide as well as just about anyone ever has, and its spastic drum patterns make it more lively and unpredictable than most bands who attempt a similar thing. It is totally and utterly intense.
Daïtro - Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes (2005)
Often, the best screamo albums sound simultaneously like an affirmation of life and like the world is going to end tomorrow. Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes is one of those albums. The 2005 debut LP by Lyon, France's Daïtro is another album that shares as much DNA with post-rock as with screamo, but it's less like the line-straddling of City of Caterpillar and more of a complete fusion like Japan's Envy (more on them in a second). Compared to the charmingly raw albums that paved the way for Daïtro, Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes is immaculately produced, and the cleaner sounds really help carry all the emotional weight. Vocalist Aurelien Verdant sounds absolutely devastated with each word out of his mouth, all while the band's instrumentalists are churning out a masterful blend of tension and release.
Envy - All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead (2001)
Screamo is infamous for being home to short-lived bands, but Japan's Envy are true lifers who have been consistently putting out great music for over two decades. Just this year, they released The Fallen Crimson, and it's one of our favorite albums of 2020 so far, but for this list I'm going with their classic 2001 sophomore album, which still sounds as fresh today as the just-released Fallen Crimson does. As touched on in that Daïtro blurb, Envy became known for a complete fusion of screamo and post-rock, and almost any band who does that kind of thing today can be called Envy-esque. Envy's influence can be heard all across the board -- from screamo to post-hardcore to post-rock to black metal and beyond -- and though they've impacted plenty of incredible bands, no one does it quite like Envy.
Funeral Diner - The Underdark (2005)
Envy come up a lot when people talk about the very thin line between screamo and black metal, but San Francisco-area band Funeral Diner deserve to be part of that conversation as well. Prior to forming Funeral Diner, drummer Matt Bajda had previously played in the pioneering screamo band Portraits of Past, so Funeral Diner already had some screamo royalty in the band from day one, but they really took the genre to new places by the time of their second and final album The Underdark. It can be somber and atmospheric as well as crushingly heavy, and vocalist Seth Babb's harsh shriek is no small part of why this album doesn't sound a million miles away from black metal. This one's a post-rock record too, and similar to City of Caterpillar, these grand build-ups often beat actual post-rock at its own game. Music that scans as "intellectual" and music that scans as "emotional" can sometimes be at odds with each other, but the meticulously crafted, emotionally devastating Underdark appeals to the cerebral senses while always tugging at the heartstrings.
Gospel - The Moon Is A Cold Dead World (2005)
A year after the everything-all-at-once approach of Circle Takes The Square's As The Roots Undo, Brooklyn band Gospel's sole full-length The Moon Is A Dead World defied the screamo genre in a totally different way. CTTS's song structures are proggy, but Gospel indulged in the dizzying riffage of classic '70s prog rock, the droning atmosphere of space rock, and the hypnosis of psychedelic rock, all while keeping one foot firmly planted in classic-style screamo. It made for an album that still sounds like virtually nothing else in the world. It's got all the harsh, impassioned shouts and beautiful aggression that you hope for from screamo, and it trips you the fuck out too.
Heroin - Destination (1997 compilation of 1991-1993 releases)
Man, these guys were ahead of their time. I can't say with 100% certainty what the first screamo album was, but there's a good argument to be made that it's Heroin's 1993 self-titled debut album (and final release). It followed the San Diego band's 1991 debut 7" All About Heroin and their 1992 self-titled 7" (which was the first release for San Diego's Gravity Records, a label that's inseparably tied to the development of screamo), and it's the earliest example that I personally have ever heard of screamo as it's defined today. The recording quality is pretty rough, but you can hear basically all the attributes that came to define screamo by the late '90s, and even plenty of today's bands are still echoing the sounds of Heroin's 1993 record. And Heroin aren't just important as pioneers; that record still sounds great next to the 25+ years of screamo record that came after it. (The secret weapon is vocalist Matt Anderson, whose scream can still make your veins tingle.) This 1997 compilation collects all of their work, and though I most recommend the full-length (which starts at "Meaning Less"), it's cool to listen in order and hear Heroin transition from more of a straight-up hardcore band on their 1991 7" to something a little more proto-screamo on their 1992 7" to what was later coined as screamo on their 1993 full-length.
Hot Cross - Cryonics (2003)
Hot Cross were the "new band" of vocalist Billy Werner and drummer Greg Drudy of screamo pioneers Saetia (following Drudy's three-year stint as the original drummer of pre-fame Interpol) (also, Drudy ran Level Plane Records, which was home to several of the bands on this list) -- and they also featured members of Off Minor, You and I, Joshua Fit For Battle, Neil Perry, and others -- but they were too good and too unique to live in the shadows of Saetia or the members' other past bands. Their 2003 debut album Cryonics did a killer job of taking the '90s-style screamo that various Hot Cross members helped pioneer in the '90s and mixing it with something that sounded a little more 2003. Hot Cross had a scream/sung dual vocal approach that recalled some of the bigger post-hardcore bands of the era, but they kept the raw, DIY spirit, the spastic rhythms, and the screaming style of '90s screamo intact. Cryonics is easily one of the most accessible albums on this list, but there's nothing wrong with songs you can sing along to, especially when they came from a few musicians who helped define screamo as we know it.
I Hate Myself - 10 Songs (1997)
Of all the bands on this list, Gainesville's I Hate Myself had the most crossover with the Midwestern-style emo of the era, thanks to vocalist/guitarist Jim Marburger's ability to seamlessly transition from a harsh shriek to the kind of strained clean vocals that were typical of emo's second wave. It helped make I Hate Myself favorites among both emo and screamo crowds, and for good reason. Their sole full-length, 1997's 10 Songs, is one of the greatest records of the era within any subgenre of punk, hardcore, or emo. In addition to being clever enough to snag the perfect emo band name, I Hate Myself wrote songs that captured the sound and feeling of the era and sounded totally distinct in the process. You can clearly hear the influence of the 1994-1996 era of emo, and you can also hear the seeds being sewn for the early 2000s era of half-screamed, half-sung bands. 10 Songs was a turning point for the genre, and though it sounds very dated to the '90s today, it also manages to sound refreshing in a way. As more of the bands in today's screamo underground start to bring in clean vocals -- which is already happening -- I won't be surprised if I Hate Myself pop back up as a major influence.
I Would Set Myself on Fire for You - Believes In Patterns (2006)
Like Circle Takes The Square, I Would Set Myself on Fire for You hailed from Georgia, and they almost definitely took some influence from As The Roots Undo for their second and final album, Believes In Patterns. If As The Roots Undo was throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks, then Believes In Patterns was just throwing shit everywhere and not caring about whether it stuck or not. It's an all-over-the-place, bursting-at-the-seams screamo/chamber pop album that has as much in common with Arcade Fire's Funeral or The Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat as with screamo. It flirts with avant-garde jazz, Americana, glitch, and more, and it's got overlapping vocals (both harsh and clean), lengthy atypical song structures, pounding complex drums, and plenty of other stuff. It's not an easy album to listen to all the time, but it's a hell of an accomplishment.
Jeromes Dream - Completed (2005 compilation of 1997-2001 recordings)
I've talked a lot about the more beautiful sounding side of screamo at this point, but there's also a noisy, discordant side. And one of the key bands of that side of the genre is Jeromes Dream. They're now reunited with a new album that came out last year (their first in 18 years), so the title of Completed isn't as accurate as it used to be, but this 2005 compilation collects all of their classic work and a bunch of songs that hadn't yet been released. It's got their two classic full-lengths (2000's Seeing Means More Than Safety and 2001's Presents) and the handful of splits they released, including their 2000 split with Orchid, which may actually be better than any of Jeromes Dream's full-length albums. Jeromes Dream's raw recordings are part of their appeal, but it didn't hurt that the recording quality was sliiiiightly better on the Orchid split, and they brought some of their most intense songs to this split. It didn't feel right to only represent JD on this list with four one-to-two minute songs, though, and since their whole discography clocks in at about an hour anyway, Completed really feels like the best way to consume this band's bone-rattling work.
Joshua Fit For Battle - To Bring Our Own End (2001)
Here's another band on the darker side of screamo. Delaware's Joshua Fit For Battle (whose guitarist Josh Jakubowski was also in the aforementioned Hot Cross) aren't as raw and noisy as Jeromes Dream, but they're one of the heaviest bands on this list, with a sound that's often more metallic than it is emo. Their sole full-length, 2001's To Bring Our Own End, has the emotional devastation that most bands in this genre have, but it delivers it in a way that's abrasive, in your face, and straight up rips. They offer up a few breaks from all the chaos, like with the clean emo vocals of "This Is Me Getting Stronger" and the post-rocky "Sleepwalkers Guide," and JFFB are great at those kinds of songs too. But for the most part, they stick to throat-shredding screams and thick slabs of metallic riffage, and when you want your screamo to do that, To Bring Our Own End never disappoints.
La Quiete - La fine non è la fine (2004)
La fine non è la fine, the first and so far only full-length from Italy's La Quiete, gets a lot done in under 22 minutes. They've kinda got it all -- recording quality without a hint of polish yet clear as day, heavy chaotic parts, bright melodic parts, sweeping post-rock, the works -- and they roll it all up into a tightly-wound LP that really never sounds like much other screamo. La fine non è la fine has plenty of the spastic, thunderous rhythms and soaring climaxes usually associated with this kind of music, but it also sometimes settles into some driving punk/post-punk (like on the addictive "Ciò Che Non Siamo, Ciò Che Non Vogliamo") that puts an unexpected hop in La Quiete's step. Mainly, though, La Quiete separate themselves from the herd just by being so good at what they do. They cruise through these songs with confidence and finesse and they breathe life into their songs in a way that you just don't hear everyday.
Majority Rule - Interviews with David Frost (2001)
These days, it's not unusual to hear bands revive turn-of-the-millennium screamo and metalcore at the exact same time (like SeeYouSpaceCowboy, .gif from god, and Wristmeetrazor, to name three), but Majority Rule were doing this back then. More so than the likeminded Joshua Fit For Battle album from the same year, Majority Rule's 2001 debut Interviews with David Frost dives head-first into straight-up metalcore, while also dipping its toes in towering post-metal and brushing shoulders with black metal. This record is fucking nasty, but -- like a lot of these albums -- it's genuinely beautiful too. It's got pristine production (by Brian McTernan) that really works to its benefit, and plenty of gentle instrumental passages and soaring post-rock climaxes too. All of these bands deserved bigger fanbases than they had, but it's still a mystery to me how Majority Rule weren't huge.
Malady - Malady (2004)
After Virginia bands pg.99 and City of Caterpillar broke up in 2003, members formed Malady who lasted for one year and one album (before vocalist Chris Taylor and other pg.99 members started the folk noir-inspired Pygmy Lush). Similar to Hot Cross, Malady may have been born out of the ashes of more legendary bands, but they truly brought something new to the table that those more legendary bands didn't. Also similar to Hot Cross, the members' roots were in turn-of-the-millennium screamo but Malady sounded extremely mid 2000s. They sometimes did the harsh screamo vocals, sometimes did the post-rocky stuff, but much of the Malady record is mid-tempo, post-hardcore-tinged indie rock that had a lot more in common with the indie zeitgeist of the time than most screamo did a few years earlier. They might still live in the shadows of pg.99 and City of Caterpillar, but that's a total crime because Malady sound almost nothing like either of those bands. These were already-established musicians doing something that was totally new, and even all these years later not much sounds like Malady.
Neil Perry - Lineage Situation (2003 compilation of 1999-2002 recordings)
Central New Jersey's Neil Perry (a band named after a character in Dead Poets Society, not a person) shared members with a few other key screamo bands (You and I, Hot Cross, Joshua Fit For Battle, among others) and they only released EPs and splits during their short run as a band, but all 40 of their songs were compiled on to this 2003 compilation and the result is one of the most crucial releases in screamo history. Neil Perry tended to be both raw and heavy as fuck, with a sound that sat much more firmly on the grindy, powerviolence-y side of things than the post-rocky side of thing (emoviolence, if you will), but sometimes dipped its toes into the latter as well. Listening to these very unpolished, very DIY-sounding recordings feels like dropping yourself in the middle of a basement show mosh pit, and they sound as draining emotionally as they must have been physically for the people playing them. No wonder they only lasted a few years.
Off Minor - The Heat Death of the Universe (2003)
The same year Billy Werner and Greg Drudy released the first Hot Cross album, their former Saetia bandmates Jamie Behar and Steve Roche released the first album by their new band, Off Minor. And like Hot Cross, they avoided being pigeonholed as "ex-Saetia" by having a sound they could call their own. Off Minor are named after a song by jazz legend Thelonius Monk, and the jazz influence didn't stop there. Jazz and punk had crossed paths plenty of times before Off Minor, but Off Minor blended those two sounds in a way unlike most others, especially others under the screamo umbrella. They brought jazz's rhythms, scales, and song structures to what was otherwise harsh, heavy screamo, and they were also as much a math rock band as they were a screamo band. It can sound like brainy, pretentious stuff on paper, but The Heat Death of the Universe worked because it worked in all the tech-y complex stuff without sacrificing one bit of the adrenaline rush.
Orchid - Chaos Is Me (1999)
There probably couldn't have been a better name for Orchid's 1999 debut album than Chaos Is Me. These days, when someone calls a screamo band "chaotic," they're usually saying "they sound at least a little like Orchid." Chaos Is Me is consistently referenced as a genre-defining album, and for good reason. It's a pure assault on the eardrums; a dense, claustrophobia-inducing blend of harshly shrieked vocals, discordant riffs, and grindy rhythms (it makes sense that this is a band who released splits with both Jeromes Dream and grind greats Pig Destroyer, and made this record with producer Kurt Ballou of metalpunk icons Converge). This 19-minute album only briefly lets up on the intensity, and even the few quieter moments sound like a ticking time bomb. The rest of it sounds like a prolonged explosion.
pg.99 - Document #8 (2001)
Around the same time Orchid was helping to write the blueprint for chaotic screamo, pg.99 were making music for which "chaotic" would be an understatement. Document #8, their third and best full-length, opens with a soundbite of Kurt Cobain talking about how "punk rock should mean freedom," and from there, pg.99 go on to display a type of musical freedom that would've been unheard of during Kurt Cobain's lifetime. They brought a totally avant-garde approach to screamo, and virtually nothing was musically off limits in their world. They could be recklessly heavy or quiet and minimal. They could ignore traditional scales and keys completely ("Your face") and they could also be almost comically poppy ("The list"). The song "The lonesome waltz of leonard cohen" is an actual waltz. Document #8 is a totally absurd album, and it remains one of screamo's best LPs because no matter how far off the rails it goes, it always remains surprisingly tuneful.
Portraits of Past - 01010101 (1995)
Not long after Heroin landed on the sound that would become known as screamo, fellow West Coast band Portraits of Past took that sound to more ambitious, more melodic places that still sound forward-thinking today. When you listen to the melodic guitars in a song like the seven-minute "Bang Yer Head," you can hear the seeds being sewn for bands like Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth a good 15 years before those bands started making music. Portraits of Past didn't do straight-up post-rock, but their songs ebbed and flowed in a similar manner, and they really knew how to combine aggression, melody, and heart-on-sleeve emotion in a way that would be echoed by hundreds of bands who followed them. They continue to be insanely influential after all these years, and even with all the very good bands who have pushed this sound in new directions, 01010101 holds up as one of the finest screamo albums there ever was.
01010101 isn't streaming on its own, but it's tracks 1-7 on this:
Raein - Il n'y a pas d'orchestre (2003)
A year before La Quiete released their aforementioned debut album, drummer Michele Camoran's other band Raein released their sophomore LP Il n'y a pas d'orchestre, and it too is one of screamo's definitive classics. Like Envy, Raein are lifers who still put out great music today and continue to associate with comparatively newer bands that they probably influenced (they have a split with San Francisco's Loma Prieta, one of the best late '00s / '10s bands), and it's not easy to pick a favorite Raein record. But for this list, I'm going with Il n'y a pas d'orchestre. Raein are also close with aforementioned European band Daïtro (and have two splits with them), but compared to both Daïtro and La Quiete, Raein tend to fall much more on the chaotic and discordant side of things (though sometimes, like on "She Wears My Blood," they sound genuinely gorgeous). Orchid were presumably an influence, but Raein really made it their own.
Reversal of Man - This Is Medicine (1999)
Tampa's Reversal of Man shared a good deal of their band members with grind/noisecore band Combatwoundedveteran, who released I Know a Girl Who Develops Crime Scene Photos the same year as This Is Medicine, so it should come as no surprise that Reversal of Man fell on the grindy, powerviolence-y side of things. But, compared to Combatwoundedveteran, Reversal of Man had much more of the tuneful, emotional side that puts the "emo" in "screamo." Still, they were pretty fucking brutal and This Is Medicine rarely lets up on its sonic assault. Bands like Envy and Portraits of Past are actually pretty uplifting; Reversal of Man are utterly bleak.
Saetia - Saetia (1998)
We already talked about post-Saetia bands Hot Cross and Off Minor, and now, finally, one of the most important and influential screamo albums of all time, the first and only full-length from NYC's Saetia. The math rock style that guitarist Jamie Behar would bring to Off Minor was here too, but in a way that was closer to the '90s Midwest emo scene than to the jazzier direction Off Minor would go in. Combined with Billy Werner's hoarse, strained, and extremely passionate vocals -- which could go from speaking to shouting to shrieking, and occasionally resemble something you'd call "singing" -- it made for a record that touched on several corners of the emo/screamo world and helped write the blueprint for a lot of the bands who took off after Saetia's demise. Hot Cross and Off Minor were both more accessible and had much better recording quality, but hiding underneath the off-kilter, scratchy sounds of Saetia were strong, powerful songs that continue to influence new bands today (like, for example, Touche Amore, whose Jeremy Bolm reissued Saetia's discography on his label in 2016).
Saetia is tracks 1-9:
Yaphet Kotto - The Killer Was in the Government Blankets (1999)
1999 was a major year for the now-legendary Ebullition Records label. Not only did they release Orchid's Chaos Is Me and Reversal of Man's This Is Medicine that year, they also put out the essential debut full-length by Santa Cruz's Yaphet Kotto, The Killer Was in the Government Blankets. (Ebullition were also responsible for the Portraits of Past album a few years earlier.) As you might've guessed from the album title, Yaphet Kotto were more political than a lot of their emo/screamo peers, but they didn't come off like a preachy political hardcore band. They sounded just as personal and impassioned as a lot of the more introspective bands in this scene. Part of that was the literary approach to their lyricism, and an even bigger part was the raw, honest emotion in their delivery. They had multi-layered, scream/sung vocals and bright, melodic guitar parts that helped set the stage for the emo boom of the early 2000s, but even as that sound took off, Yaphet Kotto kept things raw. Their later releases (including a split with Envy) were great too, but they had already knocked it out of the park on LP1, so to pick one classic for this list, this is it.
You and I - The Curtain Falls (1999)
You and I hailed from the storied New Brunswick punk scene; shared members with a handful of other key bands including Hot Cross, Neil Perry, and Joshua Fit For Battle (Tom Schlatter has played in like a dozen other bands and is still a key member of today's screamo scene, and is also known for the very memorable guest screams on Thursday's “Cross Out the Eyes” and “Autobiography of a Nation”); and broke up right before the sound they helped shape got very popular. You and I had growls and riffs that could sound nearly metal at times, but they also didn't shy away from incorporating soaring, harmony-laden clean vocals and upbeat, pop punk-tinged sections that clearly paved the way for bands like the aforementioned Thursday. In a just world, You and I would've been a huge band. Instead, they're underrated even by niche screamo standards. But fame aside, their second and final album remains a groundbreaking development within melodic screamo that still feels like it could've come out yesterday.
FIVE GREAT SONGS FROM THE CURRENT SCREAMO REVIVAL
As mentioned in the intro, part of the inspiration to make this list now came from the screamo revival that's happening as we speak. For some recommended newer bands, revisit our list of 12 great screamo releases from 2019 (including Shin Guard, Massa Nera, Frail Body, and more) and here are five great screamo songs that came out this year...
Indisposed - "Support"
One of my favorite screamo albums of 2020 so far is the Sonagi / Obroa-skai / Indisposed / Coma Regalia split, and I could probably just make this whole list songs from that split, but I'll keep it to just one (though I encourage you to check out the whole split if you haven't already). This one comes from Chicago's Indisposed, and it's a clear standout, partially because it sounds like nothing else on the split. "Support" is a sprawling, slow-paced song on the post-rocky side of screamo, and it makes good use of overlapping harsh shrieks with both spoken word and clean-sung vocals. Play this one loud: by the time it builds to the climactic coda, you'll be left speechless.
Infant Island - "Stare Spells"
Here's one that just came out. Infant Island are a killer new-ish screamo band from Virginia, and my favorite song of theirs at the moment is the 10-minute "Awoken" from their new mini-LP Sepulcher, but "Stare Spells" from their upcoming album Beneath condenses that same level of ambition into four and a half driving, fast-paced minutes, finding time for hard-hitting screamo, crystal clear post-rock, towering sludge riffs, tender acoustic guitar, and more.
Stay Inside - "Silt"
Earlier this month, Brooklyn's Stay Inside released their debut album Viewing on No Sleep, and it's already one of my favorite emo albums of 2020. They're overall more of a melodic, clean-vocal emo band, but when they do scream, they're incorporating real-deal screamo and it's very exciting to hear the emo revival and the screamo revival collide like this.
Thisismenotthinkingofyou - "untitled03"
UK screamo band Thisismenotthinkingofyou followed their 2018 split with Massa Nera, Yo Sbraito, and EF'IL this year with their self-titled sophomore LP, and the whole thing is a relentless, chaotic whirlwind of grindy emoviolence that really makes most sense played from start to finish. But since I'm choosing just one song, I'll drop you right into the action with the pulverizing "untitled03."
Frail Hands - "Nothing Said"
Frail Hands (not to be confused with Frail Body) sadly had to part ways with vocalist Dawn Almeda due to vocal strain, but they overcame the hurdle with their 2020 sophomore LP parted/departed/apart, which is just as worth hearing as the band's much-loved 2017 debut. Frail Hands can do the heavy, in-your-face stuff, and the mathy, tech-y stuff, and the sweeping post-rock stuff, and all three of those sides are present on "Nothing Said."
Read past and future editions of 'In Defense of the Genre' here.