The passionate, sonically sprawling kind-of punk music that zeroes in on piercing your soul known as screamo isn’t just an American project by a longshot, as most connoisseurs of underground music would probably be eager to note. This year has been a potent one for this corner of the music community, perpetually connected by the magic of modern technology and the globally circulating tunes that they craft and present.
Here are three supremely emotionally compelling albums that have come out this year from screamo bands based outside the United States, from Mexico to Sweden. None of the music is exactly the same, but screamo and related underground music terms are used here more in reference to the idea than a set of technical specifications.
Joliette – Luz Devora
Joliette are a powerful screamo band from Mexico who’ve this year released an emotional pummeling of an album called Luz Devora, which means “light devours.” Fascinatingly, the band never really let up with their delivery of gripping, intense musical progressions, but they also turn these threads around at times and impart an almost “spooky” feeling. The music really gets under your skin — in a physical sense thanks to the sheer fury packed into this music, and in an emotional sense via the focus with which the band present their creations and the relentless atmosphere poking through the cracks.
There’s a straightforward confidence coursing through Luz Devora, even as the music itself feels like it’s dragging the listener down to the earth even if they weren’t prepared. There’s a clear value in that kind of process — facing the limits of our existence, that is. There’s only so far we can go before we break, which looms as a possibility that Joliette seem at odds with but unafraid of. Their music almost surprisingly bursts at the seams as the record progresses — it’s a powerful, powerful beast. Their lyrics are in Spanish, but they’re available on the band’s Bandcamp profile (linked below) and (to be honest) plugging them into Google translate proves a worthwhile endeavor indeed, if you don’t happen to know Spanish but want to follow along. The raw, engaging musical confrontation carries right over into the unapologetic lyrics that deal with abandonment and other drivers of what’s ultimately an apparent struggle to hold onto a sense of self.
Check it out:
Drei Affen – Seguimos Ciegxs
Spain’s Drei Affen waste no time in getting to their apparent “point” of a brutal confrontation of oppressive forces on their newly available Seguimos Ciegxs, meaning roughly in English: “We are blind.” They’re noisy, but they rush far beyond just that point, turning the power inherent in their noisily cathartic approach into a raw expression of will. Focus permeates this work, musically and emotionally speaking, even as the breadth of force hurtling at the listener and out from them remains stunning. Their music quickly proves incredibly packed full of sound, with a relentless, passionate fury that emerges like the strength of a waterfall. This music comes roaring out like a beast, and it ends up quite invigorating to listen to.
This band’s vocalist also performs in Spanish, but they make lyric translations available on their Bandcamp. One that comes toward the end feels like it really symbolizes the musical and emotional, thematic pushes of the overall release quite powerfully well. The singer proclaims:
‘I’m going to bind my wounds, to pull off my death chains. I’m not a victim, I’m struggling, I’m not guilty.’
Amen. This music feels like anthems for the oppressed, in this case addressing oppression that comes from the world and from right inside, delivering this sense via the emotional intimacy that Drei Affen clearly maintain even through the noise.
Don’t miss it:
Shirokuma – Clothes I Wear For The Space I’m In
The most recent album from Sweden’s Shirokuma rattles like what could be the last heaves of a struggling person. Noise-laden musical and emotional gravity hits right from the get-go and essentially never lets up throughout Clothes I Wear For The Space I’m In. This music seems to circle back into itself, like a musical encapsulation of a time loop and doomed eternal recurrence that we may or may not be all trapped in. There’s no “way out” presented with these thick walls of sound — instead, the only option proves to let them come in, and in the process you might end up understanding more of the breadth of this emotional crush in the first place.
It’s engagingly and even captivatingly powerful — hugely powerful, and the music feels somewhat like that waterfall from above comes crashing down upon you. Listening could be equated emotionally to sitting on a shore as a huge ocean wave rises up and slams down over you over and over. The band sing in English, and their vocal work and the music itself packs an utterly desperate sense of urgency. This album feels like a examination of a chaotic end stage of an emotional cancer — you better hold on tight once climbing aboard, because the ride through this music is unforgiving. Such is the welcome price of power, one might say.