Screamo lives (of course). Below, check out five quite varied approaches to the style that have emerged in the first quarter of 2020 — and stay tuned, no doubt, for a whole lot more thrilling stuff throughout the year.
Dianacrawls – A Glitter Manifesto
You’re unlikely to hear anything quite like A Glitter Manifesto by the Montreal-based dianacrawls, which is available now via No Funeral Records.
The first track is a soft electronica jaunt, with an understated beat floating along through a pleasantly fogged atmosphere. Track two quickly devolves into caustic blasts of suffocating guitar and drum rhythm — but there’s a dance-like flippancy running through the mix like the central perspective of the song features flailing along with some kind of strangely ecstatic freedom as a torrential hailstorm rains down. The surges of slicing guitar buried amidst a cacophonous onslaught from the drums and piercing vocals don’t let up — but neither does the feeling of the flippant rush of the volatile rhythms, like some kind of roller coaster ride through a decrepit theme park.
That unhinged kickback in the rhythms amplifies only further on track three, the curiously titled “This Vinaigrette Won’t Die,” which eventually features a startlingly jazzy bass line amidst shrieked vocals circulating amidst the haze like ominously echoing screams whose origin can’t quite be placed. That combination of a barrage of bright technicolor blasts with ominous viciousness continues through the whole release — even the country song that closes it.
Check out the music below!
Кальк / Barabbas, du förtappade – Self-titled split
The Stockholm, Sweden-based screamo group Barabbas, du förtappade unite with the similarly ferocious Kiel, Germany-based Кальк for an absolutely blistering self-titled split that emerged in March and feels sure to leave a mark — only barely metaphorically speaking.
The first full track from Кальк, called “Паразит,” kicks off with vicious, spastic blasts of hardcore riffing and drums that sound like the person behind the kit is giving their absolute all — seriously, it feels hard to overstate the sheer intensity of these vicious performances. The latter part of that particular track features some prominent, somberly solemn-sounding synths, while as the band progress into their next song, they get into some real straightforward hardcore blasts that sound like some massive machine cratering out gaps in the earth. Throughout the contributions from Кальк, there’s a real confrontational anger, but the rhythms are amply unhinged to the point of delivering a sense of real, palpable chaos too.
Barabbas, du förtappade amp up the unhinged factor. When their part comes in on the latter half of the release, their crushing guitars screech out dynamic swings that feel like sonic encapsulations of socks to the gut. The band’s performances feel only barely held together as they devolve into even more maniacal blasts at moments like their track “Not Only Will This Kill You But It Will Hurt the Whole Time You’re Dying.” They’re absolutely ferociously heavy and spastically off-balance, with just enough melodic cohesion to insure that the whole mix hurls forward like a dead-set, vicious beast. There’s a startlingly direct, swinging melody that emerges at the end of the band’s last song on the record that helps drive in this sense.
Check out the music below!
L’Oceano Sopra – Kéreon
On their new album Kéreon, the Milan, Italy-based group L’Oceano Sopra perform a desperately lurching mixture of blasting melodic hardcore and desperation-wracked screamo, with the anxious-sounding, wavering but always loud vocals to tie the whole piece together like a live broadcast of a desperate emotional collapse.
The band’s guitar riffing consistently proves big and meaty, with a real hardcore thickness to the tones, but L’Oceano Sopra spin that physical intensity into something more directly psychologically poignant thanks to the sonic developments they include. There’s a real intricacy to their riffs; even in the most physically ferocious parts, odds are that you’ll find a spastically shifting core with sounds running up and down the fretboard, which makes the already physically formidable performances sound especially mentally and emotionally uneasy, too. Not even the “security” of an entirely straightforward physical onslaught can be counted on amidst the rapid shifts.
The first song begins with an absolutely suffocating hailstorm of guitar and drum blasts punctuated by ripping streaks of more directly melodically-oriented riffing, and eventually, the song gets into a slightly more drawn out, extended, even mournful-sounding attack. There’s a real desperation in the heaving waves of this heavy music, which comes to a cathartic crest at moments like the especially dynamically swinging closing segments of track two, called “Itaca.” The band’s music sounds like it’s heaving with breaths of fire.
Check out the music below!
Middle-Man Records — the cold promise of uncertainty
The cold promise of uncertainty from Indiana screamo label Middle-Man Records actually features four bands, including one — Philadelphia’s 소나기, otherwise known as sonagi — whose debut recorded songs are featured here. The other three artists include the Alberta-based Obroa-skai, Chicago’s Indisposed, and Indiana’s Coma Regalia.
Sonagi perform a super heavy rush of screamo whose elements feel like they’re uniting for huge, cohesive lashes. Their performances feel blisteringly physically intense, but there’s a snaking, whip crack of melody ringing out amidst the tidal wave. Their rhythms wind up into and out of each other amidst the band’s nearly endless rush forward, which delivers a feel of a kind of built-in emotional exhaustion. They’ve largely bounded right on past the point of build-up and jumped right into the ending segments of the desperate dash when tension piles up ahead of a complete crash.
Obroa-skai, meanwhile, sound like they’re absolutely seething on their two tracks. Their blast beat-riddled sonic beasts feature music that feels orchestrated around an idea of letting go, but there’s not respite at the bottom that’s thereby met — instead, there’s a blistering cacophony of lacerating guitars, roared vocals, and a mood tying the pieces together that feels like the soundtrack to smashing something into a million little pieces. Yet, rather than the inevitable one-hit-and-it’s-done version of that action in real life, the blistering, vicious rhythms make these freeing hits land over and over again. The songs aren’t just talking about or suggesting chaos; they’re packing it.
Indisposed probably end up with the softest music on the split, but their track still feels incredibly emotionally intense. With their reverberating, somber guitar melody, they feel like they’ve captured moments of real emotional frigidity, and when faster performance pops up occasionally, the perspective of the song feels like it’s simply shifted to heaving sobs — there’s no draw down of the solemnity. Coma Regalia close out the split with some super memorable jams — they perform with a real hardcore ferocity in their guitar work, but the dynamics swing all over the place, enacting a kind of especially physically-pained feeling, chest-clutching emotional chaos.
The record packs a remarkable amount of thrills and release. Check it out below!
René Maheu – Mor
On their pulverizing new album Mor, the Ukrainian screamo group René Maheu veer through richly dramatic, ferociously performed hardcore guitar riffing and manic drum freakouts that together feel like a musical portrait of moments cowering on the ground as some frigid rainstorm pummels the earth. The band include lengthy, poignant violin performances intermingled amidst the dramatically swinging tunes, and the emotional richness feels like it stretches from those violin parts into the rest of the work. The placement of the contorted, intermingling, jagged edges of the rushing guitar and drums amidst the solemn emotional sheen of the melodies enacts a feeling of desperate reaches for some kind of security while falling beneath the surface of a lake. The confrontational blasts of super hoarse guitar and drum work feel held together just about only by the emotional lurches running through all of these songs.
And, it’s important to note — the band are pretty much always super heavy, too. They’ve introduced the raw and occasionally even devastating volatility of screamo to the melodic hardcore framework, and some of the best of both worlds has emerged. With the inescapable physical impact of the deeply reverberating drums and lightning strikes of guitar riffing, René Maheu sound like they’re capturing the experience of watching some field go up in flames.
Check out Mor below!