Throughout 2020, music persisted.
Below, check out nine screamo (and broadly screamo-oriented) releases from across 2020 that deserve more attention and appreciation. The releases include a broad range of styles, from post-rock instrumentation to punk and hardcore vibes to mathy chaos.
This article features projects including Among Tides, Brahm, dana sterling, Enze, flowers&shelters, LinguaSerpente, Lorne Malvo, norse, and Regrets Are Killing Me. Every entry includes a Bandcamp embed of the music under consideration; if the music doesn’t show up, please refresh the page and/ or wait a moment. Clicking through each one of the Bandcamp embeds will lead to pages with more information about the projects.
Among Tides – What Doesn’t Reach the Surface
France’s Among Tides deliver a warmly atmospheric, post-rock-infused screamo on their new record What Doesn’t Reach the Surface.
The record repeatedly builds into rather epic crescendos of richly dramatic rhythms. Amidst these extended journeys into musical triumph, Among Tides occasionally get startingly heavy; for instance, the concluding segment of the track “King of a Driftwood Castle” packs a dramatic punch. In that section and elsewhere on their new record, Among Tides deliver a sound that’s super formidable and simultaneously carries some dramatically dynamic, emotionally palpable swings, with a kind of roaring cacophony running through the center of the record. It’s not chaos, but instead, the band’s formidable riffs sometimes feel like musical whitewater rapids.
In the riffs across the whole piece, there’s a frequent feeling of a kind of heavy rock and hardcore beefiness, although the post-rock vibe does get to shine on the album,. Among Tides perform these riffs with such tangible passion that they transform the listening experience from holding the riffs at a distance to falling through the emotional hurricane contained in their songs. There’s a kind of halfway peace that simmers under the surface on this record, but there’s a helluva lot of wildness on the journey to get even to a semblance of that relief.
The almost entirely instrumental opening track focuses on slowly growing tension, like setting off on a critical yet increasingly tumultuous journey, and this smoother ambiance also features prominently on “Sunken Mementos.” Alongside these atmospheric elements, there’s a truly searing level of drama in the music, like the record charts a path through a raging storm.
Brahm – Without Honor and Humanity
On their debut four-track collection of songs, the San Jose-based screamo group Brahm sound ferocious. Their music carries absolutely scalding energy, with off-the-wall rhythms delivered with a hardcore sense of formidable physical heaviness. The group’s music feels, quite simply, pummeling — and this effect carries over into the emotional realm. As “Artificial” kicks off, the melodic tone feels forcefully upturned to the point of peeling back emotional layers and revealing pulsating cores underneath. There’s a kind of strangely present breathability in the music, even as it veers wildly all over the place like a lost creature seeking its home. Some of the rhythms feel like they wouldn’t be out of place in a somber math rock piece — but they’re played at absolute maximum intensity on Without Honor and Humanity.
The music feels like it might provide a soundtrack for frantically overturning everything in sight, seeking some physical manifestation of a security that’s been painfully lost. Notably enough, the songs really aren’t totally unhinged, so there’s a sense of emotional purpose shining through the music, and this shining purpose outlines a path to some kind of frantic search for catharsis. The music hits with direct force. The caustic emotional hardcore hits hard and with just the right level of precision to piece even the coldest thickets. There’s an anthemic quality in the persistence of the energy, and the music feels invigorating, on a deeply affecting level.
Without Honor and Humanity is available via Zegema Beach Records.
Dana Sterling – Departure
Departure — the new album from the Minneapolis-based group dana sterling — delivers a deeply stirring combination of rather angular screamo/ hardcore and musical self-contemplation. The record packs a lush and endlessly propulsive cacophony.
Through the group’s entire creation, there’s a consistently rich and organic feeling, like real-life bursts of energy lurk behind every musical blast. Like musical movements through pain, opening track “the space we keep” careens from frantic confrontational lurches into the soaring and somewhat more straightforward rhythms of its energetic conclusion, while the harried opening of follow-up track “asleep on park” promptly gives way to a segment of breathable and rather anthemic-feeling riffing placed alongside entirely clean vocals. This passionate (non-screamed) singing also makes repeated appearances elsewhere. Even when the frenzy of the mix picks up again, the anthemic feeling remains in force — the guitar blasts land with a subtly triumphant power and a feeling of endless drive, like the music carries a punk edge amidst its fiery and off-kilter screamo rhythms.
The mid-segment of the track “calm simple sweet” re-introduces one of those more breathable (but no less emotion-rich) components, before building up into the repeated blasts of the conclusion. Closing track “in violence we trust” — which, lyrically, seems to recount the paradigm-shattering horrors of war — features what feels like the most breathable rhythms out of any of the tracks. The song nevertheless feels emotionally grueling; the rhythms, here and elsewhere on the powerful record, ache. The emotional strain feels inescapable. There’s not really an overwhelming sense of catharsis in the songs, but there’s a passionate urgency that makes them feel just about instantly essential.
Enze – Romança a les bèsties
On their hard-hitting new EP Romança a les bèsties, the Spain-based group Enze present a captivating and deeply stirring melodic hardcore-leaning screamo. The songs carry a real heaviness, with hardcore riffing cutting across much of their runtime, but there’s also a consistently surging sense of rather startlingly beautiful melodies that feel like musical reflections of bursts of emotional catharsis emerging in the midst of some period of mental tension and turmoil. Alternatively, thanks to the earnest richness in the sound, the EP might musically reflect a feeling of looking out at bursts of plant life emerging from amidst rubble or discovering persistent waterways lurking in the shadow of thick woodlands.
The fist-pumping songs feel invigorating. There’s a definite blanket of heaviness — the sharply sculpted songs hit hard — but the rhythms waver with a marvelously organic spirit, leading up to points like the drum rhythm crescendo that opens “El mite de la fal·làcia.” At moments like the title track, which opens the EP, the band present subtly triumphant bursts of melodic riffing, and again, the music carries a distinctly and richly emotionally grounded feeling, because the songs aren’t just an onslaught. They flow, and there’s sometimes an uncertainty in the occasionally math rock-leaning rhythms that establishes the powerful grounding in palpable tumult.
“Doctrines” feels pretty straightforwardly heavy, with a superbly ferocious groove that opens the song and quickly breaks out into some rather fast-paced blasts of rhythm, and Enze don’t stop there. The songs twist and move like breakthrough bursts of light.
Romança a les bèsties by Enze is available via Seitan’s Hell Bike Punks, La Purga Records, CGTH Records, La SOJA, and The Braves Records.
flowers&shelters – S.T. / Omonimo
The Italian group flowers&shelters perform a richly atmospheric yet still markedly intense screamo on their five-track March 2020 release. The entire record clocks in at less than ten minutes, but there’s a lot to dive into here.
The band smoothly moves from frantic, Orchid-style screamo/ hardcore parts into slightly more extended rhythms that deliver a feeling like falling down into a metaphorical pit of emotional quicksand. In the work of other artists, those kinds of solemnly simmering rhythms sometimes get longer treatments, but flowers&shelters keep their songs concise. They deliver flashes of contemplative energy and emotional snapshots of desperately looking for some kind of security. There’s a real catharsis in the energy of the songs, which feel inescapably energetic yet not too chaotic. The band zero in on amplifying the emotional impact of the melodies that sit at the core of their songs, and the ragged energy of their tracks gives the emotional turmoil a very real-life feeling, like the EP packs a musical roller-coaster, thrills and all.
The more breathable moments in the band’s music include the slower segments at the end of “Eoni di silenzio,” the beginning of “Passi in soffitta,” and the end of “Soliloquio.” Meanwhile, “Inerme, impassibile” — which opens the release — closes with a crescendo of comparatively slow, lurching rhythms carrying bursts of energy. It’s bright, energetic, and powerful. The release carries a feeling of kicking out a place for vibrant life amidst an onslaught of turmoil. “Eoni di silenzio” ends with a surprisingly triumphant refrain, and this impression washes across the whole release.
LinguaSerpente – Anachronistic Futuristic
Italy’s LinguaSerpente sound impressively invigorating on their new record ANACHRONISTIC FUTURISTIC, which seems like a time capsule capturing the spirit of the dive bar punk shows that many have missed in 2020. The group performs particularly caustic post-hardcore full of tense and abrasively textured rhythms that shake like corn kernels about to pop — or, alternatively, waves of thunder rolling across the sky.
The rhythms feel energetic and definitively push forward throughout the record’s entire runtime, but the melodies also seem to collapse in on each other as the album rockets forward, which drenches the listening experience with emotionally reverberating psychological unease. The tracks seem to reflect some of the tension of uncertainty, and socially conscious samples that appear in the music situate this uncertainty in the context of present-day social calamities. “Greed has poisoned men’s souls,” actor Charlie Chaplin says in a recording included on “Revolution At 45.” The songs across ANACHRONISTIC FUTURISTIC seem to provide a decidedly personal perspective on the chaos, because they’re quite accessible, and the melodies themselves feel strong — but there’s also a kind of desperate instability, as if the record packs a feeling of repeatedly yanking up metaphorical rugs without warning.
Atop the foundation of shimmering intensity, track two, called “Splitted,” partially leans into some slower tempoed and more breathable chest-thumping swagger, with a particularly heavy low-end pushing the track (and entire record) along. Track three, “Good Buy My Friends,” further explores this comparatively more soulfully-inclined territory, which infuses the album’s underlying roller-coaster energy with a kind of ragged desperation. The riffs hurtle towards listeners like splashes of oil popping off a stove, providing an exhilarating face-off with tense chaos. The record’s underlying energy feels aggressively confrontational and definitively forward-looking, as if frantically searching the horizon for imminent brighter moments.
“Revolution At 45” seems to approach the edge of this brighter territory, with anthemic surges of punked up heavy riffing.
Anachronistic Futuristic by LinguaSerpente is available via Italy’s Shove Records.
Lorne Malvo – s/t
The radiant self-titled EP from France’s Lorne Malvo sounds rather monumental. The release only contains four tracks, but each song feels lush and vivacious — and absolutely emotionally pummeling.
The conclusion of the entire release, at the end of closing track “À L’intérieur De Mes Rides,” feels particularly epic. Comparatively, the music slows down, but the emotionally incinerating fire still shines through rather magnificently with each resounding rhythmic hit. The hard-hitting and somewhat erratic and unhinged — but definitely not totally chaotic — rhythms feel like expert encapsulations of emotional devastation, like suffering through wells of emotion that correspond to each gut-rattling hit across Lorne Malvo.
The tension in the sound ensures that the onslaughts really don’t feel unwieldy or depersonalized. Instead, the songs feel like they capture very personal moments of emotional collapse, like hiding out in some back alleyway and struggling through intense anxiety. The rhythms raise up and crash over and over again, with a consistently present and rather captivating drama in the sound that swirls around the core element of raging intensity. Atmosphere-oriented segments like the opening portions of “À Jamais” and “Noyé” feel orchestrated to provide a beating heart for the broader tension, and when that tension kicks in, it’s truly searing.
The passionate attention to the chaotic details of life makes Lorne Malvo a subtly triumphant and rather deeply enlivening listen. There’s pain and a persistent emotional chaos — but there’s also an inviting sense of communal warmth and understanding.
Lorne Malvo is available via Zegema Beach Records.
Norse – Blu
On their powerful new record blu, the music of the Italian group norse pulsates with hard-hitting hardcore punk that carries a caustic screamo edge.
The group packs enough variation into their music to make this record feel like a true mental rollercoaster, with a sense of some kind of unhinged ride through chaos, as if clutching the side of a boat on the open sea as a torrential storm attacks the area. The rhythms themselves feel like they’re roaring, as norse’s music rears back with a hoarse hardcore intensity like massive ocean waves, and the effect feels quite staggering. The music feels exhilarating, in a somewhat inescapable fashion, as if surveying the stunning breadth of a tidal wave. The dynamics in the music, and the occasional slower moments, really center the experience on a first-hand perspective. The songs feel definitively heavy, but they’re not just a slew of gut-rattling riffs. Instead, the wavering dynamics make blu feel like diving headfirst into freezing water. Blu carries a searing imprint of crushing internal tension — it’s a no-holds-barred look.
Track two, “Abitudine,” kicks off with a rather rich low-end pushing the music along, and as the bass rhythms get kicked into the same kind of slightly unhinged, bracing vibe as the rest of the music, norse feel like they’ve interwoven lacerating emotional winds into their songs. There’s an ominous sternness in the band’s music, as if sonically capturing an experience of emotional spiral, with a crushing weight of tension bearing down like a thick and suffocating blanket.
“Colpe,” track three, temporarily devolves into more restrained but still forceful rhythms, which build into rhythmically brisker sections, as if bracing for an onslaught from one of those freezing waves. Much of the closing track features a more restrained tempo, as if settling into the frigid water. The lyrics seem to aptly capture the mood when, on that closing track, the singer roars “il fallimento è il nostro unico conforto,” translating as “failure is our only comfort.”
Norse’s blu is available via Konodischi, Vina Records, Fresh Outbreak Records, Longrail Records, The Ghost is Clear Records, Tomb Tree Tapes, and Clever Eagle Records.
Regrets Are Killing Me – My Own Carelessness
The new four-track EP My Own Carelessness from the Japanese group Regrets Are Killing Me feels like a musical flamethrower.
The melodies across the release feel scorching yet invigorating, with an overarching pensive feeling that shines rather vividly through the tumult. The songs pair roaring physical intensity with caustic melodies that feel like snapshots of inescapable emotional desperation. The melodies build and sway with a persistent turmoil, grounding the songs in a very personal-feeling place, as if they’re emotionally capturing an experience of a kind of desperate sadness.
As the band name itself suggests, the tracks feel like staring into the mirror with a weighty and pained feeling of self-revulsion, as if trying to reach through the glass and back through the currents of time to make a change but coming up empty. The songs feel rather raw and personal, while the melodies and their accompanying emotional chaos also shine through rather sharply. Opening track “Grudge” gradually builds into serious tumult, while follow-up track “23” alternates between moments of rhythmic frenzy and simmering atmosphere. “Careless” features some somber jamming.
The songs carry a perhaps surprising level of dynamic variety, as, rather than sticking to frantic hardcore-centered tunes, the musicians behind Regrets Are Killing Me feel like they’ve compacted grippingly expansive emotional release into their tracks.
My Own Carelessness is available via Slow Down Records.
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