All the Footprints of an Apparition – An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Screamo

Rohit Chaoji writes about some of his favorite screamo releases and why you should start listening to screamo.

I personally really hate the term “screamo” since there is no actual way to make a distinction between bands like Bring Me The Horizon and bands like Orchid or Saetia, without following it with “oh no not THAT screamo, but what screamo was originally meant to be” and then nerding out about music while the other person loses interest in ever speaking to you.

I also hate “skramz”, because it just sounds too silly.

That being said, let’s begin with trying to quickly understand what “screamo” means here and then take a look at a list of albums that a beginner might want to try, if they’re curious to listen to or understand it.

Just like powerviolence and grindcore were logical evolutions to crust and hardcore punk, screamo was not only a logical progression of the “emotional hardcore” scene from DC, United States, but also the twisted child of “post”-hardcore, powerviolence, grindcore and (some) melodic hardcore, all at once. The irony is that one of the most unhinged and wild musical genres consisted of bands that had the sense of humour to call their style something silly throughout the ages – screamo, emoviolence and skramz being among the ridiculous terms humorously coined by the artists and the fans.

This strange, enigmatic and misunderstood genre has some musical gems that anyone into aggressive and dramatic music should like. Here is a list of 5 of them that are rather beginner-friendly.

 1. Envy – All the Footprints You’ve Ever Left And the Fear Expecting Ahead (Temporary Residence Ltd)

These Japanese fellows were my introduction to *chuckle* REAL screamo. Combining melodic, emotional hardcore punk riffs, with very post rock-like build-ups and tension-release dynamics, this album is a rollercoaster from the beginning to the end. The guitars soar and scream with piercing intensity, which is complemented by vocals with a similar quality, which works in the album’s favour. Following this album, I personally think Envy only got worse, as they chose to discard a lot of their hardcore punk aggression in favour of more post-rock noodling.

 

 2. Orchid – Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow! + Chaos is Me (Ebullition)

Orchids is probably the most well-known band that plays this style. Frantic and urgent chord progressions, blasting drums, unconventional song structures with lots of tempo variations and time signature oddities is the name of the game here. Despite this, none of the songs here feel too inaccessible to a listener who might already be familiar with grindcore and powerviolence, with the difference being that this is melodically, harmonically and rhythmically richer, compared to a vast majority of PV and grind bands.

 

 3. Pg.99 – Document #8 (Robotic Empire)

Highly prolific screamo band, with a vast number of recordings under their belt. Although it is difficult to recommend any specific release, Document #8 is a good place to start. Pg.99 understand how to write memorable melodies while keeping the expected hardcore punk ferocity at 11!

4. Saetia – A Retrospective (Secret Voice)

There are often mentions of loud-soft dynamics when talking about post-hardcore and screamo and I truly believe that no band does this better than Saetia (with the exception of maybe Off-Minor). There are some nods to indie rock and post-hardcore from the early 1990s in how those dynamics are displayed on this album. The constant switching between frantically-paced, distorted sections and calmer, cleaner sections is seamless and ties each individual song together.

 

 5. City of Caterpillar – S/T (The Archivist)

If Godspeed You! Black Emperor were a hardcore band, they would be called “City of Caterpillar”. This bunch understands how tension, excitement and drama are created in music and they apply that understanding to hardcore punk. The heavier sections consist of well-written melodic riffs and grating vocal performance, while the softer sections serve as bridges and build-ups within the songs, creating a very varied and dynamic sound that just fits together extremely well. The album is also not very difficult for a beginner to get into, hence its inclusion here.

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Misery Signals – Absent Light

Misery Signals released their 4th full length Absent Light independently.

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TRACKLIST:
01. A Glimmer of Hope
02. Luminary
03. Reborn (An Execution)
04. Carrier
05. Shadows and Depth
06. Lost Relics
07. Two Solitudes
08. Departure
09. The Shallows
10. Ursa Minor
11. Everything Will Rust

The crowd funding campaign.. A phenomenon which seem to have caught on like wildfire in the music realm.  For all you laymen, certain sites such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter lend artists the option of funding their albums through their fans (who are to offer donations with no limit bar). Fans are then offered some cool add-ons/perks with their purchase of the finished album. This means this can only work out for bands with an established fanbase. Bands tend to toe this line when faced with either of these issues.

1. Completely fed up with their labels’ callous attitude/creative control over the album, and want to dissociate.

2. Bands express the need to go DIY so they gain full control over everything, from production to touring to sales. The profits can be put into good use.

It’s  been great so far. Fans have been paying up rich dividends, in fact drawing an amount of money almost double their actual requirement. With everything going this good one cannot but help but bring a bit of skepticism into the picture. Even if that means, doubting a band that you’ve been quite an ardent fan of. The band in question here is none other than Misery Signals.

After a gap of 5 painstaking years Misery Signals have returned with hopes of creating a few ripples in that almost axiomatic pool of stagnancy –which is Metalcore. Clearly their debut ‘Of Malice and the Magnum Heart’ and ‘Controller’ both left lasting impressions on the scene. Spawning in the process a slew of run of the mill clones (only pretentiously so). The Misery Signals sound has thus been a hallmark within the confines of the genre, something scores of bands have tried to capture and instead found themselves, toppling over each other. So yes, we have several thousand ears yearning for a taste of what was to come.

Well let’s just say, it is hard for bands to build on an already cemented past.  Absent Light sees Misery Signals being themselves, which yes, adds an air of authenticity, but in the end finds itself falling short. What the band has always excelled on was in creating a seemingly undeniable and enviable combination of technicality, melody and lyricism hitherto unsurpassed in metalcore. A fine balance, in fact too fine, as even the slightest of dilutions or inadvertent doses of any one of these, can tip the scale towards the ever so common trapping of “missing something”. With Absent Light the band immerses itself in a tad too much of technicality and the songwriting sort of takes a blow. Each song has great moments, instantly reminiscent of the almost hallowed heights the band had previously traversed. Yet these very songs suffer from passages that fall terribly flat, several mechanical riffage devoid of any life runs rife throughout the album. In the end each song sounds fractured at several points. It disengages the listener as much as it engages hi m. I’ve been through this album several times now and it still hasn’t clicked. The ‘Grower’ card just seems to fail here.

That said, there are a couple of songs such as Luminary, Shadows and Depths, Ursa Minor that still ekes out in to your system despite all attempts of protest. But what takes the cake is the closer Everything will Rust which sees the band stepping outside the rather tepid spectrum they seem to relish in. One might as well call it post-hardcorish. With a stellar guest vocals provided by the vocalist from the funk band Bad Rabbits and your typical Karl’s still undiminished-in-intensity roars over it. A much cathartic 4 minutes I must say.

Much like ‘Mirrors’ (their sophomore effort) this is probably a temporary dip in quality. Very likely to be the case of a band searching for that elusive perfect mix, once again. Although not a bad record by any means, all it does is leave you optimistic for their next release.

Stream the entire album here:

All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature

Mohammad Kabeer reviews the new record from All Pigs Must Die titled Nothing Violates This Nature, released via Southern Lord.

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Artwork by Aaron Turner of Isis fame. Damn! This is good!! Follow his artwork on his personal blog called the Feral Pig.

TRACKLIST:
01. Chaos Arise
02. Silencer
03. Primitive Fear
04. Bloodlines
05. Of Suffering
06. Holy Plague
07. Aqim Siege
08. Sacred Nothing
09. Faith Eater
10. Articles Of Human Weakness

I remember talking about this band  called  All Pigs Must Die to a friend on Facebook Chat, telling him that it is really brutal and crushing and all the other adjectives used to describe  music like this, funny thing is he typed on YouTube and instead came up  with  a soft  yet haunting  Neofolk song by Death in June. Both of us laughed  at this  and then I ultimately  gave him the link  to the title track  from their  album God is War  with which  he was indeed very impressed, so was I, but somehow  although liking their music  I didn’t   really follow the  band because at that time I was into things that were a lot faster a lot more chaotic, like Grindcore, or early Powerviolence. I am really glad that I am getting the opportunity now because this is seriously something, which is not to be missed.

All pigs must die is a sludge/hardcore band from Massachusetts, their sound can be  best described as   sludge  mixed with hardcore  along with  some elements of Death Metal. Mostly so in the tremolos  which  occur in between the primal raw sludge/hardcore carnage,  which are  very  similar to the ones in Swedish and Finnish Death  Metal  bands  like Entombed and Dismember. These  can be  best exemplified in Chaos Arise, Silencer, Primitive Fear and  Aqim Siege, which takes the metal element  one step  above as the band adds   death metal distortion which is  matched to  medium  tempo double bass, a trademark characteristic of old school death metal. Even though there sound is pretty wholesome as it is,  the slower tracks like  Bloodlines, which starts with a very  middle eastern sounding guitar and later evolves into a slow  Integrity like Hardcore, and Of suffering which has a very strong  funeral doom vibe and in a few other ways reminds me of Triptykon. This lends a a certain charisma to the album, and also  offer  some breathing space in between all the  slaughter.

So when all is said and done, all I can say is All Pigs Must die know exactly what  they want to be  but don’t   shy away from   experimenting ,  yet  know what and where their roots are.  This is a great album that I thoroughly enjoyed, here’s  hoping for more from them in the future.

Full of Hell – Rudiments of Mutilation

Mohammad Kabeer review the new album from Full of Hell titled Rudiments of Mutilation, released via A389 Recordings.

12 Jacket (5mm Spine) [GD30OBH5]

Tracklist:
01. Dichotomy 02:10
02. Vessel Deserted 02:11
03. Coven Of The Larynx 01:03
04. Throbbing Lung Fiber 01:02
05. Indigence And Guilt 01:51
06. Embrace 03:37
07. The Lord Is My Light 04:21
08. Bone Coral And Brine 01:54
09. Rudiments Of Mutilation 02:06
10. In Contempt Of Life 03:56

Full of Hell is one of the most exciting bands to watch out for in modern hardcore. Their last   album Roots of Earth are Consuming my Home was probably one of the darkest, most “malicious” sounding hardcore I have ever set ears on.  Vii caso’s description of their live performance at Maryland Death Fest  made the band even  more intriguing as according to him  It was pure evil with  the  dark lighting and harsh noise transitions in between songs and too add to that a rabid, visceral frontman.  So it was obvious that there new album had some huge shoes to fill.

For those who don’t  know and would like to get some background  about this band ,Full of Hell  is  a four piece from Maryland/Pennsylvania , now that that’s  taken  care of  lets get down to business. When compared to their last album   the production is much more cleaner, however that does not really take anything away from the band as these guys still sound evil, nasty  and  at some points even  frightening  in a completely new way.  Whereas the previous album was all about  the high gain  heavy hardcore,  that mixed some  doom and sludge,  this album is much  more experimental , an example of which can be seen  in the track Coven of the Larynx which  has your typical chord driven  guitars  played to a skank beat   which is  layered with   oddball dissonance something that would fit well with Deathspell Omega, in fact  another track Indigence and Guilt has the  skank played along to very detailed, wicked and almost black metal  sounding guitars  not too dissimilar to other black  metal bands today  like Nightbringer and Aosoth. This reaches its peak in the track when the bands brand of technical, chaotic hardcore is juxtaposed with weird flanger guitar effects and power electronics. There are some tracks which move away from hardcore as well, for instance The Lord is my Light opens up with somewhat drone-ish   guitar work  which  brings images of  insanity, loneliness and desolation  which  later builds up to a sonic  nightmare  with weird guitar effects that  makes  you feel as if everything around you is melting  and  there’s no way you can run(damn this band  fuels me to write!) , and the last track In Contempt of Life where the band experiments with  really crushing  , sludgy/doomy guitars,  which is accompanied by some really chilled laidback  stoner rock drumming. But with all of that being said, these elements don’t really take away Full of Hell’s signature sound and in fact adds much more to it, making it much more elaborate.

Thus keeping everything in mind I would say that Rudiments of Mutilation is a challenging, yet highly rewarding release., that  will be enjoyed by anyone who  is into extreme music, not just hardcore.  One of the best hardcore releases of 2013 so far.

 Stream the entire album below