This is my top 15 list of screamo / skramz / emotive and chaotic hardcore or whatever-you-call-it in 2019.
And let me be clear about something:
This is one of my favorite subgenres of hardcore punk but there are so many bands sending stuff for review all the time that I just can’t focus my attention on writing about some of my actual favorite records throughout the year.
Therefore, with the exception of a few records like State Faults, we’ve barely touched on any screamo masterpieces in 2019. That’s also why this was one of my favorite articles to write in a long time.
I believe that 2019 was a really significant year for this particular scene all around the world. Not only because of all these great records (and many more not mentioned) but also because of the amazing festivals, tours, networking etc. And no, you won’t find Jeromes Dream nor any other reunited band on this list.
Let’s get started.
1 Senza – Even a Worm Will Turn
Senza is a three-piece chaotic screamo band from Eugene, Oregon that basically blows away everything else released in 2019 with their phenomenal Even a Worm Will Turn LP.
All three members of the band are doing vocals on this one, and each of them is banging their instrument as hard as they can in a perfectly calculated chaos that makes up for the shriekiest, technically prowess and explosive mix of screamo, black metal and mathcore of the last decade.
If there are more wildfires going on in the world today, I hope they would be of this kind only. This band is fantastic.
2 Vi som älskade varandra så mycket – Det onda. Det goda. Det vackra. Det fula.
This Scandinavian heartbreaker came out late in 2019 but instantly became a favorite record of mine.
It begins with a bold statement: Love is dead! (Kärleken är död); and continues in a breathtaking, emotionally devastating and sweepingly majestic ride to the most intimate realms of the human heart. Each beautiful post-rock interlude, each crushing breakdown and each howling scream in their native Swedish language sounds exactly as heart-breaking as it should. It will surely be bringing tears to people’s eyes for years to come.
VSÄVSM have undoubtedly created one of the most touching and heartwrenching records in recent screamo history, and I’m sure it will grow on you with each next listen.
3 Frail Body – A Brief Memorial
Screamo and post-hardcore with an underlying emphasis on post-rock elements has been a thing in the 2010s but there aren’t many bands that are really unique, and truly fascinate me.
Enter Frail Body, this amazing Illinois trio has been around for quite some time, and they just get better and better. A Brief Memoriam is a culmination of screamo awesomeness. On this record they’ve just found the perfect balance between The Saddest Landscape-esque heart-rending screamo and beautiful flows into uncharted territories.
Song after song, Frail Body masterfully juxtapose an emotional and fragile delivery of uplifting melodies and post-rock inspired climaxes. A Brief Memoriam is just amazing.
4 Carrion Spring – Self-Titled LP
Pain, loss, vulnerability and resilience—Carrion Spring (ex-members of my favorite Kidcrash) have gone through excruciating times prior to digitally releasing their self-titled record in June last year.
Years in the making, the record embodies years of hardships and loss—of a best friend, a partner, a family member. At the start of writing it, one member was just coming out of a years-long flare-up with a serious, life-threatening illness. Everyone in some way was grappling with how to process significant life events, the kind that mess you up real bad and force you to existentially face certain realities, confess the band members.
However, this record is not just absolutely honest, personal and emotionally charged hardcore-meets-screamo masterpiece. It’s also a bold political statement and a call-to-arms to break free of a racist, patriarchal, unjust system. The lyrics to the self-titled song “Carrion Spring” sums it up:
“So bring the rain and face a carrion spring. So bring the rain. Embrace the carrion spring to sow the seeds of insurrection. So bring the rain. To drown all the fascists. To drown all the warmongers. The racists. And homophobic dolts. Drown all the toxic male chauvinists. And the neoliberal. Bring the rain.”
5 CADY – Silence Will Not Protect You
I’ve known CADY’s singer, Polly, for so many years now and there aren’t many people that are more top-notch and genuine as her. So when this record came out in 2019, I was just so strikingly happy and hooked to it.
Silence Will Not Protect You (reference to Audre Lorde) is a powerful political hardcore record that expands on the eviscerating UK emo-violence sound of bands like Battle of Wolf 359 with some gorgeous moments akin to Svalbard, and of course an underlying feminist and anarchist message screamed at the top of Polly’s lungs in a fiercely unapologetic way.
6 Hundreds of AU – Mission Priorities on Launch
Clocking in at around 23 minutes, Mission Priorities on Launch by New Jersey’s phenomenal Hundreds of AU is a sweeping avalanche of impassioned emo-violence and cutting edge political hardcore.
Coming from the mid 1990s vegan straight edge scene to subsequently become a legend in the screamo scene, guitarist Tom Schlatter never disappoints in whatever band he has an involvement in (SEVIN, You And I, The Assistant, This Ship Will Sink, In First Person, Capacities, Black Kites, and tons more). This guy is just so effing prolific and Hundreds of AU is no exception for an outstanding band comprised of people who know how to hone the genre to perfection.
If you don’t find this band in any other best of the year list for screamo and hardcore, they just don’t know what they are missing out.
7 Coma Regalia – Vau Faelgoh
Coma Regalia are probably the most screamo of all the screamo bands out there, or at least the hardest working one.
After almost a decade of existence and dozens of splits with arguably every real screamo band in the world, 2019 brought the fifth Coma Regalia’s full-length called Vau Faelgoh. It reassures their already cult status within the scene. Expect a chaotic blend of hardcore aggression, breakneck dynamic changes, and desperate screams with emotional lyrical delivery on top of all that.
Everything you’d expect from a great skramz record, Coma Regalia has it.
8 Chaviré – Maintenant Que Les Flammes Sont Partout
Another fiercely emotional record coming from some of my favorite people in the DIY hardcore punk scene.
Chaviré are an explosion of emotions and indignant political rage from the bottom of their hearts. Maintenant Que Les Flammes Sont Partout is their most ambitious and mature record to date, and features expansive lyrics inspired by the recent wave of strikes, struggles and protests of French workers, students and unemployed people for dignity and more decent life.
This is one of the most important European bands right now and the statement goes well beyond just the music.
9 Shin Guard – 2020
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia’s Shin Guard have gone through a series of musical metamorphoses until they’ve finally reached their peak screamo performance with their 2020 LP.
Shrieking vocals, rippling arpeggios and devastating emotional outbursts are just the tip of the iceberg here. They have picked up their game on every aspect of the album. The whole record is an amalgamation of musical ideas torn between many, all worth following, directions.
It’s so diverse, catchy, emotionally charged and just plain amazing. The spoken word parts and inspiring lyrics tackling on social and political issues just make it even better.
10 Nuvolascura – Self-Titled LP
Taking cues from the chaotic hardcore/metal explosion of the 90s, Nuvolascura’s music is a fascinating journey from start to finish.
Their understanding and execution of compelling musical dynamics in addition to a solid production by Jack Shirley (Atomic Garden Studio) is a recipe for a great listen when you’re feeling down and out. Reminding me of bands like You and I, Forcefedglass, and even early Converge, this record is devastatingly good and a great surprise for me to hear in 2019.
Fans of chaotic metalcore should love this.
11 Joliette – Luz Devora
Puebla, México’s Joliette have been around since the beginning of the 2010s and continue to craft their energetic and dissonant take on hardcore and metal music to this day.
In 2019, the band came up with their latest Luz Devora LP, which takes you on an hour long trip of destructively dissonant, chaotic and pulverizing post-hardcore. Each individual song and the album as a whole are chock full of stunning riffs, memorable moments and violent onslaughts. Joliette are one of the most hard working and dedicated bands I’ve ever seen. Even the fact that the US border patrol revoked their Visas last summer and banned them for entering the US territory for five years for undisclosed reasons didn’t stop them to continue being such a fierce force of contemporary hardcore, metal and screamo.
Yes, 2019 wasn’t the best year for Joliette because of this particular border incident but I’m sure they will continue to craft their art and come up with new records that are out of this world.
12 Foxtails – Querida Hija
Foxtail’s Querida Hija is probably the most diverse and unconventional record on this list and I love it so much.
Fascinatingly incorporating jazz, math rock and dream pop elements into a chaotic screamo mess, this band just doesn’t stay on the same place for even a brief moment and somehow never lose the grip of what they are trying to achieve. And while the song structures are so interesting and unconventional that this could be successfully released as an entirely instrumental album, the vocals on this one are what really hits the spot. Eclectically switching between being ethereal, dreamy and melancholic to intense, messy and screaming on top of her lungs, while at the same juggling between English and Spanish, Megan is just truly incredible.
Querida Hija is just so catchy and vibrant.
13 Drei Affen – Seguimos Ciegxs
Hailing from Spain, Drei Affen (Three monkeys) play a frenetic blend of raw emotions, chaos and desperation on their sophomore full-length.
The six songs on this record are so neat and lively produced. The drumming is just mind blowing, the guitars are in a constant barrage of power chords, and the screams are top-notch for the genre.
Just 20 minutes of breathtaking Spanish screamo here!
14 RHA – Leben.Lassen.
Time and time again Germany has proven to consistently produce some of the most intense screamo records in Europe. Taking off where bands like June Paik left, RHA made arguably the most crushing post-metal influenced screamo record of last year.
Slowly building up the pace before exploding into a devastating musical barrage, this band proves to be a pure barbarism. If you like 10-minute-long tracks, soaked in a dense, claustrophobic atmosphere where anguished screams and emotionally driven spoken word in the *beautiful* German language are the order of the day, this record will go right up your alley.
Wirklich toll und großartig!
15 Kishote – Takotsubo
It makes perfect sense to write about skillfully crafted full-length records in an article like this one.
However, you can’t go wrong with some fast, violent and five-minutes long emotional hellfires released on a 7″ vinyl. Kishote is a band that painstrikingly resembles me of acts like Danse Macabre, Louise Cyphre, and Killed By Malaise.
German emo-violence terror at its best… You gotta love this little record!
I swear, these fifteen are my absolutely favorite screamo records of 2019. I know there are much more great releases that came out recently and I’m sorry to not mention any of those other awesome bands, but I’ll stop at these 15 since they are the ones that I’ve listened to the most.
What are your favorite emotional rollercoasters of the last year? Let me know in the comments below.