LÖRI, from Lima, Peru, via Bandcamp

Screamo Is Taking Over the World

From South America to Southeast Asia, dozens of bands are spreading the genre across the globe.

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Aug 15 2018, 4:01pm

LÖRI, from Lima, Peru, via Bandcamp

Summer of Screamo is a month-long, weekly column spotlighting new, recent, and upcoming releases in screamo, emoviolence, and generally offbeat hardcore.

For many years of my life, I’d be downright baffled when I met a person familiar with the screamo records I grew up on. The genre seemed like such a small, insular product of the area in which I lived and, since it was birthed before the internet could signal boost it to a larger audience, I assumed it stayed there. So when a stranger could reference The Now or Off Minor, it was like they spoke a secret language, like they were quoting some public access TV show that I thought no one outside my friend circle had seen.

It’s only in hindsight that I’m coming to understand the full scope of screamo’s late 90s/early 2000s reach. It still wasn’t very expansive, but its residual influence is still being felt today. Since I started this column a few weeks ago, I’ve been getting emails from people asking me to check out their screamo band or label, and to my delightful surprise, a substantial chunk of these—I might even say the majority—are coming from outside the United States.

Submissions came from all over the globe, each with its own regional personality but all rooted in the hallmarks of the genre. And with each one, I fell into a wormhole that led me to dozens and dozens of other records by a seemingly endless line of active bands. Hopefully this handful of recommendations will get you started on that path as well.

So get your PayPal account ready and brace yourself for international shipping costs because we’re about to take a journey through some worldwide screamo releases...

Birds in Row

Laval, France

I caught this French three-piece a few nights ago in New York with Portrayal of Guilt (who I mentioned in a previous edition of this column have made what is likely my favorite hardcore record this year) and they largely played material from their new, Deathwish-released album, We Already Lost the World. While the band is French, they sing in English. Or, I guess more accurately, they scream in English. The album is mainly centered around the notion of love as an act of rebellion, e.g.: “Love is defiance, defiance is necessary / Love is disobedience, love is political.” As an Extremely Online American who is constantly fed a healthy diet of unresolvable political vitriol and hateful rhetoric, I find the band’s sentiment somewhat naive, though part of me does admire their blind optimism. My own personal hate-filled bias aside, though, this is a truly powerful album rooted in sincerity, maybe to a fault. It’s one of those rare hardcore records that can be enjoyed equally by the most seasoned snob or any ol’ n00b off the street.

Entzauberung

Paris, France

I don’t know what kind of hippie trip they’re riding in France to make Birds in Row pen the aforementioned love will conquer all-themed LP, or for Paris’ Entzauberung to write an album this year about clouds because, according to their email, “it's essential to take time and to dream by watching the sky and the clouds,” but if it’s going to keep inspiring hardcore records like this, that’s fine by me. Entzauberung, amazingly, is a one-man band. This mathy LP was mastered by the legendary Will Killingsworth who has worked on most of those great Youth Attack releases (and who also did that Regional Justice Center LP earlier this year in case you missed that). Here’s a video for their song made with Microsoft Excel:

Frail Hands

Halifax, Nova Scotia

I’ve sung the praises of a band called Frail Body from Chicago, but there’s also a band from Halifax called Frail Hands. (Also not to be confused with the pre-Ink & Dagger Philly straight-edge band Frail.) Just yesterday, they released a split on this very site with LA’s Ghost Spirit. And with no disrespect to Ghost Spirit, their side of the LP is but a palate cleanser for the devastation of Frail Hands’ side. It only clocks in around ten minutes but still gets a lot done. There is something about vocalist Dawn Almeda’s delivery that sounds… wrong. Not “wrong” meaning incorrectly performed. “Wrong” as in: Is this person OK?? It sounds like pure catharsis funneled into a microphone.

LÖRI

Lima, Peru

Hugo Castro tells me via email that his Peruvian band LÖRI was influenced by the French screamo scene. I’m cleaning up the English a bit, but he notes: “Peru has a really little scene due the lack of people listening to the genre and the bad usage of the words ‘emo’ and ‘screamo’ which was more of a tag to call the people who were in the scene following the commercial bands and the fashion statement that came with it in the early 2000s.” Hey, SAME HERE IN AMERICA! Hugo also recommends Angor Wat, who were together from 2011 to 2014 and featured some LÖRI members.

Suis La Lune

Stockholm, Sweden

Suis La Lune is based in Sweden but it sounds like the members are too spread out for it to be a workable situation, seeing as how the band announced earlier this week they’d be calling it a day. Some of their material got US releases via Topshelf Records, which makes sense given that their twinkly guitarwork fit in with a lot of the label's roster, but it was when they were able to combine that with their louder tendencies that they really stood out.

Vi som älskade varandra så mycket

Stockholm, Sweden

Although Suis La Lune was something of a powerhouse of the Swedish scene, there are quite a few bands there willing to pick up the slack after their demise. Arvid Ringborg, who sings in the band Vi som älskade varandra så mycket (which Google Translate informs me means “We who loved each other so much”), notes that the Swedish scene is thriving. “It is commonly referred to as The Swedish Skramz Mafia,” Ringborg says via email. “I think some guy in France coined the phrase.” The band is currently recording a follow up to their 2014 LP whose title translates to, and god I love this so much, The Saddest Music in the World.


Kid, Feral

Skövde, Sweden

Kid, Feral’s new Paul-McCartney-gone-masochistic album, Live and Let’s Die!, is a bit all over the map, and disperses some trippy, ambient interludes throughout. But when they hit the gas, like on their wonderfully titled opener, “So Much Money in the $kramz Game,” they’re unstoppable.

Suffocate For Fuck Sake

Sweden

Suffocate For Fuck Sake has been around for quite a while, and recently reissued their 2004 demo which is worth a listen. But really, the band name alone earns them a mention.

Setsuko

Stockholm, Sweden

A purist might categorize Setsuko’s sound as more grind than screamo, but there’s no way I was not including it. If Charles Bronson had continued as a band—which they never, ever would have done—this might have been the logical endpoint of their sonic evolution. Just utterly relentless. Blastbeats for days.

Komusō

Tokyo, Japan

And in the last of my Swedish recommendations, a very polite Swede emailed me about his Japanese-based band Komusō that has a new seven-inch out soon. So this is Japanese by way of Swedish, so I truly have no idea what it’s about.

Heaven in Her Arms

Tokyo, Japan

Do I like the idea of a band naming themselves after a Converge song? No. (Nothing against Converge, I just think name recycling is a bad trend. See: All bands named after Misfits songs.) But am I a sucker for epic Japanese hardcore records that incorporate quasi-black metal elements? Yes, yes I am.

Piri Reis

Malaysia

God, this band is maddening. Nothing lines up, the drumming is haphazard, its moods swing wildly, and it feels like the tracks were not properly synced. And for all those reasons, it’s a worthwhile listen.

Hollow Jan

South Korea

In a 2014 interview, Hollow Jan’s bassist, Jeong Dong-jin, described the band’s sound as “music for someone who was abused by his mother." Not sure if anything got lost in translation there, but their 2014 album, Day Off, can be enjoyed regardless of traumatic parental issues. It’s a bit tricky to track down online, though, so here is a video of a performance which features one of their trademark epic crescendos.

Rutka Laskier


Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou, Czech Republic

As previously mentioned, producer Jack Shirley has been doing a savant-level job on these sprawling shoegazey hardcore albums lately, namely on this year’s standout album, Respire’s Dénouement. But how he came to be listed in the mastering credits for this Czechian band, I have no idea. Then again, I’d rather America’s primary export be the Shirley Sound instead of xenophobia and obesity.

Shizune

Lonigo, Italy

As the grandson of Italian immigrants, it gives me a weird sense of pride to see how much solid hardcore is coming out of my motherland. Lonigo’s Shizune recently covered an Envy song on a sampler from Zegema Beach Records (which is a label you should follow if you’re into this sort of music since they’ve had a hand in almost every major release lately). And the band’s 2017 LP, Cheat Death, Live Dead! (also a Will Killingsworth project), features a lot of off-kilter pacing, underscored by impassioned screams, sometimes in Italian, sometimes in English.

STORM{O}

Feltre, Italy

STORM{O} also hails from Northern Italy but, unlike Shizune, they sing primarily in their native tongue. Their album from earlier this year, Ere, probably falls more on the crust side of hardcore, but has this real sinister edge to it.

Marjory Stewart-Baxter

Putawy, Poland

Jesus Christ. Emoviolence in its purest form.

Cassus

Norwich, UK

There’s often this weird thing that happens when a distinctly American cultural product gets run through the British filter, like it loses the bombast and misplaced bravado that made it original in the first place. But Norwich’s Cassus pretty much nails the formula. On one song, “Ceaseless Tumult,” they wander off into an overly dramatic emo territory that hints that they might’ve lost the thread, but then bounce back in with a blistering assault. There are a lot of those break-neck shifts on this record which came out earlier this year.

Punch On!

Bristol, UK

This is a fast, loud two-piece from Bristol whose Bandcamp description pins them down better than I ever could: No Gods. No Masters. No Metronomes. No Bassists.

Masada

Erlangen, Germany

Germans don’t have a reputation for doing things in half-measures, and Masada’s 2016 LP is further proof of that. This album takes a lot of truly unexpected turns. It often feels like it's leading you somewhere but then never ends up in the place you thought it was headed.

Miss the Stars Screamo Sampler

Finally, a great point of entry for international insights to this genre is the Miss the Stars screamo series. The prolific Berlin-based label has put out six of them now, with each featuring around two dozen bands. Some are up my alley, some are not. That’s the way samplers go, right? To each their own, etc.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

JR Ewing - Calling in Dead

My favorite record store in New York—that in no way is paying me to say this—is a place called Limited To One, an East Village basement spot that traffics in rare/hard-to-find/often pricey screamo/hardcore/emo vinyl. Since I often dump my entire meager paycheck into their cash register when I’m there, the staff is usually kind enough to throw something in my bag for free. They once threw this JR Ewing record in there, thinking I’d like it. I don’t know how I missed this Norwegian band or their 2000 album at the time, but I’m making up for lost time by listening to it once a day.

Dan Ozzi is on Twitter.