Another day, another column about screamo. But today this is no ordinary column about screamo as today it focuses primarily on the impossible. Today this screamo column discusses the (pretty mind boggling) new music by legendary, defunct screamo act City of Caterpillar. It’s a pretty shocking development, followed only by the fact that they have been playing a bunch of shows together again, but regardless it’s happening. So instead of focusing on the improbability and beauty of it all, it’s time to buckle down and discuss the “new” music they have graced the screamo nerd masses with.
As mentioned above, the two tracks are only loosely “new” (hence the quotation marks). The titular track, the somber, massive “Driving Spain Up a Wall” is actually a highly sought after, previously unreleased track of the band’s, appearing live only up until this recording. Somewhat similarly its b-side, “As the Curtains Dim; (Little White Lies)” is a track that was recorded at the time of the band’s sole, self-titled LP but never saw a release. Regardless both tracks, while technically not “new”, both deliver on the grandiose sound that City of Caterpillar initially made their mark with, as well as satisfying that itch for their rather niche sound that can never truly be copied.
Not to say that many bands haven’t tried to copy their sound. In fact, the screamo scene is filled to the brim with bands that (rightfully) acknowledge City of Caterpillar as one of screamo’s crowning achievements. They try to emulate their intense dynamic shifts, the gentle textures that giveaway to crashing emotion, but can never come close to fully hitting the sound that revolutionized screamo in its brief run. There is something so distinct about the way that CoC creates their soundscapes, something so beautifully theatrical and epic, that it seems as if no band will ever be able to truly touch them. Below you can hear the newest example of that sound, all of its frenzy and bliss, included below.
Now, after all that talk about how many bands have gleaned influence from City of Caterpillar but never truly been able to emulate their sound, I present to you two bands who clearly love CoC. First up is Infant Island, a band also from Richmond, VA that has a grand total of two songs up on Bandcamp (one of which is a demo). However what the band lacks in recorded material they surely make up for with the quality of both of those songs. “Diminish”, the first of the two songs, is a song that finds its strengths in its constant push and pull of dynamics. One second the band is powering through with a flurry of blast beats and pained yelped, the next they settle into a sweet lull of atmosphere. Its rather like a giant seesaw, going up and down and up and down, but it works wonderfully, perfectly communicating the emotional duress that provided its inspiration. “Fall Into Their Hell”, on the other hand, remains in the strictly shimmery. The pained yelps still abound, but the instrumentation remains a strictly post rock affair, underlying that pain with an odd sense of comfort. Both songs display a mastery of dynamic range, making it a shame that Infant Island only has two songs to their name (for now).
Similarly to the two bands mentioned above, the next band relies heavily on dynamic dissonance to find the power in their music. Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Terry Green plays a mathy brand of post rock infused screamo that will noodle its way right into your heart. The recommended pick here is the rather stellar EP Visiting Hours, one of two total releases easily found on their Bandcamp and one that works extremely well to showcase their immense range. Take, for example, the beautiful build of ambiance and sway that is opening track “Hi Hater” that neatly crashes into its other half, the aptly titled “Bye Hater”. And crash it does. Almost immediately the band switches from the gentle cadence of “Hi Hater” to the take no prisoners, panicked chords of “Bye Hater”. It is done in the blink of an eye but loses no momentum in its transition, instead using the more gentle half as a launch pad for the raw emotion to follow. The last few tracks plays with this dynamic as well, but more as isolated incidents within themselves rather than as part of a larger scheme between songs. There’s also a whole lot more “twinkling” for lack of a better word, but it never gets too bogged down in it. If you want the emotional drama of City of Caterpillar but also crave the noodle-y goodness of Sharks Keep Moving, then Terry Green might just be for you.