We (or at least those of us in the U.S.) now live in a world where it seems almost as if human emotion itself is politicized. Cries against any and all forms of bigotry are met with a canned response of “snowflake”. We’re told that our generation, and my generation in particular, simply wants too much, that demanding things like a comfortable life where you aren’t constantly in debt is the definition of entitlement. It’s also a generation where mental health seems almost at an all time low, with mental health issues being reported at an all time which, once again, is often met with responses of “snowflake”. And, in this bizarre world where whoever is in power seemingly does not want us to feel, it feels more appropriate than ever that extreme music’s poster child for depression often taken to hyperbole, screamo, has once again found its footing.
This is a new generation, one filled with passion and rage that we have often been told to bottle up, ignore because it simply isn’t the adult thing to do. Screamo, on the other hand, acknowledges and embraces that vast field of emotion, encouraging us to utilize it, throw paint on campus, and flail ourselves around in it until we make art. It is complete and total emotional release in its purest form and that is why we need it now more than ever. With all of this in mind I present to you Grind My Tears, the cleverly named screamo and post hardcore centric counterpart to our series Grind My Gears. Below you will find a slew of the most promising screamo acts and records that have caught my attention in the past year or two.
The first featured spot on this segment belongs to probably one of my favorite releases of this year (so far), the split LP between modern screamo mainstays Ostraca and Fleshborn. Titled Faces of the Moving Year, the split works well to showcase both bands unique takes on screamo, highlighting the vast differences within screamo itself, as well as playing off the tension created between the drastic contrast of the two bands.
Ostraca introduces this tension, creating a distinctly more atmospheric, drawn-out style of screamo as they open split. Their first song, “The Lucid Outline”, does little in ways of actually screaming, but instead builds a quiet, contemplative pallet from which they can launch themselves. Which is also exactly what they do as the ambient, chorus-laden air gives way to a chaotic attack of blast beats and screaming on “All I Was, In Ashes”. Of course in classic Ostraca fashion this does not last long as they once again sink back into lush, post rock-esque parts reminiscent of such classic acts as City of Caterpillar.
The push-pull, pin-drop tension of Ostraca’s sound is exactly what makes their music so attractive and dynamic and, luckily, Fleshborn picks up on that well, contrasting that with short, grinding bursts of metal-influenced skramz. At times it leans almost entirely into grind, bringing to mind such classic metallic hardcore and grind acts as One Eyed God Prophecy and Reversal of Man. Take, for example, “Of The Same Earth”. In something very odd to screamo, the track opens with a strictly metalcore sounding breakdown, introducing a crushing rhythm before descending into a chaotic whirr of shrieks, fills, and blast beats. Of course they manage to bring it back to the more melodic, spacious elements of screamo on “Nothingness, Our Sweet Home”, borrowing from Ostraca’s leanings, but not for long. The song quickly descends into a new whirl of manic attack, warping between melodic sections of calm and chaos once every few seconds.
Ultimately the split feels cohesive in a way that many splits fail to do. There are about a billion great splits out there between two fantastic bands, where each band’s side on its own may act as one cohesive whole, but it often fails to meld across both sides. With Faces of the Moving Year, Ostraca and Fleshborn capture a rare, fleeting moment of split release fame, creating a split that feels fluid and continuous between both bands. Instead of each simply presenting one side, they play off one another, pushing and pulling in ways the other might simply not do. It is chaotic and serene, punishing yet calming, and embodies most, if not all, of screamo’s best qualities in a neatly wrapped package. If you are a longtime screamo fan or someone brand new to the genre this split is a must listen from two of modern screamo’s finest bands.