In the late 1980s members of the burgeoning punk-rock scenes in Chicago and D.C. like Husker Du, Black Flag, and Minutemen began taking the building blocks of punk music — which had become formulaic at that point — and reusing them to create new music that rebelled against the establishment that Punk had become, while staying true to the scene’s DIY roots and aesthetics. The genre flew largely under the radar in the 90s, as Grunge, something very similar but different enough took center stage, but it re-surged in force around the turn of the century.
You probably know a lot of bands that characterized the genre in the 2000s; My Chemical Romance, Pierce the Veil, Circa Survive; to name a few; The kind of band that had merch characterized by those black t-shirts with Wolves and monsters on the front. This was the genre du jour for teens at the time.
We live in a musical world dominated by rap music. A lot of people, like myself have become disillusioned with rock music: its lack of creativity, the corniness that seems to inhabit basically every successful rock outfit these days, and its continued propensity to not sound like rock at all. However, lately this slump in popular rock has been good for punk rock, specifically the many different brands of post-hardcore –from the harsh and melodic, to the new breed that throws genre tradition to the wind. Here are three excellent post-hardcore albums from THIS YEAR.
Holding Absence: (self titled)
This is a band that is fairly new to the scene. I know very little about them and their internet presence is minimal. Nonetheless this album is a beautiful series of songs about love and its many different facets. It expresses deep longing in a strikingly prayerful manner. This record holds lots of contemplative ambient passages broken by emotive vocals and intense breakdowns. If you’re looking for passion in your heavy music, give this album a shot.
Our Last Night: Let Light Overcome
I first became acquainted with Our Last Night through their extensive discography of pop song covers. They’ve got a version of Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE that is borderline better than the original…I do not say that lightly. I was more surprised than I should have been to discover that they’ve got some solid music of their own. Though this album isn’t exactly breaking the post-hardcore mold, its a solid album for a workout or any other equally intense activity.
Happy Hour: Love Hurts EP
This is a very new band, a Florida Outfit that has yet to release a full-length album yet. At only three tracks this ep asks very little of the listener. Fully embracing the emo side of post hardcore, this collection spews bitterness and regret, but in such a charismatic fashion. The final track “Already Dead” might as well be a rap song for its use of a tender guitar instrumental in the verse and triplet flows, seething vocals and a crunched out chorus anchor it though. I think we can expect great things from this group in the coming months.
Bring Me the Horizon: Amo
Bring Me the Horizon caught a lot of flak for this record when it came out in January, and I won’t say that it’s justified but I will say I can see why this extreme departure from their former sound has led some people to feel slightly disillusioned. On 2006’s Count Your Blessings vocalist Oliver Sykes channels something positively inhuman as he sings bitter songs of anger and loss. Here, he’s singing about love which understandably sounds a little bit different. There are tracks on this album that feel like “punk-goes-pop” covers of top 40 hits that were never written.
This is an innovative album though, and BMtH flirts with electronic sound like no other metalcore act. The industrially tinged nu-metal guitar riffs on “MANTRA”, the sweet synths of “medicine”, and the earnest and tender lyrics of “mother tongue” make this one of the most daring albums that the band has ever put out.
La Dispute: Panorama
I’m a big La Dispute fan. They’re a really collaborative band and I got to know them through their work with Touche Amore. They’re a very different kind of hardcore band though. Embodying the exact opposite side of the spectrum from BMtH who tends to flirt a lot with poppy melodies and softer sounds to contrast their brutal side, La Dispute is all emotion. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer screams his vocals out in a distraught world weary cry, that sometimes fades to a whimper. This album is laden with soft guitar melodies that stand in the background and let the poetry shine. Once in a while though the band kicks in with a huge, bombastic, truly hardcore passage that brings to climax the emotions that Dreyer has built up. This is a somewhat heavy-hearted album, but its also a beautiful one that really represents everything La Dispute is about.
Honorable Mention — Thrice: Deeper Wells.
This is a record store day EP companion to Thrice’s 2018 release Palms, and it does a really great job of building on established themes of acceptance, compassion, and brotherhood. I really love the line “We keep building bigger fences when we should be digging deeper wells”; it’s kinda become my mantra lately. Check this album out, its a short listen that’s well worth it!