Some of you may know me as Nine Circle’s resident screamo apologist/evangelist. In the past, I’ve tried to work mention of albums in this style into my larger body of heavy music writing. Yet screamo has always been my favorite brand of hardcore, and I’ve always believed in screamo’s ability to stand on its own, even if its name still seems, at least to me, to be considered a dirty word. So, since the good folks of this website give me the freedom to write about what I want (they will come to regret this eventually), I decided to do something about that. Welcome to Chaos is Me, a monthly column where I will be listing off my favorite screamo releases from the past month (and beyond, as you’ll see below). August was the perfect month to kick this off as we got two absolutely gigantic albums dropping in back-to-back weeks. Without further ado, let’s do this…
Elle – …
Oakland, CA’s Elle create emotional hardcore that takes the genre hallmarks of frantic instrumentation and soaring melody and binds them together in a package that will be familiar to long-time genre enthusiasts, but is excecuted so brilliantly and passionately as to put them head and shoulders above their peers. … (also referred to as Ellipsis) is a study in textural contrasts; screamed vocals rise up over calm background instrumentals on “Throes,” slow strummed chords build up into an explosion of vigorous energy before breaking down again into a pastoral midsection on “Dust,” and all of these moving parts are composed and arranged so thoughtfully that you can’t help but be swept up in the wistful and fervent nature of these songs. Ellipsis is an album that delivers everything I want and look for in my screamo like very little else I’ve heard this year; it’s an album that has truly grabbed me by the heartstrings, and even the short time I’ve spent with it has convinced me this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year.
Portrayal of Guilt – Suffering is a Gift
Inarguably one of the hardest working bands going right now (look at their past and future touring schedule if you want to feel instantly tired), Portrayal of Guilt are back with a new EP, capitalizing on the waves of acclaim that came from last year’s Let Pain Be Your Guide full-length. Where Elle’s music is light and bouyant, Portrayal of Guilt take screamo into a dark and oppressive realm, a nightmare wash of rage and malcontentment. Suffering is a Gift is just shy of ten minutes in length yet the way the songs flow both in their own structure and in the course of the album as a whole covers enough ground to make the experience feel like a full album. Industrial noise collides with dissonant chords, thundering drums, and perhaps the group’s most overt nods to black metal yet to create a dark, brooding, and immensely enjoyable experience. Portrayal of Guilt are one of the rare bands I feel truly deserve the hype surrounding them; I don’t know anybody else doing screamo like this right now, and certainly not at this level of quality.
Nuvolascura – S/T
I decided one of my goals with this column was to have a chance to go back to albums I didn’t get to talk about earlier in the year. Nuvolascura’s self-titled album was released all the way back in January, and I personally don’t think I have seen enough chatter about how good it is. Songs like “Death as a Crown,” “Saccharine Trance” and “Half Truth” take a much math-ier approach to genre formulae, leaning heavily into the ‘violence’ part of ‘flowerviolence’ (a term used for screamo that takes its roots from the short and chaotic stylings of powerviolence, for the uninitiated). This album thrashes and writhes with a palpable sense of frustration, yet for all the frantic energy trapped within the band delivers a breathtakingly tight performance. Nuvolascura is an album that feels like running down a steep hill, always feeling on the verge of tumbling head over heels, yet never losing control of itself.
Until next time,