Screamo, emo’s slightly more ferocious outgrowth, might not be quite as big as it was around the turn of the millennium, but the subgenre still thrives in the underground; young artists still find power in its mathy arrangements and throat-destroying scream-a-longs. As it turns out, some of the most exciting bands playing this type of music at the moment come from Latin America and/or feature predominantly Latinx members.
These groups, hailing from countries like Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and even the U.S., share the strong work ethic and DIY principles that helped older generations of bands establish a distinct circuit for themselves. Throughout the mid ‘00s, many different post-hardcore and screamo scenes operated in the Americas, with bands releasing records on small labels as well as split releases, and in some cases, occasionally touring Europe and the U.S. These included bands such as Arse Moreira, Te Lloraría Un Puto Río, Non Plus Ultra, and Zarathustra Has Been Killed In The ‘70s from Mexico; Asamblea Internacional del Fuego. Amber, Teoría De Un Sueño Muerto, and Leidan from Chile; Árboles En Llamas, Arde Hollywood, Agitamares, and Los Años Mueren from Argentina; and Angkor Wat y Fútbol Peruano 97 from Perú.
After this relative heyday, some of the bands above have broken up, with members moving on to post-rock, powerviolence, and even indie folk—see Apocalipsis, Richard Harrison, and Garcya. However —as documented by outlets such as the blog El Basurero Del Emo— these scenes never really disappeared, “There have always been bands playing this kind of music,” says Joliette’s Azael González, who also played in Te Lloraría Un Puto Río, among other projects. “And it’s always been a global thing, all connected throughout the world. There has been a resurgence of this kind of music in the U.S. and Europe as well; there are more bands involved in the scene right now.”
Indeed, a new generation of bands making discordant music have emerged in many Latin American countries and communities, keeping the tradition alive. González thinks this new renaissance is due to the younger generation being more open-minded about genre and subgenre conventions. “I don’t think many bands today are screamo, per se. I think they take elements from that sound and mutate it into something else,” he says. “I also think that the perspective younger people are bringing into the music is very healthy. It’s like everything that you get passionate about: you find something that moves you and you surround yourself to it, even if you don’t know why it speaks to you.”
By adding musical elements from other genres and keeping things raging with heart and guts, this new generation of bands is capturing the imagination of an ever-expanding public. Here are ten groups worth checking out.
Although they call Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela their hometown, Zeta’s closest thing to a place to call their own is the road: they’re almost always on tour. Founded in 2003, the quartet makes spiky, passionate post-hardcore—think At the Drive-In meets Saetia—with the occasional non-standard element to keep things interesting. (Most notably, they incorporate Afro-Caribbean percussion.) Their willingness to experiment—and to play anywhere—has helped them land some notable gigs, like Gainesville, FL’s Fest. For those intimidated by their large recording output, their latest, Mochima (2019), is a further refinement of their sound, making it a great place to start.
One of the signature aspects of this Cali, Colombia outfit is their use of melodic guitar lines against vocals that oscillate between all-out screaming and vaguely alternative rock-inspired singing; in fact, it’s not unusual for the guitars to go without distortion for many of the tracks. This doesn’t mean they’re not full of fire, though. They work at a prodigious pace—they’ve put out two full-lengths in the past two years, 2017’s Las Huellas Que Dejamos and 2018’s Semillas (a new EP, Fronteras, is expected to drop before 2019 is over). Their dedication to uniting scenes can be seen through their constant networking and touring, which has resulted in trips to Mexico and the U.S.
This five-piece San José, Costa Rica band describes their sound as melodic hardcore, a term that has been associated with everything from Adolescents to Comeback Kid, something that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Having said that, for Nossara, it means bridging the gap between the more commercial sounds of post-hardcore and the harsher side of emo, as heard on 2017’s Pacífico (2017) and 2019’s Sobre La Brevedad de La Vida. They also incorporate the united-we-scream attitude of classic hardcore, placing them in the same neighborhood as bands like Blacklisted.
Since 2011, this quartet from Puebla, Mexico has refused to stop even for a second to take a break, a quality that carries through in their music. With a few transcontinental tours under their belt, Joliette has spent their time in Puebla in the studio, resulting in albums, EPs, and splits with the likes of Frameworks, Life In Vacuum, and LYED. Their latest full-length album, 2019’s Luz Devora, finds them at their most artistically ambitious, featuring to-the-point tracks like “Vacío” and “Pudre Infante” as well as longer, more atmospheric fare like “Defenestra.” Through and through, Joliette have kept their music complicated and heavy without going sacrificing gut-churning intensity, and there are no signs they’re stopping any time soon.
This L.A. quartet wear their roots on their sleeves and their lyrics; they sing entirely in Spanish, to particularly intense results on records like 2016’s Delirio, 2018’s Melodías A La Luna Muerta, and 2017’s split EP with Joliette side project Aves. Their screamy brand of hardcore uses clean guitars to sharp effect, and their jazzy arrangements up the jitter factor considerably. There’s a definite influence from the noisier corners of the Dischord Records discography—and they’ve got some of the finest screams in the business, something that has helped Quiet Fear land a spot at this year’s Fest.
Perhaps there’s something in Cali, Colombia’s water. Like scenemates Vientre, Anhedonia’s music have a hint of ‘90s alt-melodicism. And there’s also real underlying sense of drama in Anhedonia’s music, something borrowed from the early ‘00s screamo scene. Their lone release so far, 2018’s Estar Rotos Nos Hace Indestructibles, features guitars that switch from melodic lines to power chords in an almost unpredictable fashion, lending the whole thing an epic feel. It’s just a matter of time until this young band ventures outside their scene and embarks on an international tour of their own.
For contemporary artists practicing screamo, elements of math rock are useful tools used to make the music more exciting. Of all the bands on this list, Mexico City’s AMBR is probably the one that is closest to crossing over to this subgenre. There’s plenty of high-speed virtuosic runs in most of their music, making everything sound more nervous and exhilarating. Yet they are definitely a screamo band—their remarkable use of vocals, ranging from raw to melodic, makes their album Rompes/Quemas, as well as their EP Hey Joi, some of the catchiest, most challenging music to hit the worldwide screamo scene.
Although this Quito, Ecuador trio is immediately recognizable as a screamo band, there’s plenty here to indicate they’re intent on expanding that sound. Their guitar work is some of the busiest and most inventive in the game, while their song structures are everything but common yet completely mesmerizing. Founded in 2014, this trio has done a little touring over the years but have not dropped a proper release so far—Facebook updates from 2018 suggest they are working on an LP. For a taste of their magic, check out Singles and 19 Junio 1955, and don’t miss out on their split with Quito post-rockers Escape From The Machinery.
Hailing from Medellín, Colombia, El Incendio Más Largo Del Mundo are one of the most extreme bands currently operating in the screamo business. While their songs don’t qualify as skramz or emoviolence in the fast-and-loose sense, it’s extreme in a very specific and satisfactory way: vocalist Angelo Franco has a wide ranging arsenal of voices, from throat-shredding wails to harsher guttural cries and black metal-like screeches. The band’s music mutates seamlessly throughout—from thrashy riffs to math rock-like fragmented time signature to melodic motives—resulting in music that keeps listeners constantly hooked, and always guessing. Their 2018 debut album, Condenadxs, is a highlight of the recent wave of Latinx emotional hardcore.
Probably the newest band on this list, this trio from Mexico State know how to keep a listener waiting in suspense until their songs explode into shouts and distortion, a trick borrowed from ’90s underground heroes like Still-Life and Policy of 3. Tapping into post-rock as well as classic screamo, Satón demonstrate their use of dynamics and patience can pay off big time—just listen to their debut album Lleno de Hienas . From the desperate cry of (internal) war on “Transitorio” to the tension-filled slow burner “IV,” the range and inventiveness displayed here is second to none.