Read for the list, and feel free to leave your own favorite screamo classics in the comments... Circle Takes The Square - As The Roots Undo (2004). It's not an easy album to listen to all the time, but it's a hell of an accomplishment. Thursday themselves quickly moved on from Full Collapse and reinvented themselves -- sometimes more drastically than others -- on every subsequent album. As I say a lot for these 'In Defense of the Genre' lists, 15 is a small number, so if your favorite album isn't here, try not to get too angry with me but feel free to leave it in the comments.
Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance (2003). It's fun to get nostalgic and revisit classic albums like the ones on this list, but if you like these bands, there's a whole new crop of bands you might also like. It didn't sound like Repeater or "Waiting Room" or like any of the new post-hardcore in 2001, but it sounded fresh and it fit right in with the younger bands who owed their careers to Fugazi. Document #8 is a totally absurd album, and it remains one of screamo's best LPs because no matter how far off the rails it goes, it always remains surprisingly tuneful. Their 2003 debut album Cryonics did a killer job of taking the '90s-style screamo that various Hot Cross members helped pioneer in the '90s and mixing it with something that sounded a little more 2003. Its warmer, more indie rock production style made it sound less heavy than some of Thursday's peers at the time, but it also makes it sound less dated today. But since I'm choosing just one song, I'll drop you right into the action with the pulverizing "untitled03. Tiger and the Duke was one of the most unique albums to come out of this whole scene at the time, and there's still almost nothing that sounds like it. It includes the albums that defined the genre in the '90s as well as the ones who pushed the boundaries of the genre in the early/mid 2000s, and to count as "classic," I capped the cut-off year at 2006. The list also isn't a "best of" and it's unranked, because I'm not necessarily trying to say these are the all time best screamo albums (although surely some of them are), just that these are 25 key albums that really helped define the genre and that I really recommend to any screamo/emo/punk/hardcore/post-hardcore/etc fans that haven't heard them. Off Minor are named after a song by jazz legend Thelonius Monk, and the jazz influence didn't stop there. Again, the genre lines are blurry, but this is not a list of post-hardcore albums that are primarily metalcore (if you want a list of classic metalcore, go here), or screamo (classic screamo list here), or emo, or the more indie rock side of 2000s post-hardcore like Unwound or Hot Snakes. As I wrote in this column last month, Hopesfall were far ahead of their time and the world only recently started catching up with them. It's spacey and atmospheric but still with a thunderous low end that qualifies it as heavy music (not unlike what Hum had done in the '90s and what Deftones were experimenting with on White Pony the same year as this album), and Stephen Brodsky almost exclusively utilized clean vocals. Mainly, though, La Quiete separate themselves from the herd just by being so good at what they do. This article is about the early/mid 2000s bands. Document #8, their third and best full-length, opens with a soundbite of Kurt Cobain talking about how "punk rock should mean freedom," and from there, pg.99 go on to display a type of musical freedom that would've been unheard of during Kurt Cobain's lifetime. More so than CFUTF, Brother, Sister is a start-to-finish concept album in the tradition of albums like Sgt. Trophy Scars - Alphabet. Screamo experienced popularity in the 2000s with the success of bands like Thursday, The Used, Underoath, Silverstein, Hawthorne Heights and Senses Fail. SeeYouSpaceCowboy started out reviving the type of sassy hardcore that bands like The Blood Brothers helped define in the early 2000s, but they've been taking their music in a lot of other directions too, and this song -- which incorporates sparkling post-rock, spoken word, skullcrushing metalcore, and more -- is in line with several of the boundary-pushing bands highlighted above. (Ebullition were also responsible for the Portraits of Past album a few years earlier.) This list includes 25 essential, classic albums that in one way or another helped shape the genre, and which still hold up and/or remain influential today. The only other scream/singing emo/post-hardcore band that Victory really had before Thursday was Grade, who were great but never really had a big breakthrough. Thrice would continue to casually defy genre as their career went on (by The Alchemy Index, they were experimenting with just about every style of music they could think of), but the hard-hitting, concise, filler-less Artist in the Ambulance found Thrice at the height of their powers and it remains one of the finest, most timeless documents of the early 2000s post-hardcore boom.
Thrice made the album with the same producer as its predecessor, Brian McTernan, who used to front the hardcore band Battery and who also produced Cave In's Jupiter and records by Converge, Snapcase, Piebald, Hot Water Music, The Movielife, and more around that time. Cryonics is easily one of the most accessible albums on this list, but there's nothing wrong with songs you can sing along to, especially when they came from a few musicians who helped define screamo as we know it. As mentioned earlier, Glassjaw worked with the same nu metal producer as At the Drive-In, Ross Robinson, and Glassjaw actually sounded a little nu metal... or at least a little like Deftones.
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