The style will often use the soft/loud dynamic of having either one or two singers alternating between passionate singing and distraught shrieking. This vocal style will often be layered together or appear side-by-side amid aggressive, hard-hitting guitar licks used to trigger an exhaustive, emotional catharsis. Though the music is outwardly tough and powerful, the lyrics are usually of the introspective kind found in softer Emo bands.
In addition to melodic transitions from heavy to soft styles, the genre is often characterised by frequent shifts in tempo, Screamed vocals are used not consistently, but as a kind of crescendo element, a sonic weapon to be trotted out when the music and lyrics reach a particular emotional pitch.
Screamo lyricists often write about things like emotional pain, or romantic interest, topics like feminism can also be common, politics will be a favourite as well as human rights. Some screamo bands openly demonstrate acceptance of Religious, and Straight Edge Lifestyles.
The New York Times noted that "part of the music's appeal is its un-self-conscious acceptance of differences, respect for otherness." In the same way as most underground musical revolutions, many of the early days screamo bands in the 1990s saw themselves as implicitly political, and as a reaction against changing political attitudes.
Some groups even got unusually theoretical in their inspiration: Angel Hair cited surrealist writers Antonin Artaud and Georges Bataille, and Orchid lyrically name-checked French new wave icon Anna Karina, others that were mentioned were, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, French philosopher Michel Foucault, and critical theory originators the Frankfurt School.
Early 1990s–Early 2000
Screamo rose as a music genre in 1991, out of San Diego, at the Ché Café. Prominent record labels were the likes of; Gravity Records and Ebullition Records, they were releasing a more "chaotic" and more "expressive" version of Hardcore. These innovations that grew out of the San Diego scene eventually spread elsewhere, through such bands as the Seattle group The Blood Brothers. Many groups from the East Coast were also influential with the development and reinvention of this style, there were also bands like, Circle Takes the Square, Pg. 99, Hot Cross, Saetia, Ampere, and City of Caterpillar.
By 1995, the genre name "Screamo" has drifted into the music press, particularly within the journalism of "Jim DeRogatis" and "Andy Greenwald".
The Screamo scene also became noted for having a distinct fashion sense, this was inspired partly by the Mod culture.
By the mid-2000s, the over-saturation of the screamo scene had caused many bands to purposefully expand outside of the genre's trademarks, and incorporate some more experimental elements. Some bands that were active in the early 2000s, such as Thursday, Alexisonfire, Silverstein and Poison the Well made Screamo much more popular. Thursday cited the Post Punk band Joy Division, as well as the Post-Hardcore band Fugazi as important influences, but these bands also took cues from the Alternative Rock of Radiohead, U2, and The Cure. Many of these bands took influence from the likes of Refused, Thursday and The Used have signed multi-album contracts with labels such as Island Def Jam and Reprise Records.
This contemporary Screamo scene is also particularly active throughout Europe, with bands such as Amanda Woodward, Louise Cyphre, Le Pré Où Je Suis Mort, La Quiete and Raein all being prime examples of this.
Quotes & Comments
In the same way as many other sub culture genres, during the days it was kicking off, the early 1990s, it was not initially known as "Screamo".
"Chris Taylor", lead vocalist for the band Pg. 99, stated "we never liked that whole Screamo thing. Even during our existence, we tried to venture away from the fashion and tell people, 'Hey, this is Punk.
"Jonathan Dee" of The New York Times wrote that the term "tends to bring a scornful laugh from the bands themselves."
"Lars Gotrich" of NPR Music made the following comment on the matter: “The screamo scene has changed a lot in the last 10 years. There used to be more creative bands like Circle Takes the Square and City of Caterpillar. And then it took this route where Screamo got really streamlined and unrecognizable to the point where someone hilariously invented the term skramz to distinguish the first wave of screamo bands.”
"Derek Miller", guitarist for the band Poison the Well noted the term's constant differing usages and jokingly stated that it "describes a thousand different genres."
"Bert McCracken", lead singer of The Used, stated that screamo is merely a term "for record companies to sell records and for record stores to categorize them."
"Juan Gabe", vocalist for the band Comadre, alleged that the term "has been kind of tainted in a way, especially in the States.
A list of a few bands that may well fit into this genre, opinions about what does or doesn't fit within any genre can wildly vary.
Bring Me The Horizon