After its '90s/early '00s heyday, screamo became an overly misused word within mainstream music, and most of the genre's best bands headed even deeper underground, maybe referring to themselves as skramz or emoviolence, but continuing to make great music no matter what anyone called it. The genre never went away, and its influence has continued to pop up within popular emo, post-hardcore, and metal bands, but lately it's felt like there's a real screamo resurgence happening on a wider scale than we've seen in years. 2020 birthed a ton of great screamo and screamo-adjacent post-hardcore releases, and I've picked 15 that stood out to me most, plus a handful of honorable mentions. I'm not framing it as the 15 best because there's so much great music in this realm happening all around the world (and my list is admittedly US-centric), and I'd rather just showcase a bunch of the ones I loved rather than start arguments about how I ranked them. Some lean more hardcore or post-hardcore (hence the headline), and others lean towards metal, but they all give off that passionate, emotive feeling that you get when you hear the word "screamo." If I'm missing any great ones, it's possible I haven't heard them yet, so leave your favorites in the comments.
Read on for the list, unranked, in no particular order...
Infant Island - Beneath
Virginia's Infant Island put out two records this year, the mini-LP Sepulcher and the full-length Beneath, both of which are very good, but it's Beneath that turns Infant Island from a great band into an extraordinary one. It's the kind of album that you can only hear start to finish, as it functions more as one grand piece of work than as a collection of songs. Each individual song is so different -- throughout the record, Infant Island touch on screamo, black metal, sludge metal, post-rock, noise, ambience, and more -- and they make the most sense when you hear them in succession. At various points, the album finds Infant Island at their most metallic ("Here We Are"), their catchiest ("Stare Spells"), and their most avant-garde ("Signed In Blood"), really scratching every itch you could've thought of this band scratching, and a few you'd never expect them to. It's a record that doesn't fit easily into any pre-established category, while being able to appeal to fans of all different types of punk, metal, and experimental music at once. That's a sign of a genuinely great record.