I’m pretty hard on emo music on this site. There’s a good reason for this – most of it is pretty awful. On one hand, you have a lot of whiny, melodramatic songs about relationships gone wrong that are written for fourteen-year-olds who like to cry. On the other hand, you have a lot of heavy screamo things, fast, hard melodramatic songs about relationships gone wrong that are also written for fourteen-year-olds who like to cry. It’s come a long way from the early “emotional hardcore” bands like Rites of Spring and Samiam. And by doing so, emo has become a gross caricature of itself.
Which brings us to The Emo Diaries, Chapter 11 - Taking Back What’s Ours. From 1997-2004, Deep Elm Records has put out the various chapters of The Emo Diaries, exposing the world, for better or for worse, to a ton of emo bands. Some have gone on to be great, some not so much. They took a few years off, probably realizing how bad emo had become, and then decided to do it again.
As a service to you, my readers, I opted to give this album a spin. I do have to admit that there are still some good emotional hardcore bands out there, and I was hoping to hear some when I, with much trepidation, threw this album in.
You know what? I was pleasantly surprised.
There Is Some Good Emo Out There
Of the 12 artists on this comp, six are actually worth a closer listen, and when it comes to an emo comp, 50% ain’t half bad! These include some nice straight-up hardcore guitar riffs from two English bands, Above Them (Listen/Download) and My Awesome Compilation (Listen/Download), and some nice jangly punk-meets indie sounds from Spain’s This Drama (Listen/Download) and Portland, Oregon’s The Crash Engine (Listen/Download).
The two most surprising tracks were “Hey Lola” from Houston, Texas’s While You Were Gone and “Until Vendetta’s Achieved” from England’s I’m Fashion, You’re Victim.
While You Were Gone is an amazing female-fronted band that mixes hardcore guitar lines with pop hooks and a simply majestic ‘80s-heavy sound. It’s sincere and emotional without being melodramatic, and it would be worthy of the emo crown, if that crown hadn’t been defaced (Listen/Download).
What While You Were Gone does to redeem the emo sound, I’m Fashion, You’re Victim does for the screamo sound. They take classic metal riffs and mix them with punk rock sensibilities. Then, in a break away from the classic (which means awful) screamo sound, they use one singer, who, while he does scream, he does it well. He screams in the way the power metal guys of yore screamed. You can understand what he says, and he doesn’t succumb to the urge, not even once, to make those guttural “vocals” that sound like the sounds a hippo might make should you kick him the stomach (Listen/Download).
So, that’s what’s good about this comp. Which is half of it.
There Is Also Some Bad Emo Out There
The remainder of the record is what we have, sadly, come to expect from emo – bands that like to cry. The remainder of the record is stereotypical emo schmaltz by bands I won’t bother to name, as they are interchangeable. It’s laden with bands who like to listen to Cure records and Taking Back Sunday records simultaneously, then try to write songs like that. It might be what you’re into, but it ain’t what I’m into.
You probably shouldn’t pick up this album, unless you like to sit in a dark room updating your Live Journal. Instead, you should take my recommendations, download the best tracks off this one and seek out more by While You Were Gone and I’m Fashion, You’re Victim, and then the others I’ve recommended if you want to take this further. It’s best you don’t bother with the remainder. This is my service to you; I sorted through The Emo Diaries, Chapter 11 - Taking Back What’s Ours so you don’t have to.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cleanse my ears with something less melodramatic. I’ve got the new Finally Punk record on standby for just this purpose.