Screamo is a genre that is derived from hardcore, specifically the emo nature that some hardcore bands began to exhibit in the 1990s. Though initial bands began appearing around this time, it wasn’t until the late ‘90s/ early 2000s that many had entered mainstream consciousness. Some of these early bands included Saetia and City of Caterpillar, but screamo was made drastically more popular by later bands like Thursday, the Used, Glassjaw, Thrice, Poison the Well, and MTV favorites, Story of the Year and Hawthorne Heights. Many of these bands took influence from the likes of Refused and At the Drive-In, and subsequent upstarts found their voice listening to albums like Thursday’s Full Collapse, Poison the Well’s The Opposite of December, and Thrice’s The Illusion of Safety.
By the turn of the millennium, the music was generally based in the aggressive side of the overarching punk-revival scene (including pop-punk and punk metal), though some alternative metal groups could also be included. Even bands that weren’t necessarily screamo (since the tag can sometimes be vague) would often delve into the genre’s characteristic guttural vocal style not so dissimilar from the abrasive nature of hardcore. It came to be that the soft/loud dynamic of having either one or two singers who alternate between passionate singing and distraught shrieking that characterizes most screamo. These vocals are often layered 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. For many groups, like Senses Fail and Vendetta Red, lyrics often boasted violent or bloody imagery alongside subject matter dealing with overwhelming angst and relationships. By the mid-2000s, the over-saturation of the screamo scene had caused many bands to begin purposefully expanding past the genre’s trademark sing/scream dynamics to remain relevant.