Head banging: the act of violently head butting the general area surrounding oneself, synchronizing one’s movement with the rhythm of a song.
If you like, or want to get into the world of distortion, thrashing drums, powerful vocals, screams and breakdowns, then these 3 albums should have your head banging in no time. After years of bombarding my ears with endless decibels of angry screams and low tuned guitars I’ve found some albums that I just couldn’t live without, and hopefully, if you haven’t heard of them already, you’ll give them a listen. Be warned, this isn’t your grandma’s playlist. Although, if she listens to anything like this, I’d love to be introduced because she sounds awesome.
Four Year Strong- Rise or Die Trying
This is definitely the least aggressive of all the albums I’m suggesting, leaning more towards the pop punk side of music but there’s an extremely noticeable infusion of hard-core in every song. Sporting possibly the most epic album cover in the history of album covers, the songs are full of powerfully driven vocals, intense and heavy guitar riffs, death defying double kicks and high pitched synth leads that were all the rage in the early 2000’s. This was one of the two albums that got me into heavy music as it has moments of similarities with famous pop punk bands such as Blink-182 and Sum 41, but everything is kicked up to the next level. If you’re not sure how you feel about screaming in music, this is a great album to get you accustomed to the lighter side of hard-core. There are still powerful breakdowns and riffs that you’ll find in heavy music, but for the most part, the two front men play off each other with clean, albeit a little rough, vocals. And the best part is, it’s all feel good music. It’s fast, upbeat and sure to appeal in some way to fans of rock. Two songs I’d recommend as must listens from this album are “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell” and “Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe!”.
A Day to Remember – For Those Who Have Heart (Extended Edition)
Another one of the albums that helped pull me into the world of ear splitting screams, A Day to Remember is like the chef’s sampler plate of heavy rock. You don’t get song after song of the same style, but rather get to experience a little bit of everything hard core music has to offer. “Monument” and “Here’s to the Past” are essentially devoid of screams, sounding more like rock anthems with their powerful clean vocals and catchy chord progressions in the chorus.
Songs like “Plot to Bomb the Panhandle”, “The Danger in Starting a Fire” and “Since U Been Gone” (yep, a Kelly Clarkson cover) are probably the songs that represent the band best, striking a perfect blend between clean vocals and screams as well as catchy riffs and heavy breakdowns. And if you like angry screaming and devilishly low tuned guitars, than “Heartless” is the song for you, as it’s jam packed with heavy, fast guitar and a thrashing drum beat. The lead singer, Jeremy McKinnon, makes every song unique with his skill in creating intricate vocal patterns that are sure to stay stuck in your head for days at a time.
Every Time I Die- Gutter Phenomenon
Every Time I Die is the epitome of rock and roll. Their music is fast, loud, punchy and that’s all backed up by some of the most talented musicians in the genre. The band’s last five albums haven’t delivered a single song that I don’t like, but no album is as completely satisfying as this one. It was released in the early 2000s and was instantly a hit with its slightly southern inspired sound (cowbell included), and completely unique vocal style. A lot of music in the hard-core genre is bogged down by slow chugging and simple riffs, but Every Time I Die manages to stay heavy while also being extremely intricate. This becomes instantly apparent in the first ten seconds of the opening track “Apocalypse Now and Then”, as you’re ushered into the album by a groovy riff that leads into an explosive drum beat.
The fast pace of songs like “Kill the Music” and “The New Black” is unyielding and makes sitting still nearly impossible while you’re listening to them (eg., I was just unconsciously stomping the floor while listening to the album until realizing I was in the middle of a quiet office). The instrumentals in every song are catchy enough, but the vocalist, Keith Buckley, adds another layer of uniqueness to the band. Previously an English teacher, his lyrics are clever and insightful. The clean vocals are scarily good on their own, and he has possibly the best diction of any screamer I’ve ever heard. So, for anyone who has complained at some point that “you can’t even understand them [screamers]”, I implore you to listen to this album and then promptly eat your words.