Appreciation for Emo, Metal, and Post-Hardcore music, like anything else, is an acquired taste. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd with my dad, and I believe those times of rocking out in the car inspired me to pursue similar genres of music in the modern age.
Back in my early high school days, I didn't listen to anything much harder than 3 Doors Down or Nickelback (cue laughter) — but one of my friends introduced me to Bullet for my Valentine (see #10) and after some acclimation, I really started to enjoy that type of music.
For any of you out there looking to widen your music horizons, I'd encourage you to take a listen to some of the albums listed below; I tried to arrange the order based on what would be easiest to enjoy for adjusting ears. And so we begin.
1. Blink-182 - Enema of the State
What would any list of millennial music be without Blink-182? You couldn't get a single ride to soccer practice (or drive yourself to the mall, depending on your age) without hearing "All the Small Things" on the radio.
I think something that makes this band special is that they can put together two and a half minute songs that talk about girls or having problems at school, and they are so tangible to their audience. People really relate to Blink-182, and that's something not many bands can do. Besides writing a lot of "feel good" or "joke" songs ("Dysentary Gary," "What's My Age Again?") — Blink can also put together really sentimental songs too, like "Going Away to College."
If you have any sympathy for Blink-182, or have ever found yourself singing "turn the lights off, carry me home," keep reading.
Some of you may still be wondering why Blink was included on a list that recognizes emo, metal, or post-hardcore music. You might be asking, "how did they influence that scene at all?" Well, the short answer is, they didn't, really. I just wanted to include Blink because many readers probably know (and like) their music, and seeing a familiar band might encourage them to check out some of the other music on this list. So for that reason, I decided Blink should get an "honorary" spot. Let's continue.
2. Goodnight City Lights - The World at My Feet
Out of this list of 11 bands, I think Goodnight City Lights will be the least well known ... for now. GCL started in 2008, originating in Cleveland. Since having come across The World at My Feet, I haven't been able to not play their music for long periods of time. I'd describe the album as very raw (check out "Stars"), but also very dynamic ("Ghosts," "Fireworks," and "A Broken Cadence"). Goodnight City Lights is a young and upcoming band that would definitely still be considered rock — so even those with gentle ears will find themselves really enjoying the harmonies throughout The World at My Feet.
GCL recorded their album with Paul Leavitt, who also worked with All Time Low and Senses Fail.
3. Four Year Strong - Rise or Die Trying
Four Year Strong has become one of my all-time favorite bands. There's not much else to say. This band knows how to captivate its audience without sounding static. Rise or Die Trying will make you wonder how you haven't heard of this band earlier in your life.
If you want to get amped up for a game, blast "Catastrophe." In the mood to feel the wide scale FYS can incorporate in their songs? Check out "Bada Bing! Wit' A Pipe!" and "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die."
Besides just being a rock band, Four Years Strong includes a fair amount of keyboard and other electronics in their music. On one hand this helps create variety in sound, but also brings in individuals who may not be ready to handle songs with some screaming, like "Prepare to be Digitally Manipulated."
If you were to only pick a few albums out of this list to listen to entirely, Rise or Die Trying should definitely be one of them.
4. A Day to Remember - And Their Name Was Treason
If you consider yourself someone who listens to rock or metal, you absolutely HAVE to know A Day to Remember. There's no way of getting around it. ADTR has reached stardom over the past few years, and whether that has affected their music may be debatable, but their first album, And Their Name Was Treason, set precedent for many more hits to come.
For those who don't want to dive right in to ADTR's harder music, start off listening to "Your Way With Words is Through Silence," and "You Had Me at Hello." This way, you can appreciate the band's ability to completely change the mood of their music when you hear "If Looks Could Kill."
A Day to Remember is an incredible band, and if you enjoyed this album even in the slightest bit, I'd highly encourage scouring some of their other work on YouTube.
5. Senses Fail - Let it Enfold You
If you have been going through this list so far and checking out a song or two by each band I've listed, you'll definitely find Senses Fail a breath of fresh air. Unlike the more traditional music already listed, Let it Enfold You embraces many characteristics of "post-hardcorism." Namely, you can literally feel the pulse in Senses Fail's music, epitomized in the up/down strumming in "Lady in the Blue Dress."
Let it Enfold You can get in your face with pieces like "Rum is for Drinking, Not for Burning" and "Bite to Break Skin," but is able to literally slow things down in "Slow Dance."
As Independence Day is coming up, you should also give "NJ Falls into the Atlantic" a shout.
6. Funeral For a Friend - Hours
If I had to pick a cut-off point somewhere on this list between relatively moderate music and bands that diverge from the beaten path, I'd probably draw that line here. Funeral For a Friend is a Welsh self-described post-hardcore band, but it's not hard to pick up their emo-metal influences.
Again, for someone just starting out, I'd recommend "All the Rage," "Streetcar," and "History," as these songs are less heavy than some other pieces on this album. On another note, I don't think FFAF has produced any songs more heartwrenching than "Roses for the Dead," either. To finish off number six, don't listen to bits and pieces of Hours without playing "The End of Nothing."
7. Scary Kids Scaring Kids - Scary Kids Scaring Kids
In their self-titled sophomore album, Scary Kids Scaring Kids put together a well-connected volume; the band said that the album was about "reaching deep and finding out who you really are," and that the album truly represents what the band is all about.
Check out "Faces," "Holding On," and "The Deep End." If you enjoyed those singles, proceed (with caution) to "A Pistol to my Temple" and "Blood Runs Forever." And don't let the names of these songs scare you, they're just names after all, focus on the music and whether or not you enjoy what SKSK produced.
8. Saosin - Saosin
Saosin's self-titled album is really an anomaly in the sense that their voices initially sound so soft and tangible, and then when the guitar is introduced, everything hits the floor, and the band transforms itself into something much heavier and darker. I think this almost impossible to describe ability is recognizable in "Collapse" and "Voices."
I think one reason for Saosin's success is that they really know how to draw on emotion. This album doesn't just get you ready for a football game ("Bury Your Head"), it also comforts you when you need music during the most challenging times of your life ("You're Not Alone").
9. Bullet For My Valentine - The Poison
If you are feeling ready to dig into something even more metallic than anything already on the list, get ready for Bullet for my Valentine. I first came across The Poison my junior year in high school and have been listening to it since.
To prepare for the intensity BFMV can produce, start off with "All These Things I Hate," which begins almost acoustically, and then let the bass guitar kick in. Like "Saosin," "Bullet For My Valentine" also prioritizes tangibility with their audience. "10 Years Today" is another emotional single about losing a friend and the pain that ensues after the truth has sunk in. To wrap up this brief summary, don't miss "Tears Don't Fall," either.
10. August Burns Red - Constellations
For those ready to not only take off the training wheels, but also jump off the high-dive, August Burns Red is your next stop. To me, the amazing thing about ABR is that the band is almost symphonic - each song starts off with some array of guitar scales followed by rhythmic beats and other instruments that tingle the senses. Once Matt Greiner comes in with the drums, your heart starts beating, and trust me, it's not going to stop until long after the song is over.
Individual songs to make noteworthy include: "Meridien," "Meddler," "Mariana's Trench," and "White Washed."
It's not often you'll come across a band like August Burns Red - a band that embraces its Christian identity and incorporates that into some incredibly intense metal.
11. Oh, Sleeper - Children of Fire
If you made it this far, kudos! This is the final band/album pair I have to recommend to those interested in the metal scene. I mentioned earlier that listening to August Burns Red will keep your heart going long after listening to their music; Oh, Sleeper might just stop your heart from beating entirely. Many of their songs hit you like a whirlwind from the start ("Endseekers," "Dealers of Fame), but some take their time to build you up, similar to what ABR often does ("Hush Yael"). If you have been looking for a new song to get you stoked, proceed no further than "Children of Fire," and make sure the volume is amped up. A friend of mine and I conclude our workouts with this song and couldn't ask for a better adrenaline rush.
Again, if you made it this far, congratulations! All of us in the rock/metal/emo/post-hardcore communities will welcome you with open arms. If you reached Oh, Sleeper and were looking to find something even more heavy, you probably have ears that can handle much more intense music than I do.
For all of you disappointed by the type of music you see on the Top 100, don't fear. McDonalds is the most popular restaurant across the United States, but I don't know many people who would say it is the best. Most of the time, a lot of the best stuff stays relatively unknown to the populace. Speaking of which, if you have any recommendations for other readers (or me), please comment below! I'll be sure to give it a fair listen, just as I hope you check out a song or two from this list of suggestions.