A few weeks ago I got bored and thought I might as well list my favorite 30 albums released within the last 10 years or so. So here they are, in descending order, along with the cover art, the release date, my personal favorite song(s) from the album, and a short description of the album/how I discovered it.
Release date: November 30th, 2000
Favorite song: The Nothing (Porcelain Heart Promises is a close second)
Ever since I first listened to this CD in September of 2003 it's been my absolute favorite album. Unfortunately I discovered Skycamefalling just a few months after their final show, but even though they're broken up, their albums will always be around as proof of just how emotional, intense, melodic and crushing hardcore can be. Some of my all-time favorite lyrics come from this album as well.
2. Full Collapse
Release date: April 10th, 2001
Favorite song: Probably a four-way tie between Understanding In A Car Crash, A Hole In The World, Cross Out The Eyes and How Long Is The Night?
The most raw, passionate and emotive album Thursday has put out, Full Collapse is a masterpiece from start to finish. There isn't a bad, or even mediocre track on it. It's the kind of album that you can listen to over and over again for years and never get tired of...you can always some new hidden message or meaning in a song every time you listen to it. It's catchy, but also has incredibly powerful and meaningful lyrics, which is something that's seriously lacking in most other bands in the same genre that have gained the notoriety that Thursday has.
3. Too Bad You're Beautiful
Release date: August 14th, 2001
Favorite song: Short Stories With Tragic Endings or The Switch
This was one of the very first albums to get me into hardcore music, back in late-summer of 2003, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. Even though many considered From Autumn To Ashes a typical mainstream ~core band, the power, energy and emotion of this album is undeniable. I can't exactly say the same for their more recent releases, but this CD, in my opinion, will always be a classic.
4. The Opposite Of December
Release date: December 14th, 1999
Favorite song: Slice Paper Wrists or My Mirror No Longer Reflects
Another one of the first albums to get me into hardcore, this is arguably one of the most influential ~core albums of the past decade, and what has ultimately been the inspiration for most every new metalcore act that has appeared so far this century. Poison the Well is unfortunately another one of the bands that seems to have lost their original edge over the years, but unlike most bands' early albums, Opposite of December continues to be one of their most popular and listened-to albums to this day, over 7 years later.
5. A Retrospective
Release date: October 1st, 2001
Favorite song: The Poet You Never Were
There's really no description necessary for this album; anyone who's heard it already knows how amazing it is. Saetia was an absolutely essential screamo band, and they, in their short late-nineties existence, created songs more emotionally epic than most other bands do in their entire career.
6. Not One Word Has Been Omitted
Release date: Original released in 2003, re-released on October 19th, 2004
Favorite song: I Tried Voodoo Once
I can't really describe what exactly it is about this album that's made me so obsessed and in love with it ever since the first time I heard it back in 2004, but whatever it is, it's amazing. From a Second Story Window put on what are easily the most insane live performances ever (especially when their guitarist Derek was still in the band) and I think it's just that nonstop, un-relenting energy throughout this album that makes it so incredible.
7. Fevers and Mirrors
Release date: May 30th, 2000
Favorite song: April Left With Silence or The Center Of The World
This is my favorite Bright Eyes release by far, containing some of the most sorrowful, well-written ballads I've ever heard. You know how sometimes a certain song, album or band reminds you of something specific or take you to a place visually, in your head, whenever you hear it? This album always takes me back to a few years ago when I played this album nonstop on a plane ride alone to a funeral in Pennsylvania. I guess that's not the best story to associate with an album, but overall this album just has such a powerful feel and atmosphere to it that I think it paints a certain picture, whatever that may be, to anyone who listens to it.
8. No Wings To Speak Of
Release date: August 8th, 2001
Favorite song: April Left With Silence or The End Of An Era
While this is only a 4-song EP, it marks an absolutely flawless point in Hopesfall's career, right between two other excellent albums, The Frailty of Words and The Satellite Years. These other two albums, while great and containing some select truly amazing stand-out tracks, don't achieve quite the same musical perfection that this EP does.
9. Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow!
Release date: 2000
Favorite song: ...And The Cat Turned To Smoke
Any other Orchid fan will already know this, but this album mixes raw emotion and chaos together in a perfect blend of music. Albums as unique as this are almost non-existent these days.
10. Raein/Daitro Split 10"
Release date: 2004
Favorite song: Un Bateau Ivre
Every song on this split is basically the epitome of musical perfection. Enough said.
11. Document #8
Release date: Re-release date was November 8th, 2005, original release date unknown.
Favorite song: In Love With An Apparition
Of all the Pg.99 albums, it was hard to pick just one as a favorite, and though it was a close three-way tie between Document #5, Document #7 and this one, Document #8 narrowly beat out the others simply by containing the two most dynamic and emotive pg.99 songs, In Love With An Apparition and We Left As Skeletons.
12. Jhazmyne's Lullaby
Release date: August 14th, 2001
Favorite song: A Farewell to A Perfect Score
7 Angels 7 Plagues fall under the same category as skycamefalling, older From Autumn to Ashes, Poison the Well and Hopesfall in that they are yet another band able to produce songs that are equally melodic and crushing, a skill that most modern-day ~core bands no longer seem able to achieve.
13. The Changing of Times
Release date: February 26th, 2002
Favorite song: Alone in December
Ah, yet another unique and powerful early-2000s ~core CD released by a band that has since completely changed their sound, style and image and has become incredibly popular and media-friendly. Although I've never considered Underoath a perfect band at any point in their career, it's amazing how far away they are now from what they had with this album. The Changing of Times is an emotionally-wrenching CD, supposedly containing lyrics vastly based around the death of the former vocalist's fiance, and should be given a chance by any current Underoath fan who has yet to hear it, no matter how much you like the way they are now.
14. Ampere/Sinaloa Split 12"
Release date: March 21st, 2006
Favorite song: At Its Heart And At Its Head
Both bands on this split really hit the mark with this release; I've had pretty low expectations for pretty much everything that's come out since 2004, no matter how good the bands have been in the past, because I've expected only more mediocre disappointments, but this really surprised me. An excellent album, most definitely worth a listen. Also, the lyrics seem to be particularly amazing for all of both bands' songs on this album.
15. Pass The Flask
Release date: July 29th, 2003
Favorite song: Porcelain Hearts and Hammers for Teeth
I discovered The Bled much later than most, but when I did, it was love at first listen. This is a great album from start to finish, and it has some very inventive and expressive lyrics if you pay attention to them.
16. Women and Children Die First
Release date: January 27th, 2004
Favorite song: Serenading This Dead Horse
Probably one of the heaviest albums out there, this CD is really Remembering Never at their absolute best. Most of the songs are 4-5 minutes of pretty much non-stop brutality, with some incredibly important and intelligent lyrics behind them as well.
17. As the Roots Undo
Release date: July 15th, 2003
Favorite song: Non-Objective Portrait of Karma
Circle Takes the Square are easily the best still-active screamo band, their only fault being that they haven't released any new material in almost four years. Still, this album is incredible...by looking at all of the lyrics to the songs, you have to wonder how they manage to fit all of those words into an 8-track CD. Both lyrically and musically complex, this record is a definite must-listen.
18. Never Good Enough For You
Release date: May 11th, 2004
Favorite song: I Didn't Know 'I Love You' Came With A Knife In the Back
This is pretty much the ultimate post-breakup CD. She Looks So Good In Red (which is four spots down from this) by Remembering Never is a close second. Killwhitneydead are pretty much the ultimate band to listen to when you're feeling bitter about someone who's screwed you over, especially if that someone is an ex. They're also great for turning those shitty post-breakup moods of suicidal depression into moods of homicidal insanity. Definitely one of the most insanely brutal albums of all time. P.S. I censored the cover art for the album just in case some staff member sees it and freaks out.
Release date: 2001/2002 (?)
Favorite song: Please Shit All Over Me, I Love It
Nobody can match the sound that The Sawtooth Grin had. First off, the vocals are next to impossible to mimic, and are easily the highest screeches found in any grind band, anywhere. This is also an insanely brutal album, but unlike Killwhitneydead, The Sawtooth Grin don't rely as much on breakdowns as on a sheer and un-ending technically complex chaos that's virtually unmatched.
Release date: 1997
Favorite song: Hún Jörð
This is probably the least heard-of album by Sigur Ros, but, in my opinion, by far and away the best. This album is far more ambient and abstract than their others, but also, I find, is the most pure, raw and beautiful. If you put on headphones, turn off the lights, close your eyes and listen to this CD in its entirety, I guarantee you won't be the same afterwards.
21. Laisser vivre les squelettes
Release date: February 28th, 2006
Favorite song: Se Noyer, S'oublier, Regarder Partir
This is an amazingly powerful, yet melodic CD. Daitro are one of the few bands left that can still capture the kind of raw emotion heard on this album.
22. Calculating Infinity
Release date: September 28th, 1999
Favorite song: 43% Burnt
The technical precision that's achieved in this album is unrivaled; simply a classic.
23. She Looks So Good In Red
Release date: April 2nd, 2002
Favorite song: Alison's Song
As stated in my description of the Killwhitneydead CD, this is a great breakup CD; perfect for the bitter, angry ex. While not quite as blunt and to-the-point as KWD, Remembering Never still make their point very clear with this CD; ex-girlfriends need to die. She Looks So Good in Red isn't quite as musically intense as Women and Children Die First, but the lyrics in this CD are certainly much more, uh, hostile.
24. Upon the Right I Saw a New Misery
Release date: May 28th, 2002
Favorite song: Happy to be Alive
This is another emotional-and-melodic-yet-intense-and-chaotic CD, except much more in the true screamo vein than the aforementioned albums. Love Lost but Not Forgotten were an incredible band and will be missed.
25. Each Individual Voice Is Dead In The Silence
Release date: 2000
Favorite song: ...Shed For You and For Many
As The Sun Sets are (were) a band that I only actually enjoy one CD by; their other releases contain mostly very short, very distorted songs with seemingly random musical structures, which some people might like, but I simply can't get into. I'm also not really a fan of Daughters, the band that formed from the ex-members of ATSS once they split up. But, with that being said, I think this lone CD is a musical masterpiece. It's technical, precise and complex, while also containing some of the fastest, heaviest breakdowns I've ever heard. I highly recommend this CD to anyone who hasn't heard it yet.
26. Failure On
Release date: June 24th, 2003
Favorite song: Failure On My Lips or Aimless Endeavor
This CD isn't anything particularly new or groundbreaking, but it is extremely catchy and blends all sorts of different musical genres and elements flawlessly. Beloved are unfortunately no longer around (as is the case with many of the bands featured on this list) but they did end their career on a very good note, with this CD being their last release together.
27. Letting Off the Happiness
Release date: November 2nd, 1998
Favorite song: The Difference in the Shades
One of the first Bright Eyes releases, this is much more raw than any of their subsequent albums, and while not without its flaws, is probably the deepest and most significant album lyrically to date.
28. Of Malice and the Magnum Heart
Release date: June 1st, 2004
Favorite song: Five Years
While most people seem to prefer the new CD and vocalist, I'll always prefer this era of Misery Signals. Their new CD, Mirrors, is really surprisingly good, and still has much of that technical, complex melody that has been on the previous two MS releases as well as both 7A7P records, but something about the passion and emotion put into Jesse's vocals and lyrics just can't be duplicated, which is why this album will always be a favorite of mine.
Release date: July 13th, 2004
Favorite song: Sunpoison and Skin Cancer
This CD pretty much defines heaviness. The first two tracks alone are basically a nonstop pummeling of breakdowns. The Acacia Strain also translate the brutality conveyed in this album to their live shows pretty much flawlessly.
30. Put on Your Rosy Red Glasses
Release date: March 7th, 2003
Favorite song: Civeta Dei
By far and away my favorite release by The Number Twelve Looks Like You, this is technical, chaotic, melodic, and fits into about 30 different genres at once without ever becoming disorganized or sloppy. A lot of people accuse The Number Twelve as being "trendgrind" or "scenecore" and not anything but a trendy MySpace-famous band that come nothing close to the real thing, and while I can't say I don't completely disagree with some of that, this album was released long before MySpace and this whole scene mess really existed, so you have to look at it for what it really is; an incredibly complex, well-done, technical, chaotic and intense record.
Release date: July 20th, 2004
Favorite song: We Are the Storm
While I don't think this quite matches Calculating Infinity's caliber of classicalness, it still definitely deserves to be mentioned. It's not often that a band as renowned as The Dillinger Escape Plan can have such a long period of time between releases, lose their vocalist, and still come out with such an amazing album.
Cloak of Love
Release date: February 15th, 2005
Favorite song: Rock Candy
This CD is pretty short, but also gets directly to the point. Genghis Tron are probably the newest band on this entire list, which isn't usually a plus, but in an era where every new artist or band sounds exactly the same as whatever came before them, they bring a refreshing new innovation to the table.
Release date: June 20th, 2000
Favorite song: Change or Digital Bath
I know that a lot of people that are fans of most or at least some of the aforementioned albums and artists will probably disagree with me when I say how incredible of an album this is, but oh well. I remember the exact day that I first heard this album; January 16th, 2003. That was the beginning of the stage in my life where I really started getting into different kinds of music, not just the things I heard on the radio or saw on TV, not just the music my friends listened to, but music that, no matter how obscure, really struck a chord with me, so to speak. Of course I was only 13 years old at the time, so even then my musical choices were pretty terrible, but this CD is really the very first one to open my eyes (or ears) to the world of music outside of the TV and radio.
Alive or Just Breathing
Release date: May 21st, 2002
Favorite song: Just Barely Breathing
I've got to mention this album for the same reason as the one above; this was another one of the key albums to broaden my musical horizons and really get me into new kinds of music. In fact, this is THE cd that got me into hardcore. I remember the first time I ever heard it; it was 2003, at the end of summer, and I was at the mall shopping for "back to school" clothes and supplies and such. I stopped at one of those little kiosks that they have in the hallways that sell novelty shirts on racks and asked if they sold any t-shirts with Jhonen Vasquez designs on them (Jhonen Vasquez = the creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee, Filler Bunny etc. but mostly known for creating the Nickelodeon cartoon 'Invader Zim') who I was way into at the time. The guy there said no, they didn't, but knew who he was, and for some reason therefore decided it was necessary to ask me if I'd ever heard the band Killswitch Engage. I said no, and immediately he bent down under the kiosk, got out a folder of CDs, and pulled out a burned CD with the words "KSE - Alive or Just Breathing" written on it. He handed it to me, told me to keep it, and that I needed to listen to it. I was 14 at the time, and listening to that CD kind of blew my mind. At first I was a little hesitant, but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. Then, from there, I went on amazon.com and searched for similar artists and albums and ended up buying From Autumn to Ashes' Too Bad You're Beautiful, skycamefalling's 10.21 and Poison the Well's The Opposite of December, in that order, and the rest is history. So, I have to credit pretty much my entire taste in music to that guy at the mall and this CD. I suppose if I hadn't met him and he hadn't given it to me I would've gotten into hardcore eventually anyway, especially with it becoming mainstream in 2005 thanks to MySpace and the general media, but I still like to consider it fate that brought me to listen to that album and subsequently essentially change my life from there on because of it.