If You Liked That, Try This! (EMO KID EDITION)
If you've ever worn arm warmers, posted an angsty poem on MySpace, or painted your nails black...this one's for you.
I was in high school during the peak of the early 2000s. My MySpace page was bedazzled with enough Blingees to cause seizures, I sprayed myself liberally with Bath and Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom body spray, and I carried a clunky iPod classic around thinking that was the pinnacle of technology. Even worse, I was an “emo kid” in the early 2000s. I wore spiky belts, had a shaggy haircut that completely obscured my vision in one eye, and buried my arms under stacks of rubber bracelets stamped with various band names and logos. I wrote maudlin poetry, scribbled lyrics from my favorite songs on my school notes, and couldn’t wait for the day I could pierce my lip without my parents’ permission.
I thought I was the coolest person in the world.
In retrospect it’s horrible and embarrassing and resulted in photos I wish I could purge from existence. (Though thanks to MySpace accidentally losing nearly all its pre-2016 data, I may’ve partially gotten my wish.) But while I’ve long since grown out the shag and my Hot Topic accessories have been in a landfill somewhere for over a decade, one holdover from my teen years remains: my love of “emo” music.
I love it so much that my “Songs of My Angsty Youth” Spotify playlist gets almost daily play.
I love it so much that Linkin Park still appears in my Spotify Unwrapped every year, even though I listen almost exclusively to their first three albums and ignore the rest of their output.
I love it so much that when my old faves like Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, and Three Days Grace go on tour (remember tours?), I’m in the crowd singing along with every song.
And I love it so much that I’m writing this article in the hopes of connecting former emo kids like me with new bands that bring the same sound, attitude, and energy as their old favorites.
If you liked Linkin Park, try Sylar.
Sylar is a metalcore outfit from Queens, New York. Like their nu-metal predecessors, this five-man band stars the tag-team vocals of unclean vocalist/rapper Jayden Parnesso and clean vocalist/guitarist Miguel Cardona. Sylar’s first and heaviest record, 2014’s To Whom It May Concern, excited (and sometimes deafened) listeners with buzzing guitars and shrieky record scratches. Their next album, 2016’s Help!, took that nu-metal bedrock and toned down the screaming slightly in favor of more accessible hooks, and their most recent release Seasons followed in Help!’s footsteps in 2018.
The blend of rap and melodic singing is just one thing Sylar has in common with Linkin Park. Songs like Help!’s “Soul Addiction” and “Assume” bring the catchy, addictive aggression of early LP releases like “One Step Closer” or “Faint,” complete with chaotic record scratching, ambient sounds, and crunching guitar riffs. Elsewhere, subdued and introspective tracks like “sickminded” invite comparison to Hybrid Theory’s “Pushing Me Away” or Meteora’s “Easier to Run.” Sylar’s more recent releases, such as “No Way” and “Open Wounds,” rest solidly between the two extremes, much like “In the End” and “Numb” did for LP.
RECOMMENDED SONGS: “Soul Addiction,” “Assume,” “No Way,” “Open Wounds,” and “sickminded”
If you liked Good Charlotte, try Waterparks.
Waterparks is a pop punk trio from Houston, Texas, headed by dynamic lead vocalist Awsten Knight. After releasing several EPs between 2012 and 2015, the band debuted with the full-length Double Dare in 2016. Their sophomore effort Entertainment came out in 2018, followed shortly after by 2019’s Fandom. Their fourth full-length release, Greatest Hits (which, despite the title, is NOT a greatest hits album) is slated for release in May 2021.
Waterparks cites Good Charlotte as one of their primary influences, but this goes beyond lip service. Benji and Joel Madden have managed the band since 2015 and have overseen the production of each full-length Waterparks release so far. The Madden brothers must have a very “hands on” management style, because their influence sparkles in Waterparks’ music in the best way possible. Tracks like Double Dare’s “Stupid for You,” “Made an America,” and “Take Her to the Moon” bring the catchy pop-punk feel of old GC. Meanwhile, Entertainment’s “Blonde” and “Sleep Alone” and Fandom’s “I Felt Younger When We Met” deliver classic pop-punk snarky cynicism in catchy packages.
RECOMMENDED SONGS: “Stupid for You,” “Made an America,” “Take Her to the Moon,” “Blonde,” “Sleep Alone,” and “I Felt Younger When We Met”
If you liked Evanescence, try Emilie Autumn.
Emilie Autumn is an enigmatic solo artist who describes her sound as “like the best cup of English Breakfast tea spiked with cyanide and smashed on your antique wallpaper.” That description, strange as it may be, makes sense once you listen to her music: an eclectic blend of electronica, industrial, and classical elements like cello, violin, and harpsichord, laced with unique vocals ranging from low, guttural growling to high-pitched choral singing.
Emilie Autumn’s first album, 2001’s Enchant, is reminiscent of Evanescence’s softer and more ethereal side. But after years of personal struggle, she released Opheliac in 2006. That record showed a much angrier, harsher, and heavier side of Emilie and her music, and sounded much like Evanescence’s first album Fallen. The album’s title track addresses her personal experience with mental illness and the way it’s impacted her relationships and overall life, while “Swallow” and “Take the Pill” protest the way mental health is handled on a bigger scale. Other songs, such as the heavily industrial “Liar” and the haunting “Gothic Lolita,” address relational and childhood abuse. Overall, Emilie Autumn’s musical output brings the same moodiness, darkness, and seriousness of Evanescence, delivered via similar sounds.
RECOMMENDED SONGS: “Opheliac,” “Swallow,” “Liar,” “Gothic Lolita,” and “Take the Pill”
If you liked My Chemical Romance, try Pierce the Veil.
Hailing from San Diego, California, Pierce the Veil have been a post-hardcore staple since their debut A Flair for the Dramatic came out in 2007. Their sophomore release, Selfish Machines, hit shelves in 2010, followed by 2012’s Collide with the Sky. After a slight hiatus, they dropped their most recent album, Misadventures, in 2016. They’ve hinted at their as-of-now-untitled fifth release since 2018, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Pierce the Veil gets compared to My Chemical Romance often, and for good reason. Their sound (as the title of their first album suggests) is towering and dramatic, much like popular MCR releases like “Helena” and “I’m Not Okay.” Tracks like “Caraphernelia,”“Texas is Forever,” and “Hold On Till May” are particularly bombastic, carried by swirling guitars, rapid-fire drums, and Vic Fuentes’ soaring vocals.
RECOMMENDED SONGS: “Caraphernelia,” “Hell Above,” “Hold On Till May,” “Texas is Forever,” and “Circles”
Thanks for joining me for this walk down memory lane! What were some of your favorite bands in your teen years? Share in the comments.