The past ten years decade were a hallmark decade for the metal scene. Picking up a mic and letting emotions out was as accessible as ever, and the post-hardcore genre was booming in many facets. Some bands chose to hone in on the grips of life, with desperate, bleak lyricism and instrumentation that was austere and somber.
One of the earliest examples is the oft-forgotten Decoder (later re-branded as Lead Hands.) With a dreamy presentation, the group, comprised of like-minded members from Of Machines, Oceana, and more came together to deliver an impressive self-titled LP under Rise Records in 2011. This album touched upon the ill-effects of addiction, happiness being out of reach, and the struggle of “Holding On,” solace was in short supply, their music sounding like an ethereal nightmare thanks to the unique backgrounds of each member. Similarly, A Hope For Home emphasized the delicate, deliberate slow pace in their 2011 effort In Abstraction.
Being as an Ocean made a serious impact with Dear G-d…, as vocalist Joel Quartuccio was shrouded with doubt and a lack of self-sufficiency in this impressive 2012 debut. The monumental opening riff from “This Loneliness Won’t Be the Death of Me” sends chills down my spine to this day, furthered by Joel’s words “I can’t sleep, food has lost its taste, God, I’m so sick of this place.” Spoken-word delivery is a strong way to get the message across, echoed with Hotel Books’ I’m Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home highlighting the misgivings and shortcomings of a troubled relationship, provoking more emotion than most bands could muster at the time.
The UK had its fair share to contribute to this style, as well. The Elijah’s I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created is a masterpiece that seamlessly combines the dichotomy of ambiance and intensity with climactic tracks like “In Misery” and “I Destroyed.” Clean vocalist Michael McGough would later join Being as an Ocean and contribute more after The Elijah unfortunately disbanded in 2013. Crooks would also be a flash in the pan with their 2015 effort Are We All the Same Distance Apart. Bursting at the seams with angst that was conveyed so properly in pieces “What Might Have Been” and “A Few Peaceful Days,” this act made more of an impact in one record than one could expect.
Nearing the end of the decade, the tone still remained sour thanks to bands like Casey, with the stellar Where I Go When I Am Sleeping digging the knife into the wound with the sadness in “Fluorescents” sticking the listener in a limbo of a lack of progress. Trade Wind, after the unbelievable You Make Everything Disappear EP, released an equally-incredible LP in Certain Freedoms. “I Can’t Believe You’re Gone” is instrumentally-mixed to perfection to complement the forgone complacency in the lyricism.
I’m just scraping the surface with this particular sect of music. I haven’t gone down the rabbit hole in a while, as my struggles through the mid-2010s are long gone, but I will always look back and regard this as the most critical to my growth, as the relatability and soul is abundant. These bands all come highly-recommended, and have stood the test of time.