Over the past two or three days, I’ve been clamouring for the halcyon days of mid 2000s post-hardcore. It’s tricky to understand its allure – more style than substance, it probably shouldn’t have even been referred to as post-hardcore because most of it didn’t even include the hardcore movement’s most important facets. Instead, it was kind of the hangover from the 90s emo movement, only with added skinny jeans, poppier riffs and eyeliner. Probably my favourite lot from this rowdy bunch was From First To Last. The most pretentious of them all, their first album was a satire on the scene they became so ingrained in and owed so much to. At the same time, they had so much talent – to this day, I maintain that Derek Bloom is one of the best drummers in the business (a point I’m sure will be disputed by Kitteh). Matt Good knew how to craft a decent riff and continues to do so in D.R.U.G.S. Travis Richter was pretty good at black metal and looking sexy. Sonny Moore has one of the most distinctive voices in the business, one which he doesn’t utilise under his new nom de plume, Skrillex.
Sonny Moore effectively had, and still in another form has, the voice of a generation. One lyric that has always stuck with me, despite its satirical purpose, is at the end of The One Armed Boxer vs The Flying Guillotine. “How do I address, a letter to my generation? Sonny she said, save yourself the postage. How do I address, a letter to my generation? Sonny she said, sing it in person.” Sonny Moore was every 15 year old “alt kid” in 2003. Anxious, confused, angry and with ridiculous hair. He was also friends with all of them on Myspace – I certainly remember S O N N Y, and later Skrillex, popping up on my friends list (as well as Panic! At The Disco before they got signed to Decaydance). But alas, the world no longer craves a skinny little man with an insane vocal range – they want pounding electronic beats.
Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count might have been satire and Kerrang! might not have gotten it when it first came out thus only awarding it two Ks, but we all knew what it was about. It was about awesome breakdowns, hilarious lyrics, hidden tracks with rap guys on them and songs about slaughtering the cute girl in your class to wear her skin as a suit. However, Heroine was really where it was at. The opening alone! Even on the bus now, I have to resist the urge to scream out MOTHERSOUND in my best Sonny voice. It was darker, heavier and had a tone that was only aided by Wes Borland’s presence on bass (remember that guy in Limp Bizkit that used to wear the body paint? Yeaaaah!). Everyone liked this one. There weren’t any lyrics about killing people and listening to Morrissey in a car, but there were ones about anorexia, insecurity and desperation. FFTL grew up and got rid of the straighteners. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that Heroine was one of my favourite albums of all time. Definitely in the top twenty.
And then Sonny left. Sonny left and everyone thought it would be a good idea for Matt to take over main vocals. The result wasn’t horrific, but it wasn’t great. It wasn’t From First To Last any more. If anything, it was a bit boring. But from it, new projects were born which have been pretty fantastic. Even if everyone and their mother is now suddenly into Skrillex. Amid the sarcastic cries of “he was ours first!” from me and my housemates, it is kind of cool to realise that the front guy from one of those bands hardly anyone really knew about outside of the scene is now globally recognised.
These days, post-hardcore’s shifted a bit. It’s all about letlive. and their ilk. That’s probably a far more accurate depiction of post-hardcore than those kids that used to scream a bit in their songs. It’s an exciting and vibrant scene, but we’ll always have From First To Last. And I know that because I haven’t seen the scene haircut die yet.
Recommended listening – Kiss Me I’m Contagious, Ride The Wings Of Pestilence, The Crows Are Coming For Us, Mothersound