This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #83, the Love issue. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.
For as long as I can remember, it’s been a running joke that every good screamo band has to break up after a single album. Even though it’s not true and there are plenty of great bands in the genre that have stuck around for a while, the mentality has never gone away. A lot of this stems from the fact that Saetia, a band that serves as tons of people’s gateway into “real” screamo, broke up without releasing a second album.
Because of this, it’s always a bit of a relief to see a great band put out a second full-length and it’s even better when that second album is at least as good as the first one. At the end of last month, Viva Belgrado joined the contingent of skramz bands who have managed such a feat, with the release of their second LP, Ulises.
Viva Belgrado are a Spanish four-piece who’s been consistently putting out great music since they released their demo in 2012. Their 2014 full-length Flores, Carne continues to be an album I listen to regularly. They do a lot of the things that attracted me to the genre in the first place, and they do them very well; big changes in dynamics; huge, urgent-sounding crescendos; pretty post-rock-esque interludes; an overall mood that falls somewhere between poignant and distressing.
I try not to get too excited about new releases from bands I like until I can actually hear them, but I’m never 100% successful, so I went into Ulises with high expectations. Fortunately, it lives up to the reputation Viva Belgrado has built for themselves with their previous releases. I can already tell this new record is going to be sticking around in my listening rotation for quite a while.
It’s always cool to see a band walk the tightrope between staying true to the sound they’ve established for themselves and still taking risks that allow their releases to each have their own distinct identity. Ulises does a great job of this – it maintains all the things I liked about Flores, Carne while finding room on a few tracks to tread some new ground.
* * *
In other news, a band that has arguably done more to shape the sound of modern emo than any other has recorded new material after 17 years. While that’s already surprising, the part that’s truly remarkable? The new material is actually good.
American Football announced their return via the release of the first song off a new record they’ll be putting out in late October. A couple weeks later, they followed it up with another song and both are great. It’s obvious from these two songs that the members of American Football have been playing a hell of a lot of music while the band has been apart and “Give Me the Gun” in particular showcases how good these dudes have gotten at their instruments over the last 17 years. Fingers crossed that the rest of the album rules this hard – we’ll know on October 21st.