Everybody is always changing. Your Facebook notification showing you what you were up to ten years ago should be a great reminder of that. From year to year you’re undergoing a constant barrage of changes, whether small or new. Every seven years, all of the cells in your body have been completely replaced, meaning you’re a completely new person every cycle of seven years. From clothing and hairstyles, to music and the company you kept, you‘re always changing. What we‘re here to do, is show you a picture of how people lived in particular music scenes from specific moments in the past, to show you how much (and sometimes how little) has changed in the time since. This is Snapshot.
How do you do, fellow kids. I’m going to take us time travelling to the distant past of 2007, where the music scene was defined by MySpace, mini discs were just falling out of fashion, and iPods had click wheels. And weed was illegal! *gasp*
So what was the ‘scene’ exactly? Well, it was a weird hodgepodge of chosen bands: some were grindcore, others were metal or hardcore punk, and most, we can agree, were metalcore. There were albums that were likely more important to lots of these kids, but they don’t quite capture the spirit of the what we‘re going for here. Basically, if you have to ask what the scene was, it was a bunch of young kids wanting to fit in with outsiders, while only being able to get their ‘outsider’ fashion from their local mall. With that said, let‘s check out the music, books, film, and fashion that made a scene kid, well, scene.
Watch out for the flying Alexisonfire attack on “Pulmonary Archery.”
01. Alexisonfire – S/T (2002, Distort Entertainment)
– If you didn‘t shed at least one tear while screaming along to “Little Girls Pointing and Laughing” while driving your folks‘ 1993 Toyota Camry through the side roads of the 905, were you ever even in the scene? This was a band from St Catharines, Ontario who managed to straddle enough levels of success to make a global impact, and, for that, these boys were, and remain, legendary.
02. The Bled – Pass The Flask (2003, Fiddler Records)
– Well dye my hair black and call me “Top 8,” this was a perfect insight into the Myspace-era post-hardcore heavy-sass that became all the rage between 2003 and 2008. You know, when it was subversive to have long dyed-black hair, gals’ jeans from the Gap, and a load of homoerotic interactions with your pals. This album led the charge for a lot of kids growing up angry, confused, and totally blown away by the past six years of insanity following 9/11, myself included.
03. Every Time I Die – Hot Damn! (2003, Ferret Records)
– Goddamnit, you guys, this was where it was at; this was the party music with a brain. You didn’t throw on the Boys from Buffalo to feel sorrow, you did it to soundtrack your huffing on Putters and downing Lucky Lager. If you haven’t at least once blacked out at a show and lost your backpack and glasses in the pit for “Floater,” you were never scene.
Make viruses fun again with “Ebolarama.”
04. Cancer Bats – Birthing The Giant (2006, Distort Entertainment)
– Remember that sliver of time when ‘the South’ became glamourized by metalcore bands everywhere, and you couldn’t swing a fist or leg in a pit without bumping into a band that was translating that grungy, dirty southern riffage into Transatlantic aggression? Well, you can thank these boys from T.O. for their part in leading the way. Their first album remains untouchable, and their later discography established them as legends in the Toronto heavy music scene. They also formed up part of the crew of Distort, which around this time was a titan among mortals in terms of musical acts: in fact, they‘ve backed nearly a quarter of the bands on this list.
05. Curl Up And Die – Unfortunately, We’re Not All Robots (2002, Revelation Records)
– Inspiring a legion of Myspace proto-rawr kids to put taglines in their IM profiles (like “You’d Be Cuter If I Shot You in the Face”), this band was the one that inspired the misery and brooding that would become iconic cornerstones of the developing post-hardcore scene. Whether it was the sad af lyrics or the even sadder reality of vocalist Mike Minnick’s struggles with depression, this was a band that understood you were completely different, and that was okay. As long as you dyed your hair black and wore skinny jeans with a carabiner.
06. Fucked Up – Hidden World (2006, Jade Tree Records)
– Oh hi, more Toronto goodness. Whereas the ‘core’ was being brought in by other bands, Fucked Up were a special kind of juice that arrived a little later on the scene, with a more serious emphasis on punk and all of its protean charm. Immortalized in the same fashion as Cancer Bats by having a dish named after them at Sneaky Dee’s, the band has also been one of the most successful in terms of television exposure, while also scooping up at least one Polaris prize for their later album, David Comes to Life. They also played the Toronto Reference Library, you guys. Witness them.
Watch Fucked Up play the Toronto Reference Library
07. Norma Jean – Bless The Martyr and Kiss The Child (2002, Solid State Records)
– Here we go. There are some essential albums that we all know and love, and this one was a banger and a half. Don’t even try to tell me you ain’t about “Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste,” that song still slaps. Original vocalist on this album Josh Scogin started up The Chariot shortly after this album dropped, to spread the word of the amp. Norma, in the meantime, would morph and evolve and continue to put out brutal albums, but this little cherry remains a moment in time that kids in the early oughts will always cherish.
08. Protest The Hero – Kezia (2005, Underground Operations)
– The only good thing to have ever come out of Whitby, Ontario, Protest was always keen on the metal side of things, but they had crossover success with the hardcore scene for the simple fact that vocalist Rody Walker appealed to the heightened emotional state us scene kids were always harping on about. That and the fact that this album is a goddamn masterpiece.
09. The Gorgeous – Great Lakes (2005, Distort Entertainment Records)
– Oh boy. What a doozy this album was. Perhaps the most underrated band on this entire list, but, if you knew, you knew. This band slayed live, and also had a good dose of humour and lyrical wit, while remaining firmly planted in both sides of the metalcore divide of heaviness and emotional weight. Don’t tell me you didn’t get a little teary during that part in the “Shy Guys” video when Jordan was dangling off chicken wire and glasses were being pelted at him.
See The Gorgeous in their first and last music video for “Shy Guys”
10. Daughters – Hell Songs (2006, Hyrda Head Records)
– So there you are, minding your own business, when you pop this bad boy in your CD player (remember those?) and instead of the familiar vocal screech of vocalist Alexis Marshall, you were instead confronted with a whiskey-drenched Southern minister version of him, wailing about his sins and the ways in which he wanted to hurt and be hurt. It was a bigger redirect than likely any other you’ll see on this list, and it was biblical in its proportions at the time. You would go on to listen to them for years until they broke up and broke your heart. Though the happy ending to this is that you would eventually see the band come together to release another bastard of a record that would yet again pivot, this time musically.
11. I Hate Sally – Don’t Worry Lady (2006, Underground Operations)
– Man, what was in the water in Southern Ontario during the early 2000‘s? It seemed every band was able to start pumping out anthems for kids, and this was no different. I Hate Sally weren’t even the only Ontario band that had a killer female vocalist (serious kudos to bands like Mighty Atom, The Love and Terror Cult, and Fuck The Facts on that front) but I Hate Sally had a straight up, in your face immediacy to their brand of savagery that meant they had a wide reach. Killer riffs, meet killer feels.
Dear “Hannah Hannah,” did you know that I Hate Sally?
12. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine (2004, Relapse Records)
– Now we‘re getting into it. This album represents a bit more than just the scene kids in the noughts; this album goes way beyond that, applying to metalheads, punks, hardcore kids, and a wider scope of people on a wider timeline. But the effect it had on the scene was palpable: soon a legion of scene kids were whisper-screaming “Destroyer” while they looked out the rainy window of their bus, hoping to one day enjoy the same level of crushing heaviness that Dillinger brought.
13. Cursed – II (2005, Goodfellow Records)
– Okay, first of all: this album deserves so much more than to appear on some pseudo-nostalgic listicle. It inspired a legion of kids to seriously question the politics, culture, religious overtones, and general consensus of their surroundings. It confronted kids with stark truths and did so while managing to be one of the heaviest, loudest albums to come about. It bridled with rage, bristled with truth, and its release was an explosion that we are still hearing echoes of to this day. Blogs, columnists, mixtapes, playlists, back patches, vinyl, scenes, sounds: this album reached way more than a slightly clueless sub-section of the heavy music population. But it did, and would soon herald the end of the overall ‘scene’ for the same reason it was quickly taken in by that same crowd: it inspired, and continues to inspire, a level of maturity and insight that was previously lacking in the scene up to that point.
14. Converge – Jane Doe (2001, Equal Vision Records)
– You know what it is. The most extreme album of its kind to be released the same year the Twin Towers fell, this album and its iconic artwork would go on to establish Converge, Deathwish, and a legion of fans and bands that continue to rotate in and out of the limelight to this day. This was one of the most crucial albums on this list, because it established the threshold of thrashing, flagellating punishment that kids could withstand. It felt like a hazing, tolerating the brutality of this album meant you were suddenly ‘one of us’, and beckoned you to repeat this in your own music and lifestyle.
What do you get if you combine “Concubine/Fault and Fracture?” Converge, you get Converge.
15. Mare – S/T EP (2004, Hydra Head Records)
– Navigating to this band’s Myspace page at the time was deliciously anticlimactic, given the level of dizzying heights and bewilderingly heavy lows they achieved on their single release. The EP (and band itself) has reared its head from the ashes of its own bizarre effect it had on music, either to play the whole thing live or to emerge as a different project altogether. But without a doubt, this EP, with its jazz and Gregorian chant influences, managed to seamlessly experiment with other sounds while making good on crushing heaviness.
16. Boys Night Out – Trainwreck (2005, Ferret Records)
– You wouldn‘t be scene without it. This record played itself out in a way that reached into hearts and minds. It was crucial for a lot of kids that were going through their own respectively hard times to hear about vocalist Connor Lovat-Fraser had gone through their own tumultuous relationship with their mental health, and lived to tell (and sing) about it. Cue a horde of kids identifying with these same lyrics and chanting along. This was what catharsis at the time was all about.
17. Horse The Band – The Mechanical Hand (2005, Combat Records)
– Oh, you thought you’d forget about these guys? Not on my watch. While you may have thought their Nintendocore bit may have grown out of fashion, I‘m here to remind you of all the good times you had watching their “Birdo“ video, and all the fun you had moshing at their shows, listening to Lord Gold’s nonsensical diatribes in between songs. They were fun, yes, but did you know they embarked on a world tour in 2008, spanning forty countries? Did you know they still occasionally play shows? Check them out, buddy, and allow yourself a slice of nostalgia.
HORSE the Band time, get your synths out.
18. The End – Within Dividia (2004, Relapse Records)
– Ever had a guy yell at you at a show through a microphone? Yes. Ever had a guy yell at you at a show through a meagaphone. Now that‘s a little different. These guys were the right blend of angry, artsy, and fucked up, enough so to make their splash onto the main circuit of shows in a major way. They were enough of a trip for scene kids to experience what it would be like if post-hardcore and metalcore would just show some more brains as well as brawn.
19. Ion Dissonance – Solace (2005, Abacus Records)
– Buddy, just one half of the bands from the passive aggression and poutine capital of Canada, dear old Quebec. The only reason to wear a fleur de lis in the 2000’s were these guys and their fellows in Despised Icon, the infamous ID/DI crew of fellas that melted faces at shows. As far as releases goes, this one was the clear frontrunner, if for nothing else other than the fact that it showed some brain as well as unadulterated brawn, and influenced a horde of kids to keep chugging along well into the 2010‘s.
20. The Red Chord – Fused Together In Revolving Doors (2002, Robotic Empire Records)
– “It’s not gonna be alright, it’s not gonna be okay.” Preach, brother. This was the only kind of readily accessibly and uncut nihilistic antagonism that our fragile little minds would be exposed to, years before a trim Matthew McConaughey would acquaint us with a fella named Rust Cohle. The Red Chord were brutal, fierce, and were able to weave together songs that pervasive while fixating on the perverse, a formula that would ensure their continued success on their follow up album Clients, marking them as one of the biggest names in the scene.
Watch the biggest dog pile of kids for “Dreaming in Dog Years.”
01. American Hardcore
– Oh hey, a documentary about a legion of kids who were doing it better, harder, and before you were even a thought in your daddy’s sack. We always look up to the greats, and this movie did it better than most, allowing you the chance to get acquainted with the truest iteration of punks themselves. It was (and is) the perfect cornucopia of bands to keep you humble and help you remember your roots and where all your newfangled Myspace ‘hardcore’ actually came from.
– While most kids at the time were only starting to experiment with drugs, this movie acted as a double-edged sword on the subject: definitely look at society outside of the sober vantage point, but don‘t go so far down the rabbit hole of mind-altering substances that you have to fish out opium suppositories from a shit-soaked potty. It also happened to have a killer soundtrack.
03. SLC Punk
– It was a love song to a genre everyone knows, and a lifestyle that all those kids wanted to be a part of. In fact it was the idiomatic ‘poseur’ that had a surprisingly hard time being shaken from every ‘core kid’s lexicon, but eventually fell to the wayside once everyone realized that the ending was actually a pretty fair way for Stevo to end up.
Here’s the trailer for SLC Punk
01. Our Band Could Be Your Life
– Like American Hardcore, this was a history that forced your nose to the ground and acknowledged that thousands of youths before you actually had to scrounge, beg, and plead their way through the underground music scene, decades before the help of the internet made DIY as simple as a well-worded ‘Our Purpose’ on some dumb website. This was what DIY was all about, years before the craze took over in its latest, and lamest, iteration. It’s still one of the most inspiring books, while simultaneously making kids realize they will never work as hard as the bands that came before them.
02. Fight Club – Way more rebellious than anything any kid had read up to that point, the movie also happened to be cooler than pretty much anything else available at the time. It mocked and criticized consumer society, and managed to take this critique to its ultimate logical conclusion. The book itself was written with razor sharp acumen on the world around us, and seemed to take on a whole new dimension of what resistance could look like if only we would just bone up and start organizing.
03. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
– How sad was this book? That was a rhetorical question: the answer is, so sad. Hearing the protagonist’s diary entries in our own perspective acted as a neat literary trick that inspired a legion of Livejournals and kiddie bloggers. These same kids would go on to choose which musical genre they would eventually fall into, and the largest section, at least on the surface, seemed to be the scene.
There was a movie adaptation directed by the author of the book, trailer for which is below:
01. Jays Fitted
– Buddy, if you didn’t pack it in with the original World Series colours on a 59/50, you were missing out, eh?
02. Big Glasses
– Okay, Dallas Green made it popular, but these were a staple in the underground before Watch Out! brought it back harder than when Weezer was relevant (read: mid-90’s).
03. Slip-on Vans
– It went with everything and acted as a perfect staple for rebellious youth who really wanted to show they were about bucking the system but also being able to get that look from the mall.
Apparently you can skate in them now too. I think I can still do a kickflip.
04. Carabiner With Just a Fuckload of Keys
– First time you ever saw this, you probably asked yourself, “Where are they living that they need all those keys. They must live in a home of endless doors.” You then went out and got one yourself. Like rings in a tree trunk, you could determine who had the most scene cred by quickly surveying who had the most keys at any local hardcore show.
-Preferably black, like our souls, am I right, guys?
06. Black hair dye
– Dark brown? Not gonna cut it. Blonde? Nah uh. Ginger? Please. You needed to have that swoosh, just enough hair that it was starting to approach the shoulders, but not long enough to be considered metal.
That just about covers it for our inaugural Snapshot article. Watch this space for future articles on different scenes from different time periods to follow. We’ll leave you with one last peek at the pride of St. Catherines, Ontario.
Gang warfare used to be so creative.