Screamo is a genre of music which predominantly evolved from hardcore punk, among other genres, in the early 1990s. The term "screamo" was initially applied to a more aggressive offshoot of emo that developed in San Diego in 1991, which used short, chaotically executed songs which grafted "spastic intensity to willfully experimental dissonance and dynamics, often with a political message. In the early 2000s, the genre name began to describe a different, slower and less dissonant style that borrowed from alternative rock. The term's application to the "second wave" is controversial among fans and practitioners of the earlier style. One musician observed that the term "has been kind of tainted in a way, especially in the States".
The term "screamo" was initially applied to a music genre that began in 1991, in San Diego, at the Ché Café, with groups such as Heroin, Antioch Arrow, Angel Hair, Mohinder, Swing Kids, and Portraits of Past. These groups were influenced by Washington D.C. post-hardcore (particularly Fugazi and Nation of Ulysses), straight edge, the Chicago group Articles of Faith, and post-punk, such as Joy Division and Bauhaus. Gravity Records and Ebullition Records released this more chaotic and expressive style of hardcore. The scene was also notable for its distinctive fashion sense, inspired by mod culture. The Crimson Curse, The Locust, Some Girls, and The Rapture. The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower incorporated the style into punk jazz. Much as emo was, the term "screamo" was always controversial in the scene.
The innovations of the San Diego scene eventually spread elsewhere, such as to the Seattle group The Blood Brothers. East Coast groups, such as Orchid,Circle Takes the Square, pg. 99, Hot Cross, Saetia, and Ampere were influential in the continual development and reinvention of the style. These groups tended to be much closer to grindcore than their forebears. Powerviolence-inflected screamo is sometimes referred to as emo violence, a name half-jokingly proposed by In/Humanity.
The original screamo style is still practiced by a variety of groups, particularly in Europe. Amanda Woodward, Louise Cyphre, La Quiete and Raein are prime examples of the European scene. These bands often release their records themselves or through independent labels, often recording splits with other bands from the same scene.
Although the contemporary DIY screamo scene is more prevalent in Europe, there are still many active bands in America. Examples include Comadre from Redwood City, Off Minor (ex-Saetia) from New York, Spires from Oakland and ...Who Calls So Loud (ex-Funeral Diner) from San Francisco.