With the new multi-layered, visceral album “Derramar | Querer | Borrar” already acclaimed by both critics and fans of emotional hardcore, NJ screamo band MASSA NERA are continuing the generous rollout with a rundown of the albums that have most influenced their latest craft. We’re honored to once again dive behind the scenes of their work and give you their special picks, interesting commentary, and a special icing on the cake – their top screamo albums of the year!
“A record of scorching, rough, and authentic rage, the new album finds Massa Nera being harsh, as much as they sound fascinating and familiar. Derramar | Querer | Borrar is screamo at its most creative and poised.” – destroy / exist
“Screamo is a strange concept. It was birthed under different names, then bastardized, it learned to walk, and has since been the lead of my life. It’s such a special thing that when people and bands really embrace the concept it lights up another bulb in the basement that is screamo history. New Jersey quartet MASSA NERA have fully embraced this for years, to the point of making a cocoon and transforming themselves into something new.” – Zegema Beach Records
“Derramar | Querrer | Borrar is a brilliant piece of screamo. While some legendary bands have returned this year, maturing away from their screamo roots or having become diluted in giving their two cents (while Relapse Records make a few dollars), Massa Nera have laid down a marker that doesn’t just challenge their current output, but the classics they released in decades past as well.” – Everything Is Noise
“Their brand of post-rock infused screamo isn’t reinventing the genre, but it’s so well done that it doesn’t have to. Massa Nera empowers the powerless and are essential for the new age of screamo.” – rateyourmusic
“They offer up pure screamo fury, towering post-rocky sections, grand string arrangements, and a hypnotic electronic interlude that breaks up all the chaos. It’s a remarkable album; some moments fire you up with Massa Nera’s raw, unfiltered anger, and other moments are simply breathtaking.” – Brooklynvegan
“MASSA NERA never let their ambitions run away from them and have instead created a work that pushes against what one might expect from screamo while also satisfying die-hard fans of the genre with all the emotion and essentials you could ever possibly ask for.” – Distorted Sound
Massa Nera is: Aeryn Jade Santillan – Bass & Vocals , Allen Núñez – Guitar & Vocals, Christopher Rodriguez – Guitar & Vocals, Mark Boulanger – Drums & Vocals.
Top influences behind “Derramar | Querer | Borrar” by MASSA NERA
Makoto Matsushita – First Light
I got really into City Pop after we did our South East Asia/ Japan tour, and this record has since become one of my all-time favs. The bass on this album is a big influence for me – it shreds, does melodic lines, and knows exactly when to pull back and support the other instruments.
Circle Takes the Square – Decompositions
This is probably my favorite long-form screamo record. When I first joined MN, I found myself returning to this record as inspiration for song structure and flow. I’ve always loved the dual vocals in CTTS too. And also just Kathleen in general rules – absolutely killer bassist and vocalist. I would cry if we ever got to play with CTTS.
Thursday – Full Collapse
This is my favorite record of all time. Geoff Rickley’s lyrics have always been a big influence on how I approach writing my own lyrics and it’s no exception for this record.
Capsule – No Ghost
This band does the “repeat without repeating” thing really, really well. Love how they can extend and contract ideas while maintaining fluidity and aggression. This record was in the back of my mind when we were writing the “Tu no eres mejor” section in “Hipócrita.”
Closer – All This Will Be
Another big lyrical influence for me. I really love Ryann’s writing and vocals in both Closer and Sonagi. The way the band plays off each other’s parts is really siq too. I listened to the fuck out of this record haha. Def an all-time favorite.
Circa Survive – Juturna
The guitar work on this record is so good in my opinion. The way both guitarists make such full sounding parts when they do a lot of lead stuff is so impressive to me and pushed me to try new things like that in my playing.
System Of A Down – S/T
SOAD in general changed the way I think. Their lyrics always really stood out to me, and I would find myself just reading them and researching things I didn’t know about. I would not be the person I am ideology-wise if it weren’t for this band.
Gaza – I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die
Now this record really encapsulates what I believe to be one of the heaviest sounds I’ve heard. The timings they use, the vocal styles, and the lyrics all come together incredibly and really pushed me as both a listener of music and musician. When I write heavy riffs Gaza is 100% one of the biggest influences on that.
City Of Caterpillar – S/T
CoC is such a diverse band and the way they blend beautiful melodies, sassy vocals, and slapping riffs really shaped how I write songs. Their song structures are so great and I find myself coming back to this record often and always enjoying it. Their new album also doesn’t miss a beat in my opinion and really has become one of my favorite albums in general.
Kidcrash – Jokes
This record goes on the list of top three punk/screamo releases of all time for me. Their guitar work is beautifully blended, the energy is dynamic and powerful, and the relationship the bass and drums have, to me, is among one of the best to ever do it in the genre. The way this record makes me feel is different.
Favorite Track: A Conduit Rather Than a Vault
Burial – Untrue
In context to LP2, Burial’s Untrue held a lot of the emotional, conceptual, and artistic energy to me. Around the time I was getting into hauntology and Brutalism, I was also playing a lot of Metal Gear Solid, which if you know (I’m sure a lot of you would know) is the perfect game to play while listening to Burial, lol. Whenever I think of a record that is deserving and worthy of its fame, I think of this one.
Favorite track: Homeless
Oathbreaker – Rheia
I remember first listening to Eros|Anteros when it was released and instantly fell in love with the way they made such heavy, unforgiving music so artistic and beautiful without it being forced. The riffs are great and pushed me to write in that style, even if only for like a moment or two.
Favorite track: Second Son of R.
Malady – S/T
Probably my favorite project of the Pg.99/Virginia punk offsprings (next to Pygmy Lush). The songwriting is fun, thoughtful and energetic, the lyrical content and delivery is entertaining and at times relatable, and it has my favorite Chris Taylor’s vocal performance of all the projects he’s been associated with. A song like “April 7th” was my attempt at writing something closely related to what they do. Probably didn’t do it any justice, but it was a lot of fun writing in a playful, punkier way.
Favorite track: Heroine
City Of Caterpillar – S/T
This record is my all-time favorite screamo/punk/post-rock/whatever project. Grade A song structures with incredible writing. One of my favorite things about this record is the haunted feeling that washes over me during their post-rock sections. Mystic Sisters is on my AOTY list (I don’t really have one.. but whatever, lol) and I’m just happy that there’s another great record to listen to. The art direction too is something you can’t ignore; it’s curated perfectly and encapsulates the vibe of the record in the best way it could.
Favorite Tracks: Maybe They’ll Gnaw Right Through, Driving Spain up a Wall, An Innocent Face (I couldn’t just choose one lol)
The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
I was at work, listening to Stars of the Lid on YouTube (most likely …And Their Refinement of the Decline) when I noticed this record in the sidebar. Everything about it intrigued me; the wonderfully mysterious art, the sad, evocative title, and the artist’s name (a reference to The Shining). Curious, I started listening and was immediately captivated. Much has been made of The Caretaker’s ability to evoke the phenomena of dementia through music. That talent is certainly on display here. This album is like a radio feed from a deeply buried or otherwise long-forgotten source, struggling to make itself heard amidst the static and decay. I was reminded of albums such as William Basinki’s Disintegration Loops, though in this case it felt like the decay being chronicled was of a more internal sort.
After listening for a few minutes, I looked up The Caretaker and saw his music listed as “hauntology.” Thus began a journey that led to my immersion in the writings (and YouTube lectures) of Mark Fisher, various quasi-hauntological musical artists (Oneohtrix Point Never, 2 8 1 4, To Rococo Rot, etc.), films such as Beyond the Black Rainbow and Inland Empire, “Gemini Home Entertainment,” and a veritable slew of analysis and criticism. This immersion strongly influenced my contributions to the album’s visual identity, as well as my lyrical contributions and (I think) the overall mood of the piece.
The Focus Group – Hey Let Loose Your Love
Of all the “hauntology” records I jammed that weren’t released by The Caretaker, this is my favorite. Like Empty Bliss, this record resists the “retro” label by communing with the past (in this case, via sources such as library music and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s 60’s-70’s output) in a rather complex, interrogatory manner. Hauntology isn’t about reproducing the past, or retreating to it. Rather, I think it’s about examining ideas like the illusion of the “past” as a neat, discrete time period (something that exists “back then”), or the unfulfilled dreams of the future that remain contained within the past.
What’s more, this skepticism towards the idea of linear time should get us thinking about the ways in which the future can still be shaped. In other words, the “weird England” conjured by Hey Let Loose Your Love isn’t an examination of some actually-existing past. It’s more like an act of invention that takes the raw material of the real, imagined, and undead past and uses it to conjure something that’s ultimately pretty modern and forward-thinking. These ideas are mostly present in the lyrical and visual elements of the album, though they did inform some of our musical decisions as well.
On another, less conceptual note, I love the way both Let Loose and Empty Bliss create fully-formed sonic worlds. The idea that a work of art can become a world unto itself was pretty important to us. With our new album, we wanted to create a “proper album,” something cohesive and fleshed-out, rather than a collection of songs.
The KLF – Chill Out
I’ve always found Chill Out to be a remarkably well-realized work that successfully creates a sonic world of its own (there’s a theme here haha). It’s also, I think, one of the ultimate nighttime albums (right alongside Bark Psychosis’ Hex, which is my favorite album of all time). Ever since I was a child, I’ve found great solace in the night. I’ve always viewed it as a time of great freedom, during which we can be our most raw, vulnerable, authentic selves. It’s a time of turmoil and discovery, self-annihilation and rebirth, romance and heartache. Unsurprisingly, then, I tend to do most of my reading and writing after the sun sets, which definitely impacted my relationship with Derramar | Querer | Borrar. Early on, I viewed it as a “night album,” and though I can’t speak for my bandmates, I can definitely say that some of my choices and preferences with respect to the art were made with this in mind (e.g.: if there’s a photo in the booklet that was taken at night, there’s a good chance I was the one who proposed it). Chill Out was both in my thoughts and in my playlist while I was making some of those choices.
Zeta – Mochima
My favorite screamo-adjacent record of 2019 (well, tied with Joliette’s Luz Devora). This album achieves a degree of flow and cohesion that’s pretty remarkable when you consider the broad palette of influences and sounds from which Zeta are drawing. For me, Mochima was a reminder that a) there are no rules in music, only self-imposed limits, even within the realm of loud rock music, and b) it’s possible to make a complex, genre-bending album that still feels natural, an album that can go in a hundred different directions without becoming a mess. As we were already pretty deep into the writing process of Derramar | Querer | Borrar when Mochima came out (not so deep that most of the songs were done, but deep enough that we’d already pinpointed a lot of the ideas that would inform the record), it was validating to see another band pull off the sort of album that we were hoping to make.
Joliette – Luz Devora
Given that my bandmates have chosen records like City of Caterpillar – Self-Titled, Kidcrash – Jokes, Burial – Untrue (and in the interest of avoiding artists like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Thursday, Rachel’s, etc. that pretty much influence all the music I make), I’m going to have to go with Luz Devora as my last choice. For starters, it’s an incredible achievement, as well as a reminder that screamo/hardcore records can spread their wings and exceed runtimes of 40+ minutes without becoming boring. More importantly, though, Azael Gonzalez was probably the single biggest influence I had as a drummer around this time. He’s an absolute monster behind the kit, both technically and creatively.
In fact, after witnessing Joliette deliver a positively mind-altering performance at ZBR 2019, I took online lessons with him for about a year, which (in my opinion) helped improve my playing a great deal (Azael, if you’re reading this, I’ll hit you up again soon!) Azael’s instruction motivated me to work on my foot technique (particularly my single-pedal technique), study linear drumming in greater detail, and improve my limb independence through the study of Brazilian and Son Cubano rhythms. I still have a long way to go before my playing is even half as good as his, but thanks to him, I was able to execute my ideas with more confidence, precision, and dexterity.
Favorite Screamo Albums of 2022:
Aeryn: Blind Girls – The Weight of Everything
Allen & Chris: City of Caterpillar – Mystic Sisters
Mark: Gillian Carter – Salvation Through Misery