Post-hardcore broke out as a movement in a huge way during the first decade of the 2000s while shaping how people view the genre today. Countless others had pioneered the genre throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but bands such as Glassjaw, At The Drive-In and Boysetsfire helped push it to new heights.
Take a look below at our picks for the top 50 songs to shape post-hardcore from 2000 to 2009.
At The Drive-In – “One Armed Scissor”
At The Drive-In helped define post-hardcore as a genre, and their last record before a series of breakups and reunions, Relationship Of Command, is one of the best albums of the decade. “One Armed Scissor” is a career-defining song for an act held up as one of the most influential of the past few decades and set the bar for bands going forward.
Boysetsfire – “Rookie”
Boysetsfire brought a much-needed political energy to the post-hardcore scene with After The Eulogy, standing out as a snapshot of the pissed-off noise the band brought in contrast to many of their peers. “Rookie” shows the importance of their sound and how it shaped post-hardcore for years to come.
Fugazi – “Oh”
Fugazi are the godfathers of post-hardcore, and although they only released one album in the ’00s, the band’s legacy carries throughout the genre today. The droning instrumentation on “Oh” is reminiscent of grunge at times while holding tight to a punk energy despite the song keeping a slow and steady pace throughout.
Thursday – “Understanding In A Car Crash”
Thursday are immensely important to the development of post-hardcore, and their sophomore album, Full Collapse, was a turning point for their legacy. “Understanding In A Car Crash” brings a perfectly packaged collection of emo and punk elements, which was a breath of fresh air for the developing scene at the time.
Finch – “What It Is To Burn”
Finch made an explosive entry into the post-hardcore scene with their emo-oriented take, and What It Is To Burn was a perfect album to lead off their career. The record’s title track is a time capsule of the melancholic sound bands were shooting out at the time, and it’s one of the landmark moments of the genre.
Glassjaw – “Mu Empire”
Glassjaw are indisputably one of the greatest post-hardcore acts of all time, and Worship And Tribute is flawless. From the Deftones-esque drum style to Daryl Palumbo’s stunning vocal capabilities, “Mu Empire” brings a kick of aggression unlike anything else in the scene at the time.
Mclusky – “Collagen Rock”
Through fuzzed-out punk riffs, Mclusky brought an old-school energy to the genre throughout their career. The band’s loud, off-kilter delivery calls back to the grunge scene while bringing out creative blasts of post-hardcore noise, and “Collagen Rock” shows why it was a mistake for people to not pay closer attention to the band when they were active.
The Bled – “You Know Who’s Seatbelt”
The Bled had a fantastic career, with Pass The Flask getting them off to a strong start through a solid hardcore foundation combined with just the right amount of melody. “You Know Who’s Seatbelt” had a catchy energy through upbeat riffing brought to heavier levels through modern metalcore breakdowns.
Boys Night Out – “I Got Punched In The Nose For Sticking My Face In Other People’s Business”
Blending emo sensibilities with hardcore and screamo elements, Boys Night Out captured everything you could want out of a post-hardcore band. From the singing chants to the kicked-up riffs and heavy breakdown, “I Got Punched In The Nose For Sticking My Face In Other People’s Business” shows them at their best and why they’re an important part of the genre’s history..
Cursive – “Art Is Hard”
The off-kilter indie energy Cursive brought to post-hardcore pushed new sounds into the genre with an experimental edge that many acts followed. The band brought psych rock, emo, punk and more together for a tightly packaged sound, and the thunderous stop-start action on “Art Is Hard” puts this all to action.
Story Of The Year – “In The Shadows”
Post-hardcore veterans Story Of The Year have a ton of clean material throughout their catalog, but they’ve also got some seriously heavy hardcore energy that would be right at home with bands such as Snapcase. “In The Shadows” and their debut album, Page Avenue, as a whole are great examples of how a post-hardcore band can soften the ultra-aggressive hardcore approach without losing heft.
Thrice – “Silhouette”
Thrice are one of the all-time greats in the genre, and the heavy downtempo stomp on “Silhouette” shows why they stood out so much. The song’s tones are heavier than a lot of post-hardcore, while the grooves in the riffs help bring out the best in the band.
The Blood Brothers – “Trash Flavored Trash”
The Blood Brothers brought a far-out approach to post-hardcore with unhinged vocals and wildly energetic punk riffs. Their entire discography is worth picking through, but “Trash Flavored Trash” is a standout with its old-school punk vibe in the shredding guitar riffs and off-kilter delivery.
Emery – “Walls”
Emery took Christian music in a heavier direction, and their debut album, The Weak’s End, is a monument to how that music was developing into a different scene. The punchy breakdowns and harsh screams on “Walls” coupled with jangly chord progressions was a fantastic mix, showing the band’s ability to balance both sides of themselves.
From First To Last – “Note To Self”
Sure, EDM has claimed Sonny Moore as their own, but true fans will never let go of him as the frontman of From First To Last. The band’s debut album saw them crafting tight and punchy tracks, with “Note To Self” being a standout in its melodies and heavy instrumentals.
Hawthorne Heights – “Niki FM”
Hawthorne Heights hit big with The Silence In Black And White, and “Niki FM” displayed their capabilities in writing tracks with a softer touch than many of their peers. The soft chord progressions build it into a strong song as vocalist JT Woodruff flexes his skills in belting out heartfelt lyrics.
Northstar – “Pollyanna”
Northstar never took off as one of the big bands coming out of the 2000s post-hardcore scene, but Pollyanna has become a cult classic since its release. The title track draws out powerful emotions through sincere lyrics and the typical dark yet catchy energy of the genre.
Senses Fail – “Bite To Break Skin”
Senses Fail’s debut album, Let It Enfold You, introduced some of the best post-hardcore songs of the 2000s, and “Bite To Break Skin” will always stand out as a huge moment for the genre. The use of empty space between the instruments in the verses coupled with the incredibly captivating chorus mark it as one of the best songs of the decade.
Underoath – “Reinventing Your Exit”
Prior to a harder push for straight-forward metalcore, Underoath made a monumental shift to softer sounds with the introduction of vocalist Spencer Chamberlain on They’re Only Chasing Safety. The album saw them bringing in alt-rock influences to their screamo sound, whereas “Reinventing Your Exit” displays their capabilities in crafting hooks while still holding on to some of the heavier pieces of their sound.
The Used – “All That I’ve Got”
The Used are kings of the 2000s emo scene, and In Love And Death had the perfect balance of great songwriting and an incredible sense of meaningful, hard-hitting lyrics. “All That I’ve Got” displays the band’s soft radio-rock side, with vocalist Bert McCracken lamenting the loss of his dog.
Chasing Victory – “Unrequited Love”
Chasing Victory stepped up their songwriting on I Call This Abandonment, and it shows in the heavier aspects of their sound on “Unrequited Love.” The band built themselves into something more than just another emo indie band with a hefty screamo influence on this record and created something that still holds up today.
Chiodos – “The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined”
Chiodos were hugely integral to post-hardcore in the 2000s, with Craig Owens’ vocal style still being emulated by new artists today. Their debut album, All’s Well That Ends Well, kicked off a career that pushed them to be one of the best bands in the scene throughout their decade-and-a-half together, while “The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined” remains one of their top tracks of all time.
Circa Survive – “Act Appalled”
Floating in and out of both post-hardcore and indie, Circa Survive capture the sad vibes of bands such as Deftones and Nirvana in their own way. Their approach to building simple yet hooky songs comes out perfectly on “Act Appalled,” setting the band up for the lengthy string of success they’ve enjoyed since their debut.
The Fall Of Troy – “I Just Got This Symphony Goin’”
The dizzying technicality of the Fall Of Troy is a lot to take in, but the band have one of the wildest takes on post-hardcore. The highly complex riffing and screamo elements on “I Just Got This Symphony Goin’” are jarring but truly unique, not only to the scene at the time but also rivaling anything mathcore and math-rock bands are putting out today.
Funeral For a Friend – “Roses For The Dead”
Funeral For A Friend have been a huge influence on post-hardcore in the U.K., and their sophomore album, Hours, proved they were capable of keeping their momentum going after a massive debut. “Roses For The Dead” brings incredibly catchy riffs to the table while being heavy enough to avoid throwing in metal-leaning instrumentation.
letlive. – “Stigmother”
Although the band really started soaring in the 2010s, letlive.’s debut record showed the promise they had as a band in creating something new for post-hardcore. The band’s wild energy is heavily present, even on their first record, while “Stigmother” introduced some of the off-kilter takes on post-hardcore the band would make their standard, from the vocal delivery to the guitar riffs.
Silverstein – “Smile In Your Sleep”
Silverstein got off to a great start, with their early releases matching the quality the band are putting out today, but Discovering The Waterfront has some of the best songs of their career. “Smile In Your Sleep” is a staple of their discography, and the mix of strong vocal melodies, harsh screams and metal-tinged riffing bring out the track’s clean moments, which makes every moment perfect.
AFI – “Miss Murder”
AFI have done a lot for the post-hardcore scene as a whole, but cracking into the mainstream with “Miss Murder” is a massive achievement. The song had all of the makings of a radio hit, with a massive chorus, driving bassline and simplistic nature to capture the attention of people in and out of the know on bands playing this style of music.
Alesana – “Ambrosia”
From the skittering guitars to the rapid-fire stop-start riffs throughout, Alesana captured magic with “Ambrosia.” The track’s sudden downtempo shift helps make it climb to new heights, while the mix of screamo and pop-oriented vocals carry it along.
Alexisonfire – “This Could Be Anywhere In The World”
From the overblown drum intro to the soaring chorus melodies, Alexisonfire struck gold with “This Could Be Anywhere In The World.” The track will live on as one of the biggest moments of the band’s career while standing out among a pack of nearly perfect songs on Crisis.
A Static Lullaby – “The Art Of Sharing Lovers”
A Static Lullaby do a fantastic job of capturing metalcore’s heavy tendencies while staying rooted in post-hardcore through clean melodies and classic punk riffs. “The Art Of Sharing Lovers” puts this to the test with harsh screaming vocals, selective use of heavier guitar moments and punk riffs for the strongest song off arguably their best release.
Escape The Fate – “Not Good Enough For Truth In Cliche”
Escape The Fate have had a shaky history with lineup and stylistic changes, but their influence in the post-hardcore scene is undeniable. “Not Good Enough For Truth In Cliche” saw the band bringing strong choruses built to sing along to with upbeat punk riffs.
mewithoutYou – “In A Sweater Poorly Knit”
The calming, atmospheric vibe at the beginning of mewithoutYou’s “In A Sweater Poorly Knit” is there to suck listeners in before the band start to build layer after layer of sounds, showing their capabilities in bringing out punk energy without ever tapping into harsh noise.
Moneen – “Don’t Ever Tell Locke What He Can’t Do”
Canadian post-hardcore OGs Moneen were a massive part of the scene up north, and The Red Tree is the band’s magnum opus. The record brings out raw emotions through stripped-down vocals while the band tear through heavy instrumentation. “Don’t Ever Tell Locke What He Can’t Do” spotlights their influence on mid-2000s alternative music.
Saosin – “Voices”
Saosin’s cohesive mix of screamo and alt-rock elements set them apart as a core contributor to the development of post-hardcore in the early 2000s, and “Voices” puts their strong songwriting skills in the limelight. The song is a full-bore blast of melody that never lets up while driving home the fact that they’ve got hooks for days.
As Cities Burn – “This Is It, This Is It”
As Cities Burn brought an experimental, artsy approach to post-hardcore and really stepped up their game with Come Now Sleep by incorporating elements of prog and post-rock. “This Is It, This Is It” sees them flexing noisy harmonies with atmospheric melodies to deliver a back-and-forth between harsh and soft, similar to Moneen and other contemporaries.
Dance Gavin Dance – “Lemon Meringue Tie”
Dance Gavin Dance brought a whole other level of technicality to post-hardcore, helping meld the math-rock scene with the genre. Downtown Battle Mountain, and “Lemon Meringue Tie” in particular, were monumental in combining this technicality with raw hardcore aggression while keeping sweet melodies at the forefront of the music.
Four Year Strong – “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die”
Four Year Strong’s easycore approach to writing lands them with a happier sound that’s still rooted in heavy elements. “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” is both fun and catchy, with an anthemic feel that fans instantly latched onto.
Pierce The Veil – “Currents Convulsive”
After going through a name change, Pierce The Veil’s debut record under their new name kicked off their takeover of post-hardcore. “Currents Convulsive” put the Fuentes brothers’ capabilities as a writing duo on full display, with the track highlighting their many talents in not only instrumentation but also vocal skills and a sense of song structure.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids – “Faces”
Where Scary Kids Scaring Kids followed more of a formulaic approach on The City Sleeps In Flames, they perfected everything wrong with that record on their self-titled, cementing them as one of the most notable bands of the decade. “Faces” brings out the band’s best in vocal delivery and instrumentation with an addictively upbeat energy and powerful chorus.
A Skylit Drive – “All It Takes For Your Dreams To Come True”
A Skylit Drive came out of the gate with a killer debut in Wires…And The Concept Of Breathing, and “All It Takes For Your Dreams To Come True” is a testament to how skilled they were at writing songs right away. The track captures fun and catchy melodies spliced between heavy breakdowns, nailing everything good about post-hardcore in a tightly packed song.
Defeater – “Blessed Burden”
Defeater took the idea of a concept record to a whole other level by carrying a single story throughout every release, and their debut had enough substance right away to make this possible. The heavy yet melodic instrumentation on “Blessed Burden” leans close to hardcore while adding a melancholic energy that brings listeners back time and again.
Emarosa – “Set It Off Like Napalm”
Although Emarosa have gone through some drastic sound changes throughout their career, Relativity is still a post-hardcore gem. “Set It Off Like Napalm” helped their debut album stand out as a worthwhile record in a year with countless other releases through their infectious songwriting.
Eyes Set To Kill – “Darling”
Eyes Set To Kill bring a hardcore energy more fitting for the metalcore scene in a lot of their material, but their use of melody throughout dense breakdowns sets them up for success. “Darling” kicks off with a nasty beatdown before switching gears to sugar-sweet singing and clean guitar work.
La Dispute – “New Storms For Older Lovers”
La Dispute came right for people’s throats with their debut album, and “New Storms For Older Lovers” is a perfect show of how they managed to bring in atmospheric melodies with hardcore elements. The track does a great job of walking back and forth between abrasive energy and calming melodies, with a harsh dose of punk injected in every moment.
Touché Amoré – “Honest Sleep”
Post-hardcore doesn’t often find ways to make blast beats work, but Touché Amoré’s “Honest Sleep” proves it’s possible. First appearing on their self-titled EP, the song takes a hard approach early on before switching into atmospheric cleans in the latter half, showing the promising skills the band brought forth into the next decade.
A Day To Remember – “The Downfall Of Us All”
A Day To Remember defined themselves with Homesick, and “The Downfall Of Us All” was the perfect way to kick things off on the record. The track straddles melodic and heavy lines through anthemic choruses and dense breakdowns with punk sensibilities carried throughout.
Closure In Moscow – “A Night At The Spleen”
Closure In Moscow bring an experimental energy rarely seen in hardcore, coming off as a weirdly upbeat band influenced by prog bands such as Rush or the Mars Volta as much as they are by someone such as Chiodos. “A Night At The Spleen” introduces some wild guitar solos and high-pitched proggy vocal melodies while staying rooted in the 2000s post-hardcore sound.
Title Fight – “Symmetry”
Before Title Fight even released their debut album, the band were making waves in the post-hardcore scene. Take “Symmetry” as an example of the incredible things they would go on to do in the following decade as the song displayed the band’s sense of creating tight, punchy hooks with melody as well as harsh tones.
VersaEmerge – “Past Praying For”
Although they’ve vastly changed their sound since shifting their name to Versa, VersaEmerge were a perfect snapshot of emo and post-hardcore in the middle of the decade. The band’s soaring vocals and kicked-up guitar riffs were poppy yet punk while bringing in experimental alt-rock for a radio-ready sound.