This is some fast, noisy rock music that’s clearly too damn melodic to be properly considered hardcore, but arguably not musically diverse enough to properly be considered part of the emerging genre of post hardcore. (Consider Minutemen or Husker Du, who were both doing way weirder things musically at this very moment.)
I don’t know if this resonates to you but the way I personally contrast emo from post hardcore is that emo is less musically idiosyncratic than post hardcore. Like if we’re just talking about hardcore-influenced rock music with more melodies, as we are here, I’m inclined to call it emo, even if what I think of as emo (from the ’90s) does not sound anything like this. (Also, some post hardcore is just so damn noisy that I’m not sure “emo” really captures it. But what I’m thinking of is closer to noise rock.)
This isn’t arty music at all. It’s “rock and roll” in the broadest sense of the term, but without the roll of course. It’s loud, energetic, passionate rock music. Sure, it’s clearly influenced by hardcore – some songs sound like hardcore to me – but it’s also just way too melodically accessible to feel like hardcore is appropriate. (That’s a relative thing. This isn’t super catchy music compared to, say, pop.)
In some ways it does feel like the missing link between Minor Threat and Fugazi, only the musical ambition of Fugazi is mostly missing.
And because the artiness is mostly absent, it’s not really my thing. I like my post hardcore arty, which is why I prefer the weirder stuff to basically all emo.
But this is still one of those fundamental building blocks necessary for the great transition from punk and hardcore to alternative. The ’80s were a wonderful time musically if you only know where to look.