Relapse Records celebrates it’s 25th birthday this year. The hugely influential underground metal label – based in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania – have been at the forefront of the best in brutal and innovative heavy music. Here we present their 10 best full-length releases…
**NEUROSIS – Through Silver In Blood (1996) **Having worked their way up through the crust punk scene in the late 80’s, Neurosis began to evolve into a far more dangerous beast during the following decade. The album Through Silver In Blood finally captured the nightmarish hell inside their collective head in all it’s savage glory.
**THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – Calculating Infinity (1999) **This New Jersey band have evolved so much during the course of their career that it’s almost impossible to fully comprehend just how exciting Calculating Infinity was upon its release in 1999. But, despite everything else this band have achieved, this swirling, untamed monster of broken riffs and impenetrable screaming remains their finest moment.
**MASTODON – Leviathan (2004) **Though purists will point to their previous release Remission as the Georgia quartet’s finest early work, Leviathan makes our list due to its vast artistic scope. It was also the album that spawned the majestic Blood And Thunder and took the band to a much wider audience.
**NASUM – Human 2.0 (1999) **The grindcore genre had progressed as much as you could reasonably expect during the 15 years since Napalm Death emerged from the West Midlands hardcore scene. Then this Örebro mob rewrote the rulebook with their second studio album. The follow-up to 1998’s Inhale/Exhale featured 25 tracks and added more groove and a little bounce to the genre’s brutal template.
**PIG DESTROYER – Prowler In The Yard (2001) **Two years after Nasum’s Human 2.0 was released, Virginia’s Pig Destroyer arrived with this 2001 effort and completed upped the ante on grind – adding a narrative, characters and, crucially, a whole new set of sickening sounds.
NILE – Black Seeds Of Vengeance (2000) Towards the turn of the millennium, death metal was in a fairly stagnant state until Nile arrived. Schooled in Egyptian mythology and the works of HP Lovecraft, the South Carolinians’ riffs were mind-bendingly technical and their second album – the follow-up to 1998’s Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka – breathed new life into the genre.
**TODAY IS THE DAY – Temple Of The Morning Star (1997) **Much like Neurosis in the mid-90s, Texans Today Is The Day, and more specifically their frontman Steve Austin – no, not the wrestler or The Six Million Dollar Man – were exploring the deepest, darkest depths of their soul. Listen to the monstrously heavy and genuinely disturbing The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself for proof.
**BARONESS – The Red Album (2007) **This Georgia-based heavy prog band have evolved a great deal since this, their debut album. But for all the inroads they’ve made both artistically and commercially, it’s hard to find a bolder collection of songs than on this release.
DYING FETUS – Destroy The Opposition (2000) These Maryland death metal titans have enjoyed a consistent output since forming in the early ‘90s, but their Relapse debut is a career highlight. Much like Nile, they were a shining beacon in a sea of mediocrity during the early millennium death metal scene. Not familiar with the band? Then check out Pissing In The Mainstream for starters.
**BURNT BY THE SUN – Soundtrack To The Personal Revolution (2002) **New Jersey quintet Burnt By The Sun’s debut mixed metallic hardcore and grindcore together into one ultra-aggressive and furious package. Drummer Dave Witte, who has also worked with Melt-Banana, Discordance Axis and Phantomsmasher.
For more information on Relapse, visit their official site.