Weekend List: Relapse at 25

Lists to check out over the weekend

Welcome to a new feature, where every weekend I’ll be uploading a list of albums from a publication or website, which I hope leads to some interesting discussions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last decade and a half, it’s that us metal fans love a good list.

Relapse Records has been one of my favourite record labels for heavy music ever since I can remember. In particular, my favourite independent record store in Glasgow used to have an excellent selection of heavy music on one side of the shop, and within that they at one point had a section devoted entirely to Relapse releases. I remember fantasising about owning all of the CDs not just in that section, but in the whole Relapse catalogue, some day. And I gave it a good crack back when I spent all of the money I had (and didn’t have) on buying records – the very concept of Spotify would have actually been somewhat incomprehensible in those innocent days of the early 2000s.

This weekend’s (multiple but short) lists come from the latest issue, #257, of Terrorizer magazine, for which I have a digital subscription that I certainly get my money’s worth for £2.99 an issue. This most recent issue has an excellent extended feature on Relapse Records as they celebrate 25 years of putting out some of the best music around, and Terrorizer have put three lists together (The Old School, The New Breed, and 10 Forgotten Classics) to highlight some of the gems from one of the most rich and varied catalogues imaginable. I’ve put these together in Spotify playlists to accompany this post.

The Old School

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  1. Incantation – “Devoured Death” from Onward to Golgotha (1992)
  2. Disembowelment – “The Tree of Life & Death” from Transcendence into the Peripheral (1993)
  3. Amorphis – “Black Winter Day” from Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994)
  4. Neurosis – “Aeon” from Through Silver in Blood (1996)
  5. Brutal Truth – “Blind Leading the Blind” from Kill Trend Suicide (1996)
  6. Today Is the Day – “The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself” from Temple of the Morning Star (1997)
  7. Nasum – “The Masked Face” from Inhale/Exhale (1998)
  8. The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Abe the Cop” from Under the Running Board (1998)
  9. Nile – “Smashing the Antiu” from Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998)
  10. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – “Die and Get the Fuck out of the Way” from Honky Reduction (1998)

The New Breed

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  1. Inter Arma – “The Long Road Home” from Sky Burial (2013)
  2. Windhand – “Feral Bones” from Soma (2013)
  3. True Widow – “Creeper” from Circumambulation (2013)
  4. Pyrrhon – “White Flag” from The Mother of Virtues (2014)
  5. Nothing – “Dig” from Guilty of Everything (2014)
  6. Mortals – “Devilspell” from Cursed to See the Future (2014)
  7. Myrkur – “Ravnens Banner” from Myrkur (2014)
  8. Usnea – “Lying in Ruin” from Random Cosmic Violence (2014)
  9. Anatomy of Habit – “Radiate and Recede” from Ciphers + Axioms (2014)
  10. Primitive Man – “Loathe” from Home Is Where the Hatred Is (2015)

10 Forgotten Classics

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  1. Anal Cunt – Morbid Florist (1993)
  2. Exit-13 – Ethos Musick (1994) [on Spotify as part of the compilation High Life!]
  3. Mindrot – Dawning (1995)
  4. Abscess – Seminal Vampires and Maggot Men (1996)
  5. Nightstick – Blotter (1997) [not available on Spotify]
  6. Morgion – Among Majestic Ruin (1997) [not available on Spotify]
  7. Soilent Green – Sewn Mouth Secrets (1998)
  8. Burst – Origo (2005)
  9. Buried Inside – Spoils of Failure (2009)
  10. Cripple Bastards – Nero in Metastasi (2014)

Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Royal Thunder Being Singled Out

A look ahead to the release of Royal Thunder’s new album, Crooked Doors

The way that Relapse Records are preparing for the release of the new Royal Thunder album, Crooked Doors, ahead of its UK release on 6 April, is a method I saw them use to great effect for the new Torche album, Restarter, which was out in late February, and is a definite contender for many end-of-year lists already. In the weeks building up to the release, they are uploading individual singles to Spotify, to the extent that listeners will be able to check out most of the album ahead of time.

It’s a great tactic for a new release for two reasons:

  1. It builds anticipation. Fans are always eager to hear new music from their favourite bands, so this will help to please and/or appease them, and I’m sure a number will be tempted to preorder some merchandise (T-shirt, vinyl, etc.) when they see the band and label going to this effort to share new tracks in advance. But it also puts more of the band’s music out there for those casual listeners who might not yet have discovered the band. Using the full album artwork for these singles (i.e. not unique artwork for each single) means that when the album is released, and these advance singles redundant and therefore removed, casual listeners will recognise the artwork that they stumbled upon before, and hopefully this will encourage them to listen again. And with Spotify, every listen counts (and generates income for the band).
  2. It lessens the temptation of piracy. The fact that the majority of the tracks are available to listen to, above board, and all in the one place would surely lessen the desire to download a leaked copy of the album with the intention of hearing it ahead of time. Why go to the effort (and it is quite an effort nowadays) when the band and the label are showing a commitment to a legitimate music service like Spotify in an attempt to engage their fans with new music ahead of release? If less people download the leaked album before it is officially out, then less people are likely to have a dodgy downloaded copy on their hard drives for years to come, since when the album is out, the drive to download and be ‘the first to hear it’ will have drastically subsided.

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Incidentally, aside from this being a clever marketing campaign for Crooked Doors, if there are people out there who haven’t heard Royal Thunder yet, I’d recommend listening to these songs below, and then heading back to CVI, their debut full-length album from 2012, in anticipation for what is sure to be an absolute highlight of the year in terms of heavy music.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live twice, once supporting Baroness on the Yellow & Green tour in Glasgow, and once at Hellfest on The Valley stage. Both times, they were absolutely incredible, so if you also get the chance to see them on this touring cycle, don’t miss out.

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Album of the Day: Fuck the Facts – Die Miserable

A new heavy album every day

I think the penny may have dropped on what I’d like to make one of the most prominent features on the blog going into the future. With the amount of music I listen to every day, I’ve been thinking of the best way to post regularly to the blog in a way that incorporates my two main interests: heavy music and Spotify. And some more advice I’ve picked up recently: don’t go on and on, but keep it succinct. So I figured, what could be better than a few words about an album I’ve listened to that day, every day, hopefully helping any readers to discover, or indeed rediscover, some excellent heavy albums?

So, welcome to the first of many (and more importantly daily) Album of the Day posts. After this lengthy introductory post, I’ll limit each subsequent post to some basic info, a brief description of why I’m picking it, and some Spotify URI info to allow you to start listening straight from here. I hope you enjoy the albums I share; it’d be great to hear from anyone that’s getting something out of these posts.

  • Artist: Fuck the Facts
  • Album: Die Miserable
  • Year: 2011
  • Label: Relapse
  • Genre: Grindcore

A few fought and brought down barriers towards advancement, encouraged civil disobedience. while the rest, with nothing to look forward to, blotted out their feelings with tranquilizers.

It’s been a few years since Ontario’s Fuck the Facts dropped this monolithic slab of grindcore on the world via Relapse, and it’s lost none of its relevance or urgency since then. For me, the spotlight with this band is always on their incredible vocalist, Mel Mongeon, since I think her vocal chords are what lift what might have been an otherwise great grindcore band to the rarer prospect of an amazing grindcore band. The levels of experimentalism in the music are also, to say the least, a welcome change of pace (literally) from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style that so many of the genre’s more mediocre bands tend to follow. If Die Miserable passed you by on release, now’s the time to rectify that. I’d be surprised if it didn’t grab you at some stage with its masterfully crafted brand of 21st century grindcore for the beaten down. Essential stuff.