Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’All

bandcamp-fans-given-artists-100-million

Fans have now given artists $100 million USD through Bandcamp.

Fans give artists $3.5 million every month on the site, and buy more than 16,000 records a day, which works out to about one every five seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (there goes one now). In terms of units sold, Bandcamp’s share of the record industry is roughly the same as BMW’s share of the auto market back when Steve Jobs said this. Furthermore, sales on Bandcamp are up 30% in the last 12 months, at a time when the rest of the industry is down 11%. We see this growth as proof that if you give fans easy ways to directly support the artists they love, they’ll take you up on it every time. So a big, big thanks to everyone supporting artists on Bandcamp, and to all the artists and labels posting great music too. We wouldn’t be here without you.

P.S. We worked out of the public library for the first four years of Bandcamp’s existence. In May 2009, fans gave artists $12,823.12. It was the first time we’d crossed the $10K-in-a-month mark. I vividly recall sitting across from Kevin and Shawn,* being quietly stoked.

lib

*Not pictured: me behind camera, Joe and Neal on irc.

Mello Mello Right On

Mello Music Group

“I like history, I like liner notes. Musically I don’t want to just hear a hot record. I wanna see the progression of artists. Old records were made that way. What if I could help these seeds grow because I think they have potential?”

The old proverb goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Michael Tolle didn’t know how to make lemonade, but that didn’t stop him. The economy crashed in late 2006 just as he was about to graduate. With an English degree in hand, he set up a teaching company. He explains, “I didn’t know what to do with the money I was making, and stocks and real estate weren’t an option.” Tolle concluded that he should put his money into music, which is where his heart really was. For a few years he’d been making mixes of some of his favorite hip-hop tunes to play late at night. He says, “I wanted to highlight stuff I listened to — local artists. I imagined I was a DJ.” He called the compilations Mello Mixes. One night he sat in the car with the woman who would become his wife, debating ways to get deeper into the music business, even though he didn’t know much about it. He thought that maybe he could buy some beats, make some music, and support artists he felt deserved more. “It all started with buying one Kev Brown beat,” he recalls. He also remembers thinking, “are we really going to spend a thousand dollars on a beat?!”

Oddisee

Founded in 2007, the Mello Music Group is now one of the healthiest independent hip-hop labels around. It’s a diverse musical family that includes producers, MCs, and musicians such as: Washington, D.C.-based Oddisee, Los Angeleno Open Mike Eagle, Detroit’s Apollo Brown, plus West Coast freethinkers Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow, and East Coast classicist Rapper Big Pooh. Not a bad roster for someone who, by his own admission, didn’t know what he was doing. Perhaps his naiveté during a period of change made building a new kind of label possible. I got the scoop from Tolle this past month, as he readied some heavyweight releases from the likes of Red Pill (of Ugly Heroes), L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae, Oddisee, Quelle Chris and many more.

Rapper Big Pooh
Rapper Big Pooh

Bandcamp: You started the label at a time when the music world was in flux. MySpace was winding down and new platforms were emerging. Did you see this as opportunity?

Michael Tolle: Mello Music Group exists because the economy crashed and the industry moved to digital. I jumped in when artists had no money, labels weren’t giving it to them, and new methodologies were available to try. I could operate at almost no cost from Arizona and reach out to amazing artists with no backing. I got a foothold while everything else was falling apart. Our first release, Oddisee 101, came out in December 2008. A year later, the Diamond District album was the release that made us into a business. Bill Sharp, who worked at Fat Beats at the time, told me we needed a publicist for it. He said, “this record will open it for you.” So we did, and it worked.

BC: Were artists receptive to someone like you contacting them?

MT: They were. Something I learned very early on is that if you’re new, you’re like blood in the water. Back then, I was happy to be there and wanted to give my most to everybody even if I was being swarmed and picked at. You learn that it’s a hustle for a lot of these people, too, they’re just trying to clean your bones. But once I started putting together songs and building credibility, I think people realized it was more than money, that there were opportunities for development. Artist development was and still is gone in a lot of places. Once it got out that we still did artist development, the respect started coming in. I viewed it as paying dues. Like anything, you pay to play until you learn. So you better learn quick.

Open Mike Eagle
Open Mike Eagle

BC: How broad were you thinking when you started?

MT: I knew what I wanted and who. Detroit, D.C., and New Orleans were in my mind. These cities were musical hubs with fertile sands, yet they were impoverished areas. The talent pool was so rich and the sound wasn’t pretentious. We still don’t have artists from New Orleans, but we’ve branched out and signed people from L.A. and beyond.

When I began formulating in 2007, Oddisee, Kenn Starr and Black Milk were my targets, and Georgia. I wanted those people to be the foundation of the label. They were all young, so I saw amazing talent that could be built. In the long run, I worked with all of them. Black’s not on the label but we’ve bought production from him a lot. Oddisee was the one who was the most ready to run from the start. He was looking for someone willing to run with him and do all the things he wanted to do.

Kenn Starr

BC: How do you define the aesthetic of MMG?

MT: I’ve always defined it internally as music from the heart of American culture. We’ve never gravitated toward thugs or gangsters. Most of our producers and MCs are average people who are talented and a part of this culture. That was appealing to me. I don’t like the lottery of it, people going for broke. I always wanted musicians, people who made beats or started rapping but were trying to become something more — like Oddisee, who’s now a fully fledged musician. To me we are very middle-American. Red Pill, our new guy from Detroit, exemplifies that, and someone like Apollo Brown, who’s very blue-collar.

Diamond District

BC: Looking back, you’ve put out a lot of material and broadened the scope of the label since the Diamond District debut.

MT: The old model of hip-hop labels was like a gang — four or five guys who are the same. Soldiers, captains, all these metaphors for it. Like Rocafella. Make one a star and he would put on his friends. We view it more as being a bunch of musicians from different areas, influencing each other and growing together over time. As long as people bring me good records, I’ll find people who are talented and can work on them — and that creates graphic design, engineering, and promotion positions. They’re all jobs within an industry, and also a sort of personalized industry.

There’s a thing with musicians, and athletes too, whereby we accept that 99% will starve while 1% makes tens of millions of dollars. I’ve always wondered why the designers, marketing, and distribution people can make $30–100K a year, but musicians have to starve or be ultra-rich? Why can’t we have an industry of musicians building careers and making $60K a year? I was more naïve back then but I like the idea. I wanted to find a way to play it out. We didn’t always give advances to artists. We’d ask them the minimum they need for stability — things like rent, phone, etc., and we put that in the contract and pay it monthly. It’s still contracted labor, but a different way of paying. Our artists were already stable adults, but we wanted to provide security and allow them to settle down. And then there’s a fee for work, too. It’s all rolled up in the idea of an advance for each project. It also encourages the artists and myself to get to know each other with time. We talk to each other. We interact on a human level.

Red Pill
Red Pill

BC: I’ve never heard of arrangements like that.

MT: I don’t know if it was necessity or viewing the world differently. It just made sense to me. I don’t understand the model I stepped into because I wasn’t from the industry. I can’t imagine someone going for an interview for a bank and being told, “ok we’ll give you all the money for your salary for the year now,” and then expecting them to survive.

I like history, I like liner notes. Musically I don’t want to just hear a hot record. I wanna see the progression of artists. Old records were made that way. What if I could help these seeds grow because I think they have potential? So it also lends itself to signing people for multiple albums. It gives them more freedom to express different feelings at different times.

BC: What are some of your favorite memories or highlights from the past seven years?

MT: Dudley Perkins officiated at my wedding and Georgia was there to sing. It was a small affair with my relatives and those of my wife from South Korea. Dudley and I had talked every day on the phone for a year and a half, but never met in person. And we’d been doing a lot of work with the two of them. So he flew here and married us. He came in with alligator skin Nike dunks and a white, head-to-toe robe.

Satisfy Your Soul

THEESatisfaction

“We’ve got jams on deck, it’s all about piecing the right songs together to make the project sound cohesive. We try and keep it fresh for our devout listeners.”

The duo of Stasia Irons & Catherine Harris-White, aka THEESatisfaction, are back with a second album for Sub Pop. EarthEE features guest appearances from Shabazz Palaces, Meshell Ndegeocello, Porter Ray and Taylor Brown. We caught up with the duo last week to see what they’ve got going on for 2015.

BC: For the most part you’ve self-produced, self-written, and even self-released a lot of your music. What has hooking up with Sub Pop changed about the way you work, and what are the doors you are most excited about the label opening?
STAS: The process of releasing music has changed but we still make jams all the time. We don’t let anything deter or overstimulate our work ethic. We love that Sub Pop is able to get our music out further than we could’ve ever done ourselves. Everyone is really active about making sure our needs are met. We love it.

BC: What is the latest with your Black Weirdo events and blog postings? And, if you don’t mind us asking (since we’ve only ever seen you ask other people), why do you consider yourself Black Weirdos?
CAT: We still do our Black Weirdo posts and events on our tumblr: uniquenoir.tumblr.com. We are about 60 Weirdos deep and it’s an amazing community to watch grow. I am a Black Weirdo because I am uniquely me. I understand my blackness. I’m strange and I like to dance by myself and people may think that’s weird. Oh, and because I love to watch Red Dwarf and DS9 (Star Trek).

BC: Tell us about working with Meshell Ndegeocello—dream come true?
CAT: We did meet in a dreamy way. Our friend told us Meshell was a fan, so we reached out on social media and met through the interwebs. Sent her our album and she vibed out. It felt so familiar, very kindred. I love what she did on the record.

BC: The “Recognition” video is really striking. Can you tell us about the making of, and coming up with the concept behind it?
STASIA: Recognition was conceptualized by Tiona McClodden. She’s been a part of the growth of THEESatisfaction for quite some time. The song resonated with all of us in the sense that we wanted to really honor black artists who’ve come before us and who are also our peers. Making the video was spiritual. We felt good vibes and moments where we felt that what we were doing was on the right path. We got to visit the homes and spaces where black excellence happened.

BC: In addition to your full-length releases, you crank out a lot of beat tapes. Do those stem from a sudden burst of inspiration? And which beat makers do you admire?
STASIA: We’ve got jams on deck, it’s all about piecing the right songs together to make the project sound cohesive. We try and keep it fresh for our devout listeners. I admire Shabazz Palaces; no one is making music like theirs.

BC: Musically speaking, what do you feel has changed between awE naturalE and EarthEE? Have you improved on the craft of making music? Are you spinning new yarn?
CAT: Stas and I had been working on awE naturalE since we started the group in 2008. Once that came out, we weren’t sure what the next record would sound like but we continued to create. We put out a few mixtapes, together and solo, while piecing together EarthEE. In that time we learned more about our instruments (voices, gear) and ourselves. It was an evolution of sorts.

BC: Is Seattle a supportive place for you to create and spread your music?
CAT: Most definitely. It takes time to establish yourself, but once you do, you have a dedicated community who will support you.

BC: Can you recommend a couple of other acts that have caught your ears recently?
STAS: MNDSGN out of Los Angeles is a master on the production tip. Been listening to his wave a lot lately. Also Norvis Jr. has been killing the game. He’s from Dallas and his music is very advanced, unique & undeniably jammy.

BC: Aside from earthEE, what else can your fans expect in 2015?
CAT: We are going to be heading to SXSW for a few showcases next month, as well as hitting the road for 20 dates with Sleater-Kinny in April. More Black Weirdo parties, more music, and more DJ sets.

In case you missed it, THEESatisfaction dropped a tasty mix on an episode of the Bandcamp Weekly show about a year ago.

25 Years of Relapse Records

25 years of Relapse Records

Relapse Records celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. What began as an excuse, for a young Matt Jacobson to release grindcore 7”s, has grown into one of metal’s biggest and certainly most respected labels. They’ve had an incredible run, and boast the kind of discography that other large-sized indie labels might only dream of. Commited to extreme music, in all its myriad forms, Relapse has followed its black heart for over two decades – avoiding trends, but partaking in tons of mosh, plenty of (grind)core, and a whole lot of fun.

Signing to Relapse Records is still a career-making move for many bands, and working there is a valuable feather in the cap of any music industry hopeful. I was first employed at Relapse as an intern, when I was eighteen, writing for their now-defunct Resound mailorder guide, and stuffing envelopes alongside a garrulous Prince acolyte named Bob Lugowe. Nearly a decade later, Lugowe still works there, as the label’s head of promotions and is also a label owner in his own right (Brutal Panda). Meanwhile I’ve spent years touring with Relapse acts, including Savannah’s most powerful trio, Black Tusk, and I still occasionally handle PR for select Relapse releases. There’s a familial vibe that comes with working for the label, which is probably why so many people in the business still have such fond memories of their time there. When my editor (at Bandcamp) asked me to put together a piece on the label’s legacy, the hardest part was deciding which moments to focus on; when a label’s put out as many killer record as Relapse has, it’s a formidable task to narrow them down into any kind of ranking. Its Singles Series alone boasts a dizzying array of quality cuts, and their roster’s continually expanding, too, as veterans like Obituary and Ringworm join fresh meat like Usnea, Nux Vomica, Mortals and Gruesome.

I gave it the ol’ college try, though, and have wrangled a list of twenty-five of the label’s most important releases. The following records barely scratch the surface; there are literally hundreds of others who have had massive impact on heavy metal and extreme music, and undoubtedly, even more of them to come.

Incantation – Onward to Golgotha 1992

Incantation

Incantation’s Entrantment of Evil 7” was one of Relapse’s first releases, and marked the beginning of a relationship that would produce the band’s most vital recordings. Onward to Golgotha is hailed as a death metal classic; the murky, claustrophobic horror of songs like “Devoured Death” has inspired wave after wave of younger bands to try to emulate the masters, but there’s still only one Incantation.

Amorphis – Tales from the Thousand Lakes 1994

Amorphis

This 1994 full-length remains Amorphis’ finest moment, and a masterpiece of melodic death metal; shades of traditional Finnish folk and progressive rock leanings add color, and intrigue, to an already rock-solid base, and resulted in something magical.

Neurosis – Through Silver and Blood 1996

Neurosis

Neurosis is one of heavy music’s most important and influential bands, and their early partnership with Relapse resulted in some truly classic records, starting with 1996’s mammoth Through Silver and Blood.

Brutal Truth – Sounds of the Animal Kingdom 1997

Brutal Truth

Grindcore OGs Brutal Truth may have recently thrown in the sweat and blood-stained towel, but they’re leaving behind a damn near untouchable discography. Their twisted take on extreme sounds, along with their outsized personalities (think of Kevin Sharp’s cowboy hat, and Rich Hoak’s deranged drum faces) were a perfect match for Relapse’s own eclectic take, and the band spent the vast majority of its career releasing aural mayhem like 1997’s manic, intimidating Sounds of the Animal Kingdom under the Relapse banner.

Exhumed – Gore Metal 1998

Exhumed

Has there ever been a more fitting album title than that of death freaks Exhumed and their LP Gore Metal? The masters of splatter’s gleefully disgusting 1998 Relapse debut marked the beginning of a long and bloody partnership that has come full circle with a just-released, re-recorded version, of that early classic, christened Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998-2015.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity 1999

The Dillinger Escape Plan

There are two eras in the American hardcore/math rock scene: pre-Calculating Infinity, and post-Calculating Infinity. Much like Converge’s Jane Doe, this record was a total game-changer, and served as a springboard for the band to go on to bigger, weirder things. Relapse’s roster has always made plenty of room for left-field technicality and experimentation, and DEP’s complex intensity fit right in.

Today is the Day – In the Eyes of God 1999

Today is the Day

Steve Austin’s apocalyptic visions and Today is the Day’s jarring amalgam of noise, grind , and prog have won them a devoted cult following and resulted in a handful of wonderfully weird Relapse releases; most notably 1999’s critically-adored In the Eyes of God.

Dying Fetus – Destroy the Opposition 2000

Dying Fetus

Dying Fetus joined the Relapse family fifteen years ago, and never left. Their relationship is so solid that, when former ‘Fetus members started the sociopolitically-minded Misery Index, Relapse welcomed them aboard, too. Technical skills, headbangability, and most of all, brutality are all critical to the Dying Fetus experience, and 2000’s Destroy the Opposition has all three in spades.

Pig Destroyer- Prowler in the Yard 2001

Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer’s take on grind is so cerebral, chilling, and perverted, it’s scary. Prowler in the Yard was the world’s first real introduction to the combined genius of core duo J. R. Hayes and Scott Hull (who also plays in Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and has gone on to engineer a copious amount of Relapse releases).

Nile – In Their Darkened Shrines 2002

Nile

No, they’re not actual Egyptologists, but the ax-wielding history buffs behind Nile did bring a very real, very ancient, evil into the early 2000s death metal arena with foreboding documents like In Their Darkened Shrines. Nowadays we’re used to atmospheric, occult-obsessed death metal, but back then, Karl Sanders’ subterranean roar, sinewy Eastern melodies, and arcane lyrics made Nile seem positively diabolical. Relapse will be reissuing all four of Nile’s most beloved LPs in April—pre-order Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998), Black Seeds of Vengeance (2000), In Their Darkened Shrines(2002) and Annihilation of the Wicked (2005) here.

Pentagram – First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection 2002

Pentagram

For the longest time, Pentagram was a cult favorite, a bunch of could’ve-beens who’d never gotten their due. That’s obviously changed over the past decade, but Relapse was the first heavy-hitting label to take a real interest in dusting-off their discography and resurrecting the legend. The compilation First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection gave Bobbly Liebling and the boys the rockstar treatment they’d never gotten in their prime, and launched a renewed wave of interest in the doom godfathers’ output, so much that they went on to tour, play festivals, and release a solid new album.

Suffocation – Souls to Deny 2004

Suffocation by Scott Kinkade
photo by Scott Kinkade

Frank Mullen is probably the best frontman in death metal, and Suffocation are one of the genre’s most reliable old warhorses; still churning out bulldozing riffs and terrorizing audiences over 27 years after the band’s inception. They’ve got a litany of classics under their belts, but 2004’s semi-comeback joint Souls to Deny was an excellent reminder to fans, and foes alike, that Suffocation definitely haven’t lost their edge.

Nasum – Shift 2004

Nasum

The career of Swedish noise-peddlers Nasum was cut short in 2005 by the tragic passing of guitarist/vocalist Mieszko Talarczyk, but they left one hell of a mark in the extreme metal history book. Shift is one of modern grindcore’s greatest triumphs, spotlighting Nasum’s mastery of the genre and willingness to push it further forward.

Mastodon – Leviathan 2004

Mastodon by Jimmy Hubbardphoto by Jimmy Hubbard

Signing Mastodon, and steering their meteoric rise, signaled a subtle shift towards a slightly more accessible direction for the label. While the band has since moved on (to the majors), their relationship with Relapse spawned some of the band’s most important releases: from their groundbreaking 2002 LP Remission to 2004’s burly epic, Leviathan—the record that first hinted at what was to come. It’s worth noting, too, that Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher, of Mastodon, played on Today is the Day’s In the Eyes of God.

Necrophagist – Epitaph 2004

Necrophagist

Onset of Putrefaction put Necrophagist on the map, but the follow-up to that 2004 tech-death masterpiece Epitaph (talk about another fitting title…) has turned into the Chinese Democracy of heavy metal; hell, Chinese Democracy is OUT and we’ve still not seen hide nor hair of any new Necrophagist material. Whatever he might be up to now, mastermind Muhammed Suiçmez’s clinical, dazzling guitar wizardry inspired a whole new generation of shredders, and the ensuing popularity of tech-death (ripples of which can be seen in other Relapse affiliates Obscura and Abysmal Dawn).

High on Fire – Blessed Black Wings 2005

High On Fire by Robin Laananen
photo by Robin Laananen

If anyone can truly save heavy metal, it’ll be High on Fire. Matt Pike, Des Kensel, and Jeff Matz have distilled the essence of blood, thunder, and distortion down into rumbling perfection, and their rabid fans still cry out to hear the title track off 2005’s Blessed Black Wings. The trio of albums the band made with Relapse stand as their rawest, most aggressive material to date.

Disembowelment – Disembowelment 2005

Disembowelment

In 1993, these Australian death/doom legends to be, released their sole full-length, Transcendence into the Peripheral, not yet knowing what they’d unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. It was an instant classic, and became the blueprint for any band that dared strive towards their crushing blend of darkened death metal and crippling doom. In 2005, Relapse gathered together Disembowelment’s debut LP, their 1992 Dusk EP, and their handful of demos into a huge 3xCD discography compilation. 2012 also saw the release of Dusk/Subside, the first EP from Inverloch—a new band featuring the majority of Disembowelment. The past is alive.

Toxic Holocaust – An Overdose of Death… 2008

Toxic Holocaust by Scott Kinkade
photo by Scott Kinkade

Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind minted his reputation in the underground, releasing a ridiculous number of killer black/thrash splits, demos, EPs, and albums by himself or with other DIY labels before he took the leap to Relapse. He first crossed paths with Relapse in 2007 with a split 7” for their Speed’n’Spikes Series, but his debut for the label, An Overdose of Death… instantly elevated Toxic Holocaust to new heights, singlehandedly introducing legions of impressionable young thrashers to the sound of real evil.

Baroness – Blue Record 2009

Baroness by G.L. Johnson
photo by G.L. Johnson

Baroness is arguably the biggest band on Relapse’s current roster, and one that has been with the label for the vast majority of a long, colorful career. Their sound has evolved mightily over the past dozen years, gradually moving away from their crusty roots towards more progressive, melodic rock and breaking into a whole new audience along the way. The Blue Record is a far cry from Onward to Golgotha or Destroy the Opposition, but its inclusion goes to show just how committed Relapse is to keeping its roster current, diverse, and interesting. At this point, Relapse has become more than “just” a metal label, a fact in which it will revel for the next few years.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse 2009

Agoraphobic Nosebleed by Josh Sisk
photo by Josh Sisk

As if Pig Destroyer wasn’t intense enough, Scott Hull conjures up even more chaos in his insane noisegrind project Agoraphobic Nosebleed. 2009’s Agorapocalypse was a landmark release for the band, as it not only featured the debut of vocalist Kat Katz (formerly of Salome), it also features songs—as opposed to the band’s usual minute-or-less blasts of aural psychosis made infamous on 2002’s Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope. Is Agoraphobic Nosebleed growing up? Only time will tell.

Red Fang – Murder the Mountains 2011

Red Fang by James Rexroadphoto by James Rexroad

A decade ago, it would’ve seemed utterly bizarre to find a Relapse label on a Red Fang CD, but now, the Portland heshers’ good time hard rock’n’roll fits right in next to Nux Vomica and Weekend Nachos. Like Mastodon, Baroness, and newer signings Torche, Red Fang’s continuing success proves that Relapse has no problem with flipping the script once in awhile, and that metalheads are willing to branch out alongside them. Bolstered by the viral success of hilarious videos like “Wires” and “Hank is Dead,” 2011’s Murder the Mountains was a breakout success, and Red Fang’s latest record, Whales and Leeches, is doing even better.

Death – Sound of Perseverance reissue 2011

Death

Relapse’s vinyl reissues of a series of revered Death albums came as a result of a partnership with Perseverance Holdings Ltd. and the Schuldiner family, so fans who’d been born too late to grab the first pressings finally had a guilt-free means to own Leprosy, Human, Spiritual Healing, Scream Bloody Gore, Individual Thought Patterns, Sound of Perseverance, and almost the rest of their back-catalog, on glorious deluxe vinyl, and double, or triple, CD, too. Reissues are typically a dime a dozen, but these…these were special.

Windhand – Soma 2013

Windhand by Tony Lynchphoto by Tony Lynch

Windhand is one of Relapse’s latest big success stories. The Richmond doom collective features current and former members of Cough, Alabama Thunderpssy, and Facedowninshit (all of whom have released albums on Relapse!), and powerhouse vocalist Dorthia Cottrell is also about to release her own stunning debut solo album via Forcefield Records. Soma saw the band garner comparisons to Electric Wizard, which ain’t bad if you’re playing low, slow, and drenched in smoky distortion. Much like their RVA bros Inter Arma, who have also seen amazing success for 2013’s incredible Relapse-released Sky Burial, Windhand is yet another band that seems poised to break into bigger things.

Nothing – Guilty of Everything 2014

Nothing by Shawn Brackbill
photo by Shawn Brackbill

Nothing’s signing came as a surprise to some, but made perfect sense to anyone who’d paid any attention to what Relapse has been doing for the past twenty-five years. Their brand of heavy shoegaze is lush, ambient, and, like so many of their other labelmates, it’s intense – there’s a darkness simmering beneath the surface. Relapse’s own Bob Lugowe name-checked Guilty of Everything as one of the label’s most important recent releases.

Obituary – Inked in Blood 2014

Obituary by Ester Segarra
photo by Ester Segarra

After Obituary launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to record their ninth album, Relapse snapped up the rights to release the album, Inked in Blood. It proved to be a good bet for everyone involved, and a new beginning for these Tampa legends. As forward-thinking and challenging as Relapse’s artistic vision remains, it’s still nice to see them circle back towards their bloody roots, and embrace classic death metal once again.

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