What happens when Earache Records signs a hardcore techno DJ based on the strengths of their remixes of Morbid Angel and Deicide tracks and then lets said DJ record a metal album? The answer is The Berzerker’s pulverizing self-titled debut recording, which turns twenty years old today and still stands as a pillar of wildly creative what-the-fuckery in the annals of extreme music.
Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about Release Entertainment, the long-defunct sub-label of Relapse Records that was dedicated to releasing a variety of experimental music ranging from noise to dark ambient to death industrial and beyond. It got me thinking about which entries in Release’s sizable catalog were my absolute favorites, which in turn lead me to satisfy my obsession with making lists. So without further ado and in chronological order, here are my five favorite albums released under the Release Entertainment banner.
One of the things I miss the most about the nineties is the willingness major record labels had to release totally off-the-wall shit. From Reprise unleashing the Boredoms’ utterly mind-fucking Pop Tatari on the unsuspecting masses to Columbia striking a deal to market and distribute Earache’s catalog full of ear-shredding death metal and grindcore records, major labels in the nineties exhibited a bizarre fearlessness that was oftentimes downright shocking, flying in the face of the notion that they were corporate, soulless, blood-sucking musical widget factories where underground bands went to sell out, get screwed over and die.
A few years back, I wrote a piece about Release Entertainment, the long lost sub-label of Relapse Records dedicated to experimental sounds of all kinds, from dark ambient to noise to death industrial. One of the the most extreme albums to come out under the Release banner was Merzbow’s Venereology, a salvo of pure, corrosive sound that would serve as a gateway for many metalheads (including yours truly) into the world of harsh noise. I previously bemoaned the fact that Relapse seems to have no interest in preserving the legacy of Release Entertainment, but perhaps they’ve come to their senses at least somewhat, because in honor of Venereology‘s twenty-fifth anniversary, they’re giving the album a rather lavish-looking vinyl reissue, replete with remastered sound and re-touched artwork, as well as three previously unreleased bonus tracks.
WARNING: This is not one of my usual videos of me sitting in front of the camera and talking. This is a 5 minute “micro documentary” celebrating twenty-five years of Merzbow’s harsh noise masterpiece, Venereology.
Listen and purchase: https://merzbow.bandcamp.com/
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If there’s one thing Metal Twitter™®© is good for, it’s manufacturing non-controversies within the scene. The latest of these flare-ups occurred when Philly-based death metallers Pissgrave unveiled the cover art for their new album Posthumous Humiliation, set to be released March 1st via Profound Lore.
One of the more interesting developments in the underground over the past half-decade or so is the renewed interest in dungeon synth. This was no doubt brought on by the rise of Dutch practitioner Old Tower, who released the excellent Stellary Wisdom this year on Profound Lore, as well as the recent reissues of Mortiis’ early works, coupled with his recent tours focused strictly on this “era one” material as opposed to his current industrial rock/metal incarnation.