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Best Former Relapse Records Recording Artists

Updated on April 19, 2017
Jesse Drzal profile image

Metal music is diverse and also versatile while being the most dynamic and intense of all forms of music.

Founded in Pennsylvania in 1990 by Matthew F. Jacobson, Relapse Records has its roots as a truly independent record label and launched the careers of many of metal's top bands whether the genre being grindcore, industrial metal, hardcore and basically every sub-genre of metal.

The label continues and thrives today, forwarding music into new and exciting territories. Relapse also has a history of releasing some of the most important albums in metal from past artists as well including Mastodon, Baroness, Neurosis and High On Fire.

Mastodon Live
Mastodon Live | Source

Mastodon on Relapse Records

Mastodon had quite a run on Relapse Records, starting with the debut release Remission. The album is probably the heaviest in the Mastodon catalog combining elements of death and sludge metal, with shouting and aggressive vocals and superb musicianship. It garnered much buzz after its release and remains a fan favorite, but the 2004 release of Leviathan on Relapse is what shot the band's popularity into the stratosphere. Roughly based on the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick, the album had a more catchy sound with some cleaner vocals, especially with the lead single ''Blood and Thunder''. It was also the first Mastodon album to feature Scott Kelly of Neurosis on guest vocals, appearing on the song ''Aqua Dementia''. Scott has gone on to make an appearance on every Mastodon album since.

The next and final release from Mastodon on Relapse was Blood Mountain in 2006. This one saw Mastodon going back to slightly heavier sounds, with more experimental songs on parts of the album. All three are essential recordings for Mastodon fans and paved the way for things to come from Relapse in the years to follow, with artists like Red Fang and others.

''Blood and Thunder'' by Mastodon

Neurosis

Formed way back in 1985, Neurosis had it's beginning roots playing hardcore/punk in the late eighties and into the early nineties, which gradually turned into an experimental sound with each new album released. The band is also known for its tremendous live performances, and it was the early part of the nineties when Neurosis began using visuals during live shows, giving the music another layer and texture for an already intense experience. 1996 saw Neurosis release its Relapse debut classic, Through Silver In Blood, a vast and dark album that raised the bar even higher for the world of metal, and brought more attention and praise through touring with bands like Pantera furthering the band's mystique.

1999 gave us the excellent Times Of Grace on Relapse, with a final release by the label being A Sun That Never Sets in 2001, where the band began using clean vocals and more acoustic passages, yet again added more layers to the sound. Neurosis continues to make groundbreaking music on its own Neurot Recordings releasing new music for other artists as well.

''Under the Surface'' by Neurosis

Baroness

Formed in 2003 and based in Savannah, Georgia, Baroness made a splash in the underground metal world with a series of Ep recordings which brought buzz around the band. However, it was the Relapse debut full-length Red Album that brought the band to the forefront with a dynamic and epic release. It was named the album of the year by many publications, including Revolver magazine. Red Album is deep and complex, combining elements of sludge rock and progressive metal with top notch musicianship. A companion piece to Red Album, the next release, Blue Record, saw the band expand on its sound, even more, churning out a more accessible album which brought high praise from critics as well.

Yellow And Green, an ambitious double album and the final release on Relapse, saw Baroness expanding more into a commercial sound, while not giving away any integrity. Singer and rhythm guitarist John Baizley is also an accomplished artist designing album cover art and shirts for bands such as Darkest Hour, Torche, Kylesa, and others, along with his own Baroness.

''Wanderlust'' by Baroness

Baroness Live
Baroness Live | Source

High On Fire

From the ashes of legendary doom/sludge metal geniuses Sleep, came High On Fire. Guitarist and vocalist Matt Pike, the creative force behind both projects, took the slow grinding parts of his previous project and combined it with full on thrash metal, creating a different hybrid of extreme music. Pike is a riff monster, playing tight but still maintaining a loose vibe that gives the music a unique dynamic. The first Relapse offering was Surrounded By Thieves released in 2002.

Next up was the classic 2005 album Blessed Black Wings which in my opinion is one of the best metal releases ever, period. Rounding out High On Fires catalog on Relapse was the also excellent Death Is This Communion in 2007. High On Fire is still going strong today, with razor sharp production from Kurt Ballou on recent recordings.

''Ghost Neck'' by High on Fire

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Relapse Records Artists

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 5 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Mastodon are the only one of these bands I have heard of Jesse, but I did find this an interesting article. Thanks for enlightening me.