The record industry is a fickle, miserable one. We'd cite Hunter S. Thompson's famous ramblings about thieves and pimps, but you've heard it. And you know it's the truth. Now, perhaps more than ever -- in an era when the airwaves are positively choked with disposable, aurally accosting drivel "produced" solely to keep L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell's bathrooms stocked with $100 bills and coke, the "record industry" (as it was) is a limping horse begging for a bullet.
The bright side here is that the independent record label has managed to (somewhat) survive and adapt over the years. So when word broke this week that Hyrda Head Records, the label founded by Isis figurehead Aaron Turner in 1995, was hanging it up, the shockwave felt was undeniable.
The folks at Hydra Head had carved a name for themselves over the years by releasing records they believed in, rather than releasing those bearing the potential for commercial success. The investment -- both financial and otherwise -- that Turner and his cohorts have put into the uglier side of metal and aggressive music has had an impact that cannot be minimized. Hydra Head became a taste-maker, a genre-shaper, and above all an integral part of the heavy music landscape.
While the philosophical ramifications of a seemingly healthy label of this magnitude going under might keep you up at night, we prefer to see the label off in style. Here are a few of our favorite tracks released via Hydra Head Records. Goodnight, sweet, sludgy prince.
1. Converge - "Locust Reign"
From the band's split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Poacher Diaries, this is still considered the Converge track by many fans.
2. Botch - "Man the Ramparts"
From Botch's second and final full-length. Botch's sound spawned a legion of copycats, and this track should pretty well sum up why. Botch guitarist Dave Knudson went on to form the indie-rock group Minus the Bear.
3. Cave In - "Juggernaut"
Cave In has gone through many phases, including a brief stint on a major label that found the band some mainstream success behind a more alternative-rock sound. However, for most fans, this era of Cave In will always be something special. This is the quintessential, "metal-era" Cave In track. If you don't involuntarily bang your head at 4:22, you're probably dead.
4. Torche - "Healer"
Hometown heroes Torche have had several albums released on Hydra Head, and the label's relationship with South Florida stems back to releases by Torche frontman Steve Brooks' former group, Cavity.
5. Isis - "False Light"
It's only right that the last track is one from Turner's own band. Isis called it quits in 2010, but its sound had an undeniable influence on the current crop of sludgy metal bands.