Willem, the man behind the RWHAF-blog asked me if I wanted to contribute and I suggested to make a piece on my favourite music label, Revelation Records. What will follow is a deeper dive into the catalogue with a personal top 10, which goes beyond the famous Rev 1-23. There are several articles to be found on the Internet discussing the essential albums released in the early days of Revelation Records. Starting with the iconic 3 from 1987: the Warzone 7 inch, The Together Comp and the Sick Of It All 7inch followed two years later by the successful Gorilla Biscuits album Start Today and Bringin’ it Down by Judge.
Both records that proved to be an inspiration to many straight edge generations, even to this day. After the succes of the first 23 releases, 16 of them being 7 inches, Revelation Records broadened their horizon and bands in other genres also got a chance to do their thing on the label with the yellow star with black R.
Around 1996 I discovered Punk and Hardcore through the Pyrrhus recordstore in Ghent and there I bought my first Revelation albums like the Youth of Today ‘97 represses, the Chain Of Strength discography,… The 2nd wave of (straight-edge) youth crew was strong and Revelation Records released some essential records that had a significant impact on Belgian hardcore kids, like myself. Some of those bands like In My Eyes and Better Than A Thousand toured Europe and I got a chance to see them play live.
In 2001, I took a step back from music and record collecting ‘cause most of my attention went into a basketball career. In a bold move I also sold most of my records in 2002. By the year 2014, after basketball retirement, I decided to fully engage in collecting all Rev releases. Unlike in 1996, now I could also rely on a strong community of collectors on Instagram and Facebook to buy or swap records and there was something like Discogs.com as an alternative to the brick-and-mortar Pyrrhus store that closed years before. Nevertheless, I think that to this day there is nothing more fun than flipping through record bins in search of fine (Revelation Records) stuff.
10. The Inflight Program
At number 10 I put the CD where it all started for me and that is REV50 – The In Flight Program compilation. Released in 1997 containing 26 songs by the best artists on Rev, sister label Crisis Records and Rev Distribution.
I was blown over by the first 3 songs by Sense Field, Texas is The Reason and Farside, all bands pretty far removed from the music in the early days of the label. However, the CD also contains a number of things I understood very little about at the time.
The Iceburn Collective or Engine Kid were always skipped to listen to old school favourites like Chain Of Strength “True Till Death”, Inside Out “No Spiritual Surrender”, Quicksand “Omission” or Underdog “Say It To My Face”.
Rev Fun fact: Rev50 was never released on vinyl but was bootlegged on cassette.
9. Last Great Sea
Shortly before the first demise of Burn in 1992, the band recorded 3 incredible good songs: New Morality, Tales of Shatou and Last Great Sea. These songs were never properly released until 2002, just after a short comeback the band made to record a new EP called Cleanse on Equal Vision Records.
It wasn’t a big surprise that Revelation Records hooked in and released the highly sought after songs from 1992 as a 7” and called it REV108, Burn – Last Great Sea. Not only is the music great but the artwork is of a very high level too. The minimalistic style benefits this release and the Burn logo incorporating the sea theme is a real eye catcher.
Rev Fun fact: Last Great Sea was pressed 2 times, the first press in 2002 on black and sky blue vinyl. A repress in 2016 came on green, orange and red vinyl. 100 of the green records have a limited EU-tour sleeve, also sold at Groezrock – Belgium they played that year.
8. Spring Songs
In august 2013 when Revelation Records announced the preorders for REV154 Title Fight – Spring Songs EP a lot of discussion grew amongst Rev collectors.
To many fans of the label, it was unclear if a band like Title Fight had it’s place amongst all the iconic alumni bands, that form the Revelation Records catalogue. Spring Songs differs from Title Fight’s earlier work, they sound more indie rock on this 4-song EP, their only appearance on Revelation Records.
The second song on this EP, “Be A Toy” sang by Jamie Rhoden, was the advanced single and proved Title Fight to be a great addition to the Revelation Records family.
I’m also a huge fan John Garrett Slaby’s artwork, a painter who also did the artwork for other Title Fight releases and the Turnover – Good Nature album.
Rev Fun fact: although it was available for pre-order as the most limited colour, Spring Songs was never released on white vinyl.
7. Kingdom of Lost Souls
It’s hard to believe that REV71 Damnation A.D. – Kingdom of Lost Souls was recorded 25 years ago, at the time of it’s release I never heard anything like this on the label. Damnation A.D. was formed by Ken Olden (who played an important role in the youth crew revival in the mid 90’s as member of Battery and Better Than a Thousand) and Mike McTernan (brother of Brian also known as singer for Battery and BeWell, both Revelation Records bands).
Kingdom of Lost Souls sounds apocalyptic, way ahead of it’s time. The synth intro of “Wait for A Day” still gets me when I hear it but my favourite song on this one is “All my Life”.
Rev Fun Fact: in 2002 Revelation repressed a lot of albums and released them as a ‘final press’ supposed to be never pressed again. Kingdom of Lost Souls also got a final press on orange vinyl but the album was re-released in 2015 on white and blue vinyl.
6. Mob Justice
The Rival Mob, like many other bands, released just one album on Revelation Records, it’s called REV149 – Mob Justice.
This 2013 masterpiece is fast, raw and ferocious. It’s a love letter to the old Boston Hardcore scene and East Coast bands.
The album is filled with tons of riffs and sing-a-long choruses.
It fits the Revelation catalogue just perfect with plenty of references to the early Revelation Records releases.
Mob Justice was released before the renewed interest in vinyl which makes it a more limited record with a number between 3000 to 4000 vinyl copies spread over 3 or 4 different pressings.
Although REV149 it’s still pretty easy to collect and compared to many other releases very affordable.
Rev Fun Fact: the latest repress of Mob Justice is a picture disc, it’s only the 3th picture disc ever on the label, in 2003 and 2006 Shai Hulud’s – That Within Blood Ill-Tempered and A Profound Hatred of Man were also released as a picture disc.
(The final countdown from 5 to 1 comes by the end of summer 2023)