Oldschool Sunday: RELEASE


Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway

I absolutely dislike writing pieces, where either no, or next to no, information exists about a band, especially Oldschool Sunday articles. Call it perfectionism, a desire to be thorough, whatever… Hell, call it OCD if you want, it doesn’t matter.

The subjects of today’s OSS are exactly that type of band. There is very limited info about San Francisco’s Release when you buckle down and begin to seek it.

With that said, here’s what I do know – the San Francisco, California band Release formed around 1993, but I have no reliable idea who the original members were. That same year, the band independently issued the three-song ‘1993 Demo, as they worked to establish themselves in the Bay Area‘s live music scene.

In 1994, we saw the issuing of yet another indie effort, the four-song ‘1994 Demo’. Release was becoming a well-respected performing band in their region, based on their style of dark, progressive-tinged, melodic thrash metal. Somehow, someone from Century Media Records got wind of the band and before ’94 was over, they had signed with the label for an intended official release.


Everyone is familiar with the term “one-hit wonders”, right? Well, in 1995, Release issued their one and only ever studio full-length album, ‘End Of The Light‘. The lineup for the record itself consisted of guitarist and vocalist Aaron Zimpel (Anvil Chorus, Metal Church, Sumerian Crown), guitarist Gary Wendt (The Ghost Next Door, Skinlab, Sumerian Crown), bassist Nathan Harlowe, and drummer Steve Kilgore (Anvil Chorus).

Personally, I believe ‘End Of The Light’ is one of metal’s more tragically obscure releases, for whatever reasons. The production and sound quality are excellent, while the music is very groove-oriented and possesses ample progressive elements.

If a comparison is to be made about its music, imagine the mashing of ‘Black’ LP era Metallica, ‘Cuatro’ period Flotsam & Jetsam, and the better aspects of Skinlab. All while keeping things mid-tempo, progressive, and enveloped in a darker sensibility, the latter two ala Neurosis or Minsk.



From there, I have no idea what happened to Release, as there is not much out there to factually go on. There were never any other follow-up albums that I am aware of, the assumption is they disbanded at some point. Some of Release‘s members have gone on to play in other bands, as I pointed out above. Overall, Release remains one of metaldom’s more obscure, semi-one-offs.

Maybe some of you can fill me and the rest of us in on what became of Release?

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