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Metal Label Spotlight: Victory Records

by Chuck Eddy

Metal Label Spotlight: Victory Records

About this playlist

Chicago-based Victory Records started out in 1989 as a hardcore label, evolved within a couple years in a more metal direction, eventually landed somewhere closer to emo (with a bit of pop punk and post-grunge and maybe even third generation ska tossed in), and got mixed up in a couple legal tussles with bands who'd left the roster on the way. The imprint's logo is a mean old bulldog ready to rumble, a good match for the thick-necked bully-boy bent of many Victory bands over the years -- pugs, mugs and thugs might just be more sensitive these days. Anyway, this playlist concentrates on the label's more metal leanings as time has passed, though even early skinhead signees like Manhattan's Warzone had their heavy side. As did, for instance, hardcore inventors Bad Brains and oi! O.G.s Cockney Rejects, who both released one-off records under Victory's awning -- an EP of early sessions and a compilation of signature tracks, respectively.

Victory is probably better known, though, as the label that put out numerous early albums by then-up-and-coming metalcore/alt metal/screamo strivers such as Atreyu, Bayside, Within the Ruins, and the Syracuse, N.Y., vegan straightedge gang Earth Crisis -- not to mention Hatebreed's debut, five by Between the Buried and Me, and three by A Day to Remember. Others, like biracial Jersey thrashcorers God Forbid and ex-big-league nü-metal crews Taproot and Otep, arrived on Victory a few albums into their careers. Roster mainstays nowadays include consistently Billboard-charting Connecticut-to-Queens deathcore mooks Emmure; Latin American Jersey rapcorers Ill Niño; and even such far-flung squads as Sweden's relatively trad metal, female-fronted Sister Sin and Finland's campy graveyard-punk-to-nü-metal team Snow White's Poison Bite. They're all in this mix, along with several other metalloid bands ranging from Christian to death-style who've called Victory home, briefly or for entire lifespans.

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