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The 10 best angry albums for getting some tension out

“Give me something to break / Just give me something to break / How bout yer fucking face” – Frederick Allen Mayne III

Catharsis is a concept that has been around since the philosophical days of Ancient Greece. It is taken from the Greek word katharsis, which means three things, purification, cleansing and clarification. Since the term was first floated around by Aristotle, it has been regarded as the purification of emotions through dramatic art, or the extreme emotional state one feels from feeling restored, such as soaring happiness. 

Whilst, catharsis can be taken quite literally in the medical sense, such as when regarding menstrual fluid or reproductive material from the sick, today we’re taking it for its artistic meaning, as Aristotle originally intended it. In his seminal work, Poetics, using a metaphor, the thinker compared the effects of drama on the mind of the spectator to the effect catharsis has on the body. 

Therefore, following this dramatic art, today we’re revisiting some of the best albums that give the listener an emotional release. This month at Far Out, we’re concentrating on Mental Health Awareness Month, and as part of this, we want to help any readers who might be struggling and feeling that they just need a bloody good release.

Whilst the albums on here aren’t the angriest out there by any stretch of the imagination, it is an eclectic mix of titles. They’re imbued with the anger of the artist that is so palpable that after listening, you’ll feel like you’ve been thoroughly cleansed of what’s been pissing you off as of late. 

There’s something here for everyone. Just be prepared to let it all out. As a word of advice, before trawling through, I’d recommend that you hide anything breakable that’s in your immediate vicinity.

The 10 best angry albums for releasing tension:

Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A

Straight Outta Compton, the 1988 debut by rap legends, N.W.A. is one of the most relentless albums ever released, and at the time, no one had ever heard anything like it. Infused with the violence of Compton’s streets, the bars that Ice Cube, Easy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and crew deliver on the record are incredible. 

Angry and taking America’s racist institutions to task, the themes remain highly pertinent today. They attack their peers and the police on the album, and after attracting an FBI letter for its threatening sentiment, the band started labelling themselves “the world’s most dangerous group”. Heavy beats and lyrical vitriol make up this album, and it will go a considerable way in helping you purge the ill feelings you currently hold.

Slipknot – Slipknot

We could pick any Slipknot record, and many of you will be screaming that we haven’t picked their second effort, Iowa, nothing quite matches the unfettered anger of their eponymous 1999 debut. Slipknot comes from the time when the band were at their most energetic, stoking the angry flames of discontent in the minds of all those who listened. 

Notably, during this period, when playing, the band would throw up due to just how hard they were giving it, literally purging themselves of the mesh of emotions they’d felt since they were kids. ‘Surfacing’ and ‘Spit It Out’ are two highlights, and whether it be the punishing, almost grindcore riffs, the ever-changing dynamics or the rawness of frontman Corey Taylor’s voice, Slipknot is an emotional enema. 

Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

This rap-rock masterpiece is Rage Against the Machine‘s equivalent to Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. Echoing many of the messages contained in N.W.A’s debut, frontman and eminent thinker, Zack de la Rocha, delivers some of the most cutting social commentaries ever released and backed by the muscle of the band’s music, Rage Against the Machine really packs a punch. 

From ‘Killing in the Name’ to ‘Wake Up’ to ‘Bombtrack’, the anger never lets up across Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 debut, and as soon as the last track fades out, you’re so apoplectic that you feel as if you want to take to the streets and throw a brick through your local politician’s window, which we do not advise, regardless of how great it would feel.

Forever – Code Orange

No list of the best angry albums for letting out tension would be complete without the release of hardcore legends Code Orange’s, 2017 album Forever. Even though it’s the band’s first release on a major label, this doesn’t detract from the tension and anger that is contained in it. 

There are flecks of industrial, metalcore and nu-metal here, and the riffs are just incredible; this was where guitarist Reba Meyers truly arrived as one of the modern guitar-playing greats. Remember when we advised moving anything breakable from your vicinity? This is why. As soon as the opener ‘Forever’ kicks in, you feel the anger flowing from your pores. Prepare to windmill. 

Dirt – Alice in Chains

It was a toss-up between Alice in Chains’ first two albums, but in terms of darkness and anger, 1992’s Dirt supersedes its predecessor, Facelift. This is undoubtedly the grunge legends’ masterpiece, and from start to finish, it is a real journey of emotions, and by the end of it, you feel sufficiently cleansed. 

The opener ‘Them Bones’ perfectly sets the scene with frontman Layne Staley’s primal howl, which sounds akin to something you would have heard pervading the cold halls of London’s Bedlam asylum. ‘Dam that River’ follows in due course, and the atmospheric divebombs on the intro/outro of ‘Rain When I Die’ is perhaps the most purging song on the record. From ‘Would?’ to ‘Angry Chair’ the emotional response you get from Dirt is quite astonishing. 

Money Jungle – Duke Ellington / Charles Mingus / Max Roach

Although you wouldn’t necessarily think jazz to be the angriest of genres, at points, it can be as enraged as pretty much every other title on this list. The genre is all about feeling, and many of our favourite jazz artists could, at times, be pretty angry fellows. Money Jungle was released in 1962 as a collaborative effort between pianist Duke Ellington, double bassist Charles Mingus and drummer extraordinaire Max Roach.

The album recording was marred by tension between the three musicians, with Ellington being considerably older than the other two, a generational gap formed, resulting in an argument that led to Mingus leaving the studio mid-session. The tension here is so palpable that your heart rate raises considerably, making you want to let out a scream, relieving you of the thoughts that have been bugging you all week.

13 Songs – Fugazi

In truth, I could have picked any Fugazi album as all deliver catharsis; however, their 1989 compilation 13 Songs, which is a combination of their first two EPs, is unmatched in terms of the anger and the release that it gives you. 

At this point in time, the band were at their most unapologetic before they started getting more experimental, so there’s the early hardcore vein of the members’ pre-Fugazi bands, Minor Threat and Rites of Spring, running through it, making you want to pogo all over the place, aided by the melodic twist that the band do so well. ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Glue Man’ are highlights.

Around the Fur – Deftones 

The question of which is alternative metal band Deftones’ best album is one that will likely never be answered definitively, as they’re all fantastic in different ways. However, when it comes to anger and the chance to vent your rage, nothing is better suited than their much-celebrated sophomore album, Around the Fur, which was duly lapped up by Generation X when it dropped in 1997. 

Sure, there are a couple of outdated lyrics that aren’t acceptable now, but we can look past that because, as a whole, it’s incredible. Big riffs, amazing drums and some of frontman Chino Moreno’s best screaming come on the album, making it a perfect release for your anger. There’s a reason I consistently listen to this record when at the gym; it just gives you that extra 10%. ‘My Own Summer’, ‘Lhabia’, ‘Rickets’ and ‘Headup’ will make you feel much better. 

No Love Deep Web – Death Grips

Death Grips are one of the angriest bands out there. I spent a considerable amount of time weighing up which one to choose but eventually settled on 2012’s No Love Deep Web. A stellar album from start to finish, as soon as the first glitches of ‘Come Up and Get Me’ fade in through your speakers, you’re pulled into the surreal world of MC Ride, Zack Hill and Andy Morin. 

From the pounding single ‘No Love’ to ‘World of Dogs’, once you’re locked in, you feel the blues starting to dissipate in a ball of frenetic energy. A personal favourite is ‘Lock Your Doors’. It’s a doomy and futuristic piece that sounds akin to a dystopian nightmare. On it, MC Ride sings: “Come on stick me, cut me, drain me, suck me, drink me, take me down.” 

Kick Out the Jams – The MC5

Nowhere else is the rage of the counterculture better felt that on Michigan heroes, The MC5‘s debut, Kick Out the Jams. It was recorded live at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit over two nights, Devil’s Night and Halloween, 1968, and because of this, the power of the band and their message is heard loud and clear. 

Frontman Rob Tyner famously issues the battle cry, “kick out the jams, motherfuckers”, as the band set about putting the world in order. It’s political, angry and thunderous, and there’s so much to love about it. The power of ‘Come Together’, where Tyner sings “Together in the darkness come with me”, as the music swirls around him, was unprecedented for the time. 

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