20 greatest Epitaph Records bands, from Pennywise to Architects
Established by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz in 1981, Epitaph Records set out to bring together the California punk scene under one umbrella. It soon outgrew that original mission statement and went on to become a certified authority in other genres as well. From the springboard on which From First To Last received their launch into fame to the stepping stone for Architects’ new era, Epitaph’s acts and landmark albums have cemented the label’s legacy.
The versatile Epitaph roster reads like a who’s who of innovative bands, allowing us to mention Parkway Drive in the same sentence as Joyce Manor. With that inclusivity in mind, we’ve brought together the 20 greatest Epitaph signings both past and present over the label’s 41-year tenure.
Architects made a dramatic shift with 2014’s Lost Forever // Lost Together and haven’t looked back since. Their first output on Epitaph distanced from the aural chaos of previous effort Daybreaker and heralded a new, slickly produced age charged with contagious screamalongs and gut-wrenching breakdowns. The outfit’s next three albums have followed that successful template into the stratosphere, cementing Architects as metalcore frontrunners on a mission to bring their genre to the attention of the mainstream.
Bad Religion have maintained an enviable relationship with Epitaph Records since their debut, particularly because the label is owned by guitarist Gurewitz. Producing their first seven albums under the Epitaph umbrella, from 1982's How Could Hell Be Any Worse? to 1993’s Recipe For Hate, the band stepped away from Gurewitz’s own outlet to produce four albums under Atlantic. The prolific LA crew then jumped back into the fold with The Process Of Belief. They have remained with the label for a further five records. Finding a consistent home to share your singalong melodic punk sensibilities is no mean feat over 40 years in the business, but Bad Religion have made it look easy by simply owning the joint.
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
If the Cure met Death Cab For Cutie in the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they’d probably create the World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. The artists set out to prove exactly what their elaborate name suggests and succeeded with their 2015 sophomore album, Harmlessness, their debut on Epitaph. The record forces you to sit back and think about life, the world and everything in it. Two albums further down the line, we still don’t know who we are and what we want, but at least the World Is A Beautiful Place.
Bring Me The Horizon
From obscurity to mainstream, Bring Me The Horizon have become metal’s chameleonic superstars. The seismic shift from Count Your Blessings to the now-landmark Suicide Season in 2008 is in part attributed to their signing to Epitaph that same year, ushering in a broader and more marketable approach to their original sound. That all may have changed by the time their final Epitaph effort came about in 2013, but their rise to prominence in the heavy scene was overseen by the label’s support through to their acclaimed output Sempiternal, setting the tone for metalcore as a whole to follow BMTH’s lead into the unknown.
Every Time I Die
Every Time I Die's innovative approach to metal without boundaries or expectations is what set them apart. The label oversaw the outfit’s greatest efforts in From Parts Unknown, Low Teens and last year’s Radical. The Epitaph umbrella encouraged the rise of a thoroughly thrilling metal name from their signing in 2008 and remained beside them until the Buffalo, New York, band parted ways.
Picking up Millencolin in 1995 to release their output in the States, Epitaph established a long-running relationship with the Swedish skate-punks that has lasted over 25 years. While the outfit remained connected to sister label Burning Heart Records for their affairs in Europe since their debut, 2015’s True Brew marked a full-scale shift to the main Epitaph umbrella and thereby heralded a new era for Millencolin — one of neatly produced radio-worthy bangers to shake up what it means to be punk rock in the present day.
Joining the Epitaph fold in 2019 for their versatile third effort Patience, Mannequin Pussy have already proved themselves as ones to watch. With a flair for teeth-baring punk that can't be ignored, the Philadelphia trio have found the right home to distribute their punchy anthems. Whether you have a soft spot for melancholic ballads or short but sweet ragers that refuse to hit the three-minute mark, Mannequin Pussy are your next obsession that’ll be on repeat all day.
Remaining loyal to the label that co-released their debut, Killing With A Smile, in 2005, the relationship between Parkway Drive and Epitaph has been a successful allegiance on both sides. For Parkway, they’ve received a consistent name under which to release some of metal’s most exciting albums in recent years, and for Epitaph, they’ve had the pleasure of supporting a successful outfit like Parkway for over 15 years. It’s a mutual understanding that’s gifted us with albums such as Ire and Reverence, for which we are eternally grateful.
Epitaph and Joyce Manor have enjoyed a successful allegiance over the years. It's a relationship that started with their signing in 2014, just in time for third album Never Hungover Again. Dancing along the fine line between indie and pop punk that others fear to tread, the Torrance, California, set have elaborated upon their signature approach under the Epitaph name and released three albums laced with grit, melancholy and Barry Johnson’s lulling vocals.
From First To Last
Try to imagine the emo scene without “Note To Self” or “Ride The Wings Of Pestilence.” Impossible? Then we have Epitaph to thank for exposing us to pivotal tracks that raised a generation sporting eyeliner and skinny jeans. From First To Last burst onto the scene with their Epitaph debut Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Bodycount in 2004, and things were never the same again. That is, until their sophomore album, Heroine, two years later. The outfit's collaboration with Epitaph was brief but no less effective in launching them into emo stardom.
Motion City Soundtrack
Sometimes in a long-running relationship, a break is necessary for both personal and collective growth. This also applies to the artist-record label allegiance, as proven by Motion City Soundtrack’s lasting connection with Epitaph since their 2003 debut, I Am The Movie. After the resounding success of their first three albums, jam-packed with pop-punk mastery, the group departed the label for the release of their fourth effort in 2010. However, they rejoined two years later with Go as if nothing had changed, remaining loyal to their original label through a brief hiatus.
A breath of fresh air for the Epitaph roster came with the arrival of Adult Mom in 2021, the rising New York set armed with raw, unapolgetic lyricism that you need in your life now. Joining the label for Driver, the trio formed by Stevie Knipe address their founder’s genderqueer identity amid deeply emotional tracks and relaxing melodies, growing from what was once intended as a solo project into a full band.
Joining fellow Californians Bad Religion under the Epitaph umbrella for their self-titled debut in 1991, Pennywise’s signing firmly established the label as a landmark in punk representation. For their ninth album, the productive outfit turned to a surprise MySpace release in 2008 but soon returned to the label’s fold with 2012’s All Or Nothing and beyond. Enduring drastic member changes, returns and personal tragedy, Pennywise have shared their journey with Epitaph. In turn, Epitaph have shared the joy of Pennywise’s signature brand of punk chaos with us for over 30 years.
While Jane Doe may have been Converge’s breakthrough release, 2004 follow-up You Fail Me finally reached the mainstream charts with the help of Epitaph Records. Five storming albums later, the band have used their time at Epitaph to explore their theatrical inclinations and genre-melting concepts without restrictions, putting creative freedom before commercial success but consistently reaching the charts regardless. Consistently unpredictable and refreshing, the heavy realm would be a far less exciting place without Converge.
I Set My Friends On Fire
A true scene upbringing would be nothing without the precedent of I Set My Friends On Fire, established by their 2008 Epitaph debut You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter. Where glittering electronics meeting abrasive metalcore screams would fail on paper, the outfit made such a chalk-and-cheese hybrid work to spectacular effect, and Epitaph found the right audience for it. While short-lived, their collaboration with the label produced one of the scene movement’s most iconic albums.
The Linda Lindas
The Linda Lindas are no inexperienced outfit. The recent Epitaph signees inject punk into present-day singalongs, all while empowering women and POC to follow their dreams. The four-piece were spotted by Amy Poehler at a show in 2019 and asked to star in and record for the soundtrack to feminist Netflix movie Moxie. After a string of Netflix features, the Linda Lindas were signed by Epitaph in 2021, and their anticipated debut album, Growing Up, is out April 8.
Touché Amoré shifted to Epitaph Records for their most deeply personal album to date, Stage Four, addressing vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s mother’s passing. Signing to a label such as Epitaph appeared to grant the band newfound musical freedom that would continue into 2020’s storming Lament, creating two of their best albums and elevating Touché Amoré to the stages where they and their addictive anthems belong.
For a band so pivotal in the experimental metal scene, it’s hard to comprehend that letlive. produced only four albums in their 15-year tenure, the latter half of which were released under the Epitaph umbrella. Synonymous with the development of the post-hardcore world toward soulful inflections while clutching onto its raw punk roots with all its might, the LA outfit signed to Epitaph in 2011 for what would be their final two records. They've since become iconic metal landmarks beyond their split in 2017.
The Ghost Inside
Gaining traction after 2010 sophomore effort Returners, the Ghost Inside headed to Epitaph for their first major label release two years later. Produced by A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon, Get What You Give perfectly encapsulated the band’s metalcore mission and paved the way for their most successful outing Dear Youth in 2010. Five years later, their tragic tour bus crash changed everything, threatening their future as a band. Fortunately, the band returned stronger than ever for their 2020 self-titled, supported by the Epitaph label and their loyal fanbase.
When it comes to the American branch of authentic punk, Rancid are the blueprint. No sooner had they released their first EP in 1992, the Berkeley set signed to local California label Epitaph Records for their self-titled debut full-length a year later, opening their history books with four career-defining albums packed full of their own brand of contagious punk anthems fused with ska sensibilities and pop punk energy. Frontman Tim Armstrong created Epitaph subsidiary Hellcat to release their next five outings, where the Epitaph parent label has consistently underlined the career of an iconic outfit synonymous with the evolution of punk into its many descendants.