Various Artists

Contaminated 5.0

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Remember those Marvel Universe comics where you could sample just about every superhero out there in a single location? Well, Relapse Records' double-disc compilation Contaminated 5.0 serves a similar purpose for die-hard metal-heads, who can delve into a large sampling of the groundbreaking label's impressive roster of extreme acts (45 bands, in fact) without blowing their entire trust fund. After just one listen, it becomes apparent that disc one collects most of the label's premier and/or sonically diverse acts, while disc two focuses on their good old bread and butter, death and black metal. As such, the latter can prove somewhat exhausting to unprepared listeners, who would do well to start with the eclectic "rising stars" featured on disc one. Among these, the standouts include stone rockers like Alabama Thunder Pussy and Bongzilla; doom metal masters past and present like Pentagram and High on Fire, respectively; oddball experimentalists like the Dillinger Escape Plan, Alchemist, and Neurosis; and groundbreaking purveyors of modern death metal like Today Is the Day, Mastodon, and Nile. As for disc two's awesome 27-song onslaught, special kudos go out to contributions by Suffocation, Cephalic Carnage, Red Harvest, Uphill Battle, and Cryptic Slaughter. For a quick slice of what extreme metal has to offer in 2002, this is about as good as it gets.

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