The Record was released on May 16, 1982, on Slash Records with the catalog number SR 111. It was re-released on CD in 2007 with the single "Fuck Christmas" as a bonus track.
The album has been regarded as Fear's best album and as a classic album of the 1980s Los Angeles hardcore punk scene. It has received mostly positive reviews, with Mark Deming of AllMusic rating the album 4.5 out of 5 stars and stating that it "makes sense that John Belushi was a big fan of Fear, because The Record sounds like the punk equivalent of the movie Animal House -- puerile, offensive, and often reveling in its own ignorance, but pretty entertaining on a non-think level while it lasts". He also stated that Fear had a "fairly unique perspective -- they seemingly embraced punk as an efficient way to piss off everyone around them, and there's no arguing that they achieved their goals with flying colors on their first and best album, The Record".
Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan picked the song "We Destroy the Family" for his 2016 list, "The 10 Best Punk Songs", and said, "Fear’s debut album The Record still gets played backstage before I go on".
In June 2012, a new lineup of Fear re-recorded The Record in its entirety. With a slightly altered track sequence, it was released by The End Records on November 6, 2012. Due to the sexism of songs such as "Beef Boloney" and the homophobia of the song "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones", certain lyrics were altered for the remakes. The re-recorded album received mostly negative reviews from critics and fans alike. Jason Lymangrover of AllMusic rated it 2.5 out of 5 stars and stated: "The reason why this was made is a complete mystery. The '80s version is obviously the way to go. It's a perfect snapshot of the snottiest band of the punk movement baiting everyone and everything around them". He also said that "finances played into the band disbanding before, so there is a good chance that this version was devised as a way to cash in. Even if the reasons are more innocent, and Ving believed that his time spent playing the guitar parts live for three decades would help him update his masterpiece, times have changed".