After nearly a decade on hiatus, Sweden’s CENTINEX rebounded with 2014’s more than solid comeback, Redeeming Filth. Two years later and their next full-length slab, Doomsday Rituals is scheduled for release in July 2016 on Agonia Records. It’s available for preorder with 3 promising tracks streaming on Bandcamp.
Decibel Magazine broke the news a couple weeks ago that the mighty ENTOMBED is back in action with 3 original members: Guitarists Alex Hellid & Ulf Cedarlund and drummer/writer/driving force/sometimes secret vocalist Nicke Andersson! Plans on the table at the moment are Close-Up Magazine’s Båten cruise in late October and a performance of Entombed’s 1991 classic Clandestine with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra on November 12. Continue reading
I became familiar with The Crypt label a couple years back when I discovered Chicago’s long-defunct death metal Morgue and went fishing for a physical copy of their sole album, “Coroner’s Report.” As it turned out, The Crypt had just announced their upcoming vinyl reissue of that very same album. It took a while for the reissue to see the light of day but it was very much worth the wait. The amount of care that went into the packaging was clear and it’s one of my favorite LPs.
Looking at the The Crypt’s back catalog and planned future releases shows an immense dedication to the old school. As of today, I’ve picked up The Crypt LP reissue of Mercyless‘ Abject Offerings and Dark Symphonies’ CD reissue of Hexx‘s Morbid Reality and they’re both outstanding.
With that, here’s Ted Tringo, founder of the Dark Symphonies label, which begat The Crypt, which begat a slew of reissues, anthologies and discography compilations for bands and albums that live at the edge of our collective memory.
According to Discogs, Dark Symphonies’ first release was 1996. How does it feel hitting the 20 year mark?
Ted Tringo: Actually, the label started in February of 1995, so we are now in our 21st year and it feels great. A real sense of accomplishment to stay true to what we believe in for all of these years and still doing what we started way back then.
How did Dark Symphonies get started? Did you start it alone or with partners?
It actually began as a mail order which I started myself. I began buying CD and LP wholesale orders from small underground distributors, and kept that going until we had enough revenue to finance our first CD release and turn the mailorder into an actual label. From then on we traded our releases for more titles and grew the mailorder that way.
Your band Autumn Tears was the cornerstone of the label. How did you handle band interests vs. label interests?
Band and label interests ended up being more or less along the same lines, as even though Autumn Tears wasn’t metal, we in the band loved underground metal music. It was an unlikely pairing but it worked great for us.
Can you talk a bit about Dark Symphonies’ roster back in the day? Was there a type of band you looked for?
Well, aside from Autumn Tears, the first band we signed that wasn’t us was Maudlin of the Well back in 1999. That was followed by Rain Fell Within, Long Winters’ Stare and Novembers Doom. Back then we were looking for metal bands that had something unique to offer, whether it be unique and melodic or progressive. As long as we felt the band offered something special, we were interested.
As an ex-Chicagoan, I have to ask about Novembers Doom. You seemed to catch them just as they were breaking. How did you come to work with them?
I actually knew Paul from the early ’90s as we did some trades back then, and they were also friends with Clint from Long Winters’ Stare. We all met at a Milwaukee Metalfest and Paul had discussed his displeasure with the current label situation he was in. Being a fan of the band at the time, we were interested in working with them, so we were essentially able to buy out their contract and worked with them for two albums after that.
As I understand it, Dark Symphonies has two imprints: Forest of the Fae and The Crypt, and then The Crypt has its own imprint, Cult Demo Series. Can you explain each one and how they relate to each other? What makes them “sublabels” instead of just separate labels?
Forest of the Fae is currently defunct as it was more of an experiment sublabel for non-metal bands which proved to be less than lucrative, as by the time we started it, interest for that kind of music seemed to have died out.
The Cult Demo Series is a current sublabel of the Crypt which specializes in bands that actually never had an album out before, only demo recordings, so we felt that would be a nice touch to have a separate label to do that.
What was the relationship between DS and Blood Fire Death Records (Krieg’s record label)?
Blood Fire Death Records was a sub label of Dark Symphonies in the later ’90s that specialized in USBM bands. As Dark Symphonies leaned more towards progressive and melodic metal bands at that time, we turned the reigns of Blood Fire Death Records to Neill Jameson from Krieg, as it was Krieg that had inspired the BFD label to begin with.
You’ve licensed several DS releases to other labels for reissuing (Rain Fell Within, Novembers Doom). Can you explain how a deal like that typically works? What makes the licensing more attractive than reissuing it yourself?
We actually only every licensed those two releases. Rain Fell Within’s “Believe” to Hellion Records in Brazil and November’s Doom’s “The Knowing” to Pavement for USA. As we were still growing at the time, we felt it would be a good way to help spread our name and our releases to a wider fan base.
DS releases slowed down in the mid-2000s, ending with the last Autumn Tears album in 2007. The DS website says that you are “no longer signing or distributing material for any new bands.” When did you officially pull the plug and why?
We officially stopped signing bands in 2007 as we had basically had our fill of all the red tape and headache that comes with the whole signing process. It is so much less stress and so much more fun to just license classic releases now and not have to worry about all the drama that comes with band signing.
Two years later, we have first release on The Crypt: 2009’s reissue of Excruciate’s 1993 album, “Passage of Life”. So right off the bat, you’re exercising The Crypt’s MO: Dig up a killer, long out of print, largely unknown album from a largely unknown band and give it new life. Did this just happen or did you set out with a plan, or…?
It had always been interested in reissuing my favorite early 80s and 90s extreme metal releases, especially since many had never been released on vinyl, so in 2009 it just felt like the right time to do it. I dove in head first and it has been successful ever since.
The Crypt had 4 releases in 2009, followed by an explosion of anthologies, discography compilations and album reissues in 2010 that’s only gotten stronger since. Considering the economy in the States at that time, the “no one buys music anymore” problem, etc., how in the world did this succeed so well?
It seems that the “no one buys music anymore” philosophy never applied to metal vinyl collectors as for them, collecting LPs usually displaces rent, food, utilities, etc.
How did you come to work with Morgue? Why was there such a long delay getting that released?
I have always been a fan and now with the power of the internet, I was able to track down Brad and talk to him about about releasing the entire discography on vinyl for the first time. Of course he was thrilled at the idea. The only reason for the delay is because we had so many releases planned prior to Morgue, so they basically had to wait in line 🙂
How do you go about securing the rights to material this old? Are these mostly beer-and-a-handshake deals with the main guy(s), or do things get tricky, legally, like tracking down ex-bandmates, dealing with bad breakups, etc…
Luckily it has not been so difficult but we always make sure it is done correctly and legally with a contract. The process is usually different depending on the band, but most times we have to secure rights from the actual original label and the band members, making the process longer, but in the end, the final release is always worth the effort and expense. Plus the fact that we are only ever looking for licensing rights and not publishing rights, it makes the people involved much less reluctant to work with us.
Do bands approach you or is this strictly an archaeological endeavor?
It has gone both ways depending on the band, but the majority of the time, I am the one who does the scouting for releases.
Do you have a sense of who’s buying The Crypt’s releases?
Mostly vinyl collectors from what I see online, but I can’t really say as a whole for certain.
The DS website also says you’re a “vinyl label only”. Embracing vinyl makes sense, but is it really time to phase out CDs? Did you go that route for purely financial reasons or something else?
Just to specify, The Crypt is a “vinyl label only”. Dark Symphonies is a CD label. Two separate labels but doing the same thing. That disclaimer is more so bands don’t contact us looking for a label to release their album as we don’t do that anymore.
Discogs says you use GZ from the Czech Republic to press vinyl. What’s the benefit to using someone halfway around the world? Are there any challenges working with an overseas press?
The benefit of GZ is that they are a one stop fulfillment house so we don’t have to press the printwork in once place and the vinyl in another. The biggest benefit is that most of our distributors are in Europe, and GZ will drop ship directly to them, making things much easier and cost effective for everyone involved.
What’s your relationship with Dark Descent? If it’s deeper than distribution, how did that come about?
We have been friends since 2009 and they are a great partner label for distributing our releases. One of the biggest supporters of our labels since we began and continues to be.
In 2014, after 7 years of no release, Dark Symphonies starts up again, seemingly reissuing The Crypt releases. Why?
The main reason is that with all of our LP releases, we felt they deserved CD releases as well since we love CDs as much as LPs, have experience manufacturing and distributing them, and most of the original CDs are impossible to find for a reasonable price,. Who better to do it that a label that has had 21 years experience and already currently working with the bands?
Ted and people like him are keeping the old-school alive and play a vital role in preserving music that created in obscurity and lives in perpetual state of being lost completely (magnetic tape doesn’t last forever).
Incantation are set to play some select US dates and a solid European run this summer, kicking off with an appearance at the Obscene Extreme fest in the Czech Republic.
June US Dates
- Jun 24 Columbus, OH O’Shecky’s*
- Jun 25 Crest Hill, IL Bada Brew*
- Jun 26 Lansing, MI Mac’s Bar*
July European Dates
- Jul 14 Obscene Extreme Festival – Trutnov (CZE)
- Jul 15 Neudegg Alm Abtenau – Salzburg (AUT)
- Jul 16 Elyon Club – Milan (ITA)
- Jul 17 Le Korigan – Luynes (FRA)
- Jul 18 Tba (FRA)
- Jul 19 Tba (FRA)
- Jul 20 Le Klub – Paris (FRA)
- Jul 21 Muziekcafe Elpee – Deinze (BEL)
- Jul 22 Little Devil – Tilburg (NLD)
- Jul 23 Chaos Decends Festival – Crispendorf (GER) *Incantation Only
- Jul 24 Viper Room – Vienna (AUT)
- Jul 25 Akc Attack – Zagreb (HRV)
- Jul 26 Metal Days Festival – Tolmin (SVN)
Unleashed has had a remarkable career. Exploding out of the gates with “Where No Life Dwells” (1991) (reviewed here and recently reissued on vinyl (again)) and “Shadows in the Deep” (1992), the Swedish killers settled into more sustainable mid-tempo groove for “Across the Open Sea” (1993), “Victory” (1995) and “Warrior” (1997). They took a bit of a break after “Warrior”, but came back in 2002 with the half fun, half dreadful “Hell’s Unleashed” which kicked off a string of releases that got better as they went: “Sworn Allegiance” (2004), “Midvinterblot” (2006) and “Hammer Battalion” (2008).
The next album — “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010) — switched things up a bit, taking on a slightly black metal feel which carried through on their next two albums, which includes “Odalheim” (2012) and “Dawn of the Nine” (2015).
Anyone familiar with those three albums can attest to the fact that Unleashed are far from done yet. If you’re not familiar, here’s some proof:
- “Master of the Ancient Art” from “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010)
- “Fimbulwinter” from “Odalheim” (2012)
- “Welcome Son of Thor” from “Dawn of the Nine” (2015)
Exciting update from Nuclear War Now:
“The future headquarters of NWN has been found. The offer was accepted recently and we’ve already begun the process of closing the deal. It’s taken a bit longer than expected, and cost a bit more, but the end result will be better than we had originally planned. This location will provide more than 6000 sq ft of working space for NWN, and enough space to host a retail record store in the front! We are excited to know that we will open our future long-term operational headquarters in just a matter of a few short months. With your continued support, NWN looks to the ever onward and ascendant horizon.”
Read the whole story here: http://www.nwnprod.com/?p=5256
- Mitch Harris on Righteous Pigs‘ “Ruinous Dump” from Stress Related (1987)
- Mitch & Mick Harris on Defecation’s “Side Effects” from Purity Dilution (1989)
- Mick Harris on Painkiller’s “Scud Attack” from Guts of a Virgin (1991)
Century Media have snuck out what appears to be a nice anthology for Infestdead, Dan Swano’s early ’90s death metal project. Remastered by Swano himself (naturally), Satanic Serenades is a 2xLP on 180g wax in a gatefold sleeve adorned in art by Gyula Havancsák (Annihilator,Destruction, Jungle Rot) in both traditional black and limited edition gold (100 copies).
Satanic Serenades starts at $19 on CMDistro.com North America.
I’ve tried and tried but can’t remember, not even a little bit, how I got hold of this tape but there are enough clues to give me a general idea. What I’ve got is the cassette reissue (NBA RED 6050 – 4) that came out in 1992 with different cover art and a bonus song on side one. What that means to me is that I almost certainly bought it in Florida, probably at Vinyl Fever, and like much of what I picked up at that time, the only thing to recommend it was the band name. My thinking was probably something like this:
“Defecation! Huh-huh, yeah, okay, right on, I bet it sounds like shit. Oh well it’s on Nuclear Blast, how bad can it be?”