Label Feature : Bindrune Records

This week I spoke to Bindrune Records mastermind Marty about running a record label in the digital age, Heathens, the evolution of black metal and how much cassettes suck (ha ha) read on:

* So you guys started as a partnership between Scott Crionic Mind Records and and you from Worm Gear Zine how did you guys get to meet?
We met in 5th grade when Scott’s family moved to Traverse City from Illinois. He’s one of the main influences on me in getting into metal and it’s more extreme forms. Always been a dear friend to me. I don’t speak to him often these days, which is unfortunate, but he’s still one of my best friends.

* What made you want to start a record label in a time where most record labels are going out of business?
Probably not the smartest thing to do eh? Haha. It all boils down to passion for this music, the desire to try and help other bands get a boost and a tenacity that isn’t smart enough to know when to quit. I still believe things are cyclical. Look at the return of vinyl and cassettes. There is a growing movement within the world of music that wants to purchase and support music/bands/labels again. It’ll come around. At least this is what I keep telling myself!

* I know a lot of your releases are about pushing musical boundaries – what do you look for when bands send you a link to their demos? Do you both have to agree on each signing or?
Scott is no longer involved in Bindrune. Hasn’t been for many years. I think the last project he was a part of, was Celestiial’s Desolate North, which was our 4th release (we are over 30 now), BUT he was a MAJOR part of getting this label off the ground. But for me, a bands atmosphere and uniqueness is always at the forefront of my appreciation. Also, are they good people that are easy to work with? This is also a huge factor. But the music… it isn’t just a series of good riffs for me. There has to be a “spiritual”, for lack of a better term, connection for a band to truly earn my interest. And of course they have to fit in with the aesthetic of the label.

* Do bands have to be pagan minded to be signed to Bindrune? What about satanic or Christian bands if they musically fit your tastes – would you be down to work with them?
There is no set in stone ideology that I need to connect with a band on as I tend to shy away from organized religion. BUT, I refuse to work with racists. The style and sound of the label does seem to attract bands who have an interest with pagan or heathen ideologies which I’m completely fine with as many of the thoughts within those circles are nearest to my own when trying to dissect my typically unfulfilled beliefs. Satanic bands are fine… I’m of course a fan of many bands that adhere to this tired and true religious path and I wouldn’t let something like that stand in the way of releasing their music if I found a connection with it, but these type of bands tend to be far more aggressive and less atmospheric than I typically gravitate towards for Bindrune. But… never say never!

* Are you a practicing pagan? If so what faith? I would presume Asatru but I could be wrong – please enlighten me?
I have a great respect for people that practice faith in nature and the archetypes that connect gods/goddesses to our living world, but I am not a practicing pagan, nor do I have the time to further my research into the teachings into it. Call it more of a fascination. I am more heathen minded, with a love for nature and respect for others. Music for me has always been my unfaltering religion. The rest just feels like it begins and ends with common sense.

* How did you get into black metal and what was the band that was your “A-ha” moment?
Well even though it isn’t your stereotypical “black metal” and really wasn’t called that, bands like early Bathory, early Kreator, early Destruction, early Sodom were my A-ha moments in the proto black sound due to my age and when I came into this style of metal back in the 80’s. For more modern black metal bands… the first CDs I ordered in regards to “Norwegian black metal”, were the Emperor/Enslaved split, Mayhem – De Mysteriius Dom Sathanas, Satyricon’s Shadowthrone and Burzum’s Det Som Engang Var. All of these releases were eye opening and mind blowing. I was hooked.

“Black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery”

* Black metal over the last 25 years has gone from loud fast punk rock recorded on a 4 track cassette recorder style bands to neo folk and more – what would you say has been the biggest change in black metal for you and where do you see the movement going into the future?
This is perhaps a generalization, but black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery and a lot of the new bands are simply trying to re-invent the riffs perfected by their idols. I’m not saying all black metal is bad or a “trademark” sound, but there are so many damn bands out there all fighting for the same scraps, it’s hard to uncover the ones that have something to offer that is more of a reflection of the individual behind the corpse paint.

“Great people exist behind the art”

* What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment with the label so far?
Surviving for 17 years now. As largely a 1 man owned an operated business, other than some greatly appreciated help and new members over the past 5 years or so, Bindrune has been a lot of hard work, dedication, debt and struggle, BUT we are growing and doing our best to offer fans of the label and this music some truly inspiring artists to enjoy. This and the friendships that have risen out of working with some of these bands have been the biggest accomplishment. Great people exist behind the art and many of them I have drank with and become friends with. At the end of the day, this means the most to me.

* What would you consider to be your labels biggest failure to date?
Huh. There hasn’t been any real definitive failures. Sure, some bands sell better than others, but I have been a fan of everything I have put out. I guess the failures reside behind the scenes and typically revolve around finances. But, we all learn from such things and we will forge onward.

* What’s been the biggest hurdle in growing your business? The rise of postage costs or? What bit of advice do you wish you could have told the Marty who was just starting out?
The biggest hurdle is keeping potential fans interested in buying music. Digital is still a part of a music fans collection and once people download something, they may be less prone to go that extra step and purchase a physical copy. Collecting music is expensive and takes up space. Some folks have neither to warrant a big collection. Postage cost overseas have grown into a nightmare and it forced us to unite with a like minded label to share the international postage burden. We were lucky to find that partner in Nordvis Produktion/Andreas. I’ve often said that we started this label 20 years too late, but the reality of it is, I wasn’t in the place I needed to be back then to be able to stick with the mission. So really, I have nothing big or secret to tell myself starting out that would be a bombshell. I believed in what I was doing then AND now. It’s all expensive and juggling cash is always a struggle when sales are low, but the end result is always a feeling of accomplishment.

* What’s been your favorite release on the label to date and why?
There has been many. Wodensthrone – Loss, Nechochwen – OtO AND Heart of Akamon, Falls of Rauros – The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood, Panopticon – Roads to the North, Ahamkara – Embers of the Stars… I could find something in every release that would make it my favorite depending on what day of the week it is, but these albums were all something truly special/powerful.


“Cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there.”

* Are you surprised with the return in popularity of cassettes in certain musical genres (Black metal, grindcore etc) As an older guy I never thought I would see cassettes make a come back. Do you think its purely a novelty item or do folks see them selves carrying around the most portable analog sound device going?
I really am surprised. Next to 8-tracks, cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there. I grew up collecting them as they were gold standard when I was a teen burning through my allowance/lunch money to get everything I could in an exploding scene. What surprises me even more, is that I’m also buying them again. Mainly crusty black metal and dungeon synth releases. The latter just feels right on cassette for some reason. Like I said earlier in this interview, everything is cyclical. I can’t wait for people to come back around again and actually LIKE CDs. They truly are the most resilient, durable and sensible medium.

* How do the releases on  Eihwaz Recordings differ from the releases on Bindrune?
Eihwaz began as a brother label to Bindrune created by Jim Clifton and myself to release bands that we thought were great and probably didn’t fit within the Bindrune aesthetic. These bands tended to be more aggressive, or death metal leaning, but as time went on, more black metal seeped into the roster. Eihwaz is earning its own voice and as I have splintered off from releasing titles with Jim so that I can focus on Bindrune, Jim is continuing onward to help the label grow and further find it’s own voice. Great bands. Great new label AND a great friend behind it all!!

* Have you guys consider a Bindrune music festival (Like the guys did from 20 buck spin and Giliad media and their migration fest) or a traveling tour of your artists?
A Bindrune fest is always in my thoughts and has been for years. It may eventually happen as a lot of the bands have voiced interest in playing such an event, but at the moment, it seems like a logistical/financial nightmare in my head. Fingers crossed! We shall see what this and next year brings!

* Have you had any problems with the narrow minded bigots of the left accusing you guys of being nazis or racists for using Heathen imagery in your releases and with the label yet?
I really haven’t, at least to my face, but I have made it known out there that Bindrune ISN’T affiliated with racism or fascism. Some people will always see the logo and just assume that we are that way due to the runes, but they would be seriously mistaken and I can’t control what people think. Bindrune has members in bands that are Anarchist, pagan minded, all just normal, forest dwelling people that try to find the good in folks out there and in nature. The hatred found out there in the world is so damn tiring. It’s time to make more constructive choices folks!

* What can we expect from Bindrune recordings in 2017 and onwards?
A lot. It’s crazy. Impending releases:

Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial CD/LP

Vaiya – Remnant Light CD/LP

Coldfells – S/T (With Eihwaz)
Alda – Passage 2LP

Panopticon – Roads to the North 2LP reissue

Panopticon – Autumn Eternal 2LP reissue

Panopticon – Kentucky CD/2LP reissue

Paths – In Lands Thought Lost CD/LP

Saiva – Bortom markerna

Wilt – Moving Monoliths 2LP

Krigsgrav – Waves of Degradation LP

Several new signings which we shall announce soon! Stay tuned.

*Any final words to your friends fan and followers?
Many thanks to all of you for the kind words and support! It means a lot!

Check out our new webshop here:

LIKE them on facebook here:

Sentient Ruin Laboratories – Record Label Interview

This week I interviewed the elusive “M” from Bay Area Black metal label Sentient Ruin Laboratories, he runs one of the best new labels to come out in recent years – check out his words of wisdom here

Hey dude thanks for doing this

* So you are based in Oakland, were you born and raised there or move their at some point? What drew you to the area? Late last year I spoke with both Atrament and Cardinal Wyrm and marveled that there is a such a tight knit group of musicians in the Bay Area , even though real estate is some of the most priciest in the USA
I’m originally from Europe. I came here casually on a two week vacation to visit a friend and never left. Eight years later, that vacation is still ongoing I guess. Staying here was easy and painless and made total sense for a person like me, and for someone who’s into music as much as I am. I found my ideal environment here. While I was here visiting I went to a few house shows and thought to my self “ok, this is it”.​

* Following up on that why do you think the Bay Area has been such a great source for underground bands for 60+ years?
​I think we need to trace this back to “quest for the West” in contemporary history… California has always been – and was especially in the past – a “frontier land”, that attracted all kinds of fortune seekers in search of new opportunities. This is known history.​ Soon this mass migration of different peoples and cultures into a specific geographical area turned into a fertile ground for countercultures, and SF and the Bay Area started to attract many artists, hippies, and a wide array of people dwelling in countercultures, poetry, alternative arts and philosophies and so on.

This is also known history. This migration turned the Bay Area into a place full of gifted and often eccentric people, and I think this is where the music scene started to become a thing of its own. So even more people moved here to be a part of it and I guess it just snowballed from there. I think people bored with average arts/mentality in suburban mainland American come here to be a part of something that better matches their vision, so a lot of talent ended up flocking here. But you are right, things are changing now. The Silicon Valley started attracting completely different people, who now seek wealth, money and careers, and who are pushing out the long-time artist residents who once could survive on their art and now can no longer do that.

* I call the whole Bay Area the Goldilocks zone weather wise, as in my mind it’s weather is perfect – not too hot not too cold – why do you think (on paper) such a mellow area as the Bay Area has produced its own unique spin on Black Metal?
Well, coming from a Mediterranean country with cold and snowy winters, I can tell you I do enjoy the often sunny/mild winters we have here but I hate the cold ocean in the summer and the otherwise somewhat “spineless” summers where it’s hard to enjoy the beach and the water. I grew up using the amazing Mediterranean water to cool off from the hot summers, and now I feel always “summerless”. The weather here definitely has its pros and cons.

Black Metal here has nothing to do with the weather, as I believe the weather had nothing to do with it in Scandinavia either. Other factors determine the presence, quality, and genotype of black metal in my opinion. With a lot of Bay Area thrash I think that it eventually transmigrating into black metal only made sense. And again, people from all over the world moved here, so they probably also brought their black metal influences and leanings here with them.

* How much of an influence do you think Neurosis has been on the whole Bay Area scene?
Enormous. First in punk, then in heavier and more extreme metal environments. They are a world institution who changed everything. Their legacy transcends and goes well beyond the Bay Area.

* What made you want to launch a record label in this day and age?
I was (and still am) in a band, and while for a band being on a cool label is always an easy seduction and something nice to think about, I’ve always also​ felt the same about the opposite direction: self-releasing. It’s always seemed like a cool thing to me and something to be proud of. So, when my band finally recorded a debut release we looked for labels to release it, but at the same time I also wanted to use the opportunity to experiment with self-releasing.

Since experience and funds were limited I started with a tape release of our debut album since it seemed cheap and viable. Later, without a real plan in mind, I ran into a very cool release by some friends of mine – an album I was deeply drawn to – and which in my eyes was extremely overlooked and which existed only on the band’s Bandcamp as a digital thing. So I decided to put it out on tape for them, and try to get the word out about it, and things haven’t stopped since.

* What record labels did you follow growing up? I know when I was a kid and record releases mattered, if I saw a band’s album I had never heard of before, looked on the back and recognized the record label – I knew what I was getting..was that the same for you?
Yes it was, though some labels were a mixed bag for me, and while I loved most releases they did, I knew they’d publish a turd from time to time as well. At first it was Relapse, HydraHead, Southern Lord, Willowtip, Neurot, Touch and Go, Prank Records, Slap a Ham, Amphetamine Reptile, Profound Lore, Peaceville, Candlelight, Season of Mist, Profane Existence, Earache etc. Toward the mid/late two thousands however I started to get really into labels like Aurora Borealis,​ Utech, Cold Spring, Norma Evangelium Diaboli, Nuclear War Now, Anja Offensive, Osmose, etc. Today those labels are still a huge inspiration.

* Why do you think you primarily focus on digital and cassette releases. The mainstream music industry sees cassettes as a redundant format. What made you focus on cassette releases and have you had any problems with this format yet?
The premise is that we operate outside of any industry and as such what the industry thinks has no role in what we do. Cassettes actually have their loyal cult following, and are highly sought after in some inner circles.

You just need to crack that awareness barrier, and make the tape nerds aware you exist, and of course then put out cool tapes that people will enjoy. I actually love tapes. I think that they are fun and cool items and I definitely fight on their side for their survival and preservation. They also have a cool sound and are practically convenient: small, resistant, etc. I started with tapes simply because they are a great training ground to teach you the job. A label is a thing you build solely by learning from your mistakes, and tapes allow you to make mistakes without taking a huge financial hit. Now that I know more what I am doing, I’ve decided to release vinyl as well. It’s still a learning process, but what I’ve learned from tapes has helped me and now I have some experience and knowledge to curtail bad “business” decisions.

* Your A+R feels like it is all over the place, (which is fucking awesome if you ask me) what does a band have to do to qualify for a Sentient Ruin Laboratories release?
Make music they strongly believe in, be serious about it (record it well etc), be humble, be real, and be homies. Styles don’t matter, it’s more about “this shit’s amazing, and people need to hear it” and that’s where I step in to offer them a hand.

* How do you yourself discover new bands? scour bandcamp daily? word of mouth?
It’s all over the place. I’ve definitely found bands on Bandcamp or from Facebook shares. Other bands like Necrot, Vastum, Leather Glove, etc. are personal friends of mine, people who make music I respect. We became friends through their music even before we worked on a release together, even before the label even existed.​ I yet have to release a band who contacted me asking for a release however….

* What’s been the release you have been most proud of so far and why?
That’s a tough question. American – “Coping With Loss” was the initial defining release that somewhat shaped the initial outlines of the label and kind of established its sound and intents.​

* Are there any bands from music history you wish you had gotten a chance to work with?
Holy shit yes, hundreds. But let’s be real(istic)​…. I’d like to work with this Spanish band called Emanation, and I’d like to work with Sutekh Hexen again soon. In general I’d like to work with more noise, industrial, ambient etc. bands.

* What advice would you give to any bands looking to partner with you?
​Mine is still very much a small label, so I don’t know how much bands are “honored” to be on it, haha. But in general – record stuff that sounds good, and let’s just focus on having fun and learning from each other.​

* With your palace of worms release you split the vinyl release with Broken Limbs records, how did that partnership come about? Do you see yourself doing vinyl releases any time in the near future?
Actually, BLR did the LP completely on their own, I released a tape and co-released that tape with another very cool Bay Area black metal/noise label ​called Acephale Winter Productions. But, I know Pete from BLR as being a fan of his label, and cause he worked with my band in the past on a vinyl release.

* What’s been the biggest headache in running your label so far?
Right now my dog and my girlfriend are hating the boxes of tapes and vinyls that keep piling up in our small apartment seemingly with no end, ahah

* What can we expect in 2017 from Sentient Ruin Lab?
Upcoming in the next month or so are the Gateway tape, the Friendship “I&II” tape and the Petrification debut demo tape along with the vinyl version of VRTRA’s “My Bones Hold a Stillness”, of which the tape came out last fall. The first half of the year will see The new American LP/tape, the new Show of Bedlam LP/Tape, ​and the Friendship “I&II” LP. Planned but with no release schedule set yet are the Leather Glove full length LP/tape, a Black Earth LP/tape, and a few other things I can’t really disclose right now cause they are either still unconfirmed or the bands would not permit.

* Any final words?
It means the world that anyone would want to know more about a small entity like SR. Thanks for the interest and the support!

Transcending Obscurity Records – Interview with Main man Kunal

Every few years a record label comes along and really shakes things up in the music industry, labels like Metal Blade, Earache and Relapse spring to mind. In case you haven’t noticed in recent years that label is Transcending Obscurity records based in India! This week I spoke to main man Kunal on the Black Metal scene in India, bandcamp versus physical releases, “Vedic” metal and much more! Read on

* So where about in India are you from? My very limited knowledge of India is that the province of Bangalore is hungry for anything western and are huge metal fans. I have also been told Northern India (farming land) is very beautiful and not over crowded at all.
Thank you very much first and foremost! This is very much appreciated. I’m from Mumbai aka Bombay, India. It’s the commercial capital of our country and indeed, the most developed city. Despite the congestion, I love the fact that people here are among the most professional ones and that they are open-minded, which is not easy to find in an orthodox country like India. India is like a mini-Europe you can say. Every state has its own culture and heritage. You are correct that parts of Northern India are indeed beautiful and cities like Jaipur and Udaipur in particular are gorgeous and have significant historical value. The congestion can be found mostly in the developed cities as a result of better job opportunities there.

* What do you think the advantages of being based in India are for running a worldwide metal label – what do you think the disadvantages are? I know many guys in metal bands who would LOVE to fly out and play shows in India (not just the big name bands either)
I think the only advantage is that the word here travels fast and people know your work soon enough. But there really aren’t enough metalheads here as there are in the western countries. One of the biggest disadvantages is the fact that there are no vinyl or tape manufacturing companies over here and it’s an area where my label is admittedly lagging behind. I hope with tie-ups and distribution, that becomes a possibility for Transcending Obscurity Records some time this year. Where it comes to live shows, the Indian audience is usually very enthusiastic and supportive.

* Being in the sub continent of Asia have you forged any partnerships with the metal scenes in China? Korea? Japan? Malaysia? Have you done much or any traveling to these countries at all?
I have done more of that you can say with India’s neighbours in Pakistan and Bangladesh significantly. There’s still a language or awareness problem where it comes to China, but I’ve signed three bands from Singapore this year and have been in talks with one from South Korea. Things should be better next year when I’ll be making a foray into the Indonesian metal scene as well as Japan, hopefully! I do wish to resume doing shows as I did earlier but only time will tell when I’ll be able to do that, what with my incredibly busy schedule these days.

* Like I said above I am not very well versed with the Black metal scene in your part of India. What got you into black metal – was it from some of the second wave bands Mayhem? Dimmu Borgir? Burzum etc or did you discover Black Metal via Death metal?
Emperor were one of the first black metal bands I heard. They were quite respected back in the day and even though it took me a while to get into it, with better sounding tapes, I came to highly appreciate that genre, especially nowadays. The texture and atmosphere is something that can’t be easily replicated with other styles. I think out of the five main genres (death, black, thrash, doom and grind), black metal is the most atmospheric and leaves a lasting impact.

* How easy is it in India to keep up with Black metal news and new bands?
The word of mouth and Facebook keeps you abreast of such developments in the black metal realm, but every now and then, you find yourself surprised with new black metal bands emerging. I guess it’s the same everywhere in that regard, except for the fact that motivation and the facilities to start one here aren’t the best, admittedly.

* Are there any Black metal bands who write about the old Indian gods or beliefs? (as Scandinavian ones write about the old Norse Gods)
90% of the bands here are directly influenced by the western ones – heck, some even write about Christianity even though it doesn’t really affect them, which I find ridiculous. Heathen Beast are perhaps the only black metal band actually employing traditional Indian instruments such as sitar, tabla, etc. Rudra from Singapore, who are hailed as pioneers of ‘Vedic Metal’ are hugely instrumental in fostering the ‘Indian’ element in metal music this part of the world in particular.

* What made you want to start a record label in the “digital age”? I am a great believer in that the digital age has made things better AND worse for bands and record labels alike but I would like to hear your perspective on this.
I honestly prefer the era of physical products. If I have to pay for something, I’d much rather have a physical version with me. It’s the same with a book. But on the other hand, there’s this convenience of instantly getting a digital copy without having to incur ever-increasing international shipping costs and sometimes risk damage to the product. The biggest problem with digital formats is that it’s extremely susceptible to piracy. The so-called fans would much rather torrent off something for free than value the music and pay for it. There are costs involved, to say the least, even in putting it out. It’s a lot worse this side of the world but I’m hoping by putting them across multiple platforms for dirt cheap, at least some will respect the artist and pick up an official copy. It’s not that they can’t afford it; we’re talking about mostly an English-speaking upper-middle class of metal audience in the country who can afford going to expensive pubs and shows, but shy away from picking up an official copy of an album. It’s just taken for granted and the fact that they claim to listen to it, apparently justifies their act of downloading it illegally. With so many streams, surely they can preview the material beforehand but it’s just an excuse and they just want to take the easier way out much to the detriment of everyone involved in putting out an album.

* How do you find your bands and what is the criteria for you signing them? (For the record I think you have great taste and are really uncovering some amazing music here!)
To be honest, I’m not very rigid with regards to the approach. I don’t care if someone has dropped me a song link on Facebook or some hugely respected band member has personally recommended the band to me. I sincerely check out every decent proposal from a band even though that’s very time consuming. I consider myself fortunate to come across some fantastic bands. My label isn’t the biggest out there, so sure, I do face rejections and find bands opting for a more prominent and a US-based/European-based label over one that’s from India, despite my deal being a far better one, but all said and done, it’s been fruitful and I hope to get a chance to work with more such great acts. I mostly look for originality or some form of innovation in their music, but at the end of the day, it should sound good to my ears. I really don’t care where the band is from or how often do they tour live. I’m not the best businessman in that sense but I can sleep peacefully at night knowing that I’ve done something right despite the increased risks in case of some brand new bands.

* What would you say has been your best success as a record label so far?
I was first of all quite surprised with the response to the release of Affliction Gate (France) which has already been sold out. Seedna (Sweden) picked up tremendously well even though I expected better from Swampcult (Netherlands) and even Abyssus (Greece) which were released around the same time. With that said, even Stench Price (International) and Echelon (International) did pretty well comparatively but it’s too soon to talk about the late-2016 releases perhaps. The best success of 2016 would probably have to be Rudra (Singapore) though. They are legends here and I’m hoping for even more sales via word-of-mouth.

* Do you have a check list of goals that you want to achieve as a label? Example: finding an unknown band from say South Korea or new Zealand and making them into a worldwide name band?
Actually I do! It entails venturing into formats such as vinyl and tape, securing US distribution through a tie-up of sorts, working with bands of some repute and well, that’s about it haha. I almost put in the same level of promotional effort behind every band, and frankly, it’s tiring at times. I feel like I have to start all over again with every release and I dread that process nowadays. It’s never easy, at least until you’ve been around for quite some time and have established a name for yourself as a label. But it’s also a great feeling when it catches on and then you get to breathe a sigh of relief haha. But it’s rarely on some kind of an autopilot mode, if you get my point, especially in the case of smaller bands. At times I have to remain regretful of it not doing well despite my high hopes and tremendous effort for the same.

* Do you ever foresee a time when Black metal would become as popular as it is? I just saw the Enslaved 25th anniversary show in NYC early December and I am sure if we both asked them 25 years ago would you still be doing this now they would be “what? no way!’
I think it’s partly to do with the evolution of the genre. Enslaved for instance aren’t playing the kind of black metal they played on ‘Vikingligr veldi’ or ‘Frost’. I think it’s only logical and that’s the best chance bands have to expose their music to a wider audience. This is the way metal will grow and sustain itself, despite the formation of several new sub-genres in the last few years. I met a kid at an art school who, upon being quizzed about metal, replied, “I only listen to sludge.” Gone are the days when you could expect a metalhead to appreciate all metal sub-genres. It’s getting compartmentalized and not in a necessarily healthy way. The audience is getting fragmented and perhaps the more “progressive” influences would still appeal to a normal rock fan or perhaps even a casual open-minded listener. So it’s difficult for the old timers to digest this, and I’d much rather that the ‘legendary’ bands would start new bands playing a different expression of the music than to sully their name playing music that’s extremely diluted. Some pull it off well but most of them lose their potency or relevancy, especially in death metal.

* You work with a lot of bands pushing the boundaries of what defines “black metal”, experimental, atmospheric etc etc What are your thoughts on the way Black Metal has morphed over the years? (For me Ulver’s early records sounded like darkthrone wannabes and then they did an album pretty much folk music yet it was still considered Black metal is a prime example of how quickly the genre was being re-defined)
I think the genre has seen most growth along with perhaps doom metal (if you were to consider sludge as a part or an extension of doom). I’m very glad it sidestepped the overdone Christianity bit and started doing something more pleasant and even personal. It’s a genre where it’s easier to blend influences from other styles and yet not betray the black metal sound. It allows for a lot more experimentation and the structures aren’t necessarily confined to a strict template. I want to work with bands that have their own feel to it, their own personal touch. Seedna, Norse, Somnium Nox on the label for instance all have their own sound and atmosphere. It’s not interchangeable but it’s something that is inherent in those bands. It’s increasingly becoming an art form, an experience.

* Is piracy an issue in India or is that more for big name bands like Iron Maiden – I know in places like China and south America up to 90% of music cds can be pirate copies.
As I touched up on the subject earlier, it’s a huge issue. I know for a fact many of the band members themselves endorse or don’t mind illegal downloading – that’s because they do it too. They’re content. Very few would actually buy an original copy after having downloaded it and even enjoyed it. That’s the problem. I’ve been forced to use a Bandcamp pro account with selective song streaming because otherwise they’ll just rip off an entire stream. I have to pay for the pressing, promotion, hosting, advertisement, distribution, not to mention sometimes giving bands royalties upfront, but with no one actually supporting the music the way they should, it’s not looking good. I think the initiative must come from the bands themselves. They should be setting a better example instead of whining all the time why people don’t come to their shows and how the scene is dying. They’re partly responsible for that too if they don’t support the scene or other deserving bands and expect everyone else to do that for their own band. I’m tired of losing money and these days  I’m just focusing on the international market where most buyers, if they like the music, they pick up a copy regardless of the format. That’s the reason I’m working with fewer bands from India and supplanting them with international ones. I can’t put out everything that’s being recorded and with the sub-labels having nearly fulfilled their purpose, it’s time to focus only on the main label now, Transcending Obscurity Records.

* Do you have ties to the promoters of Bangalore Open air? If so what are the chances of them bringing some of your bands out to play the festival? Would you ever consider a Transcending Obscurity music festival?
You sure have done your homework haha! That’s easily the biggest metal festival in the country but again, despite the promoter Salman doing a commendable job, the support could be better. He has often included my sub-label bands for his shows and it’s been great for exposure. I can only hope that some day he can even include some of the international bands on my label for his festival.

I have done a show in my city called Transcending Obscurity Fest just a few years back. Nine bands from across the nation played for that one. I do hope to start doing shows again, but not now, only a couple of years later when I can find some more time besides my label/PR activities.

* Speaking of festivals are there any festivals you personally wish you could attend? Wacken? Hellfest? Maryland death fest? Bloodstock Uk etc?
Oh I’d love to attend Maryland Deathfest in the US and also Obscene Extreme Fest in Czech Republic! Travelling there is damn expensive for sure but here’s hoping some day I can be there for at least one of them!  I also intend to travel in and around Asia to attend shows there from now on.

* What can we expect musically from Transcending Obscurity in 2017?
In addition to the releases that are already up for pre-orders this year, we’re looking at new releases of Drug Honkey (US), Mindkult (US), Norse (Australia), MRTVI (UK), Somnium Nox (Australia), Arkheth (Australia) and biggies in Paganizer (Sweden) and Ursinne (International). There’s also physical releases of Lurk (Finland) and Warcrab (UK) planned and possibly another Deceased (US) album reissue. I’m constantly in touch with bands but these are confirmed releases so far and should be out or up for pre-orders by mid-2017.

* Any final words to all your friends and fans?
Thank you so much for this well-thought interview! I’m doing my best here and it’s exhausting but I’m determined. Please check out our NEW Facebook page only for the label here –

We have a flat rate worldwide shipping of just $3.99 USD and I hope more people become aware of our label and find something of interest! If there are areas where we can improve, please let us know and we’ll do our best.

Lastly, we have a 55-bands free-for-download label sampler here –

Cheers and thanks again!

Official website –
Official Transcending Obscurity Records Bandcamp –

Kunal C.

Check out his labelsampler below