Releasing The Plague – Dark Horizon Records Interview

Dark Horizon Records is a label from the USA that released until now (at least in my opinion) very good bands. Of course, I don’t have all the releases made by them, but I have plenty. At least the ones I could find in Europe. So I decided to send them the “Releasing The Plague” questions. Check it. The Key Keeper 666

Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. Tell us a little bit about the story of the label. How did it start and how far do you think you’ve come since that time?

Dark Horizon Records has been in existence for over 21 years and has always supported the DYI underground spirit! While we primarily focus on Black and Death Metal, we have an open mind when it comes to music and our releases reflect that with their diversity. Dark Horizon Records has been involved in the underground Black and Death Metal music scene since 1998. I have been involved with music and bands since 1991 (Subconscious, Morpheus Descends, Fog, Typhus and Holocaustum). I helped create and manage Die Hard Distribution out of Middletown NY back in the 1990’s until I relocated back to Fort Wayne, Indiana here in the Midwest and started DHR in 1998. Over the past 22 years DHR was the first label to release albums by such groundbreaking and now considered “CULT” artists the likes of BLACK WITCHERY, CONQUEROR, REVENGE and LUCIFUGUM. We are also responsible for early releases by FOG, HORNA,  FLAUROS, and ASTRIAAL, as well as releasing the anti-religious extremely profound music of TYPHUS, CROWNED IN SEMEN and FORNICUS.

Stepping away from metal to release the somber and solitude infused Dark Neo-Folk of NECHOCHWEN & OCTOBER FALLS, while also being the first label to release the “Samhain / Misfits / Mercyful Fate” influenced Horror Thrash Metal Punk of THE LURKING CORPSES. We were also given the opportunity to release and EP for Austria’s ABIGOR. I feel DHR has released many interesting and diverse bands over the years, and I think our continued existence of over 22 years should make a bold statement. I also know most of the bands who have worked with us would consider DHR a label of relevance, integrity and dedication to their band, the music, and the philosophy they choose to project. One of the best things to come from running DHR is getting the opportunity to work with other like-minded bands, labels and being involved in releasing sincere underground music.

In 2021 we are now working on our 41st release, which is a raw and hateful Black Metal split between the bands FORNICUS & OFSTINGAN on DIGIPAK CD, which will be out in April 2021. Another testament to our dedication to deep underground metal! This split CD is excellent and would sit well next to some of your classics in your collection that were released years ago!

In 2021 we are also working on DIGIBOOK re-issues of some of our early releases:
TYPHUS “Grand Molesters of the Holy Trinnity” 2010
FOG “Through the Eyes of Night Winged They Come” from 2001
LUCIFUGUM “Instinct Prevalence” 2001

At the end of 2020, DHR released the 15-year anniversary DIGIBOOK edition of “Profound Blasphemous Proclamation” form my band TYPHUS, which was first released back in 2005. Also, at the end of 2020 DHR released the third album from Kentucky’s FORNICUS called “Sulphuric Omnipotence” on JEWEL CD. All can be found at our website darkhorizonrecords.com

How do you choose which bands to release? How much are your own tastes, or what you expect your audience’s tastes a part of the decision-making process? Do you have some set boundaries of the kind of music you will or won’t release?

The bands we choose to releases are based solely on my tastes and some have been projects of my own (FOG, TYPHUS, HOLOCAUSTUM). For the most part bands and labels approach us and if I feel it is in alignment with my ideals and tastes, we work with them. Fans or Audience is not a consideration when choosing what bands or labels we work with. Some of our DHR releases have gone on to gain a “Cult” status and others have faded into the oblivion of SOLD OUT forever… None were ever chosen by the thought of “audience” or “boundaries”. In my opinion DHR are an obscure, eclectic outlander of the “scene”.

There should be no boundaries in Metal or Music/Art in general. Too many individuals in the current atmosphere are seeking to cancel or smear artists over controversial imagery or lyrical topics. In my opinion it is weak and impotent to sit behind a keyboard with the intent to cancel or act as the judge, jury, and executioner simply because you don’t like or agree with a band’s ideals or philosophy. Always keep in the back of your head that the thought police will eventually come for you too!

What does your label have to offer bands that will make them want to release their music with you, rather than with another label? What are your preferences when it comes to deciding on vinyl, CD, cassette or digital formats and what factors are part of your choice?

DHR has a long-standing reputation for being an honest label with integrity to our bands and to our mail order customers that support the label and its activities. Some of our bands have ended up on well-known labels after a release or two on DHR. So, I would imagine that these could be qualities that could have an influence as to whether a band would want to submit a demo or album for us to check out.

Deciding release formats depends on a release-to-release basis depending on each record label and band budget involved at the time of pressing.

Do you think of yourselves as being an ‘underground’ label? Would you want the music you release to one day to have more of a mainstream appeal, or do you think that would dilute what you do?

We are what I like to call “Deep Underground” because I am not trying to sign and release bands that would fit any type of “profile”, “sound” or “business model”. I choose what speaks to me regardless of outcome. I am a metalhead first so that is the main factor, however like I mentioned, we do sometimes work with bands outside the extreme metal genre altogether. We are not seeking mainstream appeal or success, so I do not feel that any DHR release would ever dilute the intent or purpose of what we do. 

What I have found over the years is that the “bigger”, “more prominent” or “mainstream” labels seem to cherry pick artists from the “Trenches” so to say. For example, with our bands BLACK WITCHERY, CONQUEROR or REVENGE, DHR were there to work with these bands for their early releases helping to propagate a following for them regardless of what people, or the “scene” would think of them, or us for that matter. Their music was potent, and I felt these bands deserved an outlet, in time other labels came along with offers to them and the rest is history…

Can you compare your experiences dealing with other labels from Europe, North America, South America, or Asia? Have you found some factors that make one or other more easy or difficult to work with?

We have worked with many bands and labels from around the world and have never had any real difficulties. I would not want to shit-talk even if we did. It is what it is, and DHR still stands stong through all these years!

Do you have anything in the pipeline that you’re excited to mention and do you have any “dream bands” that you’d love to release something by?

No “dream bands” I can think of. However, we are always listening to demos submissions, albums, bandcamp releases etc. DHR are also working on deluxe limited edition DIGIBOOK versions of some of our older releases and we have a waiting list of bands and releases that we will eventually get to. We do not work on a set schedule and DHR is financed by me, and by those who support our releases and mail order. So, when the buget allows new releases will hit the streets.

As for Pipeline / Coming Soon Releases:
DHR041 – FORNICUS & OFSTINGAN “Split” DIGIPAK CD, (USA) April 2021.
DHR033 – TYPHUS “Grand Molesters of the Holy Trinnity” 2010, (USA) DIGIBOOK re-issue 2021 tba
DHR006 – FOG “Through the Eyes of Night Winged They Come” 2001, (USA) DIGIBOOK re-issue 2021 tba
DHR008 – LUCIFUGUM “Instinct Prevalence” 2001, (UKRAINE) DIGIBOOK re-issue 2021 tba

OUT NOW:
DHR019 – TYPHUS “PROFOUND BLASPHEMOUS PROCLAMATION” DIGIBOOK CD / SHIRT (USA) 2020 AVAILABLE
DHR040 – FORNICUS “SULPHURIC OMNIPOTENCE” CD / SHIRT (USA) 2020 AVAILABLE
DHR039 – KARKOSA “HARVEST OF THE ADEPT” CD (USA) 2018 AVAILABLE – LAST COPIES
DHR038 – DEMONIC TEMPLE “INCREMENTUM” CD / LP (POLAND) 2018 AVAILABLE – LAST COPIES
DHR037 – FORNICUS “HYMNS OF DOMINION” DIGI CD / 12″ GATEFOLD LP / SHIRT (USA) 2017 AVAILABLE
DHR036 – OBSCURE DEVOTION “UBI CERTA PAX EST” DIGI CD / JEWEL CD / SHIRT (ITALY) 2017/2019 AVAILABLE
DHR035 – HOLOCAUSTUM “IN THE FIELDS THEY BLED” CD (USA) 2015 AVAILABLE
DHR034 – HOLOCAUSTUM “CRAWLING THROUGH THE FLAMES OF DAMNATION” CD (USA) 2011 AVAILABLE
DHR030 – NECHOCHWEN “ALGONKIAN MYTHOS” CD (USA) 2008 AVAILABLE

Finally, any info for fans or bands to get in touch or follow what’s happening with the label?
Website
Email
Join DHR mailing list here

Thanks for the interview and honest support of Dark Horizon Records.
DHR Mail Order stocks over 5000 items – Est. 1998!

Lord Typhus – Owner

**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.
#WeAreBlessedAltarZine
#TheZineSupportingTheUnderground

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