Antichrist Magazine gets to know an aspiring British Black Metal Label, Marwolaeth Records.
Greetings Josh! May I thank you in advance for granting this interview with Antichrist Magazine. I feel we share a lot of common interests so please, let us get into it… There’s a reason I contacted you at Marwolaeth Records and we will get to that but first, can you please explain to our readers why it was that you started a record label, what does ‘Marwolaeth’ mean and what exactly it represents?
I started this record label as I wanted to see the British black metal scene thrive, whether this is though compilations, releasing demos, or anything of that nature. I wanted to be able to give bands a platform and the audience they may otherwise not have had, and through this strengthen the black metal scene in the British Isles. The word “Marwolaeth” means death in Welsh, the end life. I found that the word fit well with the genre of black metal, which is usually this destructive, chaotic enigma, much like death itself. I am also from Wales myself, so any chance to use the language is a welcome one.
It was many moons ago that I started listening to Black Metal. Can you tell us how and when it came to be for you and why it’s clearly so important to you now?
I think it was in 2009 (I was in my teenage years at the time) when I went to my local newsagents to grab the newest issue of Metal Hammer, which I bought religiously. Right next to it was a copy of Terrorizer, and it was a special edition on the history of Black Metal. At that point I don’t even know if I’d ever heard about “black metal”. I had no idea who Varg Vikernes was, no idea about the church burnings, and certainly no clue who any of the bands were. But as this was around the time where I was getting more and more into metal, I thought this was a good a time as any to be exposed to a new genre of music. Needless to say I wasn’t ready for the free CD that came with it (it opened with ChthoniC – Rise of the Shadows, and included Aura Noir, Darkthrone, and Beherit among others), but the magazine also mentioned Cradle of Filth which I was already familiar with, and I wouldn’t start to get into the music until next year when I was first exposed to Dimmu Borgir. Later I would be introduced to bands like Enslaved, Gorgoroth, and Mayhem, which cemented my love for the genre. I now mostly listen to the likes of Peste Noire, Goatmoon, Tsjuder, and Moonblood.
As far as Marwolaeth records goes, have you ever organized live events or brought together projects of some type?
I have yet to organize a live event (something I am looking forward to be doing in the future), but I have brought bands together through a compilation and a recently released split. The compilation is titled British Black Metal – Vol 1, and features 19 bands from within the British Isles, each bringing their own unique spin on the genre. Meanwhile the split which is titled Annûn (meaning disunity or divided in Welsh) features two Welsh bands called Iselder and Merciless Savage. There’s already the plan for another compilation in the coming months, and hopefully there are more releases in the future.
What are your ultimate ambitions with Marwolaeth Records?
The goal for Marwolaeth Records is to gives bands a chance to reach a larger audience and be put on a bigger platform than they otherwise might have been. The idea to do the compilation had been a goal of mine for a year or so at that point, and it was a bigger success than I ever thought it would be. The compilation was originally set to be free to download, but after less than thirty minutes of being live it had hit the free download limit on bandcamp. This led to it being priced at 50p, as I didn’t want to put too much of a price on something that was originally meant to be free to everyone. Through this it raised enough money to do a short CD run (which has since sold out), and the compilation has had over 4000 plays and more than 300 downloads. However to get back to the original question, I would one day like to arrange a full day black metal festival full of bands within the British Isles. I would also like to own a small record store/venue, but we’ll see how the future pans out for the label first.
Can you give us your thoughts on the British Black Metal scene in comparison to the rest of the world? This question comes straight from my view (and reason for contacting you). When I search for Black Metal from Britain, I’m shocked that we do not seem to have the same scene as we used to and nowhere near what other parts of the world has… Poland, France, Iceland etc.
We do not have such a strong presence within the black metal scene as those countries you’ve mentioned, no. It’s also worth noting that a lot of British black metal bands seem to go for a much more atmospheric and epic approach when compared to other scenes. Whether this helps or hinders the growth of the scene, I do not know. Whenever you see a listing for a local black metal gig in the UK, there always seems to be the same two or three bands on the bill. Rarely do I see a band that I’m not already somewhat familiar with. We can’t just keep leaning on these pillars and expecting them to hold the weight of the ever expanding British black metal scene. We need more bands to play more gigs, and not just the same band at the same venue over and over again. Adding to this, I was recently watching a documentary on Finnish black metal (which I highly recommend), which made a point that in Finland you have one black metal band for every one thousand people, but in the UK you have one band for every one million people. But to see a scene thrive you do not only needs bands, you need people to support those bands. To the people reading this, go to your local black metal show (whether you know the bands or not) and support the scene. If you can’t make it to a show, buy an album or a t-shirt, so you can give your support to the bands you love without liking something on social media.
Do you actively seek bands for Marwolaeth Records or do you let them find you?
If a band wants to email me their demo, then that’s great. I almost released a demo recently, but due to unforeseen circumstances I told them it’d be a better idea for them to find someone else to release it for them, which worked out in their favour as I see nothing but positive words towards that release. I’m not currently searching for bands for upcoming releases, but I will always check out music sent to me. The least I’d be able to do is reserve a spot for them on an upcoming compilation. If I do like music sent to me I will make my interest to work together known, but I’m mostly looking for smaller bands to show to a wider audience. If the music’s good, I want as many people as possible to be able to hear it. This will hopefully strengthen the British black metal scene, and see it thrive again in the near future.
Josh, thank you very much for allowing myself and our readers here at Antichrist Magazine to understand Marwolaeth Records a little better. Anyone who’s interested in the British Black Metal scene should check out the Marwolaeth Records Bandcamp page and have a good listen to what’s currently available. I highly recommend it, I’ve become a follower and fan… You can also follow what the label is doing on Facebook.