MetalManiacs.com ~ Special Feature: ABYSS RECORDS

MetalManiacs.com ~ Special Feature: ABYSS RECORDS

By: Mike Abominator

Welcome to the new era of the metal underground. There are quite a few labels clawing their way out of the grave these days. In the underground, it is crucial the keep the quality of the releases top notch, and have that old school feel to what the music represents. It is also important to reach out to the digital age, on your OWN terms. It is a reality, that, if you want to run a successful label, you have to have the best of both worlds so to speak. Dan Fergeson has been involved in the metal underground for years. He decided to turn his passion into a full on record label and start up Abyss Records. I decided that it was time to get a talk in with Dan to give people an idea of how it goes running a label, and get some insight of how he views things these days. Check out our interview, then also check out the reviews section after that. I talk about a big group of CDs that Dan had sent me to listen to and review. Good stuff down there! And then there are links to get into contact with Dan and Abyss Records at the end of this article.

1. Hails Dan! Thank you for your time with doing this. Let’s get started shall we! I actually want to go back to the beginning. How did you get into heavy metal and what are your early memories and bands/albums that you first got into?

DAN: I would have to say the day I really was possessed by Heavy Metal is when I heard IRON MAIDEN “The Number Of The Beast” around W.A.S.P. first album around 1984, and soon after heavier stuff like Slayer, Celtic Frost, Kreator, Naplm Death, Anal Cunt, Old Lady Driver’s, D.R.I., Dead Horse, Immolation, Morbid Angel, Entombed, Carcass came around soon to be followed by Darkthrone, Mayhem, ect…. 1990 was the year it really took off for me Death Metal & start of Black Metal as we know it today.

2. Did you always live in Indianapolis? How was the metal scene coming up in your area? Any favorite shows that you can recall?

DAN: Indianapolis is pretty boring, but guess laid back city, the scene has had some great bands come from it as well bands that suck and never give up it seems. Sure the same in most cities, just some better than others. My favorite shows in Indy ever hands D.R.I., Slayer /Motorhead / Overkill, Dead Horse, Skeletal Earth, Radiation Sickness & F.U.C.T. shows back in late 80’s early 90’s.

3. So at some point, you just said “FUCK IT!” and decided to start a label. How did the start of Abyss Records come about? Didn’t you actually start as a distro back in the day?

DAN: Believe it or not by selling JL America releases while same time pushing Emperor Demos, Burzum cassettes, Black Funeral / Darkness Enshroud releases and merchandise. Use to work with Mike Ford front man & founder of Black Funeral doing “A View Into The Abyss ‘Zine”. The label thing started more serious fall of 2008.

4. You were/are obviously a fan, so did you have an idea of what release that you wanted to put out first? And even the next few releases after that first one?

DAN: No not really, just kind of started to fall in place and I said FUCK IT, let’s do this and give it my all and best to make a quality label like they use to be. A label where most fans you like your stuff are most likely going to be into most of the releases if not almost all or all. I only release bands I personal like and support, not about how much or how little they sell but quality music to my ears and hope others feel the same.

5. I think the misconception for a few people was that Abyss was just a “black metal” label at first. There are black metal bands on the label like Hat, Christ Beheaded and Eternal Helcaraxe. But, as with the formula of any successful label, there are other types of metal in the mix with bands like Pasadena Napalm Division and Dead Horse bringing the old school thrash/crossover, the next Swedish death metal kings Corrosive Carcass and the long lost classic Fester album re-release of “Silence”. Did you always set out to be an all around heavy metal label?

DAN: Yes, I agree a lot of people jump to conclusions on what my label is about and or maybe not give bands the chance because they are not on front page of every metal magazine. I say pick the shit up and give it a chance, might just knock your dick in the dirt….hahahaha I just wanted to release all genres of stuff I like and or grew up listening too and bands I would support rather on my label or not. It’s just great to be working with bands like PASADENA NAPALM DIVISON, DEAD HORSE, FESTER, TORTURE DIVISION, ect….. people I grew up listening to involved in other bands or same.

6. Now I have seen you set up your distro booth at both local shows and also bigger festivals around the country. You obviously need to make money and get the products out there, but do you also see this as a way to make new connections for your business, or just a big pain in the ass? It has to get boring at some point watching bands you don’t like and making sure assholes aren’t stealing stuff? hahaha.

DAN: I will be honest here…. You can get some great connections and most important new fans of my artist and or customers in general. As aspect of making money, ect….. it’s more a pain in the ass and cost more than it’s worth to transport the shit back and forth, ect….. never really made profit doing it, done best at old Milwaukee Metalfest one year, but even that year I was told by other sellers sales was down as well attendance. That was only place any fucks stole anything was in Milwaukee Metalfest one year. CIM was good because it was close, ect….. just fucking HOT !!!!

7. Running a record label is an interesting thing at this point of time. Obviously the “major” labels are dying off and CD sales are down. But heavy metal fans are a different breed of course. The underground is thriving and killer labels are all over the place releasing new music. The collectable aspects of metal are especially popular with vinyl and even tapes being put out to ravenous collectors. There are also labels embracing the whole “digital age” and getting involved with digital downloads. Where do you stand on this?

DAN: Even metal sales are down to be honest, can’t sell 1000 CD’s like use to 5 years ago, people who download free and are killing the music industry as well bands futures. People are just to disposable these days and don’t value stuff as much, but at least there is still the die hard metal heads who collect and keep things alive. I could give a care less about Ioad, Digital downloads, ect….. I’m 100% collector !!!

8. Do you plan on getting into the digital down load arena? You also embrace the “old school” way with the die hard collectors editions, with colored vinyl and limited pressings. Can you have it both ways? For label survival, why the fuck not right?

DAN: All Abyss Records releases are available on most all major download sites Amazon, Itunes, as well others to purchase the artist music. Also can find Abyss Records artist on Pandora.com, Last.fm, Facebook, MySpace, ect…..

9. Is Abyss Records now your full time job? If not what do you do for work to pay the bills?

DAN: Yes, it can be stressful and I don’t run it using loans, credit cards, ect….. I survive sometimes better than others….

10. The era of record labels having to have “major distrobution”, print TONS of CDs, have a fancy office and a staff of people, and trying to fight the digital file sharing is now over. People like you Dan have changed the game and brought everything back to it’s roots and in house. This also brings a quality and passion that got lost with the corporate fucks that sold their souls years ago. Tell me about the day to day operations of Abyss Records.

DAN: Well first off thanks for taking notice on how I do run things and do try to keep it old school and fair for bands, not taking the rights from bands and fucking them over like big labels do. I know some bands who want to release stuff through my label has asked their older labels for rights back; even though not in print anymore or been for some time. The label still horde the rights from those bands, leaving the music lost in their grips.
I just get up and work off and on most the day 7 days a week working from home, I pretty much give up my free time for this passion….. METAL !!!

11. Now if you had to get the fuck out of dodge, FAST, and you only had room for 10 albums in your suit case, what 10 would you pick?

DAN: That shit gets too hard, I would burn up debating……. Hahaha I would have to grab as much 1990 Swedish Death Metal and early Black Metal as possible…. My out of print stuff if possible….

12. Tell me about any future plans that you have for Abyss Records, upcoming releases and all of that.

DAN: Well as long as people buy my releases and support what I do, I will continue bringing metal to the fans and helping keep it all alive.

13. I want to thank you again Dan for your time. Now is the time to share links for the label and also any last words.

DAN: Thank you for your support metal brother and all those who have support Abyss Records to this day, spread the word and support !!!!! http://www.officialabyssrecords.com
Vote Ron Paul 2012 or Tyranny !!!!

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REVIEWS SECTION:

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DIE HARD “EVIL ALWAYS RETURN/EMISSARIES OF THE REAPER”.

This is some bad ass death/thrash/punk&roll shit. It is heavily influenced by Venom. But what isn’t? hahaha. Die Hard do bring their own stamp to the satanic party though. This is a compilation of their original demo, their first EP and some rehearsal tracks. The “Evil…” EP was a good one when it came out and these maniacs started their world takeover from that. But the demo and rehearsal songs are where I drink the cup of blood! Those recordings are fucking awesome! The EP stuff is killer as well, I think the production is a little too clean for this ugly death noise though. The demo songs are where the band really stand out with the murderous material. It has that raw and evil vibe and sound, that cemetery/graveyard type recording that is fucking killer. Same with the raw rehearsal tracks. If you like the same shit that I do, GET THIS! BAD ASS AND ESSENTIAL!

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HAT “VORTEX OF DEATH”.

This has both the good elements and bad elements of what represents black metal for me. But the good far outweighs the bad with this album. Hat play the typical good Norwegian black metal style. The only bad parts are the thin and powerless guitars and over all sound. This does come up from time to time with this music. But Hat does have some power with their riffs, so they can get away with it at times. The creepy spoken word samples on the first song “Inhumanus Revelatio” add a killer evil vibe over the top of the atmosphere of darkness that is already there. There are actually creepy smaples and elements throughout this album that drag me to hell. A very good thing when listening to black metal. There are keyboards here and there, but they are done well and fit what is going on.There is enough of teh good type of traditional black metal on here to appeal to fans of that style. It is raw and simple song structure wise for the most part. But there are parts that have experimentation and throw in some different type of stuff that fits the atmosphere of the album. It is not totally aggressive as far as the attack goes. But it kind of puts you in a dark trance with the way the music creeps in on you. Good stuff. If you are a fan of the early to mid 90s black metal stuff, with a few different twists thrown in, GET THIS!

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THOUSAND YEAR WAR “TYRANTS AND MEN”.

Not my cup of blood, but this is very well done. If you like Amon Amarth, you will like this album. It is melodic death metal, which I don’t feel belongs in the same sentence for the most part. It has that “viking” vibe to it that those Swedish guys also have. TYW are from Alaska. VERY unique to say the least. It seems that mastermind Hiram Lohr knows what he is doing. The riffs are memorable to fans of this style and the prouduction is fat and crispy, heavy enough to punch you at times. Again, this is not the usual style that I enjoy, but I think that quite a few people would be into this band. For my tastes, I prefer when the band gets all out aggressive, like the fasts parts of the album opener “Defiance”. Fans of the more melodic style of heavy metal will also dig this album. It has plenty of riffs and notes that fit your coffin.

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DIABOLICAL “ARS VITAE”.

These guys have been at it for a while now. They originally came from theie fellow Swedish brothers At The Gates/Dissection school of death/thrash/black/at times melodic metal. This is a compilation of sorts. It has some new songs, which are more “majestic” and atmospheric, almost doom metal, of the mid paced variety. It is slower to mid paced with a dark atmosphere. This is slightly boring to me and I wouldn’t really get into it enough to buy it to be honest. Next up are the live songs. These songs are much more aggressive and faster paced. There are slower and mid paced parts, but it is more attacking and thrashier. Pretty cool thrashy and at times melodic death. There are some technical parts thrown in as well. The live recording is very well done on a killer sound board it seems. And then the bands initial debut EP is also on here.The songs are raw and the production is a little off. The guitars sound weird as fuck. The vocals are total old school Kreator mixed with black metal. But the material will appeal to those who like death/thrash with some technical elements thrown in there. Not bad overall. This will be essential for fans of Diabolical!

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NOCTIS IMPERIUM “NIHIL”.

This is an EP that has some studio material and also some live songs from these maniacs from Venezuela. On the drums here for the studio songs is Nick Barker in all of his triggered glory. I have never liked the sound of triggered drums. So this left a bad taste in my mouth from the start. But these guys play some good black/death from the Morbid Angel school. There is even a Morbid Angel cover “Maze of Torment” done in the studio and also live on this EP. Fans of MA, Deicide, Krisiun and the more death metal influenced black metal hybrid stuff will love this! The song “Noctis Imperium” is BAD ASS! Totally in your face riffs that kick ass! If these guys would get some old school sounding drums and have that graveyard feel to their sound, they would be deadly! But this will appeal to a wider audience with how it sounds now. It is very well done for sure.

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SINCERA “CURSED AND PROUD”.

This is a side project from the members of Fester and Algol. It isn’t far removed from Fester in the way it mixes black metal and death metal in the classic sense. There are other elements thrown in there. This has the prodding mid paced banging of Norwegian black metal bands like the old Ulver stuff and the older Isengard material. There are some fast banging parts here and there, but it is mostly a mid paced style that the band plays. There are quite a few tempo changes throughout the album though, which you can hear in the opening song “Tall and Proud”. Now there are a few studio songs to open this album up. Then there are a few live songs thrown into the mix as well. The live songs are raw and were taken from the audio of a portable camera. Surprisingly, the sound isn’t horrible, as MOST recordings turn out horrible when done like this. But this is a cool album for those into the bands that I mentioned above, and the bands that play a more doomy and atmospheric form of black metal.

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HYPERBOREAN “THE SPIRIT OF WARFARE”.

I had never heard of this band at all before getting this CD. They come from Sweden and play “melodic black metal”. I didn’t even know that was a genre! Hahaha. Just hearing that term makes me CRINGE! But Hyperborean isn’t bad. They have elements of black metal, thrash metal and death metal in their music. They are technical and progressive as well. There are quite a bit of melodies and harmonies in this music. The songs can get long and with many time changes. NOT my cup of blood. But if you like blackened and proggy death/thrash, then this is your band.

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THE GARDNERZ “THE SYSTEM OF NATURE”.

More Swedes. This time they are playing doom/death metal. It is like a death metal Solitude Aeturnus. Not a bad thing as I’m a SA fan. The name is weird, I was expecting some funny punked out crossover type of band. But the cover and layout looked so serious, I was confused. Anyways, I hear both the older and middle eras of Paradise Lost with these guys. The production is clean and the songs are written in rock formula, but these guys play the doom very well. “Lady in the Grave” could have been on one of the Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride demos. They do kill some killer momentum when they slow the build up and drop into the slower quiet parts. That’s what made some of that U.K. doom so legendary is that it never let up, it didn’t fuck around. It might have been slow, but it still kicked your ass. These guys aren’t as good as the other Swedish doom/death metal band Isole, but they have some promise. If you like the classic U.K. doom bands I mentioned (also older Anathema) then you should get this! The Winter and Vulcano covers are a cool idea, but I’m not a huge fan of either version.

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FESTER “SILENCE”.

What a unique and classic METAL album. Some like to call it black/death. Some call it black/death/thrash. It might be a mix of all of those. Fester really created something special here with “Silence”. It might be one of the most well loved and respected metal albums in the history of the underground. It reminds me of a mix of old Samael and maybe some of the early Greek black metal bands like Rotting Christ and Varathron. But it also mixes in some creepy and weird elements like the original way these guys structure and write the songs. And the vocals can be all over the place with the usual shrieks and also some whispers. There is also quite a bit of traditional heavy metal influence thrown into the mix. Regardless of what anyone wants to call it, this is a fucking amazing album! One of the classics that no one has ever heard! Hahaha. Or should I say more people NEED to hear! It is a breath of fresh air. It is metal done RIGHT. And that means it just sounds good. It sounds natural. This is ESSENTIAL to anyone that is a fan of a great metal album! ADD THIS TO YOUR COLLECTION!

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ANGREPP “PREPARE FOR THE ATTACK”.

Here is the demo from these Swedish maniacs that put out the killer “Warfare” album last year. I always dug this demo and this was a cool surprise in my Abyss Records package. These guys play angry black/thrash with some old death metal thrown in the mix. It has a style similar to fellow Swedish legends Bestial Mockery (though not as crushing or as great). They mix that with some Celtic Frost/Hellhammer type stuff. But this demo thrashes and pounds along with an attack that any fan of black thrashing mayhem will like. I woulnd’t say that this is essential, but it is a good demo with some kick ass songs. If you like good old standard black/thrash with touches of death, then you will want to get a copy of this demo! And if you are a fan of the “Warfare” album, then hunt this demo down now!

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DEAD HORSE “BOIL(ING)”.

Dead Horse have always been such a unique band with their own sound. This is a re-release of their 1996 EP given the fancy 2011 treatment. I had never really gotten into them. But their debut album “Horsecore…” has developed quite a cult following over the years. I remember when they played here in L.A. in the early 90s, there were a lot of people that were excited to see them. Now the music on this EP is not the crossover/thrashy stuff that was on the debut. It is more mid paced. It has some explosions of fast stuff like on the song “Reach Around”. Now I will say that this stuff is better than any “new” metal band of the mid/late 90s, or even the grunge stuff that was so popular in the early 90s. But at times the music on here reminds me of that era of music. It’s not bad at all. Just not my cup of blood. I have used that one before obviously. At times the music seems to be ready to explode and get all crazy and fast, but it remains at the same mid paced style for the most part. This is just for the die hard fans of Dead Horse.

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BODYFARM “BODYFARM”.

Here we have some killer death metal of the old school variety, that comes from The Netherlands. Now this was a self released EP that Dan had sent me. They will be unleashing a full length album on Abyss Records in the near future. And what we have here is some bad ass old school death metal. There is a very big Grave influence. I also hear a little Bolt Thrower and Asphyx at times. The attack is simple and crushing. The sound is heavy and the band moves at a deathly mid paced pace for the most part, but also slows it down and can speed it up with the best of them! This EP has a cool horror movie style intro that sets the bloody table for the 4 songs that come to destroy everything in sight. The production is crisp and clear, but not too polished. It is still heavy and does the overall sound of the band well. If you like old school death metal, then you need to hunt this EP down. And keep an eye out for that full length Dan will be putting out. BODYFARM KILLS!!!!!!

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There are a few releases from the Abyss lair that I had already reviewed. Here are some links to check those out:

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ENTRENCHED “INTEVITABLE DECAY”.
This is a great thrash album! Highly recommended!!!!!!
http://www.metalmaniacs.com/2011/entrench-%e2%80%9cinevitable-decay%e2%80%9d-album-2011-abyss-records/

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MAAX “UNHOLY ROCK & ROLL”.
Some roaring black/thrash madness from these rocking heathens. My GoatBrothers as well!
http://www.metalmaniacs.com/2011/maxx-%e2%80%9cunholy-rock-roll%e2%80%9d-album-2011-abyss-records/

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CORROSIVE CARCASS “ROT. IN. PIECES” 2010 DEMO.
ANOTHER Swedish death metal gem! Pure and raw old school terror! Album coming on Abyss soon!
http://www.metalmaniacs.com/2011/corrosive-carcass-%e2%80%9crot-in-pieces%e2%80%9d-demo-2010/

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BANE “CHAOS, DARKNESS & EMPTINESS”.
Very well done blackened death BETTER than the Belphegors and Behemoths of the world.
http://www.metalmaniacs.com/2011/grom-records-feature/

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MORE LINKS:

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ABYSS RECORDS
c/o Dan Ferguson
8063 S. Madison Ave. #360
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Phone # (317) 887-2302

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ABYSS RECORDS Official Label & Online Music Store:
www.officialabyssrecords.com

ABYSS RECORDS Official My Space:
www.myspace.com/abyssrecordsofficial

ABYSS RECORDS Official FaceBook:
www.facebook.com/pages/Abyss-Records/164573050232055

ABYSS RECORDS Official ReverbNation:
www.reverbnation.com/label/abyssrecords

ABYSS RECORDS Official Last FM:
www.last.fm/label/AbyssRecords

ABYSS RECORDS Official You Tube:
www.youtube.com/user/MinionfortheAbyss

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Article link: www.metalmaniacs.com/2012/special-feature-abyss-records/

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