CORVUS OCULUM CORVI NON ERUIT
When it comes to personal music consumption it’s an undeniable truth that analogue formats fucking rule. Sure, the fact that you can have a million songs in your pocket wherever you go these days is cool as shit, but there’s a myriad of reasons an ever growing number of people will only accept nothing less than vinyl and/or tapes for their at-home listening pleasure (and if I need to tell you these reasons, I almost feel sorry for you… almost). Vinyl especially has been making a steady ‘comeback’ over the last decade, although for some amongst us it never really went anywhere – those whose record collections number in the thousands, spending far too much money on what could almost be deemed an addiction… those with the Vinyl Compvlsion.
Cheesy as fuck intro aside, the two men that run the label fall firmly into that aforementioned category. This endeavor was borne out of love for the format – Vinyl Compvlsion truly is just fanatics putting out releases for fanatics, and what’s even better is they both have killer taste in black metal. Deitus, Lascar and Tod Huetet Uebel are just a few of the names they’ve given the vinyl treatment to and they’ve even had a hand in getting one of the sleeper hit records of the year out into the world: Höstblod‘s Mörkrets Intâg.
Beginning as hushed whispers in the deepest shadows of the extreme metal record collecting world, the first VC editions were extraordinarily hard to come by. Rumour has it you had to be initiated into a clandestine order to even think about obtaining one of their unique colour schemes and/or limited releases. Well, in spectacularly good news for the common folk, that has slowly changed and these prizes are yours to be found if you look hard enough (and are quick enough – the Tod Huetet Uebel press sold out from their webstore in the blink of an eye earlier this week). I dig the ethos of the label and the two men behind it are fine gentlemen too, so for our next Label Spotlight I’m honoured to have them in for a chat about all things VC. Scroll down, read on, hit up the Bandcamp links to feast your ears on some of the glorious albums they’ve pressed, and go throw them some hails at the official VC store. Definitely a label to watch.
Hello C & M! Sincerest thanks for your time, I love what VC has been up to lately and it’s a pleasure to speak with you. For readers who don’t know (and skimmed over the intro to this article): Vinyl Compvlsion is a relatively new record label that specialises in giving underrated black gems the chance to shine on the best format of all, and their own often-clandestine colour variants that until recently have only been made available to a select few souls. But first, a little about the men behind it all: what drove you both to start such a specialty label?
C: VC was started through a couple of us not following ‘rules’ in another online vinyl community, we set out to have a space where there were as few rules as possible and people could have freedom of expression. Since then, VC established itself organically as a black metal collective and releasing records felt like a natural progression. Nothing like this was really planned, it’s just sort of happened. The first release came about by a few of us wanting to own “Deitus – Acta Non Verba” on vinyl and since there was no other label pressing it, we decided to approach Dawnbreed Records and proposed a joint collaboration and it all went from there. We were thrilled to have such a high calibre album as our first release and we will be forever thankful to the man at Dawnbreed that “showed us the ropes”.
M: It was a natural progression, really. We kept coming across bands on platforms like Bandcamp that had released great albums on digital, CD or sometimes on tape… as vinyl junkies, you would instinctively go and search out the vinyl version. More often than not, it just didn’t exist… certainly with bands from the BM underground. Deitus was a prime example. We both knew instantly this was a special band. We discussed the album in great length and I think it was that album that planted the seed to take things further at a much more serious level. I spent months hammering at the Deitus door, I think they thought I was deranged. It was only when C decided to also give them a firm nudge that they realised we were deadly serious. As a label staring up, sometimes the music won’t reach the desired ear because of other factors. We knew we had an audience but what sealed it for us and made it so inspiring was that it featured such an iconic image on the front cover. It resonated with the music so perfectly that as a first release, it was perfect.
Your most recent drop has been the stunning triple threat of Iku-Turso – The Great Tower, Alkymist – Spellcraft Ceremony and Tod Huetet Uebel– Malícia, the biggest unleashing you’ve done to date. Tell us a bit about it; how did it all come about? What are your personal thoughts about each of the albums?
C: Iku-Turso came about through catching M’s ear and he approached and stayed in touch with the band over a period of months. When the time came for band to want it to be pressed on vinyl, they decided to go with VC. We felt it was a great take on the more traditional black metal style and are proud to have this in our catalogue. Alkymist was a long term member of VC and he sent the album through to us to listen to, we thought his take on black metal with a hint of doom provided a great atmosphere and we were impressed with the Ruins of Beverast cover. It felt right to release this on VC and support a long term member. Tod Huetet Uebel – Malicia is an album I personally have loved since I first heard it back in 2015 and I have maintained contact with the band on and off since then. This is a truly special album and the furious drum style mixed with memorable dissonant riffs is a sound that appeals to me. The vocal performance on this album is jaw dropping, as well as it having superb artwork – an all round amazing release.
M: Similar to the Deitus in the way a sound, or note, or a scream can ensnare you… the tracks on Iku-Turso’s The Great Tower just felt so heartfelt and genuine. A record that manages to pull all the great elements of Black Metal into one filthy pot. There are waves of rawness, veiled melody and swirling darkness that just captured my imagination. They uphold the old BM spirits but I think they are utterly relevant within current circles. With Alkymist it was pretty much the superb ROB cover that started the collective nod. Once the sounds of the “Holy Trinity” started to form in our heads, Alkymist felt very much a part of the three. I received a message off C late one night basically saying “We’ve got the Tod Huetet Uebel”. To this day I’m still slightly shocked we are releasing it. It’s a masterclass.
If I’m correct, VC has had four releases to date: Deitus‘ Acta Non Verba and these three coming shortly, but aside from that you’ve also been involved with producing stunning variants of Lascar‘s Saudade and the frankly excellent Höstblod debut Mörkrets Intâg. That’s a pretty impressive resume for the label so far. How do you go about choosing which releases to put out next?
C: Even though we have only been going a short amount of time when compared with many other labels, the amount of submissions we receive is very high, so much so that we struggle to listen to everything. I think we go about choosing releases from a “fan’s” point of view, we want to feel passionate about what we release and not just whether we think there is a market for it. Ultimately we look for releases that haven’t been released on vinyl, that we think deserve to be.
M: We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of very creative people. Label owners, bands, artists, vinyl collectors and music enthusiasts. More often than not, some of these projects, they just appear out the mist… crawl out the fog… and bang on the VC door with a bloody hand. Emails and messages fly around for a few days and behold… a new VC project is born. We are being very careful about what we will be releasing in the future but for some projects, they are just written in the stars. We can’t release everything we feel is worthy… so it is very difficult, but we just go with our instincts.
One of the things I love about your releases is the absolute care you put into the presentation. Everything looks simply glorious, with great attention to detail. You can tell you are both genuinely passionate about all this and I know you both have impressive personal collections; is that what drives you to produce finished products of such quality?
C: Since everyone involved in VC is essentially a dedicated vinyl collector, presentation and quality is very important to us. We want to be proud of what we put out and we want the quality of the product to match the quality of the music. The bottom line is we are music fans and want everyone, whether it be the band or consumer, to be impressed with the product. It’s simply pride.
M: We have a pretty tight vision of how things should be. We are not professionals when it comes to design and layout but we make up for it in vision, I think. It’s a work in progress, ideas evolve organically which then seed other ideas and so on. The music dictates the visuals and everything is moulded around that.
I’ve seen recent label art contain the proverb ‘Corvus Oculum Corvi Non Eruit’ – Latin for “a crow will not pull the eye out of another crow”, or perhaps: “honour among thieves”. Has this been adopted as the official motto, and what does it mean in relation to the philosophy or aim of the label?
C: Yes, a quote M introduced and it think it certainly does encompass what we are about. This will certainly feature more on future VC releases and merch, should we decide to do anymore.
M: As C stated… it represents how we think, how we feel and how we conduct ourselves with the bands on the label, the people we work with and the folk who buy our records. Just another example really of how we evolve, how elements are added to the labels brand, spirit and ethos. I think the proverb chose us, not the other way around.
Everything seems to be running beautifully for you, but I know there can be many issues behind the scenes that come with running a label. What do you find the most challenging aspects of the VC label have been so far?
C: We did have some quality control issues with this trio which is why Tod Huetet Uebel has been delayed a month over the other two. I would say the most challenging is timing everything correctly, there are always delays at plants and some plant owners do not take pride in their work or customer service.
M: As C has been the main warrior fighting the dark evils of plant owners, the hardest aspect for me is choosing the next release. What’s even harder is once you have decided on your next masterpiece, you then have the impossible task of convincing the band or artist who created it that VC is the perfect parent to raise it under the sign of the black mark. Thankfully this seems to be getting easier with the arrow of time flying trve and these days, grovelling at band’s Bandcamp doors is a thing of the past. We are now having to plow through band submissions and friendly messages with lots of links to demos… we will always go treasure hunting though. It’s the thrill of the hunt…
Have you put any thought/began machinations into what lies beyond those last three titles yet? Can you give us a hint of what future delights might be hidden up the mystical VC sleeve?
C: We have a release coming up from a French band which will be revealed shortly. Also the LP version of Deitus’ Via Dolorosa which we are very proud to be involved with, it’s a monster!
M: We’d been very clear and honest with Deitus, they knew we genuinely loved their debut and we just wanted to be a stepping for them… we felt that at some point in the future they would need a bigger label to fulfill their potential. I think it says a lot about the trust and respect Deitus have for us and how far VC has come that they have decided for their next release that VC is still the place to be. The new album is huge on many fronts. It is everything and more. It has another incredibly strong album cover again so i think we are going to have some fun with this one. It will be very special.
Dream time now: Is there any album (or even discography) in particular, from any point in history, that you would just love to get your hands on and give the VC treatment?
M: In total dream world, I would love to release a new Owls Blood LP… for many reasons, some more obvious than others, that will never happen. Dead Section Records was a special label for us and inspired us on many levels to pursue this path that we now find ourselves on, and the Owls Blood releases were pretty much the reason C and I got together, which led us to form the group and label. A very special band.
And finally, here’s something I have to ask because I know it’s the question on everybody’s lips: For the first couple of releases, without the requisite obscure arcane knowledge it was nigh on impossible for one get their hands on a copy of the mythical, limited VC editions. They are slightly easier to obtain now… How do the general public score one of these rarities?
C: Keep an eye on the Facebook label page.
M: Take a walk in a forest in the dead of night, turn left at the old well… then follow the stream to the clearing. The moon will reveal an ancient pagan altar. There will be a spade. We will meet you there. Tell no one.
Sincerest thanks once again for your time, C and M. Any final words?
M: Many thanks for the support! Carpe noctem!
(PSA – The final few copies of the limited VC variants of Alkymist and Iku-turso are still available in the web store at time of writing… be quick.)
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