Dark Descent Records is definitely one of the best extreme metal labels out there right now, no doubt about it. The sounds the label pushes—be it forward-thinking or knuckle-dragging—are all top-notch, the attention to detail and quality is clear, and the passion from label owner Matt Calvert is obvious.
This year, Dark Descent turns 10. We give Calvert and everyone involved a hearty horns up for service toward the cause and wanted to take some time today to go down memory lane, so we rounded up Calvert and got him to fill us in on the five Dark Descent releases that mean the most to him.
Read on to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of the best labels in metal today; here’s to 10 more, Matt.
DDR055 Timeghoul – 1992-1994 Compilation
This was originally released back in early 2012. I had heard rumors of people being approached to release this as a compilation in the past but it never happened. I was talking to a couple of members of the band and Ted from Dark Symphonies/The Crypt was discussing it with the other members. We decided to join forces and make it happen together.
The original CD version came in a digipak format and nearly sold out during pre-order. We had never had something sell this fast before; I really enjoyed it. I think this one turned a lot of people onto Timeghoul and their space-themed death metal that seems to have influenced a good number of newer bands these days.
On the second and subsequent repressings, we added a second disc that includes some instrumental demo tracks the band had never released. Fun fact: this one is still our best-selling compact disc through the Dark Descent Records distro. We just ordered another re-pressing.
DDR004 Burial Invocation – Rituals of the Grotesque
Despite the 004 catalog number, this was actually our first release, in Feb 2010. There was a bit of a buzz about this band on some forums, being from Turkey and delivering some great death metal, which had Finnish death metal influences as well as a hefty bit of Bolt Thrower. I got in touch with the band and spoke a good deal with Cihan [Akün, guitarist/vocalist]. We worked out a deal to release this on compact disc. I was happy to be doing it. Through this, I got in contact with Jesus of Me Saco Un Ojo, who still remains our closest ally. Early on it was tough getting people to buy into what you were doing. We were new and had no background or previous experience.
As it turned out, this was a perfect first release. The word of mouth for this one was great and exactly what we needed since no one knew about the label. It sold pretty well, allowed us to stock the distro. We sold out of copies not shortly after (it has since been repressed with additional material) and this one remains one of my favorites from our releases.
DDR119 Horrendous – Ecdysis
2014 was a great year for us. We released Thantifaxath’s debut album, Sacred White Noise, and Emptiness’ Nothing but the Whole. The release of these albums put people on notice that we weren’t just a death metal label. Both releases brought additional attention to the label, which was now five years old.
But it was Horrendous’ second album, Ecdysis, that garnered the most attention. The band’s previous album, The Chills, grabbed the #23 spot on Decibel’s top 40 of 2012, but this one seemed to get a much bigger stage. The band’s sound had evolved, and they added some epic songwriting to their repertoire. Eventually, this grabbed the #3 album of Decibel’s top 40 for 2014 and it launched the band into a much bigger audience. This one remains my favorite of the Horrendous releases and it was a pretty proud moment for us, since we had been working with the band since the beginning.
The band has since moved on to Season of Mist, but we keep all of the band’s Dark Descent releases in the print rotation and expect greater things from them in the future.
DDR129 Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden
This one was our first clean-singing release. It was quite a departure from anything we had released prior, so I was anxious to see how it was received.
I’m a huge heavy metal guy and Eric from Unspeakable Axe Records told me I needed to hear this new demo he was sent by a member in Trenchrot. I listened and loved it. I immediately reached out to the band to release the demo on tape. We sold a couple of runs of the tape. It seemed people really enjoyed it and I was happy to release the band’s debut album.
We released Out of the Garden in 2015 to a lot of great press. It was the doom metal feel-good hit of the year. I was all in… There certainly were some recording issues the band wishes they could have addressed, and this was the first full-length from Brooks on vocals but it all turned out great. It really set the stage for the band’s 2019 album The Ruins of Fading Light, which is just a masterpiece.
DDR157 Blood Incantation – Starspawn
I’d be lying if I said I knew Blood Incantation was going to take off like it has. The fact is, we still had copies of their 2015 EP Interdimensional Extinction on vinyl when pre-orders for Starspawn went live in July 2016. Starspawn was a beast, though. We started slowly leaking info from the album out about six months prior. We had great-looking flyers, cool footage from recording and that merch that people liked to talk about. It seemed with each posting of info on Starspawn, the audience seemed to grow. By the time the first track was previewed, we sold out of Interdimensional Extinction vinyl and our first pressing of Starspawn vinyl was almost sold out as well. Our vinyl run was larger than any run we had done previously, so I thought we’d be okay… I was definitely wrong on that.
Starspawn eventually was named Decibel’s #3 album of 2016, which led to the Decibel Tour this past year with Cannibal Corpse/Morbid Angel/Immolation. The next year would bring us the debut album from Spectral Voice, which also created quite a stir. Get ready for Blood Incantation’s Hidden History of the Human Race.