Back in 2016 I rang in the new year by encouraging Decibel’s mutant readership to check out the year-end sampler from Philadelphia label/distro Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. While the label’s synonymous with the meanest examples of extreme metal, over the years the number of annual releases has boomed. The label still snarls, squeals, and slams with the best of ’em, but label founder Mike Juliano has diversified Horror Pain Gore Death to reflect the full spectrum of heavy subgenre oddities.
On the brink of 2020, I wanted to revisit Juliano and discuss the label’s growth while also celebrating my favorite Horror Pain Gore Death releases of the year. Whether it was here at Decibel or making weekly picks for other publications, I regularly recommend HPGD records to fans who like their metal raw and poorly-mannered. A bunch of different titles snared my attention this year, apart from awesome heavy-hitters like Coffins and No/Más. There’s the deranged grind of Crawler and Vault Dweller for fans of genre greats Soilent Green and Pig Destroyer. Motor City mischief-makers Sekkusu brought wild-spirit street crust to my living room. I loved Unendlich‘s new record so much I premiered it HERE, comparing the project to listening to Cobalt by moonlight. I’ve been a fan of NJ deviants SKUZ for a while, so having their entire scabrous discography in one place made my innards melt. Then there’s all the rancid, glorious death metal: Night Hag‘s haunted house death/doom; Vesication for the Skinless fans; and bands I’m thankful to recently discover like Sons of Famine and Blood of the Wolf. But there’s so much more. Juliano has curated the soundtrack of the world’s end here, just in time for the year’s end.
Stream the Horror Pain Gore Death showcase below and keep its 2 hours of brutality rolling until your brain meat’s reduced to pudding. Also check out the interview with label boss Mike Juliano below for what’s on the horizon for HPGD.
Has the approach or vision of Horror pain Gore Death changed since you started the label?
Mike Juliano: This past November 1st marks the 11 year anniversary of HPGD. Originally the label was started to focus on bands from the Philadelphia area, reissue a few underrated bands that I personally like, and search for up and coming artists of the underground. The label was going to shoot for a release every two months or so with a focus on extreme metal. The one thing that I wanted HPGD to represent was the old school aggression and rawness that is missing from many labels in today’s music world, with no limitations or censorship but still quality music.
Flash forward to 2019 and the vision remains the same. I refuse to work with bands that I personally don’t like, release bands for a quick cash grab, or tell bands to censor themselves. I wasn’t sure if the label was going to be able to stay afloat at first, but very quickly HPGD gained a loyal fan base and band’s [expressed] satisfaction with the label. The HPGD distro grew to over 2000 titles as I was trading with labels from all over the world. Eventually the distro slowed down and the focus became more on HPGD releases. This year HPGD released 29 physical releases alone with no signs of slowing down.
Over the years I’ve learned quite a bit and have learned what to do and more importantly what not to do in some cases. HPGD is a very unique beast and is not for everyone. I’m fortunate to run the label entirely on my own so my vision is never compromised. I’m very proud that the label has grown this much and I am more enthusiastic and ambitious than ever before.
What were the high points of 2019 for HPGD?
MJ: 2019 was a very diverse year for HPGD, a step forward in many ways and also a return to form in some ways. Working with Lord Gore was a long time goal for the label and myself personally, and was a crowd-pleaser. The Coffins/Second To None split LP was another big highlight for the label; bands like No/Más playing tons of killer live shows and evolving; the Ribspreader album; Draghkar collection; Dolore; Hell Bent and Vault Dweller who both played MDF; Cropsy Maniac, Chained To The Dead, and Blood Of The Wolf returning to the label; Formless Master featuring Takafumi; etc. Every release this year has been killer and I’m proud to have them on HPGD. It’s been a very diverse year!
What’s in store for 2020 and beyond for HPGD?
MJ: 2020 is going to be an exciting year with a ton of releases already in the works. Some new projects featuring familiar faces, returning bands to the label, lots of new artists, a few reissues and a surprise or two. Enjoy the 2019 Full Year In Review FREE Sampler, and as always thank you to the fans and bands. Stay tuned!
Follow Horror Pain Gore Death on Facebook for news and updates HERE
And you might as well bookmark HPGD’s Bandcamp page over HERE