Label Spotlight: Caligari Records

Some labels are great because you know what to expect. But others are worth following for the opposite reason, like with Caligari Records, you’re never exactly sure what you’re in for. The label has played host to a menagerie of heavy sounds, from black and death metal heresies, to thrashy and punky gutter anthems. But as the label is decidedly underground and low-key, I didn’t know much about it. So I reached out to label head Ignacio Brown to learn more.

I particularly liked what he had to say about running a label in 2023, as he gets down to a lot of the hard details that make it such a challenge from a pricing, distribution, and production perspective. You get a lot of people mouthing off about labels on social media, but most of them really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Check out our discussion below, along with a sampling of some of my favorites from Caligari Records!

Lost In An Eternal Silence by BLOOD OATH

Thank you for agreeing to talk with us, for those who don’t know much about the label, could you tell us how Caligari Records got started?

Caligari Records is an independent label focused on supporting new bands that fester on the lower levels of the underground. Initially, I worked exclusively with the cassette format because I thought that was the moneymaker but I was wrong. Now the label occasionally exhumes recordings on CD and vinyl. There is also the distro side to the label, which focuses on distributing demos and independent recordings from all over the world and to North America via trades and wholesale.

The label features an eclectic range of styles, but the thread of raw energy and darkness runs throughout the catalog. What would you say is the vision for the label?

The focus is not in the style nor in the subgenre, but as you mention, in the “raw energy and darkness that runs through it.” Definitions within those blurry boundaries don’t matter. The name of the label for instance is just evocative of certain energy and darkness. There is no defined adherence to any specific metal aesthetic, it’s vague and undefined by design.

Deadly Intrusions by SKUMSTRIKE

I really enjoyed that Skumstrike album from last year, Deadly Intrusions. How did you come across them?

Glad you dig it. Killer Canadian rage. Skumstrike, like 90% of the bands we’ve worked with, reached out directly to the label either via email or social media. All submissions are listened to and all our releases are say, “underground gentlemen agreements” between artist and label. No contracts, just a short pact of trust. Occasionally, we reach out to new bands that are either recommended by trusted sources or that we miraculously stumbled upon, but that is rare.

It’s not easy running an independent record label in 2023. And I can imagine it’s doubly challenging for one that specializes in extreme metal. What would you say have been your primary challenges and what strategies have you used to overcome them?

We’ve released two vinyl records in 2023, the process has taken so long and it’s been so cumbersome, it’s certainly felt like a challenge. Also, everything has become more expensive and shipping prices and packaging material keep going up. When the label started, the average wholesale price I paid for demos and cassettes was $2.50, by now that’s up to about $7 or higher, which means that just to break even I have to adjust accordingly. Selling cassettes for $10 was not what I had in mind when I started this, but it reflects reality in this day and age.

Another challenge is time availability. Life seasons and obligations don’t take into account your love for music. An additional challenge and comment would be the current panorama; there are so many labels around, I don’t know if that is a sign of strength, or just an indication that this thing is getting bloated. The same with bands and music, it’s great to see so much creativity — but with platforms like Bandcamp around, it looks like there is hardly any quality control and the sheer volume of releases is ridiculous.*


What are some records you’re planning for the end of the year or the start of 2024 that fans should look forward to?

At this point, there are no plans to release anything else on the label. There are longer term plans but nothing within the next couple of months. That may change any minute but for the past few weeks the focus has been on promoting our latest releases; Hallucinate, Grotesqueries, Eyemaster, and Blood Oath. Submissions are always welcome, but nothing has piqued my interest lately. The overarching plan for 2024 is to slow down with the releases, mainly because real life demands it. And hopefully that will help us elevate the quality of the existing releases even more.

From the Bowels of the Earth by HALLUCINATE

It’s easy to get jaded and burned out when music becomes your everyday working life. Finally, what keeps you excited about this music?

Caligari Records is a labor of love, not a full-time gig. Music is part of my everyday life as a fan but there are no daily obligations as a label. That fact will help the label stay around and be true for longer. As long as this is not a full-time job, there is no pressure to always churn out records to ensure there is enough coming in. If this was full-time, no doubt I would have been burned out by now. All the work that goes into Caligari Records happens in the midnight hours and on weekends. “Burning the midnight oil for metal,” so to speak.

What keeps me excited about music is the idea of supporting hungry and talented underground musicians from all over. To this day, I get extremely excited every time I receive a new record in the mail; the fact that other people may be feeling the same upon receiving our releases is a huge source of energy.

Infernal Ordinance by ACT OF IMPALEMENT

(*As the weekly “new releases” person, I feel this so hard.)

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Five For Friday: November 24, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate. In case you hadn’t seen it before, we have an entire article dedicated to songs about eating. Aside from that, we also have five new albums for you to digest below.

After all, this is when all retail establishments will be switching to Christmas music, so you’ll need some kind of relief when you make it out of there.

The Breathing Process – Todeskrone

Brutal and brain-scrambling madness from The Breathing Process, whose sound now fits in perfectly with Unique Leader Records. Would definitely be cool to see this incarnation of the band, as my circa-2005 experience with them was very different. The venue probably isn’t even there anymore!

Stream: Apple Music

Todeskrone by The Breathing Process

Convocation – No Dawn For The Caliginous Night

I looked it up and “caliginous” is indeed a word! It means misty, dim, obscure, or dark. And that all checks out for this album! Add the word “epic” and you’ve basically got it all covered.

Stream: Apple Music

No Dawn For The Caliginous Night by Convocation

Cruciamentum – Obsidian Refractions 

Among the hordes of death-metal practitioners that emerged in the last 15 years, Cruciamentum stands out as creators of the highest quality. There’s so many bands out there aping the Incantation-Immolation style, but these guys take those materials, chop them up and add so much more that the ending structure really is their own.

Stream: Apple Music

Obsidian Refractions by CRUCIAMENTUM

Midnight Odyssey – Biolume Part 3 – A Fullmoon Madness

Grand, entrancing black metal. Midnight Odyssey has long been one of the champions of mystical, symphonic black metal, a type of music made for observing winter’s majesty. Put this album on once the snow starts falling and you’ll understand.

Stream: Apple Music

Biolume Part 3 – A Fullmoon Madness by Midnight Odyssey

One Master – The Names of Power

I mentioned these guys last week when I talked about Ritual Clearing, and am pleased to boost another (mostly) CT-based black metal band here at Decibel. This evil and menacing black metal done right — you can feel the wicked spirits rising from the ground as you listen. Valder and his compatriots are indeed masters of metallic drama, as the songs flow like a narrative, with not a moment wasted. Valder’s vocals are heavily distorted in a way that allows them to flow naturally with the rest of the band, almost functioning as another guitar-like sound. He’s also super-menacing to watch on stage, his level of focus almost unsettling. This album is pretty unsettling overall, but in all the right ways.

Stream: Apple Music

The Names of Power by One Master

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Five For Friday: November 17, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

We’ve got a lot going on these days at Decibel, including the big-reveal of our lineup for next year’s Decibel Metal and Beer Fest in Philadelphia. Just the sets from Deicide, Internal Bleeding and Dying Fetus alone will be incredible (time to break out the longsleeves, for real), but I’m especially stoked for Lamp of Murmuur‘s appearance. Consistent readers of this column know I have a big soft-spot for that sort for things.

But I also have a place in my heart for the albums listed below, and I hope you do as well!

Alchemy of Flesh – By Will Alone

From our full-album stream of By Will Alone:

Alchemy of Flesh’s sophomore album, titled By Will Alone, picks up in a similar place; Morbid Angel are still the predominant influence on the band but there are other inspirations present, with Rowland citing Angelcorpse, Monstrosity and Hate Eternal as three. Whereas Ageless Abominations defaulted to a low-tuned, chugging style of death metal, By Will Alone is a noticeably faster and more-demanding album; the riffs take center stage and the drumming is pretty bonkers too.

Also, hard to not be motivated by that Mortal Kombat-esque artwork.

Stream: Apple Music

By Will Alone by Alchemy of Flesh

Bloodphemy – Dawn of Malevolence

Hah, what a name! This is the fifth album from the Dutch death-dealers in Bloodphemy, a serving of well-produced extreme metal madness. The palm-muted sections are particularly catchy, and the arrangements will certainly be satisfying to fans of newer Hypocrisy along with the band’s countrymen in Asphyx.

Stream: Apple Music

Dawn of Malevolence by Bloodphemy

Carcinoid – Encomium to Extinction

The term “raw black metal” gets tossed around a lot, but I think “raw death metal” deserves its own designation as well. Carcinoid would definitely fit this description with its blistering, dirt-blasted doom-death attack. Goes hard. Rules hard.

Stream: Apple Music

Encomium to Extinction by Carcinoid

Ceremonial Bloodbath – Genesis of Malignant Entropy

Absolutely devastating. It’s almost comical how brutal and aggressive this is, as if the music was made to be intentionally upsetting. Not knocking it, of course, though I may need to pet my cat after listening.

Stream: Apple Music

Genesis of Malignant Entropy by Ceremonial Bloodbath

Ritual Clearing – Penitence

Rousing, thunderous black metal excellence. Formed on a foundation of dramatic guitar riffs, ferocious vocals and a crushing drum-and-bass assault, this is a band destined for greatness. And I’m not just saying that because they’re from my home state of CT. Or because they tossed candy into the crowd when I saw them at Lucky 13 last month. Ok, maybe I’m biased for those reasons. Shut up. Just listen to “Burn” and “Deathfog” and you’ll be ready to join the ritual yourself.

Stream: Apple Music

Penitence by Ritual Clearing

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Full Album Stream: The Last Eon – “Infernal Fractality”

Industrial black metal is nothing new, but it remains a less-explored territory than its various stylistic cousins. It’s a challenging environment, as bands like Mysticum and Dødheimsgard loom large in the imaginations of black metal devotees. Nevertheless, there are a few acts out there willing to take up the concrete torch and forge into mysterious landscapes.

Norway’s The Last Eon is one such outfit, motivated by a mix of musical ambition and psychedelic inebriation. Decibel is happy to serve as an enabler and debut the new album, Infernal Fractality for your listening enjoyment. Plenty of stylistic hallmarks abound here, but the electronic aspects are less predictable, even resembling drum-and-bass at certain moments. No complaints from me, of course — it’s pretty neat to have black metal material that could fit well with Black Sun Empire and The Panacea. Likewise, there are other moments that distinctly recall Fear Factory and KMFDM as well, as well as synth-lines that simply come out of nowhere.

Ødemark, the project’s mastermind and primary songwriter, boldly states that:

“I wanted to push the limits of what extreme metal can be, and materialize a vision for the future of electronic black metal that required me to rebel against every single rule in my mind of what black metal is, to create what black metal can be. This included also the theme and lyrics, spreading awareness of the mind expanding psychedelic experiences and self exploration within the black metal culture.”

Listen to Infernal Fractality in its entirety below. The album comes out tomorrow via Soulseller Records.

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Video Premiere: Horrenda – “Handprints”

Not all raw black metal bands are content to remain in the tape-trading dungeons. There are those who seek to unleash their rampage on the world, reflecting the neurosis and madness they see around them. Ireland’s Horrenda fall squarely in the latter category, combining elements of raw aggression with a flair for experimentation and the unexpected. Decibel is happy to premiere the band’s video for “Handprints,” which shows the band’s raucous live atmosphere along with their undeniably catchy approach to black metal art. At the same time, it also shows clips of the band getting ready and geared up, an openness not typical of many black metal bands.

According to the band:

Horrenda have always aimed to be a mirror on our time and place within modern Ireland. Often looking back and using history to explain how we got here. Now, we’re looking at the psychology zeitgeist of 21st century Ireland and the true darkness that exists within.

The single is the band’s follow-up to 2021’s Oíche Shamhna (Live at The Grand Social). Check out the video below and revel in the band’s mix of black metal attack and hardcore atmosphere.

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Five For Friday: November 10, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

Can’t believe it’s November already. Pretty soon it’ll be time to pre-emptively reveal our Top 40 albums of the year. But before any of you finalize your own list, keep coming here every Friday to see who shuffles in at the last minute. There’s definitely a couple strong contenders for your list below — looking at Vastum in particular. Though if you’re keeping a separate list for EPs, don’t sleep on the new Fugitive Wizard either.


Dagtum – Revered Decadence

This album originally came out in 2021, but is seeing wider distribution now via Malevolent Sound. Definitely a must-listen for fans of death metal at its most dissonant and disturbing.

Stream: Apple Music

Revered Decadence by Dagtum

Fugitive Wizard – Ultima Magus Chapter III

God I love this stuff so much. I know there’s so much of this style of black metal out nowadays and the market is totally over-saturated. But I don’t care. If it’s good, just keep that cruel rain falling into eternity. Fugitive Wizard does a fantastic job balancing rawness for clarity. It’s gritty as hell, but you can still everything perfectly — yes, even the bass! Excited for as many chapters as they can make.

Ultima Magus Chapter III by Fugitive Wizard

Plague Rider – Intensities

Not sure how one rides a plague, but I’m pretty sure this totally slays. Brain-scrambling death metal from the UK. The band combines a penchant for brutality with a skill for discordant, almost math-metal levels of angular assaults.

Stream: Apple Music

Intensities by PLAGUE RIDER

Sodom – 1982

Early Sodom is the best Sodom. It seems the band recognizes this as well, releasing the honorary track, “1982” as well as re-recordings of classics like “Witching Metal.” Now, for the love of God, can they please re-issue Obsessed By Cruelty??? Or at least include some material from it on their next re-recording?

Stream: Apple Music

1982 by Sodom

Vastum – Inward to Gethsemane

This album certainly meets the metric of “will this clear a room of normies?” — which is why it totally rules. Vastum are now long-time purveyors of dark, mean and upsetting death metal.

Stream: Apple Music

Inward to Gethsemane by Vastum

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Five For Friday: November 3, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

Hope you had a happy Halloween. I hope you watched a horror movie. I hope the kids who arrived at your door had a higher proportion of scary costumes to cute or “clever” ones. I got together with my trivia group for our normal Tuesday-night outing with my makeup on from The Crow. And we won that night! Just like Eric Draven said, it can’t rain all the time!

Enjoy the albums below!

Carnal Tomb – Embalmed in Decay

If you just want some straightforward, no nonsense death metal with a cool-looking album cover, Germany’s Carnal Tomb has you covered. This is especially true if you’re big on bands like Autopsy, Grave and Vomitory.

Stream: Apple Music

Embalmed in Decay by Carnal Tomb

Cult Burial – Reverie of the Malignant

From our album premiere:

From the opening snarl of “Umbra,” Cult Burial achieve a balance of blackened melodicism and cold-weather doom. When vocalist/lyricist César Moreira unleashes his chilling roar it feels like an elemental force. In this album, darkness is prevalent and prevailing. Meanwhile, Simon Langford’s compositions strike a balance between restrained fury and blitzing aggression. In “Parasite,” Felipe Grüber’s guitars add surprising sizzle to the song’s industrial churn. “Strive” unfolds as a dynamic mood-ruiner, which of course we mean in the best way possible. Later, 9+ minute closer “Oblivion” wields a vast weapon arsenal including stripped-down slams and a hauntingly heavy denouement. While versions of a few of these songs were already released, the songs have taken their deadly final form here. The result is the project’s most striking work yet.

Stream: Apple Music

Reverie of the Malignant by Cult Burial

Mortuary Drape – Black Mirror

Italy’s Mortuary Drape is one of those bands you can’t easily compare to anyone else. In that way, you can only really place them with other similarly odd black metal bands like Mystifier and Master’s Hammer. It’s dark, it’s cool, and it’s also really weird. But it’s meant to be that way!

Stream: Apple Music

Black Mirror by Mortuary Drape

Suffocation – Hymns From the Apocrypha

YO. Those vocals are no joke! Going with Disgorge‘s Ricky Myers is proving to be an extremely wise decision, hard as it is to imagine Suffocation without Frank Mullen. Otherwise, this delivers the techy-slamming excellence we’ve all come to expect from the band, framed in the tight production characteristic of this era of the band.

Stream: Apple Music

Warcrab – The Howling Silence

I love how hard the band goes in owning its name. Look at that logo! But fear not, this is no joke-novelty band. The band goes for a BIG sound on this album, which is mastered in a way that makes the sound envelop you in its madness. Think of the latter-day output of Dark Tranquility and Soilwork and then hone it down through the filter of bands like Bolt Thrower, Vader and Krisiun.

Stream: Apple Music

The Howling Silence by WARCRAB

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Video Premiere: Ophiolatry – “Abyss of Alienation”

According to Merriam-Webster, “ophiolatry” means “the worship of or attribution of divine or sacred nature to snakes.” You can certainly feel the snakes of death metal surround you as you listen to “Abyss of Alienation” from Brazil’s Ophiolatry, featuring hypnotic riffs, brutal vocals and crushing rhythms reminiscient of Hate EternalNile and Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel. The song is a re-recording of a track from the band’s 2008 album, Transmutation.

According to the band:

“Many years ago in the Amazon, there lived a tribe of very warlike indigenous people who practiced Ophiolatry. When the invaders arrived, they brutally tortured and murdered their families, forcing many to witness these horrific acts while bound in front of them. The remaining warriors fought with their utmost inner spirit, not relenting until they spilled their last drops of blood. They died in battle with honor. The indoctrination of Christian religions has led to alienation and subservience. Today, the tide is turning. The serpent spirits of those warriors are reincarnated in a multitude of new warriors who harbor behemothic volumes of anger and revenge. We are ready.

We chose to bring this song to video because we knew it would be highly impactful visually. It identifies the plight of indigenous peoples backed by a track of powerfully complex rhythm, heaviness and speed.”

Check out the song and video below to feel the full weight of the warrior spirit upon you!

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Video Premiere: Icarus Witch – “Shadowchaser”

Are you fan of classic heavy metal that sparks the imagination and sends you to an epic land of riffs and soaring vocals? Then you’ll be a fan of the new song and video from Icarus Witch. “Shadowchaser” comes from the band’s new album, No Devil Lived On, out now via Cleopatra Records. According to bassist Jason Myers:

“Shadowchaser” is the eighth song on the new occult sci-fi concept album, No Devil Lived On. Musically, it’s the most straight-ahead classic metal banger we’ve written in ages. A pure riff-driven melodic rocker in the vein of Dio-era Rainbow, Deep Purple, or vintage Whitesnake.

Indeed, albums like Stargazer and In Rock were the first things that came to mind as I listened to this song. He goes on to describe the concept behind the song:

Lyrically we’re launching into new space while at the same time giving a nod to the earliest days of our own band. In this chapter of the conceptual story our protagonist, Aradia “The Traveler” finds herself wandering a strange distant planet upon which the spacecraft she was stowing away on has crashed. In addition to being a rebel from the eco-resistance movement back on Earth, she is also a witch who now seeks a way to return to her coven on her home planet. Aradia encounters a mysterious blind wizard in the ruins of a castle who offers her a way home in exchange for her sight.

Having journeyed the desolate planet for what feels like ages, the weary space witch is now short on resources and options so she accepts the dubious proposition only to realize that she may have actually sacrificed her mortality as the toll for escape. The wizard’s spell traps her in a frozen cosmic web, she is now the “Ice Maiden” whose legacy was foretold on the first Icarus Witch EP nearly two decades ago. Was this exchange a trick of the dark sorcerer or is she about to transcend and return to humanity in another form altogether? The answer to that riddle may lie in the album’s concluding song, Starseed Trilogy.

Sounds rad to me! Wizards of the Coast ought to call on these guys for new plot and character concepts! Check out the video for “Shadowchaser” below:

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Five For Friday: October 27, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

Peak spooky season has arrived! If you’re looking for a solidly creepy and cheesy horror flick, I highly suggest 1988’s Night of the Demons. It has Bauhaus on the soundtrack! It has Lennea Quigley in the cast! It has really good costume and make-up design! Trust me, you’ll be jealous you weren’t invited to the party, just like the one at the end of Ms. 45. Well, maybe don’t stay till the end … like in Ms. 45. Anyway! If that doesn’t entice you enough, you should check out Brain Damage, a movie with a villain so twisted, even Belial from Basket Case makes a cameo and is like “Nah … let’s get out of here.”

Also, here are five new metal albums. Happy Halloween!

Autopsy – Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts

There’s busy, and then there’s Chris Reifert busy. You think you’re booked solid? Chris is on that death-metal grindset with a 2023 packed with new releases from Siege of PowerStatic Abyss, and now his main act: Autopsy. And this is after delivering last year’s excellent Morbidity Triumphant. Your perfect companion to whatever slasher flick you’ve got going tonight!

Stream: Apple Music

Berzerker Legion – Chaos Will Reign

Speaking of slashing, here’s some razor sharp warrior metal right here. Definitely on the muscular, well-produced side of the death metal spectrum. Highly recommended for fans of Kataklysm and newer Hypocrisy.

Stream: Apple Music

Chaos will Reign by BERZERKER LEGION

Gravesend – Gowanus Death Stomp

The perfect sonic summation of New York City’s violent decades. To be sure, there’s always an element of violence in America’s largest city, but the 1970s to the early-1990s were on another level. And Gravesend‘s grinding death march is on a level all its own as well. Absolutely harsh and demoralizing, Gowanus Death Stomp is a gloriously grim listening experience.

Stream: Apple Music

Gowanus Death Stomp by Gravesend

Mouth For War – Bleed Yourself

If you have a name like that, you’d better have music that lives up to it. Mouth of War certainly gives it a fair shot with a vulgar display of metalcore power on Bleed Yourself (the puns will stop here, I promise). A mosh pit inside your head. Try not to break too many brain cells while listening.

Stream: Apple Music

Bleed Yourself by Mouth For War

Sepulchral Curse – Abhorrent Dimensions

You can’t help but love those gutturals. How do you even get your voice to go that low? Anyway, this is basically like Runemagick if they had a slight black metal side to their sound. Hard to argue against that!

Stream: Apple Music

Abhorrent Dimensions by SEPULCHRAL CURSE

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