Towards the end of 2020, we here at The Metal Wanderlust thought it would be a great idea to feature some of our favourite record labels. Many of them have released albums that have been covered at TMW, some have not (yet), but what do the hard-working owners of these labels have to say about the music they’ve lovingly unleashed upon the world? We thought it would be nice to ask, and it seems many of these folks (not surprisingly) have a ton of excellent shit to share!
In the coming months, you will see several label features. To start off our new adventure, we couldn’t think of a better label than James Rauh’s Transylvanian Tapes (now referred to as Transylvanian Recordings, for reasons that will soon be made clear). James is a cool fuckin dude, as you shall see!
Hi James! Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions for us. Here we are for the inaugural label feature at The Metal Wanderlust, and we couldn’t be more excited to kick things off with a sampling of the greatness that is Transylvanian Tapes!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
James Rauh (JR): Having a label was something I always dreamed of doing, growing up I gravitated towards musicians and all I ever wanted to do was be around them and be a part of that community. I didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to play music myself because most of my friends at the time were all savants and virtuoso players, so trying to get them to give me the time of day was not gonna happen. So I started working behind the scenes as a teenager. I did street team work and I started booking shows and managing a band to learn the ropes. I started my first “label” back when I was still in highschool, but the band I was working with eventually just called it quits before they got to make it to the next level. I ended up losing a lot of money, but you live and you learn. Back then CD’s were the only format people cared about so I have probably 1000 cds left from that somewhere. I could definitely say that is why I don’t even bother with CDs anymore. lol
Truthfully, I started the label as a way to put out my own releases. I hate asking for handouts and essentially begging a label to put my music out just felt weak, and I hated having to wait on pins and needles at the whim of someone else when I knew I could just do it myself. I don’t consider myself a “punk” but the ethics of DIY have always resonated with me.
What was your original vision for Transylvanian Tapes?
JR: To put out releases from people that I genuinely respect and appreciate that I think are worthwhile.
How has that original vision transformed over the years, and how are things going right now?
JR: The original vision has not changed, the only thing that has changed over the years is the amount of people paying attention. I still am putting out releases from my friends, I have some sort of personal connection with each band I have put out and I am rooting for everyone that I have worked with. At the end of the day I want to see folks succeed. Running a label is a way for me to directly support my friends chasing their dreams by sending their music all over the world for folks to get into. I find a great sense of purpose in getting to help out in that way.
I would like to get your thoughts on some of the albums you’ve released. What can you tell us about how these releases came to be, and do you have any specific memories about their releases?
JR: I can’t really tell you about how the creative process of these albums came to be as I wasn’t a part of that end of things, but I can tell you about the records and how I got to know these bands and elaborate on memories of our connection and how I feel about these records.
Battle Hag – “Celestial Tyrant”
By: Deckard Cain
“Celestial Tyrant,” Battle Hag’s second album, quickly bypasses all accusations of a sophomore slump and ascends into a fine sludgy beyond. Equal parts melody and grime, these three songs wonderfully articulate the need for structure in Doom, a genre that has often been accused of being an extended trudge. Just listen to “Talus” (linked below), and see how the song develops, moving from one evocative melody to another without the slightest hint of contrivance, something I felt their debut (“Tongue of the Earth,” 2017) tried too hard at. Steeped in all the Greek myth of yore, a thematic Metal has been quite used to, but giving it a spin that emanates a feeling of grandeur. And it’s that sense of grandeur that pervades all these tracks. This is an absolutely wonderful release.
Rating – 4/5
James Rauh: I came across Battle Hag back when I was hounding their recording engineer, Patrick Hills, about bands that he had been recording that he thought I might be interested in. Pat had worked on the Church album “Unanswered Hymns,” and several other bands that I put out on the label, so I knew I could trust his judgement. When he told me about this band he was recording, Battle Hag, I was intrigued. They have a killer name, and I had seen it around on shows in Sacramento but I wasn’t super familiar with their music. My memory is a little hazy but I think we were attending a live UFC event in Sacramento together, and I was just picking his brain on bands and ways that we can help bring awareness to the killer bands in the Sacramento area. When I heard “Tongue Of The Earth,” I was blown away.
Battle Hag is a serious band creating killer music that is heavy as hell, steeped in mysticism and meticulously crafted. They get it. In between the time of “Tongue Of The Earth” and “Celestial Tyrant,” I was doing a short lived funeral doom/gloom project with Patrick and Phil from Bog Oak called Wandering, but the distance got the better of us and that left those guys with some extra time on their hands, and in that time Occlith was born. Occlith is another monstrous doom metal band that is definitely worth knowing about that Dan from Battle Hag is involved in. They cut a demo called “Obscure Heresies” and then in 2020 released a full length album called “Gates, Doorways, & Endings,” when that was out of the way Dan shifted focus back on his main band Battle Hag and together they constructed the opus known as “Celestial Tyrant.”
Let me be first to say that I was very excited for this release. I had been bugging them pretty incessantly about recording updates and hearing mixes throughout the process, and I knew instantly that this was going to be a very special recording. The songs are more dynamic and fleshed out to perfection. This is a band that is hitting their stride and carving a name for themselves in the worldwide Doom community. This isn’t just another lame stoner band, this is top notch excellence. “Celestial Tyrant” is colossal and gorgeous, devastating and uplifting, it’s a masterful recording that I am truly honored to get to help out and push to the masses.
First and foremost I consider myself a fan, and this is just one of those albums that I absolutely love and will be coming back to years from now. I can’t recommend this release enough for anyone that is into heavy music.
Carrion Bloom – “Heretic Howl”
From the sun-soaked city of Oakland, California comes anything but. Carrion Bloom is a Blackened Punk Sludge band stripped of all frills, ready to get right to the point.
“Heretic Howl” begins with “Fires,” a quick horror of a track. The shrieks hover above the mid-paced flurry of sound. The song rolls along with a likable dissonance, and there’s a clear punk influence here embedded with some black metal characteristics.The second track, “Halls of Misery,” begins with drums rolling out with bright flashes and the guitar wails a thick wall of noise over the screams. There’s a consistent rise and fall that heaves the song along with a certain sense of dread. The third track, “Heretic Howl,” is longer than any other song found on this album. Instantly we are thrust into thrashing drums, the guitar ascends like a weary wind in the background, and there is the occasional outburst of a retching yell. This one becomes trance-like with its repetition. The track eventually quiets down momentarily and a military-esque erupts. The riff slinks along in jittery stretches with the drums. The fourth track, “Whipping Branches, Cruel Wind,” is where Carrion Bloom’s Punk side really shines through. This track is short, simple, catchy, and incredibly easy to thrash about to. Next track, “A Face in the Trees,” is another short thrash-about. “Heretic Howl”ends with a punk-influenced cover of Rosy Palms’ “Bequest.” Carrion Bloom extends this track a bit which helps to truly make it their own with the stretch of riffing and clashing drums thrown down in the middle.
Carrion Bloom’s “Heretic Howl” is six tracks filled to the brim with sludgy riffage, and fans of both Black Metal and Punk will find something to like about the tracks found here.
Recommendation: The production is dirty, the guitar is sufficiently distorted, the vocals are gritty and raw, and the drumming urges you to move about. What’s not to like?
Rating – 4/5
James Rauh: I am such a big fan of the folks involved in this band. One of my favorite Black Metal bands to see was this group called FELL VOICES. I caught the majority of their shows in the Bay Area when they were still active. I collected their records and tapes, I booked a few shows for them and I got to play with them as well. I fucking loved the group, so naturally when their drummer moved away to become the backbone for the extreme New York underground by starting a million killer bands (Ruin Lust, Vorde, Yellow Eyes, Vilkacis, Vanum, etc), I was still following what the other members were doing that were still in the bay area. Tucker, the lead guitarist and main songwriter, started playing in a band called Akatharsia, which was an off kilter blackened punk band that mixed in a lot of different influences from grunge to neocrust to black metal. When Akatharsia started I had my eyes/ears on them and was super interested in supporting them. The record shop that I work at, Econo Jam Records, actually started a record label just to put out an LP for Akatharsia, which I definitely recommend for anyone that is digging on Carrion Bloom.
The drummer of Carrion Bloom, Max, and I go back quite a bit as well. He ran a label called Gay Scientist Recordings, which was a tape label that put out the first official release of my band Swamp Witch. Max played in this killer crusty metallic hardcore band called Negative Standards for quite sometime and our bands played together a lot back between 2010-2014. Max even filled in on Drums for Swamp Witch back in 2010 at a show we played with Mortuous and Black Fucking Cancer. So I have been following his journey in music for well over a decade, and I pretty much know if he is involved in something I am going to want to check it out.
The other member in Carrion Bloom that I have a history with is James, who is the latest addition to the band. For those readers that are familiar with the label, James also played on one of my personal favorite releases that I have put out, “Sequestered Sympathy” by Exulansis. I love that record so much, and James has one of the largest Transylvanian collections, as he has supported me and the label for years now. I am trying to think of the first time I broke the wall and reached out to him directly about something and I think it was right around the time he moved to the bay area a few years back (he was formerly living in Oregon). He wrote to me one day about having a tape dubber and possibly dubbing some tapes for me. Around the same time one of my buddies from the band Spectral Voice was coming into town to play a show and since we have known each other for awhile from tapes and beyond he asked me if i could do some last minute dubs for him to have for their show, but I didn’t have a tape player at the time. I remember James had just written to me so I hooked them up from there and then it seemed like my connection to James just continued to grow.
I have an immense amount of respect for him and the other folks in the band so when James hit me up out of the blue to ask if I would be interested in listening to the Carrion Bloom album, I told him to send it over, and within thirty seconds I had already texted him back saying I wanted to put it out. The music is exceptional. The album was recorded with Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland. They play Punk inspired Black Metal, which is right up my alley of interest.
Burning Palace – “Hollow”
Burning Palace plays Death Metal that borders on the technical side. It wouldn’t necessarily be off base to insist they are tech-death, but I think that label puts an unnecessary limitation on Burning Palace’s approach to heaviness. There is a melodic brutality to Josh Kerston’s vocals, not too unlike David Davidson (Revocation), or Jake Dieffenbach (Rivers of Nihil). By extension then, as with the musicality of both of these bands, Burning Palace carves out a nice pocket of uniqueness in the field. You’re not going to hear any saxophone solos or moments of Thrash nostalgia on the album, but you will understand what I mean when I say these dudes are playing way outside the traditional tech-death box. This is especially evident on what I consider the stand out track, “Process of Hollowing Out.”
“Hollow” came out at the beginning of December last year, so it has been flying pretty far off the radar of many listeners who were busy with their year end lists and holiday festivities. Burning Palace has had a place on my playlist since then, however, thanks in part to the fact that Transylvanian Tapes put the album out. Transylvanian Tapes can do very little wrong in my opinion, so anything new gets my attention straight away.
If you’re familiar at all with either Revocation or Rivers of Nihil, I think Burning Palace will please you a great deal. Gojira or Cult of Lilith wouldn’t be too far a stretch, either. And what do all of these bands have in common? None of them are easy to pin down immediately. Just pure Metal excellence.
Rating – 4.5/5
James Rauh: I just want to start off by saying that I live in the Bay Area and for the past several years Sonoma County has been devastated by natural disasters. I know it took a lot to get people acclimated to wearing a mask outside but for us that have lived in the Bay Area we have had to do so, unfortunately, pretty often due to the wildfires that have pillaged our surrounding cities and communities. One of the places that has been hit the hardest has been the Santa Rosa area. So when you get a band from that area that is calling themselves Burning Palace, you just have to take notice.
I have been keeping my eyes on bands from out there for a number of years now because, like most people that live in Oakland, that area is where we go to escape the city life on our days off to enjoy the water and views since it is so close, and you will literally turn into a toxic adventurer if you go swimming in the bay out here. The scene out there isnt as big as the Oakland/San Francisco community so a lot of the people out there trek out here for gigs, and it has always been a mutually respective activity. I had actually been following the guys in Burning Palace for awhile, watching them post practice clips of them working on music and I was certainly intrigued and interested. When I did some research on them, literally just asking my band mate that I share a home with, he told me he used to be super close with them about a decade ago when his old band Funerealm used to play with their old band, Deadly Remains. When Funerealm ended Mortuous began, and that was the first release I put out, so you can see the connection.
I could tell from the jump that Burning Palace was going to be a serious band, and I was honestly taken aback and surprised at their work ethic and understanding of the dynamics of the Underground. Sometimes you try to talk to a band and they have their heads so far up their own asses that they think their shit doesn’t stink, and you can’t tell them anything, but Burning Palace just gets it, and it was refreshing. Not only are they incredibly talented creators that have been around the block and have created high caliber music for a long time, but they are super down to earth individuals without any sort of ego. If you listen to their music you can tell they possess big brains. Their music is so incredibly nuanced and intricate. They play technical death metal with a modern approach that is captivating and whirlwind-ish. Burning Palace is a band that you are going to want to keep an eye on because they are on a whole nother level when it comes to underground Death Metal.
Gravkvade – “GRAV|RUIN”
By: Hayduke X
Transylvanian Tapes always releases the best stuff. (I mean, if we didn’t believe that, would we be doing this label feature?) “GRAV|RUIN” is no exception. Originally released in November of 2020, TT presented us with a high quality cassette release in 2021. The art is, as always, a perfect match for the music. The album itself features nearly forty-five minutes of bleak blackened funeral doom, sprinkled with brief moments of pathos and beauty. Heart wrenching pain drips from every riff, every drum stroke, and every anguished howl.
Hailing from Sweden, Gravkväde is currently listed on Metal Archives as a trio, though it appears there was a fourth member during recording. On this second full length by the band, Vidunder handled drums (now not listed as a band member) with a shifting combination of power and finesse. Collaborating on creating this push-pull tension with strong bass work was Gravrot. Tremolo picking, riffing and other guitar work was handled by Ezra Nattkaos. Finally, the howls of grief and rage come from the pipes of Domedag.
Across these four tracks, an atmosphere of deepest misery pervades. Horrors of pain and loss float ethereally through the desolate deep. The band’s mastery of this darkest emotional sonisphere bodes well for future releases. “GRAV|RUIN” hooks in and won’t let go. Give into the destructive power. Let it wash over you and weep.
Rating – 4.5/5
James Rauh: So, one day when I was looking for music to dig into, I made a post on social media basically asking fans of the label to post the music and art that they created so I could give them the time of day like they do for me and my friends. One of the guys in Gravkvade posted a single off of this album and it totally entranced me. I listened to it a few times and then went to write to them to ask about the rest of the recording. That is when I realized that almost a year prior they had sent the album to me already, but i just never got around to checking it out or clicking on their message, because as I mentioned before I don’t accept band submissions. As I have navigated running a label, I have been trying to branch out and work with certain bands from outside of the United States that I think are worth my time, effort, and energy. Gravkvade is one of them.
I unabashedly love DSBM and Funeral Doom, but there just isn’t a lot of it out that is actually worth a damn, and up to this point I had not released any bands from Sweden, because honestly I am just not a huge fan of the sound that most of us have come to know as the Swedish sound. Gravkvade, on the other hand, offers something completely different when it comes to the traditional extreme music sound emanating from Sweden. This is just straight up miserable music that is ripe with conviction and passion.
I think anyone that digs on Black Metal, be it Atmospheric Black Metal, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal, or Funeral Doom can find something to enjoy about this sorrowful album.
Dipygus – “Long Pig Feast”
Dipygus is a name to be taken seriously, as far as the underground Death Metal department goes, and “Long Pig Feast” is their finest hour… or thirteen minutes, to be precise. It has all the perfect ingredients in a very well structured body. A heap of Sabbathian heaviness, married up nicely with crusted d-beat and all topped with riffs, riffs, riffs and riffs. And stones. And coconuts.
The riffs are more intelligent than what this type of mauling usually has to offer, still sounding like what music would have sounded like if it had been performed by some primitive life-forms of bygone eras on earth. This is death metal, all slimy, fresh from the jungle. Like if Tony Iommi travelled in time and took Discharge with him and then taught big lizards to play the stuff they know the best. Imagine this. It is a beautiful thing, right?
Rating – 4.5/5
James Rauh: My connection with Dipygus goes back to about the same era as half of the guys in Carrion Bloom, starting around 2010-ish. In 2008-2009 I was doing a Black Metal/Drone Doom project called Circle of Eyes and when we shifted focus to our other projects the other guys went on to start Sutkeh Hexen and Black Fucking Cancer. I had noticed Sutekh Hexen threw together a couple of shows with a Psychedelic Doom band from Santa Cruz called Folivore. Instantly I was intrigued. Psychedelic Doom, oh hell yeah! I want some of that. So, I got in contact with Folivore as well and we became friends.
We played some wild shows together at their old home called The Witch Haus in Santa Cruz, and one of those shows we played with a band called Death Monk. Death Monk was a drone/doom metal band that Sam from Dipygus/Folivore was doing along with a guy named Eric. Eric was actually the original vocalist on the first Dipygus demo, so we had all known each other for quite some time at this point. I really wanted to put out that first Folivore recording but it just sort of sat in limbo in the hands of a mutual friend of ours that also collaborated in Circle of Eyes, and was affiliated with Sutekh Hexen so it never got to happen. So I was already very well aware of the talent that these guys possessed.
Between then and the first Dipygus demo, Sam had sent me some tracks that he was looking to put out as a split release between Death Monk and this aquatic war metal band called Gorphyryac. They were pretty sick. Both bands eventually broke up but the core of each horde joined forces to make up Dipygus. When the original vocalist of Dipygus stepped away, this ferocious individual named Clarisa stepped in and god damn let me just say her vocals are super guttural and amazing. It was a match made in hell.
At this point I was following the band pretty closely and thoroughly impressed with what they were doing, I offered to put out “Long Pig Feast” for them, and the rest is history. The tapes quickly sold out and they started garnering attention from all over the world.
We are in the process of reissuing “Long Pig Feast” very soon, so keep an eye out for that and make sure to check out their killer new album “Bushmeat” that is out now on Expansion Abyss here in America and Memento Mori in Europe!
I think it is absolutely worth noting that another one of my favorite far out there releases that I got to do was Sam’s other band Cosmic Reef Temple. Psychedelic Doom with saxophones. Seriously, it is amazing and worth your time to check it out if you have not already.
Alone – “Useless Existence”
Hey! Guess what has two thumbs and loooooves blackened Sludge? Well, probably a buncha people if they’re smart, but me, me me me! Not sayin’ I’m smart, but I do love Blackened Sludge, especially with tons of Death Metal thrown in. Apparently, Colorado Springs band Alone have similar feelings for the filthier things in life, or so it would seem with their super grimey full length debut. Meow, if you’re kewl like me, this won’t be news since you’ve already heard their fantastic 2017 EP “Death Hoarder,” or 2016 split with Modoc. If not, get on board, now!
So, I’ll get my one obligatory complaint out straight away. Intros/outros. Fuck them! Hard with no lube. I hate them. I don’t know why they are allowed. Never have I ever, said, “whoa, that intro man…” but, right away at track numero dos, POW, the horrid journey begins!
Gotta say the title track is my favourite. I feel the modern millennial meme culture would say, “I felt this,” and “those mfs spittin.” Still, I feel all the tracks do quite well on their own. Each has a pretty great mix of Sludge, Death, and Black Metals that form a very trve and balanced Blackened Sludge. The entire affair is heavy as fuck, even when they break into the speed of Black Metal.
Let me highlight this too! The whole “blackened” tag gets thrown around like nut in a bukkake “film,” but these m-f’s spittin some real real, ya heard! Not just some black around the edges, but a blackened gooey heart, much like my own. Honestly I wish Black Metal was more like Alone’s pretty perfect Black Metal swallowed by the ooze and filth of, yes, you guessed it, pretty perfect Sludge.
Production on this is spot on. I personally opt for atmosphere over production, but it’s albums such as this that make my own, personal bukkake possible. All instruments are heard. The guitar tone is fucking A-OK throughout, and makes the blistering tremolo stretches heavy and warm. Great drumming all the way. I can’t get enough D-beatery, so that box is super-checked.
Then there’s the vocals. They have a super-sick vocal style that drips hate, disdain, and hidden violence. When they all chime in it makes me think of an undead, rotting child. Very nasty, very awesome. Also, what better day than Halloween to release an album?
Therefore, the heretofore, aforementioned album should be added to your to-do list, post-haste! I can tell you that I will be spinning this for quite some time, fo sho! So, if Power Metal with ambient folk passages is your thing, get a new thing and check out Alone!
Rating – 4.3/5
James Rauh: “Useless Existence” is a pain filled heavy Sludge album infected with miserable blackened Death Metal. One of their peers in their home state of Colorado from the band Primitive Man coined the term “Death Sludge” to describe the sound of their own music and I think that descriptor works really well for the band Alone as well. It’s fucking volatile and agonizing music, but they are able to give the songs space and structure to breathe and wash over the listener.
I met the lead singer/songwriter of Alone some years back at a skate park here in Oakland a few blocks away from my house, and we literally just shot the shit together for a significant amount of time. Our mutual friend, Sean Sokol, the vocalist of Badr Vogu and Penury, had tried to link us up to play a show together the night before but since some of my bandmates lived 4-6 hours away, we couldn’t swing the gig. I ended up meeting up with Sean from Alone and we hit it off pretty well. Coincidentally enough, around this same time I was also working on a project called Alone, but it never totally came to fruition and I ended up doing a band called Atone instead, with some other guys, but him having a project called Alone I thought was pretty cool. I didn’t find out about his Alone until a few years later.
Shortly after the first time I met Sean. I went out of my way to go and film him playing in a band called Blighter. One of the guys that helped out the label Dark Descent was playing drums for Blighter, and I think it is safe to say that anyone that plays underground extreme music that has been to the Denver area, they are probably familiar with the Ostrow brothers. They run a record shop, a bar that does shows, and they used to have a big show space where they booked a yearly festival called 71Grind. They are movers and shakers and good folks to know. So they had been on my radar for a while.
My buddy Mattia from Sentient Ruin Laboratories was actually the one that pitched the album to me saying like, “hey dude, you should put this album out. It is good and sounds like something that you do well with,” so I was intrigued, and when Sean hit me up asking if I wanted to put out the release about a year before I released it, he mentioned they were looking for vinyl, l and usually I will back off when vinyl is on the table, but since that didn’t pan out, I hit him up again later and was like “what is going on with this album? I know you recorded with Greg Wilkinson and that it sounds killer, we should get this thing out and they were on board.” I bugged the hell out of them to get all the artwork and stuff situated so I could get it into production for them, and I am glad I got to do so.
I think this release, and their band, is a great addition to the Transylvanian family. There is a lot of mutual respect for each other and one another’s homes. For instance, them coming out to Oakland to record with the same engineer that most of the bands I have worked with shows true dedication on their part, and I am all about bridging together underground extreme music communities. Colorado has a really killer community, and when they come out here we try to show up and support and they do the same when our bands are out there.
Occlith – “Gates, Doorways, and Endings”
“Gates, Doorways, and Endings” is an absolutely perfect name for this album. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that there is a surprise at every corner. Sure, that’s a cliche, but if you get more than five minutes into this thing and don’t know why it’s an appropriate cliche… well, you might want to make sure you’re listening to the right album.
Occlith is so much more than a Doom project. Their Bandcamp profile states the band is a “Doom Metal Supergroup” (another reason the album’s title is so fitting), made up of musicians from various well-known bands. Daniel Aguilar (Battle Hag), and Phillip Gallagher (Swamp Witch) trade guitar riffs, leads, and oddities at an expert level, at times sounding like far more than the two men they are. Karl Cordtz (CHRCH) has a vocal approach that is both terrifying and soothing, going from growls and screams to an almost choral sound, thick with reverb. Patrick Hills (King Woman, Pastoral) keeps things held together well with slightly jazzy drumming which, along with bassist Courtland Miles (Gloriam Draconis), round out Occlith to perfection.
Each song on this album plays out like a musical quilt, covering the listener with layer upon majestic layer of doomy comfort. The title track alone is worth a typical album’s full weight, but taken as a whole “Gates, Doorways, and Endings” is dizzyingly spectacular.
Rating – 5/5
James Rauh: Occlith is a special outfit. I call them an underground Doom Metal supergroup, and I want to elaborate on that. Their first demo, “Obscure Heresies,” was a very promising preview of what was to come. In between that recording and this one, the lead songwriter in Occlith, Phillip Gallagher, was offered a gig to go on tour playing in the band CHRCH alongside YOB and Acid King. He actually landed that while we were together cutting an album with Greg Wilkinson, which if you know Phil this is a huge deal because he grew up as a big fan of Acid King, and getting the opportunity to do something like that was pretty special. While he was spending a lot of time practicing and hanging out on the road with CHRCH, his bond with them grew tremendously and he extended an invitation to Karl Cordtz from CHRCH to join Occlith on vocals.
With the addition of Karl in Occlith, the band started to really get after it, sharpening their skills and practicing regularly. This was just one of those bands where you knew something great is going to come from it. You have a handful of veteran musicians from the bands Battle Hag, Bog Oak, Swamp Witch, CHRCH, King Woman, Pastoral, Gloriam Draconis, and several more acts coming together with one of the hottest music producers in Northern California, Patrick Hills, not just recording the music but also playing in the band. This is easily the most realized and developed recording that I think all of them have collaborated on.
“Gates, Doorways, And Endings” is one of those albums that no matter how many times you listen to it you are going to continue to pick up new nuances within the depth of the music. It’s dreary, romantic, heavy and despondent but also angelic and beautifully chilling while still sounding completely unique to themselves. I think fans of the early gothic doom acts can find something to appreciate in their music and so can fans of more modern doom and gloom acts. It is dynamic music, and recordings like this as a fan are incredibly rewarding for me to get to hear.The core of a united collective of musicians writing the best music they can write without any sort of preconceived notions of trying to impress anyone sometimes results in something masterful and noteworthy. This is a perfect example of a band making music that they want to hear and not trying to emulate any one specific band, it is all for the love of heaviness and that is something you just have to respect and appreciate.
Many thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, James! What does Transylvanian Tapes have in store for 2021?
James Rauh: Thanks for the opportunity to wax poetic and babble on about my friends that I am incredibly proud of. In 2020 I pushed 35 releases, and although I have been somewhat quiet the first two months of 2021, I have been working diligently behind the scenes and have twelve tapes in production for next month, and have several more for the following month. There’s new merch coming, and all sorts of goodies like buttons, stickers, and more. I teased the name change last year to “Transylvanian Recordings”, which is a name I have used for years for my underground video productions, but for the label this is a way to welcome the new format, because after a decade of doing this, vinyl is in production. I really appreciate you and everyone that has taken time to listen to any of the bands I have been fortunate to work with and I look forward to promoting more killer music and sending them all over the world.