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Anthropic Records: Heavy Metal and Hard Work.

June 20, 2013

Anthropic01TOCText and bottom image by Chad Sims. Top image by Alyssa Lorenzon.

There aren’t too many women who run heavy metal record labels but what Anthropic Records owner Shannon Ward lacks in the quantity of artists on her roster, she makes up for in quality. Working with bands, developing them and helping them reach their full potential may be her favorite part of owning her own label but she insists the bands do their share of the work.

“One of my mottos is ‘I am only going to work as hard as you are,’” Ward says. “If you aren’t going to work hard, this isn’t going to go anywhere.”

Anthropic Records’ current roster is made up of Ominous Black, who have been described as cosmic beard metal, and Hivelords (below), a terrifying blend of black, doom and any other kind of scary metal. Until earlier this year, they also worked with Sadgiqacea but they recently signed with Candlelight Records.

“Even though they are moving on to Candlelight, it is a good thing for us,” Ward notes. “It will bring more interest to the label.”

Though one band is departing the label, the remaining two acts are holding it down. Ominous Black recently released a self-titled 10-inch album recorded by Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac. Hivelords’ first album with Anthropic is expected to be released soon. There is also the fourth volume of Anthropic’s successful Anthrosphere compilation series, which features bands on the label as well as other heavy acts from around the region.

HivelordsLooking at the guys in the bands, most people would see the bushy beards and tattoos and think that they were simply a bunch of tough guys. In truth, the musicians and label head are a funny, fairly down-to-Earth and seemingly close bunch. While many of them have been friends for years, it is also partially by design. They tour together, promote each other, create artwork for label mates (drummer Fred Grabosky does the art for Sadgiqacea and contributes to other Anthropic projects) and they even play in multiple bands together — Evan Void plays guitar in Sadgiqacea and drums in Ominous Black.

It’s a very positive creative venture for bands that could be perceived as being rather negative because of the dark and foreboding sounds associated with metal music.

“There are a lot of terrible things happening all the time and you need a catharsis,” says Hivelords singer Kevin North. “If there is a way to sublimate that into something artistic, you have to take that opportunity.”

While the Anthropic bands all sound fairly different from one another, they do share some similarities.

“If there is any reason I listen to music,” North says, “it is to be perplexed, to be put into a state of questioning my own life, or questioning reality. And I feel that is what is happening at Anthropic right now. It is the epitome of that.”

For the bands and Ward, the label and the music is a labor of love. They all want to put out music that pushes boundaries and they will do whatever they must to get the music out there. For Ward, simply breaking even would be viewed as a success.

“I don’t have a trust fund,” she says. “I work really hard at my day job and save to put out records. I hope that the last record sells out so I can put out the next one.”

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