There are few guarantees in this life, but one thing is certain: whenever I see an upcoming release for Dying Victims Productions, I know I need to check it out. Whenever I’m compiling my list of new releases for Five For Friday, I instantly light up when the label pops up in my search. For anyone seeking out the sound and spirit of the 1980s, the label’s catalog is a limitless treasure hunt. Classic heavy metal, speed metal, punk-infused thrash, and even some selections of raw and nasty black, death, and doom metal — it’s all there. And it comes to you with no ironic posturing or snobbish hostility to its audience, just an earnest horns up and a head bang for good measure.
Below is my interview with Florian, who runs the Dying Victims Productions out of Essen, Germany. If his answer to the last question doesn’t leave you inspired, then I don’t know what will.
Check it out!
Thank you for agreeing to talk with us, for those who don’t know much about the label, could you tell us how Dying Victims Productions got started?
The label started in 2009 as a logical continuation of my fanzine Thrash Attack. Through the fanzine I got in touch with so many international acts that nobody seemed to care about and I felt I could actually help them out by releasing and promoting their music. For the first few years, the main focus areas were tapes and a 7”/cd release every now and then, before 12” vinyl releases slowly became more frequent. Of course it was “only” a hobby for me, a very important one, next to school, university and a full time job and the label moved several times within Germany and even to the UK for a while. After taking a break for travelling in 2015/16, I put more and more time and effort into it and expanded the operation in 2017/18 before going full time in mid-2019. Full-time meaning a lot more hours than my regular 9-5 job of course, but it is still a lot more fulfilling for me because I can listen to, release and promote the kind of music that I want to listen to myself.
Listening to my copy of the label’s promotional sampler, it’s a lot like listening to the old Metal Blade collections from the 1980s. Did you intentionally seek out old-school heavy metal and speed metal, or did it just kind of fall into place like that?
That’s an honorable comparison, I won’t complain, but I did not choose bands with any agenda in mind. This sampler simply represents current releases at a certain point. Old school heavy metal, speed and thrash are probably still my favorite styles, which means that this is the main focus of the label. At at the same time, DVP has released death, black or doom metal, as well as heavy rock and now even prog/kraut rock (RITVS will be out in mid-December). Pretty much anything could be released, as long as I like it and I feel that it fits the label.
I really enjoyed that Venator album from last year, Echoes From the Gutter. How did you come across them? Those vocals are so damn good!
The album is a real banger indeed which has gotten them quite a bit of attention in the European underground scene and got the band to play lots of shows all across the continent. Next spring they will go on a month long tour with their label mates Toxikull who will release a new album in February.
I first got to know the Steel City Sorcery Festival and Eisenhand crew which hail from Linz, Austria, as well. They recommended me checking out this very young band which turned out to be VENATOR. I am always open and on the lookout for new bands who are hungry, because this is one of my main criteria when I listen to active bands, I’ve got to believe they feel the fire.
It’s not easy running an independent record label in 2023. What have been your primary challenges? Are any of them unique to being based in Germany?
Previously and especially this year the major challenge has been the rising costs across the board — e.g., rent, energy, logistics, postage, packaging material, and particularly production costs (especially vinyl). These issues are generally discussed by all the labels I am in touch with. Being based in Germany brings the big advantage of a huge scene (e.g., customer base, many festivals, competitive postage costs). Last year however, the insanely cheap international postage prices got axed and shipping has gone up drastically, which definitely put a dent on international orders. Major labels/companies simply raise their prices to a ridiculous level, which underground labels cannot and do not want to do to the same extent.
Another challenge I constantly face is more personal. I strive to improve, which means that I always see countless things I can do better and this results in a (at times) pretty crazy workload. At any time I’ve got many many ideas and projects in the pipeline.
2023 has been an amazing year for Dying Victims, I especially loved the new ones from Vengeance, Speedwhore, and Atonement. What are some records you’re planning for the end of the year or the start of 2024 that fans should look forward to?
Thank you very much, great to hear you are into these albums – two of them being debut albums! 2024 will definitely be an exciting year for DVP, with new albums from long time comrades such as Iron Curtain and Coltre, but also new exciting additions to the roster such as Freeways, Witching Hour or the almighty Pagan Altar (we will also be working on reissues of some of their previous works). Generally speaking, fans can expect “more of the same” high quality releases: a monthly dose of exciting albums, EPs and demos by underground bands, no matter which point they are in their career.
It’s easy to get jaded and burned out when music becomes your everyday working life. What keeps you excited about this music?
To be honest, I feel exactly the opposite. Still being deeply immersed in the scene, attending many concerts and festivals, meeting like-minded maniacs from across the globe, showing each other new acts and forgotten gems makes running this label a deeply satisfying experience for me. I never want to become one of the older guys that think they have reached a certain level and are now better than the new guys in the scene. The fact that I am always keeping an eye on the young and emerging acts leads to me being surrounded by people that have a strong passion for the(ir) music.