By: Mike Abominator
Razorback Records is a label that everyone in the metal underground should know by now, so I don’t need to do much of an introduction. There are some legendary and well loved bands and albums that have been on this label and label founder Billy continues to plague us with his horrific vision to this day. This article starts with an talk with Billy and then a review of the past few releases that have been put out by Razorback William. Read on and enjoy the horror and gore!
1. Hails Billy. Thanks for doing the interview man. How are things going at Camp Razorback these days?
Billy: Hey Mike, thanks for sending some questions! Things are going great, man. We’ve been keeping busy lately setting up tables at various horror conventions. We love doing them and we get a great response whenever we show up at them. Also been busy with new albums from Howling and Oniricous which have been doing really great for us; it’s been a good year so far.
2. I want to go back to the beginning of Razorback. So 1998 was the year. What made you decide to get into the business of putting out records?
Billy: Well at that time the underground was full of all these slam/groove/jump-da-fuck-up type bands that were calling themselves “death metal” and I really hated that whole thing. It’s a combination of wanting to put out stuff in a more “old-school” way but also wanting the bands to be totally inspired by horror stuff (movies, books, comics, art, etc.). I’m a huge fan of both heavy metal AND horror stuff so I’ve always wanted to iron both of them together. I discovered the band Engorged from Portland, Oregon and they had Dario Argento influences all over their sleeve and that’s when the horror began!
3. Looking back, you have worked with many, now considered legendary bands like Machetazo, Ghoul, Birdflesh, Impaled, Haemorrhage, The County Medical Examiners, C.U.M., General Surgery and even super underground cult acts like Frightmare, Lord Gore and many more. Did you ever think that the label would go this far and last this long? And also 65 releases deep?
Billy: It was a fun era, man! In those days, I was completely obsessed with paying homage to my all-time favorite underground band, Impetigo! I kept trying to find bands that had the same kind of vibe, but also influenced by Carcass, Repulsion, Autopsy, etc. That was where I was mentally back then as far as what I wanted to put out. I didn’t really aspire to do anything beyond that in those days. I had NO idea I’d even get to work with some of the bands I have over the years, let alone still doing the label and being around the 75+ release mark. I’m still here, almost 15 years later. The label may be a bit different, but it’s still all about horror and old-school influenced underground metal music. That has never changed for me.
4. I know it’s hard to pick, but what are some of the bands and releases that you are most proud of? Both in the past and recently?
Billy: In the early days, I’d say the albums I did by Engorged, Ghoul (especially their first album), Frightmare, WTN, Coffins, Acid Witch, and then later on Scaremaker, Blizaro, Tombstones, Wooden Stake, Decrepitaph, and definitely right now the debut from Howling which is like a culmination of everything I’ve ever loved about horror and heavy metal all in one single band.
5. How did you go about picking the bands that you wanted to work with? At first, you worked with a lot of porno grind type grind bands. But you did have the horror themed bands as well. Now it is pretty much horror themed. Even though you did work with some of the elite bands of the genre, did you get sick of the whole “porno grind” thing? Or did you just see “high quality band” regardless of “genre”?
Billy: Razorback was never a “porno grind” label at all. There were a few bands that may have had some songs that were a bit like that, but the label was a horror influenced Death Metal/Grindcore label from the beginning. The first bands on the label were Engorged, Machetazo, and then I did a tribute album to Impetigo which is really where the label first started getting noticed I think. I would say some of the bands were more of a death/grind/gore-metal thing than a porno thing. I had a blast putting out a lot of the stuff in that style back then, but yeah, it definitely got boring and I got completely burnt out on bands sending me demos that were trying to copy Ghoul, Lord Gore, Engorged, etc. Also, many of the bands playing that style either broke up, started to record really boring albums, or just disappeared completely. For me, when I got to re-issue the classic two Impetigo albums in 2006 and 2007, that was really the high point for me. After that, I felt like it was time to just put out whatever the fuck I wanted to without any rules. I did doom metal, thrash metal, and now we even have a cool black metal band on the label called Dominium.
6. Did you come up with a lot of the band concepts and ideas yourself with some releases? And just get musicians together to record the material? Obviously some of the bigger, more well known bands would have their own stuff to record, but some of the other bands had some of the same people playing on the albums. Do you have a “Razorback” stable of maniacs that you like to have to get the songs down? You have Wayne, you have your wife Vanessa, you have that ripping guitar player dude Tony. Shit man, THAT’S how I would do it. If I had a label, I would just put out my own projects/ideas of all kinds of cool genres of metal and punk. I would use my same people to help me! YEAH! Now would it sound good or sell? Hmmmmm!
Billy: Not to sound arrogant or anything like that, but yeah, I did! The first band I started to be an exclusive Razorback band was Frightmare. It was actually the name of my own band that didn’t get off the ground due to not being able to find a good drummer locally. I was friends with the guys from Engorged and Lord†Gore†and asked if they wanted to do a new side band that was totally inspired by 80′s slasher movies. That was how that whole thing started. Then later on I helped out other various bands with lyrics and song titles, but it wasn’t until around 2007 that I started up other bands like Hooded Menace, Revolting, etc. Those were all my ideas and concepts. I paid for all the logos to be drawn up, artwork, and I ran all the band pages and wrote most of the lyrics, too. Almost all the song titles were mine as well. I’m not gonna sit here and talk shit about anybody, because I’m fed up with today’s underground being all drama related. All I can say though†is that I got screwed over by a lot of people and taken for granted and had a lot of things stolen from me as well. But, it’s one of those learning experiences and you just move on! That’s what I’ve always done. I’m still here, having fun (which is what this is all about anyway!), and still putting out music that I enjoy and am†a fan of. The label has had releases with my wife’s bands and my friend’s bands, definitely! I love doing releases with them without a doubt! But, we also have other bands on the label such as Mausoleum, Gutwrench, Orloff, Sepulcral, Blizaro, Oniricous, Exorcised, SaturninE, Offal, and let’s not forget the mighty Crypticus! Patrick Bruss has been a friend since 2005 and his band is probably one of the most underrated Razorback bands ever. We’re always looking for possible new bands to work with. But yeah, I gotta be honest. I do prefer working with people who I have a lot in common with and who are always on the same page as I am. It’s more fun and fulfilling for me, and the older I get the more I am fed up with working with bands trying to become “big” and acting like rock stars all the time. It’s just NOT fun working with people like that and I lose interest FAST. I think with Razorback we have the best of†three worlds. Vanessa and I get to do our own bands, we get to work with our friend’s bands, and we get to find other cool bands out there we enjoy as fans. It works out great!
7. What do you look for as far as working with a band these days? What would a band need to have in order to put out a release on Razorback?
Billy: Good songs, a cool name/concept, trying to have their own sound instead of just trying to copy all the same old bands, great artwork, etc. Most importantly, a DIY attitude†with no fucking delusions of trying to become the next Ghost or ultra hip, “KVLT” retro death metal superstar flash in the pan band that nobody will remember 5 years from now!
8. Again, some of the names are legendary, you put them out there first. How do you feel about some of the bands that you have worked with that have moved on to a “bigger” label and become a big name within the underground metal scene and beyond?
Billy: Some bands I’m really proud of and glad to see them doing so well, and some I could care less about. Simple as that I guess! I always told every band on Razorback that they could do whatever they wanted to. No band was ever “signed” to this label. I just put out whatever I liked and thought was cool. I never had a problem with a band wanting to “move on” or whatever. I just didn’t like how some bands acted when they did stuff like that. Attitude is the key. Some bands can be cool about it, and some can be total pricks. That’s just the nature of the beast, you know? At the end of the day, it all comes down to good music and if a band is still passionate about what they do, then more power to them. If they are just keeping it alive to sell more t-shirts and get money from live shows and fests, then fuck ‘em! You gotta do metal music for the right reasons, in my opinion.
9. Let’s go back into the young mind of William Nocera. What were the early bands and albums that first got you into heavy metal? What were the first bands that you saw live?
Billy: I was and still am obsessed with 80′s metal! It’s still what I listen to 98% of the time. I still jam all the albums I grew up with from Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies, Death, Sepultura, Obituary, Carcass, Morbid Angel, Sacred Reich, Testament, Overkill, Death Angel, Sabbat (UK), Possessed, Venom, Rigor Mortis, Exumer, Destruction, Dark Angel, Entombed, Winter, Autopsy, Sodom, Blood Feast, Artillery, Razor, Grave, Impetigo, Dismember, and of course Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Candlemass, and any other great pure 80′s thrash, speed, heavy, death whatever METAL!
10. Now tell me how you first got into the deep underground metal scene.
Billy: In the late 80′s and early 90′s I got heavily into fanzines and started up my own fanzine called The Coven and did a few issues with it. I started buying all the great underground demo tapes at the time and 7″ EP’s and it just snowballed from there. I loved bands like Impetigo, Blasphemy, Nuclear Death, Deceased, Cianide, Rottrevore, Incantation, Mortician, Crematory, and of course all the great fanzines from those days.
11. How has the onset of technology effected your record label? Have you tried and embrace the new era of the internet, music downloads, webzines and digital packages? Or do you prefer the old school way of vinyl, cassettes, fanzines, snail mail and all of that of the olden way?
Billy: It’s been good and bad, I guess. I think we’ve embraced certain aspects but have shunned others at the same time. I’m not a fan of “digital download” promos that labels send out now. I prefer sending out real copies of albums to people so they can have the art/lyrics, etc. That’s one thing I really hate right now about the music scene I guess. Webzines would be fine if they would actually post their ADDRESS so you can physically MAIL them CD’s, haha! I don’t get this shady new way of music promotion. But whatever, I’m stuck in my old ways I guess! Vinyl is cool also but that has become too much of a lame “collector hipster nerd” thing for my tastes. The only vinyl I care about is OLD vinyl from the 70′s and 80′s that I can find at a used record store for a buck or two, which that is becoming almost IMPOSSIBLE now! Haha! God damn ebay ruined that. Real printed fanzines are cool as long as they are done for the real love of what they are doing rather than trying to be some kind of fake KVLT elitist bullshit thing. I still LOVE snail mail, without a doubt! Nothing beats getting cool stuff in the mail!
12. What are the future plans for Razorback Records? If you could work with ANY bands out there, what is your dream short list?
Billy: Well, we’ve got a ton of stuff going on. More horror conventions, the 15th anniversary of the label, as well as our fanzine “The Coven” which is going to be interviews with mostly all Razorback bands as well as artists we work with and it will come with a CD compilation with some exclusive tracks as well as songs from other cool non-Razorback bands we like. We have new CD’s coming out soon from Blizaro, Exorcised, Crypticus, Offal, Dominium, SaturninE, Tombstones, and re-issues of Impetigo and Necroccultus. Another thing we’re really excited about is the publishing of our very first horror comic book called Vaulwraith which is in the classic EC and Creepy comic style! VERY thrilled to be working with horror†artist Donald England on this.
13. What are your top 20 ‘GO TO’ albums of all time?
Billy: Damn, that’s a hard one. I like too many albums haha! Off the top of my head…
IMPETIGO “Ultimo Mondo Cannibale”
IMPETIGO “Horror of the Zombies”
SLAYER “Reign in Blood”
SLAYER “Show No Mercy”
METALLICA “Kill ‘em All”
METALLICA “ride the lightning”
METALLICA “master of puppets”
VENOM “welcome to hell”
VENOM “black metal”
THE MISFITS “walk among us”
THE MISFITS “earth AD”
CARCASS “symphonies of sickness”
AUTOPSY “severed survival”
AUTOPSY “mental funeral”
RIGOR MORTIS “s/t”
EXODUS “bonded by blood”
IRON MAIDEN “piece of mind”
DEATH “scream bloody gore”
KING DIAMOND “them”
KREATOR “extreme aggression”
14. I want to thank you for your time Billy, any last words? What are the links that the maniacs out there can get copies of Razorback stuff?
Billy: Thanks for the interview and support, Mike! Cheers, again, man! People can check out our web site at:
and also the official facebook page here for all the latest and fastest updates and new:
Here are some reviews of the last 8 Razorback Releases put out over 2012-2013:
Formerlly known as Ghul, these Spanish maniacs now known as Oniricous slay some might death metal terror. Raging and ripping away in the mold of early Death, Massacre, Morgoth, Master and the other straight forward thrashing death bands of the mid to late 80s that started it all. Spain is becomig quite a hot bed for old school death metal these days. Oniricous fit right in with all of the other mighty bands over there. The song titles and lyrics are in Spanish, but it doesn’t matter of you don’t understand that launguage. The attack is deadly and the same as those in Sweden, France, America, Brazil, Germany, Canada……. IT’S ALL DEATH FUCKING METAL!!!!!!!!!!!! This sick fucker has 10 songs and an intro track. Try and tell me that opening song “El Amuleto” doesn’t rage and kill right up there with any death metal classic! This is a killer death metal album over all and all fans of the old school death genre will want to pick this fucker up! Crushes and kills with the
best of them! As usual with Razorback, the art work and presentation is fucking TOP NOTCH! The cover art was done by legendary artist Esteban Moroto
HOWLING-A BEAST CONCEIVED
Here is yet another project in the horror death sweepstakes that Razorback has been known for all of these years. This one has a mix of heavy metal genres, mainly death and thrash, thrown into the bloody blender. There are many killer riffs and time changes going on. The songs can sound heavy and creepy, then take a totally melodic turn. It kind of remonds me of a group of death metal and horror movie fans getting together and making a King Diamond type metal record. Not that it rips of the King or anything. Some of the riffs and ideas remind me of a thrashing death version of King Diamond. Some of the riffs even groove with a 70s doom metal feel to them. The over all sound and production has a very raw and ‘in your face’ vibe to it, like it was done live. The guitar solo work is impressive by Tony P. It often sounds like Joe Satriani doing horror movie soundtracks. I love the tributes to the old school horror movies (most of these are favorites of mine too! Each song gets it’s own treatment! KILLER!) There is a big old school Metallica influence that I feel on here as well. Vanessa’s vocals have a cool amount of range with the growls and screams. As usual my buddy the Elektrokutioner does a solid and killer job behind the coffins once again! I want to see these fuckers live! I think it would be an intense fucking show!!!!!!!!!! This album kicks major ass! It’s also different in the usual sense of what’s out there. I can see the movies taking place in my head as these roller coasters to hell slay along with it. GREAT cover art and layout to boot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ORFLOFF-APPARITIONS AMONG THE GRAVEYARD SKIES
This is some horrific death metal as well. More in the Incantation style. Bands like this have been coming out of the woodwork like crazy these days. Orloff don’t really bring anything new to the table in that sense. But if you are into death metal for new styles and inovation, then you AREN’T into death metal you fucking jack ass! This is some heavy duty shit here. Crushing and pulverizing, yet haunting and eeire at the same time. The 2nd song on the album, “Cobwebbed and Decayed”, is a good indication of this with it’s creepy fucking organ intro, to the death metal and grinding away, with weird time changes and riffs that all seem to come together and fit, to the acoustic guitar break that pops out of nowhere. As with all of the Razorback releases past and present, there are cool horror samples thrown into the mix to make that atmosphere even darker. There are quite a few different types of riffs and ideas that come up from the grave on this album. This seperate sthem from being a typical ‘Incantation-Clone’. Some unconventional stuff is going on like with the song “Nine Eternities In Doom”. It starts off with a creepy yet menacing riff that goes into an even more menacing riff and that leads to more organ playing and time changes all over the place for a couple of minutes. But the creepy riffs and notes always seem to pop up like zombies. This is a cool and solid album that any fan of the Razorback catalog will enjoy.
GUTWRENCH-MAUSOLEUM… TO DWELL & ROT IN
These sickos come from the depths of Mexico. Simple and REALLY pulverizing death metal that has doomy elements. You can hear the Asphyx and Cianide influences, obviously 2 classic bands to be influenced by and 2 of the best death metal bands ever! There are some heavy as fuck moments that bring to mind Rottrevore and the sewage spewing bands from Finland back in the day. This is some crushing shit! Totally down tuned and putrid death metal terror. This is the type of morbid filth that really scares the fuck out of posers! The production and sound really bring out the heaviness of Gutwrench. Never has a band name been so fitting, as this death noise sounds like a beast is wrenching your guts, ripping them out forcing them down your throat, only to rip them out again and force them up your ass! Don’t get me wrong, Billy supplied me with some killer albums here and they are all good in their own way, but this fucker is my favorite of the bunch! This review is shorter, but I would say that this fucker is 666% FUCKING ESSENTIAL to any death freak’s collection! GET IT OR FUCKING DIE A POSER!!!!!!!!!
SEPULCRAL “ANTHROPOPHAGY OF DOOM”
Some more down tuned death doom, this time from Italy. Sepulcral have a more refined attack to their madness. It’s still heavy, just “sharper” and maybe a bit more prodding. These guys sound like they came out of a haunted house and not a haunted sewer. The whole vibe is very dark yet these fuckers are catchy as all hell. The riffs are good and they stay in your head. They remind me of Derketa and the slower parts of Impetigo. They have some of the same arrangements of Nunslaughter, just done a bit slower. This is bad ass stuff. Obviously being from Italy, they have a great horror movie influence with the lyrics and concepts. This is a murderous album that could have come out in 1990. I would say that this is my 2nd fave of the bunch and yes, it might be a shorter review, but basically, you get the point when I say 666% FUCKING ESSENTIAL! GET IT OR FUCKING DIE A POSER!!!!!!!!!
WOODEN STAKE “AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT”
Haunting doom metal from my friend Wayne Sarantoppapapapolouszeusfagehadesachilles and Razorback Billy’s better chopped half Vanessa. There are some death/doom influences, the usual Hellhammer, Asphyx, Sabbath stuff. But there are also some traditional doom elements here, especially with Vanessa’s haunting vocals on some tracks done in the ‘heavy metal’ style. There are screams and growls on here too! And even during the singing parts, there will be some creepy pukes going on. She sounds like a crazy witch ready to reek havoc on this fucker. Some of the music has a Candlemass/Solitude Aeternus vibe. This album is a collection of songs from the demos, splits and EPs that Wooden Stake started off with. The time changes remain constant and the riffs repeat themselves (as with any good doom band!) as to throw the listener into a trance. The production is also haunting and fits the music perfectly. I fucking love the old Paradise Lost style solos on ” Black Caped Carnivore”! Oh, there is also a new song on here “Night of the Banshee”. The atmosphere is very occult and creepy over all, it could be the soundtrack to one of my favorite films as a kid “Race With the Devil”. Fans of doom metal take note! This fucker is for you!!!!!!!
CHURCH OF MISERY “MINSTREL OF MOURNING”
What a fucking deadly treat this is! Here is the legendary album that never came out. OK THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE! hahahaha. You see, back in the day when I helped out with Extinction of God Fanzine, we got the “Sorrows of the Moon” demo sent to the zine compound. WE FUCKING LOVED AND WORSHIPED IT TO DEATH! We would put it on at every insane metal party that we had. IT WAS AN INSTANT CLASSIC. Then Stevo had mentioned that there would be a full length! And the underground was a buzz about this album! But it never came out. It was lost in underground metal purgatory, one foot in the abyss and the other oblivion. But thanks to RazorBill Records, it has been unearthed and now the masses can indulge as we did back in the day! If you love the demos of My Dying Bride, Morgion, Paradise Lost, Decomposed(UK), Cianide and the death/doom like, then you will like THIS Church of Misery. We were so pissed to hear about the OK trendy Japanese COM back in the day. THIS ONE is the real deal! Get this legendary and 666% FUCKING ESSENTIAL PIECE OF SLOWWWWWWWW DEATHHHHHHHHH NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ZOMBIE RITUAL “DAWN OF THE ZOMBIE SLAUGHTER” Joint Release/Distro with POWER IT UP RECORDS
Raging and thrashing death from Japan. Hilarious and deadly shit to be found on here. Abscess with Impetigo influences gone punked out crossover thrash. Much like fellow countrymen Metalucifer with their “metal” in every song title, these guys have “zombie” in every song title. They also have a sound and style that reminds me of fellow countrymen Hellchild. These fuckers dress up as zombie/creatures when they slay live. Catchy and ripping riffs are all over this album. Fans of thrashing death will want to check this out. The Japanese are always great at bringing us some high energy music and this fits that bill big time! This was an enjoyable listen and had me headbanging the whole time. Gory death thrash madness!!!!!!