Southern Lord Records
Southern Lord logo.gif
Record label information
Founded 1 April 1998
Distributors Caroline Distribution
Southern Records
Genre(s) Drone Metal, Extreme Metal, Doom Metal, Avant-Garde Metal, Hardcore Punk, D-Beat, Powerviolence
Country of Origin United States
Based in Los Angeles, California
Website Official Page

Southern Lord is an American heavy metal record label that was founded in 1998 by Greg Anderson. Initially, Southern Lord composed releases of doom metal, death/doom and drone. While primarily known throughout their career for key releases in doom and drone by the likes of Sunn O))), Earth and Sleep among others the label also has been open to working with other genres, in particular a host of black metal releases through the 2000s and the label's recent era of powerviolence, D-Beat and hardcore punk.

Southern Lord has also served as a stepping stone to expose international or otherwise unknown bands to a broader audience such as Boris, Weedeater, Church of Misery and Electric Wizard among others at a time. Since their inception in March 1998, Southern Lord has put out over 250 different releases and remain active as a premier underground metal label, with a policy of signing bands that the label themselves personally enjoy.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Southern Lord would be founded circa 1 April 1998 by Greg Anderson as a means to release obscure doom albums, along with some of his own output. He had worked with Caroline Distribution prior to forming the label. The first release on the label would be Dommedagsnatt by Thorr's Hammer circa 1 April 1998,[2] followed by Crippled Lucifer by Burning Witch on 15 July 1998. The label early on released doom metal and sludge metal along with rarities like Incarnate by The Obsessed. According to an interview via Amoeba Records in 2009 Guy Pinhas funded some of Southern Lord's early releases.[3] In a 2018 interview with Music OMH Anderson would confirm that sentiment as the two maintained a friendship.[4] "Incarnate" wasn’t only the first release to bear the Southern Lord label that did not include Anderson and O’Malley; it was also the first embryo to develop into what would become an incestuous family of musicians; a family that would grow exponentially over the next few years. Soon after, Anderson's next band, Goatsnake, was born, adding another name to the roster of the doomed. Along with bands like Internal Void and Place of Skulls came a 7" single series entitled Seven Inches of Doom, which spanned ten releases of doom bands all over the world.

2002 saw the first Southern Lord release of Anderson and O’Malley‘s latest band, Sunn O))). Sunn O))) went on to become regarded as leaders in its genre, garnering praise from critics in The New York Times and Rolling Stone Magazine. The droned-out duo decided to christen themselves Sunn after the amplifier brand and added the O))) to match their logo. The band's style is characterized by extremely slow tempos, heavily distorted guitars, avoidance of rhythm and melody, and alternate tunings. The guitars became noticeable for their incredibly low register, frequently utilizing tunings as low as drop A. Additionally, the band became known for using resonant feedback to create monolithic soundscapes and eerie atmospheres. Percussion is almost never incorporated, with a lack of any discernible beat.

Releases by Darkest Hour, Orcustus and (former Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl‘s side project Probot, proved that Southern Lord would not reject bands based on their death, black or heavy metal orientations. In 2005, in what proved to be an extraordinary event for all involved, the band Earth became a member of the Southern Lord family, solidifying Southern Lord as a significant label for fans of drone and doom. The first rotation of Earth was on the predominantly lo-fi, indie rock focused Sub Pop records. This label seemed an odd choice for a band creating these types of soundscapes, so it only made sense that when Earth frontman Dylan Carlson brought Earth out of a decade-long recording hiatus, he would seek a more appropriate habitat for his work. In 2005, a new Earth, now signed to Southern Lord, unleashing Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method on an unsuspecting world. This was the same project, with the same DNA, but the sound had evolved. Drums, trombones, banjos, chimes, bells and whistles? The sound had shifted from drone to something more experimental; a sound with elements of americana and jazz. The press release for "Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method" stated the band's music showed the influence of country guitarists/songwriters such as: Duane Eddy, Merle Haggard, Roy Buchanan and fuses it with the vibe of epic visionary composer Ennio Morricone.

Between 2005 and 2006, Southern Lord saw just shy of 20 black metal releases associated with the label. With a focus primarily on black metal with dark ambient undertones, some recognizable names included Xasthur, Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice and the ‘supergroup‘ Twilight, whose eponymous debut was released on Southern Lord. Relationships (distribution and otherwise) were also formed with international bands, such as enigmatic French metallers Deathspell Omega, Norwegian black metallars Urgehal, as well as bands as far removed as Tasmania‘s Striborg. The later part of the decade saw additional recordings from Earth and Sunn O))), including the heavily lauded "Monoliths & Dimensions," (an album that made many metal and non-metal year-end lists in 2009), and a series of Boris 7″s to go along with the album "Smile."

While Southern Lord had hosted showcases in the past, circa 2010 the label would begin their own curated festival known as The Power of The Riff, which hosted showcases in multiple cities between 2010 and 2013, followed by showcases in 2016 and 2018. The label also shifted again and while still hosting some doom and drone music, also began signing more thrash, d-beat and crust acts, with notable examples being Nails, Power Trip, BL'AST!, Scream and later Anderson' earliest bands in Engine Kid and Brotherhood.

In early 2018, Southern Lord announced a host of special releases in turn for their twentieth anniversary as a label. Along with forthcoming releases, the label also composed a series of reissues and current releases with special "silver vinyl" editions in celebration, for example The Thundering Heard by Eagle Twin.[5] On 27 March 2018, Southern Lord reissued four albums each with a 300 copy run of silver vinyl (Abandon All Life by Nails, Manifest Decimation and Nightmare Logic by Power Trip and Dopesmoker by Sleep.[6] Later, more records have been announced for re-issues or silver anniversary vinyl editions including The Bees Made Honey in The Lion's Skull by Earth, NMC17 by Scream, all three albums by Baptists and reissues of Probot, White1 and White2.

On 17 April 2018, the Southern Lord Limited Edition 20th Anniversary Silver Vinyl Subscription Series was announced, costing $275 USD in the States and coming with, along with an exclusive t-shirt and slipmat, eight vinyl releases representing the past, present and future of the label:

Roster[edit | edit source]

Selected Current Roster[edit | edit source]

Selected Past Roster[edit | edit source]

Selected One-Offs[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Metal Insider
  2. New Noise Magazine
  3. Amoeba Records via YouTubeGuy Pinhas (The Obsessed/Goatsnake) - What's In My Bag?, accessed 20 September 2020
  4. Music OMH
  5. Southern Lord Facebook
  6. Southern Lord Facebook
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.