Casus Belli Musica is a Russian label that has been running since 2008. During these 12 years of existence, they released plenty of high-quality releases. We talked with Dmitry Levashov – the owner of the label.
Hello Dmitry, how are you in these days of all Corona madness?
Hail! In general, things are going well. I live in a small village, so we almost don’t have cases of COVID-19. I try to contact less people and take the prevention measures. It’s not difficult when you work alone.
I have known you for about 8 years or more and I have never asked you – what were the first bands that attracted you to dark/heavy music?
These were Aria and Iron Maiden, Scorpions and a little bit of Metallica. I started listening to heavy metal in the era without the Internet, while living in a small village, where, at that time, it was quite difficult to get even a cassette. I didn’t have much choice.
I remember the first email that I’ve sent to you. At that moment you were active both with your label and webzine Casus Belli Musica. And what were the reasons for quitting with webzine?
As far as I remember, I closed Casus Belli Zine down in 2014. By that time, I almost didn’t spend time running it, since all my efforts were spent on developing the label and distro.
When did you decide to start with your own label? What genres are promoted by your label?
The decision to start my own label was directly influenced by my work on this online ‘zine. I was very interested in inner workings of some music labels, I was eager to be directly involved in such kind of activity. While working on reviews and interviews, I contacted different bands and labels, including foreign ones. So I made connections in that way. In 2010, I decided that it was high time to do something tangible on my own, so on the 1st of September, 2010 I released my first CD… By then, I already had a small distro based on the ‘zine’s activity.
I have always tried to release what I personally like, so the style of releases has changed over time. At the early stage I preferred pagan / folk metal releases, deviating a little bit towards neofolk. Now the majority of the releases is atmospheric black metal projects interspersed with classical BM.
Could you tell us something about the releases that you recently released? And also, could you tell us a little bit about Mortiis book that you also released? How did you come to that idea?
I have released several LP’s in the last four months. Among them I should list the 2nd album of the outstanding Hungarian project VVILDERNESS (atmospheric black metal/blackgaze), the re-release on vinyl of the Chilean blackgaze project GH SH, previously released on CD only, the debut album of the amazing GLOOSH project from Krasnoyarsk (this is true Siberian forest black metal!), the debut album of BURNT OFFERING (old-rite black metal in the vein of ASTROFAES) with members of DARKESTRAH. Furthermore, the album “Delusion” by the Greek band CORPUS CHRISTII was released in vinyl format. The vinyl of the Hungarian post-roсk band SILENT ISLAND with the new album “The Curse Of Coleodeia” stands apart, as it does not fit stylistically into the label’s roster at all, but personally I really like it and it finds favor with my regular customers.
As for Mortiis’ book, my old friend, translator and leader of the Sevastopol group HEATHER WASTELAND, Sergey Pavlov, pitched me an idea to publish this book. He has been personally acquainted with Mortiis for a long time and also had been cherishing the idea of a Russian-language version of the book. There were several attempts to find a publisher in Russia, but at first they were not achieved. In the spring of 2019, I wrote to Sergey and offered to discuss the book issuing through Casus Belli Musica. We weighed the pros and cons, estimated the scope of work and decided to publish.
As for the result, I can say with some pride that we were able to match the original edition of Cult Never Dies and even surpass it a little bit.
Sergey performed a herculean task of translation, doing this job he constantly communicated with Mortiis, Dayal Patterson (the head of Cult Never Dies), and artists whose drawings were used in the book, as well as with the musicians, whose interviews are available in the appendices to the book. Needless to say, Sergey even had black and white dreams with plots from the book!
For my part, I was responsible for the technical side of the publication. It was necessary to choose the best printing houses for the book itself and for the box content of the deluxe version; find a professional for layout, an artist for Russian-language adaptation of the book cover; and think over all the logistics, as well as negotiate with wholesalers.
We worked on this project for over a year, and its completion coincided with all that complete worldwide mess owing to COVID-19, but by a happy coincidence, we managed to launch all production processes before the isolation was announced. Although we just had to wait a long time for the certificates’ signed by Mortiis due to the significant slowdown in postage.
How can a band get in touch with you? What should bands know before submitting their promos for your consideration? How do you decide which band you are going to sign?
Groups usually send their messages to my email address or write to me on Facebook or VKontakte. As I said before, now I am interested in atmospheric black metal, so a promo in this style may be sent. I select bands to be released, focusing on my own taste and a band’s commercial potential. Since the label became my main job, I have to take into account the issue of payback of my releases, although, earlier, I could afford myself releasing something just for the idea.
What are the plans for the autumn/winter 2020? Are you preparing some new releases?
At the moment, the release of vinyl from the Indonesian blackgaze project LAMENT, behind which Ryo (PURE WRATH, PERVERTED DEXTERITY) stands, is already definitely scheduled. The debut album “Visions and a Giant of Nebula” is a kind of tribute to the creativity of the French band ALCEST.
There are some plans for re-releasing some sold out records and for the publication of one new release, but the details are not clear enough yet.
Dmitry, thank you a lot for your time. I wish you all the best to you with your label. Feel free to mention anything that I forgot to ask you.
Vidoje, thank you for your interest in my activity. I wish you success and prosperity of Abaddon Magazine! Everything is transient, but music is eternal!