Halo of Flies Records
In Top Five, we dig into the back catalog of one of city’s many independent record labels and get the back-stories on five of the label’s more significant releases. In our first installment, we focus on metal and hardcore label Halo of Flies, and talk to label head Cory von Bohlen.
The label: Since 2007, Halo of Flies Records has steadily released some of the best crust, hardcore, and metal releases of the past four years. Operating mostly on a word-of-mouth basis, the label has received a significant amount of national press in the past few years, including a spotlight in Decibel magazine.
The label head: Cory von Bohlen has been a steady presence in the Milwaukee hardcore and metal scene for over a decade. Currently, he can be found playing guitar and screaming his lungs out for Protestant, one of Milwaukee’s best hardcore bands. When he isn’t turning basements into war zones, he can be found serving coffee with a sneer at Fuel Cafe.
Protestant, s/t 7-inch
Cory von Bohlen: The most significant or interesting record to me is my first release, which was the first Protestant 7-inch. Although we had a couple of releases previous, it was the first one that I actually had more hands-on experience with. Looking back now, it was kind of funny because we all threw in money—I threw in money, my bandmates threw in money, and we all had these crazy DIY packaging ideas, which all came to fruition and we got it all done. It was probably my first real test of getting a record from point A to point B, relying on others while steering the ship at the same time. Then it came out, and I had to figure out how to get rid of it, and figure out how to pay people back.
Malachi, Wither To Cover The Tread LP
CVB: I had put out local records before, more so because it was like, “Oh, I want to do this cool thing that’s local,” but in the case of Malachi, it was one of those things where you go to see them and you’re just like, “Holy Christ.” These guys either don’t have the time or don’t really want to do all this crap that’s involved with putting out a record, but they really need to have one out. And the band ended up, for a very short time, blowing up. They went to Europe and made a killing, and did really, really well in the middle of winter. That was one of those turning points where I was like, “Yeah, this is a really, really good record. I just need to make sure a thousand people get one.” This was one of those records that I was really proud of. This was a frickin’ monster.
Masakari, Eden Compromised 7-inch
CVB: The band, Masakari, is from Cleveland. We had seen them play a festival in 2007. They were terrible. Then they booked us a show in spring 2008 in Cleveland when we were passing through, and they ended up playing right before us. The rest of the band is in the bar area, playing video games or eating or whatever the fuck they’re doing, and I’m watching them, just out of politeness and curiosity. And after maybe half a song, I run into the bar and I’m like, “Dude, seriously, dude these guys are like, holy shit. I don’t know what happened in the last year, but they are fucking good.” I’m practically grabbing them by the collar, because they came out just loud as fuck, guitars in the air, and everything sounds like bombs going off. I talked to them a few times after the show. I kept on going back and forth on them, and then I just said, “Screw it, I’m doing this record.”
Northless, Clandestine Abuse double LP
CVB: I had put out a previous Northless LP back in May of 2009, and it made some ripples. I always thought they were awesome. Probably more awesome than other people did, from the sense of how their records initially sold. It was risky, doing a double LP, but they were like, “We want to do this. It’s going to be awesome. What can we do to help you guys make this awesome?” And then we did that monster. It’s the heaviest record I’ve put out. I ended up repressing it, because the band, unlike a lot of bands that play a lot locally, continues to sell product, and that’s awesome. That means that new people see them or take the plunge. They’re a fucking awesome band, and every bit of good press they’re getting is to their credit.
Fall Of Efrafa, Owsla CD
CVB: Right when I started the label, on a whim, I had gone to some show. I barely even showed up for it—I showed up late—and I bought a record out of a distro. I was like, “Yeah, I remember reading a good review of this.” So I buy this LP by the band Fall Of Efrafa. I got it on my headphones, and maybe, like, two-thirds through the record, I look up their website and find their email address and email them. That was, like, my fourth release. I put out the CD—and CDs were still selling back then—and it just took off like crazy. That band became the windfall for Halo of Flies. They were a juggernaut of really good and bad ideas. It’s one of those bands where people are like, “That’s my band!” People get all sucked up into the legend of it all. People feel more a part of something if it’s bigger than them, and not just, “Cops suck!”
(Masakari and Protestant will join Alpinist and Armada Tuesday, Aug. 23 at the Borg Ward.)