Arthur Migotto is a dedicated metal fan, musician and record company owner based out of Brazil. Ali “The Metallian” spoke to him to find out more about the background, his music and the bands on his label and, in the process, found a dedicated individual who embodies the ideals of heavy metal. Read on to hear more of the story. – 27.06.2018
METALLIAN: Thanks for your time, Arthur. How about you fill in Metallian readers with the background to the label and its intentions?
ARTHUR: It’s such an honour, really. Well, Arthorium Records was officially launched by the end of 2013 and the first release was an album of my own true metal band at the time, Hazy Hamlet. There’s more to it than meets the eye. I have worked with an independent band for so many years that I learned a lot about graphics, sound and executive production, web coding and promotion and always thought of using this accumulated knowledge to help other underground bands which still didn’t have any chance or were only approached by bad-quality profiteer labels. With Arthorium Records I want the opposite: to offer the max I could to the band, getting involved in the production, releasing top-notch material and giving them a good visibility. That is why our release count seems low. We released six albums until now. There is no hurry between each release as long as we can keep high quality material coming. For me, the label is much more than a business. It is a channel for the materialization and promotion of someone’s art. That’s the reason for its existence.
METALLIAN: This is a loft goal. As such, could you take a few minutes to introduce your releases and comment on them?
ARTHUR: Sure! Hazy Hamlet’s Full Throttle CD was issued 11/2013. It is traditional metal with lots of influence from the mid-‘80s, but with rough vocals and heavy production putting it mid-way between the NWOBHM to Teutonic metal. I composed all songs and lyrics here and there are metaphors which reflect my state of mind back then behind the epic or literary themes. Those were dark days when I lost my voice due to a strong allergy and it was a long and problematic way back. I never recovered it completely. There are thoughts about politics, science and the meaning of life itself. Through the playing of my former bandmates, the album gained a living sound beyond my expectations, something for which I will be eternally thankful.
Fates Prophecy’s The Cradle Of Life CD was issued 09/2014. It is a veteran band formed in ’94. I was really surprised when I got a message from these guys asking me to release their fourth studio album. They were once called the “Brazilian Maiden” here because of their greatest influence. This is a traditional heavy metal album, very mature and more authentic than the predecessors. It`s got some contemporary touches and is focused on feeling. It features great reflections about the origins of human beings.
Dark Witch’s The Circle Of Blood CD was issued 08/2015. It is also a veteran band, formed in ‘99, but this was its debut full-length. It is a long album which presents a mix of classic and power metal with epic themes and some very fast songs, precise instruments and the amazing voice of Bil Martins. The influences are from Candlemass to Iced Earth. There are many fast songs and some mid-paced themes that really highlight them from the rest.
Grey Wolf’s Glorious Death CD was issued 06/2016. It is the third full-length by the project of my dear friend Fabio Paulinelli who is heavily inspired by the Conan tales. Traditional riffs, epic themes and some magical basslines put it somewhere between Maiden and Manowar. I had the honour of mixing, dealing a decent cover and releasing the album and I am glad it found its way in the heart of old-school and true metal fans. It sold out fast and we are in talks for a new full-length with some richer arrangements and more guest musicians involved.
Wild Witch’s The Offering CD was issued 09/2017. It is a traditional heavy metal album drinking heavily from the NWOBHM. It is intentionally dated-sounding with classic riffs and occult themes and amazing solos. Led by Felipe “Rippervert”, it is an album written by an old-school metal passionate to other old-school metal collectors and I’m glad I had the opportunity to release it.
Grey Wolf’s The Beginning CD was issued 09/2017. This is not a very usual release. Grey Wolf followers always asked Fabio Paulinelli if he still had his demos available to add to their collections. He found some old archived files, some in really bad state, and decided to treat them for a compilation about the first years of the band. The result is a compilation with fifteen demo songs, five live songs captured with smartphones, so the fans can know the energy of Grey Wolf live, as well as two new songs exclusive to this release – all paired with a rich booklet with all info, pictures and demos cover artworks.
METALLIAN: The label’s name has an interesting background, doesn’t it?
ARTHUR: I wanted some metal-related word for the label and there is this song I wrote for Hazy Hamlet called Thorium, which is a radioactive heavy metal element named after the Norse god Thor. The song is slow-paced, rebel-rousing, affirming we headbangers have something special flowing inside of us. Thorium Records sounded perfect, but then I found out there was a metal webstore at the time with the same name. Tired of searching for a new name, as every cool name was already used and motivated by my wife, I just decided to fuse my name with it and Arthorium Records was born. I know, it sounds strange and kind of narcissist, but at least there are no homonymous!
METALLIAN: What about yourself? How did metal and you meet?
ARTHUR: Not an uncommon story… I think I was twelve when some school-mates showed up with a Guns ‘N Roses tape. I was not into music of any kind before so it was kind of shocking to me. Then they showed up with some other mainstream stuff of that era: Metallica, Sabbath, Maiden… it was not long since I ‘learned’ about the underground and started seeking for more bands and by the mid-‘90s it was all still based on cassette trades and searching at used disc stores. Anyway, traditional heavy metal is my absolute favourite genre, but I got influences from a lot of stuff of the ‘70s and ‘80s including the NWOBHM.
METALLIAN: Since you are a fan of the sub-genre, in your opinion, which is the most over-rated and which is the most under-rated NWOBHM band?
ARTHUR: I was linking from video to video the other day on YouTube and got to know this band called Alverna Gunn. The guys released two demos and never got signed. I really dug their music especially the riffs and think they deserved a much richer history. As for the most over-rated, Def Leppard, definitely. It’s all too boring for me.
METALLIAN: Thank-you for answering the question and proving you do have the spirit of heavy metal and frankness. So many bands and industry persons would avoid answering lest they show they are real. People prefer to be political and uncontroversial than honest. That is what passes as heavy metal nowadays! Why don’t you do the same for Brazilian bands? Which is the most over-rated and which is the most under-rated?
ARTHUR: As most under-rated I’d cite traditional metallers Nosferatu. Founded in ’99 but suffering a lot of member changes and drawbacks, they still don’t have a proper full-length released, but some cool EPs, splits and participation on tributes. Their founder Hussein Salim is a true warrior and one of the best Brazilian composers of vintage metal, in my humble opinion, and I bet I will still see a dozen titles coming. As over-rated, I think it is a manufactured band called Shadowside. Modern djent riffs – do they count as riffs? – boutique visuals, plastic sound production, ugly Photoshop cover artworks… still they tour worldwide. Who can explain that?
METALLIAN: I believe I could. The more popular something is the worse it is. Popularity often is not a sign of quality, but the reverse. Take the aforementioned Def Leppard you mentioned. Any band who would release a title called Pour Some Sugar On Me and coupled it with such an atrocious music that makes TV commercials’ music seem rich, inspired and heavy in comparison should be taken to the shed and shot. Instead, they sell millions. More people – admittedly this is the USA we are talking about so there is no accounting for the madness in that dump of a country – watch Roseanne than Masterpiece Theatre. More people eat Big Macs than actual food and so on and so forth. Regardless, as mentioned, you are a musician. Tell everyone more about that background please.
ARTHUR: Attending school and working part-time since my teens, I didn’t have the opportunity to properly study music as most of my band-mates had, but I adventured. In ’97 I was invited to a local cover band called Orion for the role of rhythm guitarist. It was not working so well, and when the former vocalist parted, I took his position. It worked for two years and we grew a very special fan-base in the region, but the band split up in early 2000. At the time I was already a friend of the guys of Hazy Hamlet, which was founded in ’99. Then in 2002 the great Mario Bertin left the band to pursue an academic career – which proved very successful – and the band invited me for taking over the vocals. I’ve been with them for 14 years, composing most of the songs of both full-length albums, including lyrics, riffs and rhythm structure. It is a special time of my life and thanks to them I had the special opportunity to support names like Raven, Picture, Grim Reaper and play a concert for almost five thousand people in 2003 as the opening act for Shaman in a motorcycle gathering and festival. I had to leave the band in 2016 because I am living in a distant city from them, but am starting my own project now, called Coltan Skull, which is influenced by metal from ’75 to ’85.
METALLIAN: Tell the readers about Coltan Skull and its plans then.
ARTHUR: Coltan Skull is born as a one-man project. I am recording three songs for a virtual single, which will be out in the coming months. Then I will invite some friends from other local bands to record the full-length with me and also to have a group to attend some festivals. If it works well, I hope to promote it to a definitive band. Sound-wise, its main influence will be ‘70s’ Judas Priest, ‘80s’ Maiden, Dio, Accept, late Thin Lizzy, early Mercyful Fate and every band surrounding this. Lyrics-wise it will be multi-thematic. One thing I really loved about Maiden was each album with a distinct main concept and cover artwork, but you could always find some diverse songs inside. I will follow that. The debut full-length will tell the story of the creation of the mascot, a metal humanoid able to bend space-time and it will have a lot of references to real people, movies and books, with a retro-futurist approach. Each following album will have a distinct main concept – in the past, future or fiction – and a universal mascot will give me the freedom to explore this.
METALLIAN: Changing topics slightly, how is being a musician or label owner different in Brazil than anywhere else in the world?
ARTHUR: It is sure a great challenge. Sales are low anywhere, but with the economic crisis here any culture-related stuff is the first to be cut when the pocket gets empty. Also, living far from the great metal centres, especially North-America and Europe, the shipping values to send promos and to distribute the material gets extremely expensive. For you to have an idea, our greatest partner in Europe is Code7, based in UK. The value to send the boxes of our new releases to them is so high, that our share of the sales is only able to cover the costs, but makes no profit. So I think this is what differs us from other countries’ labels. But this doesn’t mean I am not aware of the difficulties of the others. I know many other labels owners who have other part-time jobs to pay the bills and who complain about shipping costs, mainly in USA and Germany. Working with music is difficult, with metal it is even harder, but working exclusively with old-school and underground metal brings us to the verge of insanity.
METALLIAN: Speaking of that, how difficult is it to run a business selling music in today’s environment? Can you speak about this topic and offer your perspective to add to what you said before?
ARTHUR: It is absolutely difficult, and confusing, as it is still very hard to give a definitive opinion. Most people I know are listening to music on some kind of streaming service, like Spotify or YouTube. While I see no problem in it from the perspective of a listener who wants to consume the desired art in the most convenient manner and wherever he is, as a label owner I can surely say this new behaviour affected sales. The share the artist receives for the streaming are so low, fractions of cents, it is virtually nonexistent. The truth is that only the huge mainstream artists make some profit from it. Physical material sales do not reach casual listeners anymore. The band must release the CD and schedule concerts to reach those who still get really involved with the scene; showing up on the shows. These are usually the same guys who still value handling the physical release, enjoying the artwork and the booklet and are basically the ones who collect the material. Anyway, there has to be a digital release, because it is used as a very permeating tool to reach potential new fans in any corner of the planet. Talking as a musician who sees my work as a piece of art, much more than a product, I think this is also very important.
METALLIAN: Speaking of Brazil, what do you think of the country, its politics, its nature and culture?
ARTHUR: It is impossible to talk of culture in Brazil without falling into exaggerated simplicity, some cliché sold to foreigners on TV. Our country has a continental dimension, with regions of distinct climate, geography and very distinctive colonization stories and it all reflects in its culture, be it written or in some form of art. Our richness comes from this diversity and its mixture. Anyway, this richness is much more regional-historical based than contemporary crafted. It surely reflects on our scene. It took me many years of anger, trying to comprehend why underground concerts are so empty, so low on resources and it was somewhat obvious: Metal music is not part of our culture set, it was imported and imported to a very restrictive crowd. After all, I have simply learned to live with it. As for politics, I am avoiding to post about it on social media because we are living in a very sensitive time here, especially after the coup d’état had been made official in 2016 and any wrongly-received speech I make may affect the respect for my work, or worse, for the bands I release. But this doesn’t mean I haven’t my own strong opinion about it. The last five years have taken us to a very large political polarization, much of it because we have a media oligopoly with a hegemonic voice and because the rising of social media and apps gave voice to extremists who are easily attracted to any violent and hard-accented speech. Fake news also plays an important role here. The middle-class is persuaded by the media to defend an elitist 1% who preach for a system that transforms our basic rights into a huge business and try to impose on everyone their own moral values. This is dividing the metal crowd. Unfortunately I have no hope it will get better any soon here. Rock and metal were born to be counter-cultural, to raise questions, to break the establishment. As a worker, I will always be on the side of the most vulnerable. And as an atheist, I will always defend the minorities are as respected as any other citizen with a major religion. And so on.
METALLIAN: I believe based on the above you just tipped your hand at the answer, but let me ask it anyway. Is Lula a villain or a hero? Also, before you answer, let me agree with your analysis. It is simultaneously sad and comical how the right-wing corporate media has deluded the masses to vote against their own interests and defend the powerful elite who work against them.
ARTHUR: Lula is not a villain, for what he achieved, nor a hero, for the nature of the activity comes also with mistakes. But in a such difficult and complex scenery, he was surely the only king we’ve ever seen able to handle the chessboard of politics so well, surrounded by so many powerful actors, keeping them calm, so he could still try a combined agenda of social inclusion, development and diplomacy expansion. The statistics of his government and his approval back then speak for themselves.
METALLIAN: Going back to the label, there is news that the label is restructuring. Why and what does this mean?
ARTHUR: The label is not my only activity related to music. I also run a remote studio called Heavytron, which is still in its infancy, but growing each month. I currently work with mixing, mastering and editing audio, but am working to soon build my own recording facility. Now back to Arthorium Records, I’ve been successful in my main aim until here, which is to release high quality material and give better opportunity and visibility to old-school metal bands. But I would like to be able to release more CDs per year and also reissue some ‘80s material with special remaster by myself. To achieve this I have to restructure the label, updating my web system, finding partners for graphic and video design, increasing my distribution network; so I achieve the activities with better efficiency. This surely demands time. So I am taking a sabbatical period on new releases on Arthorium Records so I can dedicate several months for the growth of Heavytron Studio and then will take more months for this label restructuring so Arthorium comes back stronger than ever.
METALLIAN: How many months do you reckon it will be?
ARTHUR: I think I still need at least a semester to achieve what I am seeking. Maybe a quarter more. Who knows?
METALLIAN: Obvious question: why is Metallian the world’s best website?
ARTHUR: C’mon! I am a fan of The Metallian since you kicked some ass on the cover of Defenders Of the Faith (laughs)! Heavy metal is better than music and I wish the Metallian website keeps rocking forever!
Thanks goes to Arthur for his time and answers. The label’s website is at https://www.arthorium.com and the southern Brazilian-based man and label can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.