Everyone hates Sumerian Records. Or at least that seems to be the new trend these days.
If you had asked anyone about the label mere years ago, they'd likely say something along the lines of, "Oh yeeeah, I like those guys." or "Who?" due to a certain lack of metallic knowledge. Hell, I once had a Sumerian Records shirt before it was ripped at a gig about 2 years back. Up until that point, the logo would frequently gets shouts from Joe's at shows like it was any other band shirt. There was even a time visiting West Virginia University where it sparked a good 20 minute conversation with a complete stranger.
If you ask anyone about the label nowadays, you're still likely to get a good response or a "Who?" But you're also quite likely to run into someone who flat out says, "Hell naw. Sumerian sucks." Now, we're all entitled to our opinions so that's cool. But I've encountered situations (predominantly online) where people have started saying some outlandish shit about the label. There seems to be this conspiracy theory that Sumerian now keeps a tight leash on all their artists, claiming total creative control through their A&Rs and record exec. They'd make make it seem like Ash Avildsen is now a puppeteer toting After The Veil Of Osirisphery as if the bands never had anything in common. Some claims would even have you think the bands have stopped writing their own music altogether. One of my favorites is the rumor that Sumerian bullied Lee McKinney into doing a solo project. All of that is bullshit and we've spoken with the musicians enough to know it is. Like I said, you're entitled to your opinion, but it's like the tabloids have started spreading rumors on metal music here. It's humorous.
Who knows? Maybe I'm biased having nothing but positive interactions with the label itself and the various bands they tote. The Circle Pit has collectively spoken with many a troupe of traveling troubadour from Sumerian. Personally, this includes The Dillinger Escape Plan, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, CHON, ERRA, Structures and more. They seemed to be anything but distraught by their own dealings with Sumerian Records. In fact, they seemed to feel exactly the opposite, receiving a great deal of support from the label in situations where many other labels would likely face plant. I know for a fact Sumerian Records will go the extra mile for their artists if need be and I know for a fact how close knit just about everyone on the label is. Listen close enough and you may even hear the word "family" floating around.
Sumerian is certainly growing in different directions from before. They've signed artists like Night Riots and DRÆMINGS in recent history to appeal to different audiences. They even just put out a comedy movie "What Now?" featuring several artists from the label and some. And there are certainly a few "money maker" bands around that ultimately churn out cash to sign more awesome bands. That's business. But is that really so different from signing Bizzy Bone (hell yeah, Bone Thugs!) and Borgore in years past? Does this really make them such a terrible record label? Let's not forget all the incredible moves they've made in recent years – signing the aforementioned Dillinger, Animals As Leaders and CHON, Lesser Key (ex-TOOL), Crosses (Deftones Side Project), Darkest Hour, Circa Survive, giving shots to various solo artists, etc. Not to mention all the talent they've had for years and continue to encourage. If you really think Sumerian Records is trying to strip creative control, you're probably ignorant.
So here we are, playing devil's advocate against the recent wave of hate towards the label. In reality, it's probably safe to say Sumerian Records is one of the strongest independent labels coming out of the United States that supports metal music. Let's not forget all the labels that won't even look in our direction and the ones that really do strip creativity from the artist (I'm not going to name names). Yet again, you're completely entitled to your own opinion but it's hard to understand what so many people are complaining about.
Links: Sumerian Records