PORTLAND METAL MAGNATE Dennis Dread has had his fingers in many metallic pies, locally and internationally, for several years now. Dread played a part in releasing records with local label Unseen Forces, he's done album art for Norwegian kingpins Darkthrone, and he's brought historic metal shows to Portland—like Cleveland's Black Death earlier this year, and Newcastle New Wave of British Heavy Metal champions Satan later this month. Recently, Dread's decided to come out from behind the curtain and put it all on the line—with the help of his life partner Meadow Mother Wolf, Dread is spearheading a new label called Wyrd War.

"We're finding ourselves at this stage in life where we can stretch out a little bit," Dread says. "We've raised our kids. We don't have to be parents all the time, so the label has become our new baby. We're nurturing this thing and trying to bring it up."

Wyrd War's first release is an eclectic compilation called Whispers Through the Black Veil. The record contains ripping tracks from the likes of Midnight and Violation Wound (featuring Chris Reifert of Autopsy), dark country songs by Hank Ray and Rob Coffinshaker, a haunting original score track by Alan Howarth (composer of the soundtracks to Escape from New York and They Live, to name a few), and current Oregon State Penitentiary inmate Bobby Beausoleil, who, according to Mother Wolf, recorded his track in his cell with instruments he built.

"I went and contacted a lot of musicians that I'm a fan of, and basically said I'm putting together this record that's gonna be loosely themed around the esoteric roots of Halloween," explains Dread. "So, not like novelty songs, but more about what that holiday used to mean. Like communicating with the dead, ancestor spirits rising and coming back, and being able to cross the threshold from the undead to the living world. People really resonated with that concept and came through with some amazing songs."

With an inaugural release like Black Veil, Dread has set the bar at an impressive height for Wyrd War. And he and Mother Wolf assure me they have a monumental release slated for early next year that will far exceed expectations.

"What Wyrd War stands for is this spirit of camaraderie," Dread says, "recognizing people who have been hidden in the shadows of obscurity who deserve their moment, and having them reciprocate and provide a moment."