The rise and fall of record label Golden Lake Productions

Mention the now-defunct record label Golden Lake Productions to most die-hard doom metalheads, and you might be very likely to receive a blank stare. Even those who consider themselves well-seasoned in obscure and independent European doom metal acts are unlikely to have heard of Golden Lake, despite their eight-year run from 1998 to 2006.

It is slightly fitting then, that the label would be started by a group who were noted for cutting records with an aggressively “anti-commercial” edge, in the words of several reviewers. Serenade, started in 1994 in Glasgow, Scotland, was born out of the ashes of the band Immortal Rites (not to be confused with the German metal band of the same name), after the original members disbanded. The core-line up consisted of the brothers Fraser McGartland and Graeme McGartland, who remained with the band through several member changes.

Serenade would first release an EP and two full-length albums with the record label Deviation Records. Though they would not find instant fame, their early releases did garner them cult adoration, due to their progressive elements and quirky subject matter (such as “The 28th Parallel,” a concept album about Christopher Columbus). However, the band was dissatisfied with their treatment from Deviation Records, and sought to find a new outlet for themselves.

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This would lead the band to the creation of Golden Lake Productions, originally started in 1995 and intended as a distribution company devoted to delivering and promoting fanzines and underground demos. In 1998, Golden Lake became both a record label and distributor, and would become heavily involved in signing underground UK metal bands.

Serenade‘s first full-length release on their own label was 2001‘s “The Serpent‘s Dance,” which was met with almost unanimous critical acclaim, but like the band’s previous releases, remained obscure to many. Following this, the first band to be signed to Golden Lake was Mongoose III, a side-project of several members of Serenade. As time went on, Golden Lake began to sign a more diverse variety of European metal bands, such as the Finnish group Death du Jour, and the Norwegian band Emancer.

Also among the groups signed to Golden Lake was Forsaken, a long-running and popular underground metal group from Malta that was started in 1991. The band had a long history of line-up and label changes since their inception, and, for a period, seemed to have found a stable home in Golden Lake, on which they released several albums to positive criticism. Even after Golden Lake folded in 2006, Forsaken would again release a new album on the Swedish label I Hate Records in 2009.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Serenade. After Golden Lake shut down, the label removed its website from the internet and seemed to fade entirely from the public eye, taking Serenade with it. The band has remained MIA since then, with no new material released by any label.