Load Records was an independent record label based in Providence, Rhode Island, that was active from 1993 to 2013. It was founded by Ben McOsker, who was a member of the experimental rock band Lightning Bolt. The label was known for its focus on noise rock, experimental music, and underground culture.
Load Records was started with the goal of releasing music that was ignored by mainstream record labels. The label’s first release was a cassette tape by the band Boss Fuel, and over the years, it released music by a wide range of artists, including Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes, Arab on Radar, and Black Pus. Many of these artists were known for their intense and abrasive sound, and their music often pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in the mainstream.
Load Records was also known for its distinctive aesthetic. The label’s releases often featured hand-drawn artwork and limited-edition packaging, and the label’s logo, which featured a stylized skull with a lightning bolt through it, became a familiar sight in underground music circles. The label’s commitment to quality and attention to detail was reflected in its releases, which were often highly sought after by collectors and fans of experimental music.
One of the most significant releases in Load Records’ history was Lightning Bolt’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1999. The album was a landmark in noise rock and helped to establish Lightning Bolt as one of the most important and influential bands of the genre. The album was followed by a series of critically acclaimed releases, including Wonderful Rainbow (2003) and Hypermagic Mountain (2005), which cemented the band’s reputation as one of the most innovative and challenging acts in underground music.
In addition to its focus on noise rock, Load Records also released music in other experimental genres, including free jazz, drone, and avant-garde electronic music. The label’s releases were often challenging and confrontational, and they were frequently cited as examples of the most extreme and uncompromising music being made at the time.
Despite its relatively short lifespan, Load Records had a significant impact on underground music culture. The label’s dedication to releasing music that was ignored or rejected by mainstream record labels helped to create a space for experimental music and helped to shape the sound of underground music in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The label’s focus on quality and attention to detail also helped to establish it as one of the most respected and admired independent record labels of its time.