A Label For All!

Good day all,

Metal Blade Records turned 30 years old this year (1982-2012), and it got me thinking about both how old I am getting (although I don’t mind), and also how metal has changed over the last 30 years. I remember the frist time I saw Brian Slagel the CEO of Metal Blade Records, it was in a British heavy metal magazine I bought in an independent record store my friends and I would skip school to visit in downtown Pittsburgh. The record store was called Eides and the reason I even bought the magazine was because it had King Diamond on the cover. This was about 1986 and inside this magazine, whose name escapes me, was an interview with Brian Slagel about his upstart label that was gaining more and more recognition in the music community as well as by fans. The label was Metal Blade Rcords and they are arguably the most important metal label today.

Metal Blade Record’s beginnings were modest, Mr. Slagel working out of his mother’s garage trying to put together and produce compillation albums to sell to the importers that visited the record store that he worked at to make money to support his passion. When Metal Blade released the first volume of Metal Massacre in 1982 it was filled with bands that are some of the most popular today, but where virtually unheard of at the time of the albums release. Metallica, Ratt, Malice, Bitch and others all where on this release and as we all know some of the bands turned out to be pretty big. What is really amazing about Metal Blade is the amount of really great metal bands that they had or still have on the label. It could be said that Metal Blade may be responsible for bringing heavy metal to the level we know it today. Without the superb ear of Brian Slagel and his staff there is a chance that we may have never heard of Slayer, Metallica, Sacred Reich, Armored Saint, Amon Amarth, Lizzy Borden, and so many others.

One of the more obvious assets of this label is that they have the knack for finding the bands with the big metal sound and will really take chances with some of the more extreme metal acts that an established label probably would have never touched. It doesn’t seem like Metal Blade is afraid of giving any heavy metal band a chance no matter how extreme their music might be. I have to implore you to look at the metal bands that are on this label and even the ones that were on the label but have moved on, Metal Blade Records literally changed the face of metal as we know it and are still doing that more successfully (in my opinion, I have no real knowledge) than any other metal label out there today. 

Also, another great part of the Metal Blade legacy is who they signed to their label, or at least who they gave a chance to become something on their label. Bands like Lizzy Borden, Banshee, Ratt, Black and Blue, Armored Saint, all of whom had music that landed more in the hair metal genre of the 80’s than the extreme sound that bands like Slayer and Metallica where producing at the time. But it goes to show you the ear and ability of Metal Blade to find great bands who had the ability to last in the ultra-competitive music world and hold their own. Mr. Slagel and his team have been able to find those special bands that they knew the metal loving public would be more than willing to pay to see and did so with little start-up and a dream to help get the music that they loved out to the public.

Over the past few months I have read a bunch of interviews with Brian Slagel and it seems that the theme that unsurprisingly keeps popping up , he has a passion for the music that his record label produces and in my opinion, is the reason that Metal Blade Records has been so succesful for the past 30 years. Brian Slagel is not a CEO who runs a major label with a multitude of different musical parts to it, he and Metal Blade are an independent with the ability to make their own decisions on the bands that they want to sign and the music that they want to release. Why does it work for them as an independent record label? Because they love the music! Metal Blade Records have stayed independent which is both impressive and important (just ask Roadrunner Records), and floureshed in a music scene that was once considered dead in the 1990’s. I salute you Mr. Slagel and everyone at Metal Blade Records for your continued passion for the music that we as fans love as much as you and your staff do, Horns Up!

If you are into both metal and hockey then I cannot suggest more strongly following Brian Slagel on Twitter @brianslagel

Song of the Day, from the Metal Blade camp: http://youtu.be/6gnUKrPKDwQ

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One thought on “A Label For All!

  1. Great post. Age catches up to us all. It’s amazing how Metal Blade Records has been around so long. They just don’t seem old to me, but neither does most of the bands you mentioned. I guess I’m just happy to be stuck in my time warp.

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