In 1982 a young entrepreneur by the name of Brian Slagal got his start in the metal scene while working at LA’s famous Oz Records. He was really inspired by the new wave of underground British metal and saw a real need for the music that the major labels were ignoring. He started The New Heavy Metal Revue, one of the first metal fanzines to get the word out about this new kind of music. The fanzine started to pick up major steam he decided to release a compilation with all of the areas best local metal bands. He called it The New Heavy Metal Revue Presents Metal Massacre. It featured the first recordings of Ratt, Steeler, Malice, Avatar, Cirith Ungol, Bitch and a little band that you might have heard of by the name of METALLICA.
The compilation went on to sell all of the 5,000 printed copies and that’s when Brian decided he was on to something and started Metal Blade Records. He ran the whole operation him self untill 1988. In those years he put out albums from bands like Warlord, Armored Saint, and Slayer’s Show No Mercy. That album would go on to sell 40,000 records and put Slayer on the map. Not too bad for a one man operation.
With Metal Blades new clout they landed a distribution deal with Warner Bros in 1990. This deal would lead to one of the stranger acts to be signed to metal blade. The Goo Goo Dolls hardly seem like the type of band to grace the Metal Blade roster but back then they had more of a harder edge. They did fairly well and made a good amount of money for the label before they parted ways.
Their current roster of bands is enormous with whopping 70 acts all of which if you are a fan of metal will hear of or have heard of. Some of the bigger Acts include Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder, Job For A Cowboy, As I Lay Dying, Unearth and, Gwar.
Metal Blade is now global with it’s main office residing in Simi Valley, California and other offices in Arizona, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the UK. The branch in Germany is one of the leading Labels in Europe for underground metal for the past 11 years.
Metal Blade today continues to be viable for one reason and one reason only. As Brian explains “We just try to sign stuff that the majors aren’t, and things that we like and think are going to become the next wave of metal or what we think is cutting-edge. We’ve just done that, and, luckily, we stay under the radar and stay strong in the underground, which is where 90% of all our business comes from”(Billboard. 114.16 (April 20, 2002): 28(2).