For the Sake of Heaviness: the History of Metal Blade Records

For the Sake of Heaviness: the History of Metal Blade Records

For the Sake of Heaviness: the History of Metal Blade Records

by Brian Slagel and Mark Eglinton

Metal Blade Records

One of the electrifying things about being in a musical subculture is just how energizing and transformative it can be. Sure, you can just be a fan and listen to the music and go to shows or whatever, but a certain few get hooked and want to spread the word, whether through writing a zine, hosting college radio shows or podcasts, or starting a record label.

Brian Slagel was an underground metal fan who wanted to share his enthusiasm with the world. Slagel fell hard for both the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the local Los Angeles metal bands. Soon he was trading tapes, going to over 250 shows as an 18 year old, and working in a record store, all to support his metal addiction. But that wasn’t enough, so he started a magazine, spent all his extra money on metal records, and eventually started Metal Blade, the label that launched bands like Metallica and Slayer out into the greater world.

For the Sake of Heaviness is Slagel’s story of founding and nurturing Metal Blade for over 30 years. Starting with the influential Metal Massacre compilation, which sold out in a day, to documenting every every metal subgenre since 1982 (with the notable exception of nu metal), Slagel recounts dealing with producers not understanding the new sound, struggles with contracts and finances, failing distributors and creating a successful record label with very little radio play with the enthusiasm of a music fan who periodically doesn’t believe all this has actually happened.

Slagel’s stories of metal gods in their early years are balanced out with tales of rummaging through the Warner Brothers vaults to reissue Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, and Alice Cooper, and riding out the collapse and rebirth of the vinyl market (the label stored all their vinyl in a warehouse and finally made money back 20 years later). While Slagel might not have had the resources to release all the bands he wanted, like Megadeath or Anthrax, he describes no bitterness towards the bands, stressing his love of the music first and foremost.

Slagel describes the label’s history with the heart of a fan, recounting his tales with enthusiasm and positivity. Sidebars with musicians from Slayer, Metallica, Armored Saint, King Diamond and more share a similar attitude. If you’re looking for a warts and all expose on the early thrash metal scene, you’re not going to get it here, but if you’re looking for a positive story of a fan turned label owner passionate about his releases and metal in general, For the Sake of Heaviness is highly recommended.

metalblade.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Shithouse
    Shithouse

    A darling love story with engaging characters and one of the worst titles ever.

  • Too Much and Never Enough
    Too Much and Never Enough

    One families indifference and abandonment gave America its greatest failure. Mary Trump explains how.

  • Summerland
    Summerland

    In rural England, a cranky woman bonds with and evacuee boy and uncovers a strange connection to her past.

  • Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
    Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations

    These geniuses of early comedy finally get the presentation they are due in this Blu-ray edition.

  • Four-Letter Words
    Four-Letter Words

    No need to worry about offending delicate sensibilities with this playlist. We’re not talking about profanity, so just take the title at face value.

  • A Genesis In My Bed
    A Genesis In My Bed

    Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett shares his life story in his story in an engaging and honest memoir. Reading his story feels like hanging out with a friend who’s interested in sharing how he felt living these experiences.

  • The Jayhawks
    The Jayhawks

    XOXO (Sham/Thirty Tigers). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • 18 to Party
    18 to Party

    When you’re in 8th grade, sneaking into a bar is way cooler than it is when you’re 40.

  • Adam
    Adam

    A pregnant woman finds a home in Casablanca.

  • 2020 on Fire
    2020 on Fire

    Sound Salvation takes on current events with a playlist addressing the current fight for racial and social justice in America and the battles playing out in the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

From the Archives