Metal Blade Records has been at the forefront of heavy metal bands and music since its inception by Brian Slagel in 1982.
Slagel, at the time a record store employee, had a vision to help nurture and promote the local metal scene and before long had released the compilation album Metal Massacre through the label, which included Metallica, Ratt, and Black ‘n Blue.
Metal Blade Records quickly grew in both stature and popularity, recognised as an honest and loyal label with a genuine desire to see bands succeed.
Over the years Metal Blade has been home to bands like Goo Goo Dolls, Amon Amarth, Trouble, As I Lay Dying, Behemoth, the Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, Fates Warning, Lizzy Borden, Anvil, Gwar, King Diamond, Job for a Cowboy, Whitechapel, Armored Saint, The Red Chord, Unearth, Between the Buried and Me, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Corrosion of Conformity and Cattle Decapitation to name but a few, with Slagel remaining a hands-on and active leader of the scene.
After the success of his 2017 book For the Sake of Heaviness, which delivered a compelling inside look at how a metal-obsessed California teen built Metal Blade Records into the pre-eminent international home of heavy music, Slagel has succumbed to public demand with the recently released Swing Of The Blade, More Stories From Metal Blade Records.
Swing of the Blade offers clear-eyed and entertaining insights about the very beginning of the Los Angeles metal world of the 1980s, a local scene that Slagel helped shape … and break internationally. Metal would go on to explode on MTV and in arenas, the movement featuring many Metal Blade acts, along with the likes of Guns ‘N’ Roses and Tool, bands Slagel also scouted in their earliest days.
Both books are compelling reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in heavy metal bands and music, with each offering their own special tales and stories.
Slagel joined HEAVY earlier today to talk more about Swing Of The Blade.
“I did a first book about six years ago now called For The Sake Of Heaviness, The History Of Metal Blade Records,” he began. “It was kind of a history of Metal Blade. I never intended to write any books but we kind of felt – it was our 35th anniversary at the time – and people were asking about a book, so I thought I am still coherent and remembering things, so I should probably write it (a book). So, I did, and surprisingly enough to me, it got a really great reaction and people wanted to hear more stories about some of the bands; deeper dives, and they wanted to hear more about some of the obscure bands and why some bands didn’t make it when they should so here we are with book number two now.”
We ask Slagel if Swing Of The Blade is more of a continuation of the first book or a separate look at things.
“It’s a continuation, but it’s a little bit different in that the first book was basically just a chronological story about Metal Blade from the beginning up to 2016, and this is more in-depth stuff from the history of the label,” he explained. “There’s a chapter about my dealings with Metallica. There’s a chapter on my dealings with Slayer and Amon Amarth and Armoured Saint and King Diamond and Merciful Fate and all that sort of stuff. There’s some music business nonsense and a lot of stuff about some of the more obscure bands, because that was honestly the one thing that people asked me about the most from the first book saying hey we wanna hear more about these smaller bands that we like that never made it, and why weren’t they bigger.”
In the full interview Brian talks more about the contents of the book, why he felt it was important to write it, how honest he was with full stories, reflecting on the time period the book spans, what 40 years in the industry has taught him, his favourite chapter in the book, how heavy metal has changed over forty years, the current state of metal and more.