METAL BLADE's BRIAN SLAGEL Celebrating 25 Years As 'Master Of Metal'

Scott McLennan of Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports:

Metal Blade [Records] has long been an integral player at Worcester's annual metal blowout [New England Metal and Hardcore Festival], and last year while Slagel [Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel] was attending the show he and festival organizers from MassConcerts started talking about Metal Blade's milestone [25th] anniversary.

"They said, 'Hey, want to do a whole day of Metal Blade bands?' and it evolved from there. I knew they would work hard to make it happen, and we wanted it to happen because the New England metalfest has a great reputation. It hasn't been easy pulling it together, but we are making it happen," Slagel said.

Metal Blade night boasts an impressive scope as it covers the label's earliest forays into the L.A. metal scene via an appearance by LIZZY BORDEN and runs right up to the current fascination with the sorts of extreme thrash generated by JOB FOR A COWBOY. Bands such as UNEARTH, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and THE RED CHORD represent the thoroughbreds in the Metal Blade stable that have kept the label in business for a lot longer than anyone had the right to expect.

THE RED CHORD, a band formed in Revere and which considers The Palladium "home court," is a good model of how Metal Blade sustains itself. RED CHORD singer Guy Kozowyk said he and the rest of his band mates got their musical bearings listening to various underground acts releasing work on Metal Blade.

"I was about 14 when someone introduced me to death metal. I'd read the lyrics to CANNIBAL CORPSE songs. I got into SUFFOCATION, and that just shaped my musical direction. When you go from PEARL JAM and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS to NAPALM DEATH, CANNIBAL CORPSE and SUFFOCATION at an age when you are shaping your influences, that kick-starts a musical direction for you," said Kozowyk, whose THE RED CHORD has its next Metal Blade release coming in a few weeks.

Kozowyk said he is proud to be part of the Metal Blade story and is quite frankly surprised the story is still going.

"The label is still kicking butt and doing it in a young man's game. They started that label when those of us in this band were just being born," Kozowyk said. "I think there was a time when people thought Metal Blade was dead in the water. But then they went out and found a bunch of bands that were fresh and did not betray the roots of the label. They picked up on bands like us, UNEARTH, AS I LAY DYING and are now viewed as still being the front-runners for metal."

Slagel estimated that Metal Blade has released around 2,000 records. In addition to the "Metal Massacre" compilation he put together in 1982 while running the New Heavy Metal Revue fanzine, Slagel's fledgling record imprint released the early music by SLAYER, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, and later, LAMB OF GOD.

"It's been great to have worked with great bands at the beginnings of their careers and to help them develop those careers," Slagel said.

Slagel was working in a Southern Californian record store when he formed the basis of Metal Blade, and that locale proved fertile for growing the label. Now Metal Blade is a global influence, pulling bands from around the world, and traffics rather briskly in Massachusetts, where both UNEARTH and THE RED CHORD's come from.

Read the entire article at Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

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