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BIG RECORD LABEL MOVES: SHADOWS FALL TO RAZOR & TIE, TORCHE TO VOLCOM

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TorcheShadows Fall

Two big pieces of news dropped yesterday evening after the MS Mansion Monkeys had shuttered our gates for the day. Which label a band signs to might seem insignificant to some fans, but there’s actually a lot at stake; think of the way a label treats and nurtures a band as similar to how parents raise their children… it has a profound affect upon their future!

First, the Shads: We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to see record label fallout for the bands that comprised the original New Wave of American Heavy Metal of the early-mid ’00s. Things worked out quite nicely for Mastodon and Lamb of God, the two major label metal poster boys who seem to be sitting high and dry. Not everyone else was so fortunate: Killswitch Engage’s last record tanked, although I doubt Roadrunner will drop them just yet; Chimaira have had more labels than you can shake a drumstick at; and God Forbid signed with frickin’ Victory Records! And then there’s Shadows Fall, who tried the major label route, then tried the make-your-own-imprint-under-a-major’s-umbrella route, and now have signed with… Razor & Tie.

I definitely did NOT see that coming. But it makes sense. From the label side, Razor & Tie has had a lot of success in the metal world over the past few years, mainly with young metalcore and deathcore bands. Giving a chance to a band directly or indirectly responsible for the careers of at least half their roster seems like a good move, and the Shads’ status as veterans puts Razor & Tie in the perfect place from a marketing and PR perspective to position the band as forefathers and genre progenitors. Razor & Tie should be able to drive this one home.

From Shadows Fall’s perspective there’s definitely the aforementioned benefit: R&T knows how to market this kind of metal. But I’d gander there’s also something else: money. Few labels are putting up advances of any kind these days, and Shadows Fall came up during a time when advances were still the norm; they expect it, and to get anything less would be unacceptable (not that there’s anything wrong with that; they certainly deserve it!). This is pure conjecture, but I’ll bet that Razor & Tie offered a sizable advance and recording budget in exchange for some action on the band’s merch — and possibly touring — income. In other words, a big advance in exchange for a 360 deal… or 270 deal, or whatever it may be. Again, this is just me guessing; I have no inside knowledge whatsoever.

I expect this to be a good relationship for both parties. My hope is that R&T tells Shadows Fall what they really need to hear: give up on the metal mainstream and touring with bands like Five Finger Death Punch. Shadows Fall are not that band and never will be. They need to hit the road, and they need to hit it hard, on cool, respectable metal tours that get them in front of the new, younger generation that buys merch by the bucketload, not the olds who comprise FFDP’s fanbase and still actually buy CDs. Razor & Tie is in a good position to help them here.

Less surprising is the news that stoner-pop pioneers Torche have left Hydra Head in favor of Volcom. Volcom, primarily a clothing company, probably has far more money to throw at Torche than Hydra Head does. I love Hydra Head and many of their artists dearly, but lettuce by cereal: the profit margin and demand for $70 shirts proffered by a NASDAQ-traded company is way greater than that of $15 CDs slung by an indie label.

I like Volcom (both the clothes and their bands!), and I think this deal makes good sense too. Torche fit in quite well beside Volcom artists such as Valient Thorr, Jeff the Brotherhood, Tweak Bird and Premonition 13. Volcom’s definitely done a good job of marketing the idea of what is means to be a Volcom band, aesthetically speaking, and Torche fit right into that. From Torche’s perspective there’s all sorts of upside here, not the least of which is a label with deep pockets.

Side note: I’m well aware Volcom’s been releasing music for nearly as long as they’ve been making clothes, but I wonder why they haven’t attracted anywhere close to the ire that Scion has for a corporation mucking around in the music world? Hmm… food for thought.

ANYWAY… both Shadows Fall and Torche just started recording new albums. Look for new records from both in early 2012.

-VN

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