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Is it just me or is Metal Blade Records on something of a win streak lately with their young band signings? While certain labels to remain nameless seem to be venturing into either mainstreamy/emoy metalcore or seem content to sign the same old same old or hedge their bets all on one sub-genre, Metal Blade’s young band roster is extremely diversified and remarkably clunker free. Let’s take a look at the band’s they’ve signed in the past couple of years:

  • Aeternam: Classic American death metal mixed with a more melodic, epic, and Euro — but decidedly dark — sense of melody. Check out the song “The Coronation of Seth” on their MySpace page — pure win.
  • Allegaeon: Technical melodic death metal that our own Sammy O’Hagar seemed to like and that our own Bob Cock seems to LOVE.
  • Bison B.C.: My favorite of the Mastodon-inspired psych/stoner/crust metal masses with a good bit of originality. Incredibly fun to watch live.
  • Istapp: Frosty Immortal-style black metal that indulges in every cliche in the book (in a good way) and isn’t mired in shit production.
  • Barn Burner: Up-beat, throwback stoner metal ala The Sword that’s got some real soul and actual musicality.
  • Fleshwrought: Johnny Davy’s and Navene Koperweis (ex-Animosity, Animals as Leaders) new tech-death project. Quality!

They’ve been on the label a bit longer, but I’d also like to toss Woe of Tyrants into the conversation; a very talented young band that isn’t necessarily breaking any molds but is very, very good at what they do and seems criminally under-exposed. And while we’re at it, The Ocean; although they’re practically Metal Blade vets at this point, they’ve still kind of got “young band” status in the U.S.

Now, of course the flipside of all of this is that none of these bands are exploding up the charts; I don’t have access to Metal Blade’s books, but I’d say that their well-established sellers like Cannibal Corpse, The Red Chord and Job For a Cowboy are keeping the label financially viable at this point. As, of course, are Whitechapel, who I loathe. But it’s really hard to find much fault with a label who continues to take risks on young bands who are actually talented and have little to no existing fanbase, especially when those bands are so diverse. Metal Blade is really going for the “long sell” here with actual artist development, instead of simply trying to achieve a series of short-term cash-ins by signing whatever’s hot at the moment. This approach is all too rare these days.

So, nice work Metal Blade. Kisses and hugs.

Vince Neilstein

PS: In the interest of full disclosure — and for you comment trollsters — yes, Metal Blade does purchase advertisements with MetalSucks. So do plenty of other labels, some of whose bands we mercilessly trash-talk anyway despite the presence of large advertisements. No, Metal Blade did not send hookers and blow to the MS Mansion in consideration of this article.

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