Noisecreep: Among the many mighty metal milestones of 2012, the 30th birthday of Metal Blade Records stands as an amazing testament to the strength of metal devotion. Label founder Brian Slagel became a businessman almost by accident. He was a die-hard fan first, and editor of the fanzine New Heavy Metal Revue. Scraping together funding from money he saved while working at Sears, and a loan from his aunt, Slagel in 1982 created Metal Massacre, a Southern California-centered compilation to answer the countless label showcase collections of Britain’s NWOBHM.
From that first release, which introduced the world to Metallica and Ratt, Metal Blade Records was born. Over most of the next decade, the next installments of the Metal Massacre compilation series unveiled some of the greatest names in metal, including Slayer, Trouble, Voivod, Fates Warning, and Hellhammer.
METALLICA: The band that had the least going for it at the time of this record’s release has gone onto become the biggest rock band in the world. When Mötley Crüe bailed on Slagel’s compilation project, he offered his tape trader pal Lars Ulrich the slot if he could scrape together a band in time. Ulrich persuaded James Hetfield to join him, and for the initial release, Jamaican guitarist Lloyd Grant appeared as a guest soloist patched into the mix to play the leads. Future pressings included a different recording of the song with Dave Mustaine handling the trademark over-the-top trills.
RATT: A much more typical Southern California metal act than Metallica, Ratt were San Diego transplants to the Sunset Strip. Awestruck by Van Halen but chained down with a lean and relentlessly melodic double-guitar sound, Ratt cruised through a string of multi-platinum, platinum, and gold records and remain a musical and commercial highlight of the glam metal era.
ARMORED SAINT: Like many bands on the L.A. club circuit, Armored Saint relied heavily on image, but their studded leather armor was a far cry from the spandex and mascara of Mötley Crüe. Singer John Bush was openly courted by young Metallica, but he refused to leave his boyhood pals in this band. After Armored Saint’s early record deal with Chrysalis Records went South, Bush joined Anthrax for over a decade, and has since returned to his original armored homies.
This is a fascinating read. Check out more reviews of those auspicious debuts, in honor of three decades of Metal Blade, plus hear audio from these early recordings at Noisecreep.com.