I Signed… A Contract With The Devil! 

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I Signed…A Contract With The Devil!

A Very Brief And Incomplete History Of Hard Rock/Metal Record Labels: 1970-1995

(Version 1.2 )

by JP

 

PREFACE

As we hit the 52nd  anniversary of Heavy Metal a couple  of years back (2020), as Managing Editor of Metal-Rules.com, one of my goals is to try to add more editorial content and technical information so people can use MR not only as a source of entertainment but reliable information as well.  In our 30,000+ pages of content, we have written almost 14,000 CD reviews, 500+ book reviews, 400+ DVD reviews. Over 25 years we have conducted over 2000 interviews, and our international staff have reviewed over 1700 concerts and festivals world-wide.

We are also celebrating our 27th year as a website so to add even more value for our readers I written a series of articles about various facets of Heavy Metal.   Every year, I am increasingly happy to discover more and more authors, books, on-line publications, scholars and academic studies scouring our massive archives, citing and sharing our work.

Therefore, my modest goal is to continue to make Metal-Rules a resource and repository on a variety of (hopefully!) interesting topics and not just a shallow dumping ground of regurgitated press-releases, click-bait, pop-up ads, political posturing, countless lists and rankings of albums, and endless industry gossip. There are plenty of good sites that already do that well and they are all enjoyable in their own way.

Each feature in this series is named after a Metal band, album, song title or lyric. Feel free to go back and read the other articles in this series.

Mar 2020- Read All About It (Canadian Metal magazines)

April 2020- Gathered In Their Masses (American Supergoups)

May 2020- A Tribute to The Past  (Tribute albums)

June 2020- Reborn In Blasphemy (Re-recorded albums)

July 2020-Still The Orchestra Plays (Metal bands and orchestras)

August 2020-Japandamonium (Live in Japan albums)

September 2020- Grandfather! Tell Me A Story! (Concept albums)

October 2020-Gathered In Their Masses Part 2 (European Supergroups)

November 2020-Don’t Run For Cover (Covers albums)

If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for future articles, please let me know.  You can reach me at joshuawood@shaw.ca.  Thank you!

Part II:  1996-2021 will be published by the end of the summer of 2022.

If you want to skip the main article, you can just scroll down and look at the list of bands and album covers!


PREFACE:

The whole concept for this essay was really born out of my interest in useless Metal trivia.  I had noted  many years ago that the first release by the Underground Symphony label was a Various Artist compilation with a catalogue number of USCD 001.  That stuck in my mind for some reason, probably because I own it and still listen to it.    I also follow the industry a little bit as a fan.  If I see something on a specialty Metal label, such as Limb Music for example, it is pretty much an automatic/blind buy.   As our industry hit the 50+ year mark, we have started to see more historical documentation about the Metal industry.  I’ve read books about various record labels such as Neat, Noise, Peaceville and Metal Blade and I fully expect more of these types of books to be published in the near future.  Many of the big Metal labels are overdue for a book or documentary.  Dedicated fans like myself seem to have an interest in the growth of this cottage industry.

Some history….

Over the first ten years or so of Heavy Metal (1970-1980) Hard Rock/Metal bands were signed to larger existing record labels who, for the most part, did not care about the style of music but saw this new form of music as a trend or fad, and one that could be profitable, even if it only lasted a while.   For example, the first Black Sabbath album released on Friday the 13th, February 1970  was issued by Vertigo Records, (catalogue # VO 6, 847 903 VTY)   a subsidiary of Philips/Phonogram a company that had been around since 1950.  While Vertigo was an imprint specializing in heavier rock, it was still part of a much bigger, established record label.   There was a similar situation with Led Zeppelin.   The first Led Zeppelin album was issued in 1969 by Atlantic Records (first founded in 1947) with the rather uninspiring catalogue number of 588171.   Zeppelin was just one of many, many bands on the label that had many different types of musical artists.

As Metal music grew in stature, status and sales, more and more big existing record labels, the gate-keepers with keys to kingdom; meaning cash, recording studios, in-house art departments and access to record producers, saw the financial potential of this new form of heavy music and the industry rapidly grew.

With innovation comes entrepreneurial spirit and it wasn’t before long that Hard Rock and Heavy Metal specialty labels started to appear.   Some bigger labels started their metal-only sub-labels and imprints.  For example, the aforementioned Phillips/Phonogram founded Vertigo to capitalize on the new music trends.  Some record labels were founded by young fans with drive and a bit of money, the quintessential  example being a young Brian Slagel borrowing money from family members to found Metal Blade Records.  Some were founded with a profit motive and some were founded with a love of supporting bands, sometimes both but it is not my position to judge their motives.  It is interesting to note that several labels started by licensing albums from other already established record companies before signing their own exclusive artists.

By the time Quiet Riot’s classic Metal Health  hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1983, the floodgates opened and more and more Metal specialty labels were founded.  Between 1982 and 1989 at least twenty five Metal specialty labels were founded and the metallic cottage industry was spawned.  This was in addition to all the major labels like Atlantic, Island, Capitol, Epic, Sony, Columbia, A&M, Polygram etc,  all who had strong metal catalogues and deep rosters.

In the wake of grunge music, more of these niche labels sprung up in the early 90’s driven by entrepreneurs who wanted to keep the music alive when all the major labels had largely dumped their metal rosters and the genre had been driven back underground.  As Metal music grew and divided and divided again, even more specialty labels were founded specializing in specific sub-genres.  Labels focusing on just sub-genres like Glam, Doom, Death Metal, Power Metal or Black Metal proliferated across the planet.  After 1990 the number of Metal labels started to explode at double and even triple the pace.  Between 1990 and 1995  as many new labels were founded as in the prior 20 years!  In 1992 alone at least eight new record labels were formed!

The business pattern is very clear.  As soon as a new musical movement emerges, the industry springs up to support it.   For example, in the early 90’s when Black Metal was a hot commodity, several Black Metal Specialty labels, such as Osmose, Malicious, Head Not Found, Moonfog, Hot, Misanthropy, etc,  all were founded within a two or three year span.   In a similar scenario, as glam and melodic Metal became less popular and bands were dropped from major labels, there was still demand for the style and several labels specializing in that style, such as Now & Then, Saraya, Frontiers, Long Island, Perris, MTM, Escape, Point, Megarock etc, all stepped into fill that void between 1992 and 1996.

For the purpose of this article I decided to make a cut-off date of 1995.   25 years works well and today there are thousands of Metal record labels, some are one-man operations founded to promote their own band, up to giants like Century Media and Nuclear Blast with dozens of staff and offices around the world.  Some of these labels became so large and so profitable that in a strange reversal of fortune,  large, multi-national corporations are buying Heavy Metal specialty labels.  For example, in 2008, Warner Music, the third-largest record company in the world, bought Roadrunner Records, originally a small Dutch Metal specialty label founded in 1980, for some big money!  Whether the record label is big or small, old or new, they all contribute to the greater body of work of the music we love.

Let’s go back to the roots of this article.   Recently, I bought an album by the band Raging Storm.  The bands self-titled debut was released in 2002 on Metal Fighter Records, a little label out of Greece and the catalogue # is MF 001.  It reminded me of the aforementioned Underground Symphony release,  US CD-001.  It occurred to me it would be an interesting exercise to compile a list of all the very first releases of all the Metal record labels!  All the ‘001’s’ , as it were.  I made a list of about 125 or so Metal specialty labels and their first release for your reading pleasure and reference.  This list is very specifically only Hard Rock/Heavy Metal labels, not other record labels that have released Metal albums, of which there are even more thousands!  I can’t list them all, for example, little labels like Bluelight Records from Finland who signed Stratovarius and Tarot as their only Metal bands.  You can check out Appendix C for a few honourable mentions.

Lastly, I’m not going to get bogged down with licensing deals, international sub-deals, reissues on different labels and so forth.   For example, Under One Flag was a sub-label founded by Music For Nations to license US releases from Combat Records so I choose not include them in the main body of work because they were founded probably for taxation and organizational purposes and all their stuff was released elsewhere, earlier.   The same goes for Fierce, Mayhem, Futurist, HNE,  etc, all largely importers and licensing deals.  (Look for them in Appendix C)  I’m trying to keep it true, the roots of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal labels, and their earliest efforts.

Ultimately, this entire essay is a tribute to the hard-working men and women that took a chance to support the bands we all know and love. Please excuse my little ‘Deal With The Devil’  joke.  Most of this information is available on-line but it nice to have it all in one place.   Enjoy!


Note 1 (Status): This is difficult to determine. Labels get bought and sold constantly.  Some are defunct, some are inactive and some have their catalogues owned by other companies now and have been re-pressed.

Note 2 (Photos/releases)  I decided to try to include different types of releases.  You might see the first release ever by a label, which might be licensed from another record label or even a ‘Various Artists’  compilation.  It is not necessarily always a full band’s debut album.  This info might provide a little insight into what the thought process was and who the label owner(s) might decided to invest in; a band vs. a compilation to test the waters.

Eg.  Noise Records. Their first two releases were licensed from overseas, the next was a various artist compilation and the 4th release was a new band they actually signed.   I’ve tried to capture as much of this as possible and at times it was difficult to pinpoint the very first exact product a label put out, regardless of type of release.   My thought was to include as much of that information as possible for you trivia hounds.

Note 3 (Format etc )  In the event that record labels were formed in the same year (often!)  they are listed alphabetically.  I didn’t worry too much about logos, they change frequently.  At times there are examples of organizations existing before evolving into record labels.  For example both Fringe Records (Can) and Long Island Records (US) started as records stores long before becoming record labels.  I listed them not under year of foundation of the store, but the year of the first release as a label.

Note 4: (Updates)   If I wasn’t sure of a labels first release (meaning I could not confirm it from multiple sources) than I put ‘unconfirmed’.   This is a living document.  If you have any suggestions, comments, corrections, or noticed glaring omissions (I’m sure there are many!)  please feel free to contact me!   All additions, corrections are greatly appreciated and the source will be fully credited. Thank you!

 


UPDATES: 

June 14, 2022  Added  Banzai, Cogumelo and Scratch Records

 



HEAVY METAL RECORDS

Home:  England

Founded:  1978

Founder:  Paul Birch

Subsidiary Labels (if any):   Revolver Records,  Heavy Metal America, Heavy Metal Worldwide.

Status:  Active

Notes: I believe this is the very first Heavy Metal specialty label.

First release: HANDSOME BEASTS-All Riot Now (vinyl single)  1980/Cat # : HEAVY 1



NEAT RECORDS

Home:  Newcastle, England

Founded: 1979

Founder: David Wood, Steve Thompson

Subsidiary Labels:  Elderthorn, Neat Metal

Status: Active

Notes: Critical in helping establish the NWOBHM with bands like Raven, Venom and Tygers Of Pan-Tang.  The label was the subject of a book (below) in 2015.   Sold in 1995 to Sanctuary Records.

First release overall:  MOTORWAY-All I Want To Be Is Your Romeo (Vinyl 7″)  1979/Cat # NEAT ONE



SHRAPNEL RECORDS

Home:  California, USA

Founded:  1980

Founder: Michael Varney

Subsidiary Labels : Tone Center, Blues Bureau

Status: Active

Notes:  The first American Metal specialty Metal label.

First release overall : Various Artists: U.S. Metal Volume I   1983 / Cat #  SH 1001

First band release: WILD DOGS-Wild Dogs  1983 /Cat # SH 1003



KAMAFLAGE RECORDS

Home:  England

Founded:  1981

Founder: Dick James

Subsidiary Labels : NA

Status: Defunct

Notes:  Very short-lived label known for signing Tank and Tytan.

First  overall release: TANK-Don’t Walk Away  (vinyl EP)   1982 /Cat # KAM 1



COMBAT RECORDS

Home:  New York, USA

Founded: 1982

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels: Combatcore

Status: Active under the EMP Label group, Dave Ellefson’s record label.

Notes:  Formed by distributor Important as their in-house Metal label.  Bought by Relativity/Sony.  Known for signing Megadeth.

First overall release (Unconfirmed) :  TALAS-Sink Your Teeth Into That    1982/Cat # EMC 8001



MAUSOLEUM RECORDS

Home:  Belgium

Founded:  1982

Founder: Alfie Falckenbach

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active 1982-1986, sold to a German concern, reactivated in 2001

Notes: First Belgian Metal record label.

First release overall: OSTROGOTH-Full Moon’s Eyes (Unconfirmed)   1982 /Cat # BONE 128310



MEGAFORCE RECORDS

Home:  New Jersey, USA

Founded: 1982

Founder: Jon & Marsha Zazula

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Megaforce Worldwide

Status: Defunct

Notes:  Noted for signing Metallica, Founder Jon Zazula released his autobiography in 2017.

First release overall:   VENOM-Die Hard (Vinyl single)  (Licensed from Neat Records)    1983/Cat # IOM-1

First band release:  METALLICA-Kill ‘Em All   1983 /Cat # MRI-069



METAL BLADE RECORDS

Home:  California, USA

Founded: 1982

Founder:  Brian Slagel

Subsidiary Labels: Death Records, many sub-imprints

Status: Active

Notes: Probably one of the most well-known and most reissued Metal label debuts of all time, largely for the first appearance of Malice… I mean Metallica, on vinyl.  Founder Brian Slagel released his autobiography in 2017.

First release overall:  Various Artists-Metal Massacre  1982 /Cat # MBR 1001

First band release:  BITCH-Damnation Alley   1983 /Cat # MBR 1002



MUSIC FOR NATIONS

Home: England

Founded: 1983

Founder: Martin Hooker

Subsidiary Labels: Active, Under One Flag

Status: Active

Notes: Pretty massive UK label with multiple licensing and distro deals and the infamous W.A.S.P. single deemed too hot for the US major label Capitol Records.

First overall release:  TANK-Echoes Of A Distant Battle (Unconfirmed)   1983/Cat # 12 KUT 101

Notable release:  VIRGIN STEELE-Virgin Steele   1983 / Cat #  MFN 01

Notable release:  W.A.S.P.-Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)   1984 / Cat #  12 KUT 109



NOISE RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1983

Founder: Karl-Ulrich Walterbach

Subsidiary Labels: Noise Lebt!, T&T

Status: Sold/Active

Notes: First German Metal label.  Sold to Sanctuary in 2001.  Subject of a book in 2017.

First release overall: Bitch-Be My Slave (Licensed from Metal Blade)   1983 /Cat # N 001

First non-licensed release : Various Artists-Rock From Hell-German Metal Attack    1983 /Cat # N 003

First band release:  Rated X-Rock Blooded   1983 /Cat # N 004 



SCRATCH RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1983

Founder: NA

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes:  Metal sub-label of Gama.  Short-lived but releases now command a high price.

First release:  SINNER-Fast Decision   1983/Cat # 8001



AXE KILLER RECORDS

Home:  Paris, France

Founded: 1984

Founder: Thierry Wolf

Subsidiary Labels:  NA

Status: Active

Notes: France’s first Metal label..or was it Black Dragon (below) No one knows for sure!

First release:   MYSTERY BLUE-Mystery Blue   1984/Cat # 7001


BLACK DRAGON RECORDS

Home: Paris, France

Founded:  1984

Founder: Agnès & Michel Desgranges.

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: France’s first Metal label..or was it AxeKiller (above)?  No one knows for sure!

First release:  SAVAGE GRACE-Master Of Disguise   1985 /Cat # BD 001



BLACK MARK

 

Home: Sweden

Founded:  1984 / 1991 (formally)

Founder: Forsberg

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Batlord, Yellow goat…what more needs to be said?

First release: BATHORY-Bathory 1984/Cat # BMLP 666-1



GREENWORLD RECORDS

Home: California

Founded:  1984

Founder: NA

Subsidiary Labels:

Status: Defunct, Bankrupt in 1986.

Notes:  Noted as the short-lived Metal label of Greenworld Distribution

First release: VYPER-Prepared To Strike (Unconfirmed)   1984/Cat # GWD 90501



MAZE MUSIC / COBRA RECORDS

Home: Toronto, Canada

Founded: 1984

Founder:  

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Kraze

Status: Inactive

Notes: Confusing mix of labels and sub-labels, mostly based on importing European bands into Canada.  They had a few original bands.

First Metal release: PILEDRIVER-Metal Inquisition  1984 /Cat # CL1001

First Licensed Metal album: VIRGIN STEELE-Virgin Steele   1982 / Cat #  MC 800801   (Note: the original cover art, different than the version licensed to Europe by Music for Nations a year later, above)



NEW RENAISSANCE RECORDS

Home:  USA

Founded: 1984

Founder: Anne Hull (aka Boleyn)

Subsidiary Labels: Colossal Records

Status: Active

Notes: Noted for being the label of Anne’s own band, Hellion.

First overall release: VARIOUS ARTISTS-Metal Madness Volume I  1984 /Cat # NRR1

First band release:  Unknown   1984 /Cat # NR 01



STEAMHAMMER

Home: Germany

Founded: 1984

Founder:  Manfred Schutz

Subsidiary Labels:  NA

Status: Active, owned by SPV and Napalm

Notes:  Metal sub label of SPV Records

First release:  HARDWARE-Common Time Heroes    1984/Cat # SH 0001



COGUMELO RECORDS

Home: Brazil

Founded:  1985

Founder: NA

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Mushroom Records

Status: Active

Notes: Brazil’s first Metal label, best known for extreme style and Sepultura.  Started as a record store in 1980

First release: OVERDOSE/SEPULTURA (Split) – Bestial Devastation / Seculo X.X. (Unconfirmed)  1985/Cat # 803-248


EARACHE RECORDS

Home:  UK

Founded:  1985

Founder: Digby Pearson

Subsidiary Labels: Necrosis, Wicked World

Status: Active

Notes: Pioneering British label with a deep and and impressive roster of extreme bands.

First overall release: ACCUSED-The Return Of Martha Splatterhead  (Licensed from other labels)  1987/Cat # MOSH 01

First non-licensed band release: NAPALM DEATH-Scum  1987 / Cat #  MOSH 03



LEVIATHAN RECORDS

Home:  Georgia, US

Founded:  1985

Founder: David T. Chastain

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Diginet

Status: Active

Notes: Guitar centric label founded by Chastain to help release his own bands and solo projects.  A very early innovator in digital only albums on the diginet sub-label releasing albums on-line as early as 2001.

First release:  CJSS-World Gone Mad  1986/Cat # LA86-1

The label licensed this doom classic  from Black Dragon in 1986 for a North American release.

CANDLEMASS-Epicus Doomicus Metallicus   1986/Cat #  LA19882-1



RAW POWER

Home: UK

Founded:  1985

Founder: Terry Shand, Cliff Dane, and Jon Beecher.

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Metal sub-label of giant Castle Communications.  Mostly known for NWOBHM compilations but eventually started singing new acts.

First release: VENOM-From Hell To The Unknown (Compilation)  Year/Cat # RAWLP 001

First original band release: HELLS BELLES – s/t  1985 /Cat # RAWLP 015



VIPER RECORDS

Home: Toronto, Canada

Founded:  1985

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Inactive

Notes: Metal specialty label formed by Attic Records

First release:  THOR-Only The Strong  1985/Cat # VPR 101

Honourable mention:  Various Artists-Maple Metal   1985/ Cat # MVPR-108  (Early unsigned Canadian Metal band compilation)



AAARRG RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1986

Founder: Axel Thubeauville

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Active

Notes: Founded by Thubeauville, who also founded Shark Records, and noted for a small but strong roster of German thrash bands like Living Death, Holy Moses and Mekong Delta.

First release: HOLY MOSES-Queen Of Siam   1986 /Cat #  AAARRG 1


AVANZADA METALICA

Home: Mexico

Founded: 1986

Founder:  Georgui Lazarov and Carlos Hernandez.

Subsidiary Labels:  A sub-label of Discos Y Cintas Denver (Denver Disc and Tape) formed in 1978, who signed many early Mexican Hard rock bands.

Status: Active

Notes: One of  the first Mexican Metal labels and one of the earliest Hard Rock / Metal labels.  They have released hundreds of albums domestically including Mexico’s biggest Metal band, Transmetal.

First overall release: VARIOUS ARTISTS- Escuadron Metalico Proyecto Uno  (Trans:  Metal Squadron Part I)   1986 /Cat # AM -000

First band release: GEHENNA-En Busca Del Valle De Gehenna  1987 / Cat # AM 002



FRINGE PRODUCT

Home:  Toronto, Canada

Founded:  1986

Founder: Ben Hoffman

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: Started as a record store in Toronto in 1981.   Then it became a punk/alt label and then grew to love the Metal.  One of Canada’s first Metal labels.  Associated with with Diabolic Force a very short-lived offshoot known for Sacrifice and Slaughter.

First Metal release: SACRIFICE-Torment In Fire    1986/Cat # FPL3020



GWR RECORDS

 

Home: London, England

Founded:  1986

Founder: Doug Smith & Ray Richards

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: GWR stands for Great Western Road, a road in London. Formed by Motorhead’s managers after Bronz went bankrupt.

First release: MOTORHEAD-Orgasmatron  1986/Cat # GWLP1



HOUSE OF KICKS

Home:  Stockholm, Sweden

Founded: 1986

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: Allegedly founded as early as 1986 but the first conformed release was not until 1990.

First release:  THERION-Time Shall Tell    1990/Cat # HOK LP001



RESTLESS RECORDS/MEDUSA RECORDS

Home: California, US

Founded: 1985 / 1986

Founder: William & Wesley Hein

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: This group has a long and complicated history. Part of the Enigma Label group who worked with many other labels and sub-labels, (such as Metal Blade)  in conjunction with Capitol Records for manufacturing and distribution.  Enigma, founded in 1981,  also founded Restless who in turn founded Medusa, both predominantly Metal labels.

First  Metal release on Restless:  Mace-Process Of Elimination   1985/Cat # 72074-4

First  Metal release on Medusa:  EXISES-S/T   1986/Cat # 72191-1



ROCK BRIGADE

Home:  Sao Paulo, Brazil

Founded: 1986

Founder: NA

Subsidiary Labels: 

Status: Active

Notes: Spin-off from Rock Brigade magazine.  Brazil’s first Metal label.

First release:  VULCANO-Bloody Vengeance  (Unconfirmed)  1986/Cat # ZHLP 004



SHARK RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1986

Founder: Alex Thubeauville

Subsidiary Labels:  US Metal

Status: Defunct

Notes: Solid but short-lived label.

First release: KUBLAI KHAN-Annihilation (Licensed from  New Renaissance)   1987 /Cat # SHARK 001

First  release band signed to label:  METAL ONSLAUGHT-Cease To Exist   1987 / Cat # SHARK 003



ATOM H

Home: Witten, Germany

Founded: 1987

Founder: Jurgen Engler, Christina  Schnekenburger

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Inactive

Notes: Small early German label, quite respected and their stuff is now quite rare and valuable on the collector market.

First release:  PROTECTOR-Misanthropy   1987 /Cat # Atom H 1



INTENSE RECORDS

Home: California

Founded: 1987

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: World’s first Christian Metal label.

First release:  Unknown possibly DUAL EDGE-Knock ‘Em Alive  1987 / Cat # IR 4272



METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS

Home: Poland

Founded:  1987

Founder: Thomasz Dziubinski

Subsidiary Labels: NA

Status: Active

Notes:  Poland first Metal label.  Largely known for licensing deals and quality reissues into the Eastern European market.

First release:  Unknown.  This is speculation but this might be the first release.  Licensed from the state recording company, Pronit (pre-fall of communism)

VARIOUS ARTISTS -Metalmania  ’89    1989/Cat # MMP MMXL 80

First non-licensing/band album on label: ACID DRINKERS-Strip Tease  (On cassette!)   1992/Cat #  MMP 001



NUCLEAR BLAST

Home: Germany

Founded: 1987

Founder: Markus Staiger

Subsidiary Labels:  Dozens

Status:  Active

Notes: Started as a punk label before seeing the error of their ways.  Now one of the world’s largest Metal labels.  Noted for signing Hammerfall and launching the global resurgence of Power Metal.

First release:  VARIOUS ARTISTS-Senseless Death   1987/Cat # NB 001

First ‘Metal’ band:   This is a tough call.    The label specialized in crossover stuff so Chronical Diarrhoea-Salamo Says (NB 010), Impulse Manslaughter-Logical End,  (NB 013)  or Defecation-Puroity Dilution (NB 018)   all have a pretty legitimate claim but but my vote goes to Atrocity.   ATROCITY-Blue Blood  1989/  Cat #  NB  023.



PEACEVILLE

Home: England

Founded: 1987

Founder: Paul Halmshaw

Subsidiary Labels:  Deaf (see entry)

Status: Active

Notes: Much like Nuclear Blast, started as a punk label before seeing the error of their ways and embracing the Metal.  The band had a number of punk cassette releases in the early days.  Owner Halmshaw wrote his excellent autobiography a few years back.

First release: VARIOUS ARTISTS-A Vile Peace   1987/Cat # VILE 001

First Metal Release: TORANAGA-Bastard Ballads  1988/Cat # VILE 5



CENTURY MEDIA

Home: Dortmund, Germany

Founded: 1988

Founder: Robert Kampf, Oliver Withoft

Subsidiary Labels: Abacus, Century Black, many others

Status: Active

Notes:  One of the world’s largest and most-respected Metal labels. Bought by Sony in 2015.

First release: DESPAIR-History Of Hate  1988/Cat # 0001



DEATHLIKE SILENCE

Home: Oslo, Norway

Founded:  1988

Founder: Euronymous

Subsidiary Labels: None

Status: Defunct

Notes: Not one of the most prolific labels but one of the most pioneering and perhaps notorious for signing Burzum and Mayhem. Norway’s first Metal label.

First release:  MERCILESS- The Awakening   1990/Cat # ANTI-MOSH 001



HELLHOUND

Home: Berlin, Germany

Founded: 1988

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: The world’s first doom label. Only ran for a few years.

First release: SCARLET-Red Alert  (Unconfirmed)  1989 /Cat # NA



LION MUSIC

 

Home: Finland

Founded: 1988

Founder: Lars Eric Mattsson

Subsidiary Labels: 

Status: Active

Notes: Specialty label focusing on guitar heroes.  Finland’s first Metal label. Founded in 1988 as a production company, releasing a few titles through Black Dragon Records, Apollon/FEMS (Japan) Leviathan and Roadrunner.

First release:  ASTRAL GROOVE-S/T  1989/Cat #  LMC 9501-2



NO REMORSE

Home:  Germany

Founded: 1988

Founder: Charlie Rhinne

Subsidiary Labels:

Status: Defunct

Notes: Small, short-lived  but respected label noted for signing Blind Guardian.  Not to be confused with No Remorse Records of Greece founded in 2009.

First release: BLIND GUARDIAN-Batallions Of Fear   1988/Cat # NRR 001



MAGNA CARTA

Home:  East Rochester, NY

Founded:  1989

Founder: Mike Varney/ Peter Morticelli

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: One of the world’s first specialty prog labels.

First release:  MAGELLAN-Hour Of Restoration (Unconfirmed)   1991/Cat # MAD 9272



WMMS / MUSIC IS INTELLIGENCE

Home: Germany

Founded: 1989

Founder: Peter Wustmann

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes:  A bit of an honourable mention here. This little prog label also carried quite a bit of prog Metal when it was unfashionable. WMMS, the parent label  stands for World Music Messenger Service.

First Metal release: AGARD-Götterdämmerung 1991/Cat # WMMS 007



DROWNED RECORDS/ REPULSE RECORDS / EXTREEM MUSIC

Home:  Spain

Founded: 1990

Founder: Dave Rotten

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: Spain’s first extreme Metal label and perhaps first Spanish Metal label overall.   Over the years the label has evolved, (essentially just changed names) from Drowned to Repulse to Extreem, and is still very active today with a  focus on Death and Grind.

First Drowned release: NECROPHILIAC-Excremental Pregnancy (cass)     1990 /Cat # BAJS 001

First Repulse release:  GOLGOTHA-Caves Of Mind  (reissue of album on Drowned)    1994 /Cat # RPS 001

First Extreem release: HUMAN MINCER-Embryonized    2002/Cat # XM 001



LIMB MUSIC

Home: Hamburg, Germany

Founded: 1990

Founder: Ralf Schnoor

Subsidiary Labels: Empire Records

Status: Active

Notes: World-class Power Metal label noted for discovering Rhapsody and Angra.   Started as a publishing company and doing cassette demos before becoming a full-fledged label.

First release: ABRAXAS-Gates To Eden (Unconfirmed)  1990 /Cat # 



RELAPSE RECORDS

Home:  PA, USA

Founded: 1990

Founder: Matthew Jacobson

Subsidiary Labels: Release

Status: Active

Notes: Noted Extreme Metal label, one of the very first extreme labels.  Now a world-wide powerhouse.

First release:  VELCRO OVERDOSE-Flesh Ripping Sonic Polka  1990/Cat # RR001V

First Metal Release: APPARITION-Eternally Forgotten   1990/Cat#  RR003V


SPINEFARM RECORDS

Home:  Helsinki, Finland

Founded:  1990

Founder: Riku Paakkonen

Subsidiary Labels: Ranka, Spikefarm

Status: Active

Notes: A titan in the Finnish and Scandinavian  Metal realms.  Largely focused on the heavier spectrum in the early days but branched out to sign local bands like Sonata Arctica and Nightwish.  Sold to Universal in 2005.

First release:   Unknown  Year/Cat # 



CMC INTERNATIONAL

Home: US

Founded: 1991

Founder: Bill Cain and Tom Lipsky

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Indie label that started with pop and rock bands but quickly moved almost exclusively into Metal.   Specialized in bands that were (supposedly)  at the tail-end of their careers in an era where grunge was popular.  Licensed many releases from Europe and the UK for the North American market.  Occasionally referred to as Cheese Metal Cemetery.  At one point had Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P. , Accept, Twisted Sister, Yngwie and other titans on the label.  Eventually bought by UK giant Sanctuary.

First Metal release:  ACCEPT-Objection Overruled  (Licensed)   1993/Cat # CMC 6203

First  band signing: WIDOWMAKER-Stand By For Pain  (Unconfirmed)  1994/Cat # CMC 6903

(Note: it is difficult to tell if many American bands on CMC were signed directly to the label and licensed to their partner Music for Nations, or signed to Music For Nations and licensed to CMC in North America.  Splitting hairs at this point.)



MASSACRE RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1991

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Active

Status: Active

Notes: Falls under the umbrella of entertainment giant Soulfood along with AFM, Frontiers, among others.  One of the largest, most prolific and most consistent labels in Metal.

First release:  BAPHOMET-No Answers  1991/Cat # MASS CD 001



OSMOSE PRODUCTIONS

Home: France

Founded: 1991

Founder: Herve Herbaut

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Evil Omen

Status: Active

Notes: Respected, early, extreme Metal label.  One of the best.

First release: SAMAEL -Worship Him    1991/Cat # OP 001



PERRIS RECORDS

Home:  Texas, USA

Founded: 1991

Founder:  Tom Mathers

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes:  One of the very earliest Melodic Hard Rock/glam specialty labels formed after the ascension of Grunge and alternative music.  Founded to release Mather’s own band, Cherry Street.  Perris kept this (unpopular at the time) style alive virtually single-handedly.

First release: CHERRY STREET- s/t  1992/Cat # 18971



AFM RECORDS

Home:  Hamburg, Germany

Founded: 1992

Founder: Andy Allendorfer , Axel Fischer

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes:  Both Fischer & Allendorfer founded a label to release their band Squealer.  The FA catalogue # possibly stands for Fischer/Allendorfer until converting a few years later to the more familiar AFM-xxx  catalogue numbers in 1992 when the label was formalized.  AFM stands for Allendorfer Fischer Music, but word on the street is that it stands for All For Metal!

First release: SQUEALER-Human Traces  (unconfirmed) 1990 /Cat # FA 5751



CLEOPATRA RECORDS

Home:  L.A., USA

Founded:  1992

Founder:  Brian Perera

Subsidiary Labels (if any):  Deadline, Magick

Status: Active

Notes: Started as an industrial/punk/goth/alt label but was always ‘Metal-friendly’.  Founded two Metal sub-labels  (See entries for Deadline and Magick)

First release:  MOTORHEAD-On Parole (Licensed) Year/Cat # CDLL-57666



GUN RECORDS

Home: Bochum,  Germany

Founded:  1992

Founder: Bogdan Kopec, Wolfgang Funk

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: Known for supporting Metal in the mid-90’s when it was less popular signing bands like Grave Digger, Kreator and Rage.

First release:  DEPRESSIVE AGE-Innocent In Detention (Unconfirmed)  1992 /Cat #  GUN 010



HEAD NOT FOUND

Home:  Oslo, Norway

Founded:  1992

Founder: Jon Kristiansen

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Inactive

Notes: Early Death/Black Metal label.  Best name for a record label ever.

First release: ALASTIS-The Just Law    1992 /Cat # HNF 001



HOLY RECORDS

 

Home:  France

Founded:  1992

Founder: 

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: Prestigious underground cosmopolitan label known for signing quality, avante-garde, Death and Black metal bands like Septic Flesh and  Orphaned Land.

First release:  NIGHTFALL-Parade Into Centuries  1992/Cat # Holy 01 CD



NAPALM RECORDS

Home: Eisenerz, Austria.

Founded: 1992

Founder: Markus Riedler

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: From humble beginnings as a small Death/Black Metal label Napalm is now arguably the world’s largest Metal label.  Recently purchased SPV.

First release:  DISASTROUS MURMUR-Where Bloods For Ever Rains   1992/Cat # NPR 001



NO FASHION RECORDS

Home:  Stockholm, Sweden

Founded: 1992

Founder:  Thomas Nyquist

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Unknown

Notes: Founded as an off-shoot of the short-lived House Of Kicks label. Well regarded for a high quality Death/Black roster.

First release: BESTIAL SUMMONING-The Dark War Has Begun (Unconfirmed)  1992 /Cat # NA



NOW & THEN RECORDS

Home: Wigan, England

Founded: 1992

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Defunct

Notes:  British melodic Metal label. Strong ties with Frontiers Records (Italy, 96) and eventually merged with them.

First release: GARY HUGHES- s/t    1992/Cat #  NTHEN 001    (The first Frontiers Records release was Gary’s main band, Ten)



T&T RECORDS

Home: Germany

Founded: 1992

Founder: 

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Inactive

Notes: Short-lived sub-label of Noise Records that focused on melodic Metal.  Perhaps best known for Stratovarius.

First release:  STRATOVARIUS-Twilight Time  (Unconfirmed)  1993/Cat # TT 002-1   (TT 001 might have been a single)



TURBO MUSIC 

Home:  Germany

Founded: 1991

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any):  Turbo USA (see JL America in Appendix)

Status: Defunct

Notes: Early extreme Metal label. Confusing mix of sub-labels.  A lot of their releases are quite sought after by collectors now.

First release: FUNERAL NATION-Reign Of Death (Unconfirmed) reissue of ‘State Of Insanity’ with alternate title and art   1990 /Cat #35400021-22



MALICIOUS RECORDS

 

Home:  Germany

Founded: 1993

Founder: Gerrit Weiher

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Inactive

Notes: Small, short-lived but respected German Black Metal label.  Known for Mortiis and early ambient Black Metal sounds.

First release:  VOND- Havard-Vond (Vinyl single)  1993 /Cat # MR 001


MEGAROCK RECORDS

Home: Sweden

Founded: 1993

Founder: unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Defunct

Notes: Small lesser known but early label specializing in melodic Hard Rock / Metal but also licensed some heavier stuff like Candlemass and Therion.  Quite a bit of the obscure mid-90’s glam they signed is quite sought after by collectors.

First release: IT’S ALIVE- It’s Alive 1993 /Cat # MR 001



MISANTHROPY RECORDS

Home:  Suffolk, England

Founded: 1993

Founder: Tiziana Stupia

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Ancient Lore

Status: Defunct

Notes: Short-lived but quite prolific Black Metal label, probably Englands first, known for licensing Scandinavian bands. Infamous perhaps for singing Burzum as their first band.

First release: BURZUM-Hvis Lyset Tar Oss  1993/Cat # Amazon 001



MOONFOG RECORDS

Home: Oslo, Norway

Founded: 1993

Founder: Satyr Wongraven

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Active

Notes: Label started by Satyricon to release their own music.  They signed a few bands during the early age of Black Metal such as Samael and Darkthrone.

First release:  SATYRICON-Dark Medieval Times  1993 /Cat # FOG 001



MORIBUND RECORDS

Home:  Washington, USA

Founded:  1993

Founder: Odin Thompson

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: One of the most prolific and consistent extreme Metal labels of all time.

First release: INFESTER-Darkness Unveiled  (Vinyl single)  1993/Cat # DEAD 001



POINT MUSIC

Home:  Munich, Germany

Founded: 1993

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct 

Notes: Short-lived but well-regarded label and distributor specializing in melodic Metal. Also licensed quite a few bands

First Release: POWERAGE-Branded Skin (Unconfirmed)   1994/ Cat # NR Best 1994

First band signed to label : UNREST-Watch Out  (Unconfirmed)  1997/Cat # 10034



WRONG AGAIN RECORDS

Home: Hjarup, Sweden

Founded: 1993

Founder:   Wez Wenedikter and Per Gyllenbäck

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Extremely influential  label  pioneering the early death /thrash or  the ‘Gothenberg’ sound.  Some  of their bands went onto much greater fame such as  In Flames and Arch Enemy. On a parallel course was Black Sun Records just a year later (see entry below)

First release: EUCHARIST-A Velvet Creation   1993 /Cat # WAR 001



BLACK SUN RECORDS

Home:  Gothenberg, Sweden

Founded: 1994

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Black Sun ran a very similar course charted by Wrong Again Records the year prior (see entry).  A pioneering the early death /thrash or the ‘Gothenberg’ sound.  Some  of their bands went onto much greater fame such as At The Gates and The Crown.

First release: VARIOUS ARTISTS-Metal Militia: A Tribute to Metallica    1994 /Cat # BS 001

First band release: CEREMONIAL OATH-Carpet   1994 /Cat # BS 002



BRENNUS

Home:  France

Founded: 1994

Founder: Alain Ricard

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: Metal sub-label of long running label Musea.  Formed in a time when Metal wasn’t popular but have championed many obscure bands and charted their own course.

First release: ANYWAY-Anyway (Unconfirmed)  1995 /Cat # BR 8002



HOT RECORDS

Home: Oslo, Norway

Founded: 1994

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Defunct

Notes: Tiny label that only lasted a few years but had an eye/ear for quality signing Aura Noir, Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child

First release: FIMBULWINTER-Servants Of Sorcery   1994 /Cat # Hot 001



LOCOMOTIVE RECORDS

Home: Madrid, Spain

Founded: 1994

Founder:  Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Unknown

Notes: Spain’s first big Metal label.  Strong supporter of the local scene with big domestic bands like Lujuria, Tierra Santa and Mago De Oz. Also known for licensing European bands such as Annihilator, Edguy and Grave Digger for the local Spanish market.

First release:  LIZARD-The Lizard’s Smile  1994/Cat # LM-001



LONG ISLAND RECORDS

Home:  NY, USA

Founded: 1994

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Seagull Records

Status: Defunct

Notes: Founded in 1989 as a record store, then mail-order, then distribution company before becoming a fully fledged record label in 1994.  Specialized in melodic Metal and glam.

First release: MESSAGE – s/t  1995/Cat # LIR 001



LUCRETIA RECORDS

Home:  Italy

Founded:  1994

Founder: unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Defunct

Notes: One of many prog/power type labels that appeared in Italy in the mid-90’s.

First release:  ABIGHOR-Anti-clockwise  1994/Cat # LUCD 9401



UNDERGROUND SYMPHONY

 

Home: Italy

Founded: 1994

Founder: NA

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active.

Notes: Italy’s first big Metal label.  Virtually single-handedly spawned the massive growth in the uniquely Italian style of symphonic, progressive and Power Metal. They led the way for the rapid growth of the Italian Metal industry with specialty labels like Elevate, 99th Floor (distro), Lucretia, Scarlet and most importantly, Frontiers all appearing shortly after between 1994-1997.

First release: VARIOUS ARTISTS-Underground Symphony   1994 /Cat # US CD-001

First band release: WITCHUNTERS-…And It’s Storming Outside  1994 /Cat # US CD-002



DEADLINE MUSIC

Home: California, US

Founded:  1995

Founder: Brian Perara

Subsidiary Labels (if any): NA

Status: Active

Notes: Sub-label of Cleopatra Records (See honourable mentions appendix below)  specializing in glam & hard rock. Also known for many tribute albums and confusing catalogue sytem.

First licensed release: Dangerous Toys-The R-tist 4-merly known as Dangerous Toys  1995/Cat #CLP 0353-2

First band (non-licensed) release: BANG TANGO-Live (Unconfirmed)   1998/Cat #CLP 0423-2



HAMMERHEART RECORDS

Home:  Valkenberg, Netherlands

Founded: 1995

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes:  Next to Roadrunner, the next biggest Dutch label.  Had offices in the US and Brazil.  Eventually changed names to Karmageddon but reverted back to Hammerheart.  Specializing in more extreme genres.

First release: TUMULUS / MOCK – Hyms & Dirges , Cold Winter (Split EP)    1995 /Cat # HHR 001

First album under the Karmageddon brand:  TORTURE KILLER-For Maggots to Devour  2003 / Cat # KARMA 001



SARAYA RECORDINGS

Home: Michigan , USA

Founded: 1995

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Specialized in melodic Metal at at time when that style was extremely unpopular in the US.  Very short-lived label.

First release:  TAKARA -Eternal Faith (Unconfirmed)   1995/Cat # 00004  (Note alternate art from original pressing)



Part II:  1996-2021 will be published by the end of the summer of 2022.



APPENDIX A:  Select Labels listed by Nation

AUSTRIA: Napalm

BELGIUM: Mausoleum,

BRAZIL:  Cogumelo, Rock Brigade,

CANADA: Cobra, Viper, Fringe, Attic, Maze,

ENGLAND: Heavy Metal, Neat, Kamaflage, Music For Nations, Raw Power, Earache, Peaceville, Misanthropy,

FINLAND: Lion, Spinefarm,

FRANCE: Axe Killer, Black Dragon, Brennus, Holy, Osmose

GERMANY: Noise, Scratch, Steamhammer, Shark, Aaarrg, Nuclear Blast, Atom H,  Century Media, Hellhound, No Remorse, Music Is Intelligence, Limb, Massacre, Malicious, GUN, T&T, AFM,

ITALY:  Lucretia, Underground Symphony

JAPAN: Zero,

MEXICO: Avanzada

NETHERLANDS: Roadrunner, Hammerheart

NORWAY: Deathlike Silence, Hot, Moonfog, Head Not Found

POLAND:  Metal Mind,

SPAIN:  Drowned/Repulse/Extreem,  Locomotive

SWEDEN: Black Mark, Megarock, House Of Kicks, Wrong Again, Black Sun

UNITED STATES:  Azra/Iron Works, Shrapnel, Combat, Metal Blade, Megaforce, Greenworld, Leviathan, New Renaissance, Restless/Medusa Intense, Magna Carta, Relapse, Moribund, Turbo/JL America, CMC, Perris, Long Island, Point, Deadline


APPENDIX B: Labels listed by year of formation

1978

Heavy Metal (UK)

1979

Neat (UK)

1980

Shrapnel (US)

1981

Kamaflage (UK)

1982

Combat (US)

Mausoleum (Belgium)

Megaforce (US)

Metal Blade (US)

1983

Music for Nations (UK)

Noise (Germany)

Scratch, (Germany)

1984

Axe Killer (France)

Black Dragon (France)

Black Mark (Sweden)

Greenworld (US)

Maze/Cobra  (Can)

New Renaissance (US)

Restless (US)

Steamhammer (Germany)

1985

Cogumelo (Brazil)

Earache (UK)

Leviathan (US)

Raw Power (UK)

Restless (US)

Viper (Can)

1986 

Aaarrg (Ger)

Avanzada Metalico (Mex)

GWR (UK)

Fringe (Can)

House Of Kicks (Swe)

Medusa (US)

Rock Brigade (Brazil)

Shark (Ger)

1987

Atom H (Ger)

Intense (US)

Nuclear Blast (Ger)

Peaceville (UK)

1988

Century Media (Ger)

Deathlike Silence (Nor)

Hellhound (Ger)

Lion (Fin)

No Remorse (Ger)

1989

Magna Carta (US)

Music Is Intelligence (Ger)

1990

Drowned/Repulse/Xtreem (Spain)

Limb (Ger)

Relapse (US)

Spinefarm (Fin)

1991

CMC (US)

Massacre (Ger)

Osmose (France)

Perris (US)

Zero (Jap)

1992

AFM (Ger)

GUN (Ger)

Head Not Found (Nor)

Holy (France)

Napalm (Aus)

No Fashion (Swe)

Now & Then (US)

T&T (Ger)

Turbo/JL America (US)

1993 

Malicious (Ger)

Megarock (Swe)

Misanthropy (UK)

Moonfog (Nor)

Moribund (US)

Point (US)

Wrong Again (Swe)

1994 

Black Sun (Swe)

Brennus (France)

Hot (Nor)

Locomotive (Spain)

Long Island (US)

Lucretia (Italy)

Underground Symphony (Italy)

1995

Deadline (US)

Hammerheart (Neth)

Saraya (US)


APPENDIX C:  Honourable Mentions

These are labels that were…

-Not founded as Metal specific labels but are often associated with Metal bands.

-Non-Metal labels with significant Metal rosters.

-Sub-labels, labels created for international licensing deals, tax purposes etc.


ATTIC RECORDS

Home:  Toronto, Canada

Founded:  1974

Founder: Alexander Maier.

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Inactive

Notes: Large Canadian label known for distribution and imports and a small roster of Canadian Metal acts including Anvil and Lee Aaron.   Formed the Metal sub-label, Viper in 1985. (see Entry)

First Metal release:  RIOT-Rock City (Licensed)  1977 /Cat # LAT 1041



AZRA RECORDS / IRONWORKS

Home: California, USA

Founded: 1978

Founder: David Thomas Richards

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Iron Works, Metal Storm

Status: Inactive

Notes: This one is a bit of an honourable mention.  Founded very early in the game as a rock/hard rock label but became better known in later years for Metal.

First release(s):   Various Artists-Hollywood  (Unconfirmed)   1978 /Cat # DR 101

First band release:  Centaurus-s/t   (Unconfimred)  1978 / Cat # 61549

First’ Metal’  release: Jag Panzer-s/t  (Unconfirmed)  1983 / Cat # 010

First Ironworks Release(s)    SHARKS-Alter Ego  (This was the band that became Shark Island.)   1982 / Cat # na

Notable mention.   JAG PANZER-Ample Destruction  1984/ Cat #  IW 1001  (Note the Iron works catalogue number now)



BANZAI RECORDS

 

Home: Montreal, Canada

Founded:  ?/ poss. 1983 

Founder: Michael Messe

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct 

Notes: Popular and prolific Canadian label that did high quality reissues of many bands for the Canadian market.  A book and a fanzine have been written about Banzai.

First licensed release: RAVEN-Break The Chain (Unconfirmed)    1984/Cat # BAM 1001



BRONZ RECORDS

 

Home:  England

Founded:  1971

Founder: Gerry Bron

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Bronz Explosion

Status: defunct, sold to Castle in 1986

Notes:  Noted for UK rock acts Uriah Heep, Colosseum and Manfred Mann then switched to NWOBHM style bands such as Angelwitch, Girlschool and Motorhead.

First ‘Metal’ release:  MOTORHEAD-Louie, Louie (vinyl single)  1978/Cat # BRO 60



CLEOPATRA RECORDS

Home:  L.A., USA

Founded:  1992

Founder:  Brian Perera

Subsidiary Labels (if any):  Deadline, Magick

Status: Active

Notes: Started as an industrial/punk/goth/alt label but was always ‘Metal-friendly’.  Founded two Metal sub-labels  (See entries for Deadline and Magick)

First release:  MOTORHEAD-On Parole (Licensed) Year/Cat # CDLL-57666



TURBO U.S.A / JL AMERICA

Home:  USA

Founded: 1991

Founder: Keith LeRoux

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Licensed European bands from German parent label Turbo

First release: EXCRUCIATION-Anno Domini:An Anthology Of The Part  (Unconfirmed)  1991 / Cat #3815-41001-4



NEMS

Home: Argentina

Founded: 1995

Founder: Marcelo Cabuli

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes: Argentina’s first and biggest Metal label. Known mostly for licensing international bands to the domestic market.

First release:  ANGRA-Angels Cry   1995 /Cat # NEMS 1



ROADRUNNER RECORDS

Home:  Netherlands/ International

Founded: 1980

Founder: Cesse Wessels

Subsidiary Labels: Roadracer, many others.

Status: Active

Notes: Bought by Warner Brothers Music in 2006

First release: It is hard to determine the first exact release by Roadrunner Records.  They started as a label that licensed albums.  It wasn’t until the mid-80’s that the label started signing original material. To the best of my knowledge the first ‘Metal’ release by Roadrunner was this one (below)  licensed from Secret Records in 1982

TWISTED SISTER-Under The Blade   1982/Cat # 9946

   Following that this might be the first new signing (ie, non-licensed) to Roadrunner.

 RAILWAY- s/t   1984/Cat #  RR9821



SANCTUARY RECORDS

Home: England

Founded:  1979

Founder: Rod Smallwood, Andy Taylor

Subsidiary Labels (if any): Dozens inc. Castle, Jet, Neat, Noise, Mayan,  CMC, Metal Is, Armoury, Spitfire

Status: Defunct

Notes: Founded by Iron Maiden’s managers as a publishing company the company grew to be one of the largest in the world, soon owning the musical rights to dozens and dozens of metal labels.  One of several sub-divsions is Sanctuary Records, an actual record label.

First Metal release (non-licensed): SHOCKMACHINE -s/t    1998/Cat # SANC002



UNDER ONE FLAG

Home:  England

Founded:  1985

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Active

Notes:  Founded by Music for Nations to license other Metal bands on other labels.

First overall release:  ENGLISH DOGS-Metalmorphoses  1985/Cat# 12 Flag 101

Notable release:  ONSLAUGHT -The Force  1985/Cat #  FLAG 1



VAP

Home: Tokyo, Japan

Founded:  1981

Founder: Unknown

Subsidiary Labels: Power Age Metal, Toys Factory

Status: Active

Notes: Started as a pop/rock label but quickly embraced the Metal and has since released and licensed hundreds of Metal bands.   VAP stands for Video Audio Project.

First Metal release:  BOW WOW-Asian Volcano   1982/Cat # 30027-28



ZERO RECORDS

Home: Japan

Founded: 1991

Founder: Toru Hashimoto

Subsidiary Labels (if any): 

Status: Defunct

Notes: Licensed hundreds of Melodic Hard Rock/Metal /glam albums for Japan, especially from Scandinavia.

First Metal release: BAI-BANG-Cop To Con   1991/Cat # XRCN 1007  (Note the alternate cover art from the original)



Appendix D:  Assorted anniversary compilations (just for fun)

AFM (25th Anniversary) (2 CD set)


Century Media (10th anniversary) (3 CD set) 


Metal Blade (20th anniversary) (9 CD set) 


Nuclear Blast (10th anniversary) (3 CD set) 


Roadrunner (30th Anniversary (2 CD set)