For the Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records
By Brian Slagel with Mark Eglinton
Foreword by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich
Being an imaginative, restless, and generally unfuckwithable music nerd has its lonely moments. It doesn’t always matter – some of the most incredible experiences are those that make us feel separate from everything else around us. Once in a while we find others who understand the shared obsession with finding music that really floats our boats. Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records is one of those people, and with this autobiographical little tome, he’s let us in on some of the integral moments in the life of this hugely influential label.
Starting in Southern California, the spark of his fandom igniting thanks to the NWOBHM movement and leading to the birth of the Metal Massacre compilations, to the present form of Metal Blade Records, it’s very clear that Brian is a prime example of a “lifer”. This is someone who manages to find ways to ensure their love of metal permeates every aspect of what they do, who doesn’t let anything become an obstacle in their path, and who lives for their passion and works tirelessly for it as well. Reading about the beginnings of what is one of the biggest names in the metal industry today, it’s clear that Brian Slagel didn’t really think about making profit – he simply wanted to expose as many bands as possible, with the goal of growing the scene. It makes sense that this unabashed fandom is the little magic bean that grew into a giant beanstalk.
Pouring out tales of early adventures as well as celebrations of the label’s many achievements, For the Sake of Heaviness is both relatable and inspiring.
It really felt like “us against everybody else,” which only galvanized the movement. Metal felt like an exclusive club, so there can actually be some pitfalls that come with success. I remember a quote by Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, which I read after they’d started to get big and finally got a good review in a major magazine. “That’s what killed our career,” he quipped in reference to the positive press. In retrospect, he was right. As soon as anything that was previously seen as rebellious gets accepted in any way, it ceases to be rebellious.