BRIAN SLAGEL - Swing Of The Blade: More Stories From Metal Blade Records

June 2, 2023, a year ago

(BMG Books)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 8.0

review heavy metal brian slagel metal blade records

BRIAN SLAGEL  - Swing Of The Blade: More Stories From Metal Blade Records

A quick, easy read, these 192 pages (although Slagel's collection of modern, aka non-vintage, selfies, featuring "famous" music and non-musical folks, account for eight pages) are a follow-up to the label head's initial, pre-pandemic tome. Delivered in a folksy, pint-around-the-bar narrative, he delves further into his relationship and dealings with various bands on the roster. 15 pages are devoted to his lifelong history with Lars Ulrich (and by default, Metallica). It kind of serves as a clearing house for his "reviews" of their latest albums, favorite gigs and anecdotes, that he's forever getting asked about, by fans.

One chapter touches on a few of the artists on various Metal Massacre compilations, some well-known, others lesser so. Somewhere between a few paragraphs, up to several pages, are donated to Cirith Ungol, Fates Warning, Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint, Mercyful Fate, Ghost, Flotsam & Jetsam, Gwar and Amon Amarth. Slagel claims that he holds no animosity in not being able to sign Metallica (and later, post-glam Pantera) as he was not financially solvent enough. He also admits he missed much of the initial death metal craze because he didn't like the music. Lest people think he's endlessly hob-nobbling with bands, it's evident, from his commentary, that unlike the early days, now the label head might not even interact with the band, post-signing (nor hear any music), until the recording is done.

Chapter 7: You Win Some, You Lose Some, concentrates on the nu-metal era of the Nineties, as well as the metalcore boom in the new millennium. Wouldn't have inked Slipknot, only signs music he likes. But would have tried Tool, Nine Inch Nails and/or Korn, until the big label money boys priced them out of Metal Blade's budget. Having moved to Vegas, Brian admits there's really no live (unsigned) music scene and that recently he's signed bands that have NEVER played live, before joining Metal Blade. Scary! There's also a fanboy chapter dedicated to his Iron maiden obsession.

As a first edition printing, there are multiple misprints (typically small words/connections, left out, but in one case, an entire sentence repeated) and minor layout issues (indentations/alignment), although neither truly detract from the story. Just annoying. 

If there's to be any future volumes, instead of the always rosy prose, would like to see a chapter about the failed "Rage Of The New Metal Age" marketing campaign. What was the initial intrigue and then missteps with those acts, many of whom have been expunged from the label's own website like Mrs. Hippie (with Hammerfall vocalist Joacim Cans), Thought Industry, Skrew, Haunted Garage and/or Decoryah, whom I loved. Explain Beats The hell Out Of Me (whose promotional photo was a picture of a houseboat!). Then maybe canvas fans' online questions for further topics.

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