Metal has never been an easy genre to digest, let alone sell. Forget ridiculous 80s hairbands which were nothing more than boybands with bleached hair playing really whiney loud music. Real metal is an acquired taste, just like sushi and spandex.
Founded in 1987 by Markus Staiger in Germany, Nuclear Blast has since spread its metal-wings from a simple hardcore punk mail-order business to become Europe’s largest and arguably most prestigious metal label.
The label’s name was inspired by Markus’ 4-week trip to US, during which he saw his favourite band Blast perform and began taking interest in the metal subgenre of hardcore. Operating out of his mother’s house in Donzdorf, the label initially failed to make any impact whatsoever due to its focus on punk and hardcore bands which were a dime a dozen back then.
It didn’t help that Markus could not get a loan for the business because of his age and the fact that he promoted subversive music. Things changed, however, when he discovered a grindcore band from Las Vegas called Righteous Pigs.
The shattering pulse of the grindcore bands on Nuclear Blast faired well in the market prompting Markus to branch out into other genres. By ’93, Markus had risked signing two relatively unknown bands that would change the label forever; In Flames (the fathers of Gothenburg metal) and Dimmu Borgir (one of the first successful black metal bands).
After ’95, Nuclear Blast gradually expanded and signed on some of the most influential 90s metal bands. The power metal genre (think LOTR mixed with heavy guitars) became increasingly popular, and the label found success with Hammerfall and Blind Guardian. Some of their biggest acts to date are Meshuggah, Death, Therion, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Children of Bodom.
Nuclear Blast is now home to metal bands the world over playing genres ranging from power, melodic, death, thrash and black metal to hardcore and grindcore. And with offices in Europe, US, South America and other countries, Markus continues to search for unconventional bands that will be your parents’ next worst nightmare.
Enjoy the fallout at www.nuclearblast.de and www.myspace.com/nuclearblasteurope.