This may come as a surprise to young music fans, but there once was a time when there was no such thing as record labels specializing in heavy metal -- not until the early 1980s, anyway, at which point a handful of enterprising independents started rearing their iron fists into the air, including Los Angeles’ proudly named Metal Blade.

But one of the things that set Metal Blade apart, even then, is that it was one of the first labels launched for metalheads, BY metalheads -- a young man named Brian Slagel, to be more specific, after taking it upon himself to promote some of his favorite bands on the first of many Metal Massacre compilation albums.

Before long, Slagel started signing bands directly and building Metal Blade’s roster with promising up-and-comers like Slayer, Trouble and Voivod, fully establishing his label’s credentials by the end of the 1980s, and then growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to ever more eclectic (but almost always HEAVY) signings, into the ‘90s, ‘00s and ‘10s.

And, as anyone will tell you, Metal Blade is still going strong today, defending the faith of heavy metal while many other heavyset record companies have faltered, or worse, strayed from the righteous path!

So we’d like to recognize Slagel and his team’s faith by celebrating the past 35 years and citing 35 of Metal Blade’s very best, most historically significant albums.

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