The Thunder From Under The Bridge
Hidden underneath the iron trusses of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, PA. lies the headquarters of one of the world’s leading independent record labels. Nuclear Blast revels in what defines heavy music. The label does not divide or attempt to separate their marketed genre. Their passion is simply to spread the very best in modern Metal.
The palatial suites of Nuclear Blast are kept simple and functional. Much like the music they finance, their bare-bones approach elevates the raw concrete walls and cluttered floor with pure emotion. They love what they do.
Markus Staiger of Germany started the whole ball rolling when, eleven years ago he was negotiating deals and running a successful mail-order business from his bedroom. Seven years ago Staiger’s Relapse Records opened up Nuclear Blast in America and after five years, Rhodes Mason headed up the team that separated Nuclear Blast from Relapse. Since going out on their own their roster has grown to 50 acts a year with worldwide distribution and an increase in billing and production of 500%.
Mason is firmly the captain at the helm. His several years at Relapse Records as production/office manager schooled the 32-year-old in the fine art of Record Executive. Recently, on a dark, drizzly Fall day he took a minute to outline what makes “Metal” viable in the nineties. “There are so many sub-genre’s in metal,” says Mason. “A lot people split them up and place borders or walls- between each kind, which hurts America’s music market. Our policy here is; If it’s metal it’s metal, no matter what form it is and we support it.”
Amid their swelling ranks, Nuclear Blast are most proud of their product-. “We want the artists to be happy with their release and we want the fans to expect the best from us,” says Mason, “so we really push to get the highest production and art work for each of our bands.” An example is Primal Fear. Rooted in the wake of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Primal Fear push to fill the gap lost with the invasion of Grunge and Alternative rock. Their blend of loud, fast guitars galloping beside a thumping bass-line and cascading vocals is definitive.
The darker side of metal shrieks from Children Of Bodom’s Something Wild, an exhilarating collision of thick riffing, rapid-fire fretwork and ghosted by electronic harpsichord.
Therion’s current release Vovin recycles ELP’s Trilogy era with a haunting weave of melodic textures, orchestrated hymnals and choral arrangements too dark to be saintly and too inspiring to be demonic. A superior showpiece of metallic musicianship.
Night In Gale’s Thunderbeast comes from that place below the heart and above the navel. They grind, slash, twist and counter the unexpected. The dual guitar of the Basten brothers lay a hypnotic foundation Type O Negative would be proud of.
Aside from the jaw-dropping cover of Cryhavoc’s Sweetbriers, the growling voice of Kaapro has a certain condemning enchantment. Subtle movements of acoustic guitar and piano only add to the extreme crescendo as the real race for rhythmic thundering rips through all eight cuts.
Mason concludes in support of his preferred taste of today’s sounds; “This is not music to be overlooked!