Favorite metal record labels from the 80s-early 90s

Author:John Frank
Date:2018-04-04 16:29:39
Edited:2018-04-05 02:46:54
For quantity and quality, I have to go with Roadrunner/Roadracer/R/C as my favorite label from this era. Noise produced multiple albums that rank very highly for me, but they did not have as many cool bands on their roster as Roadrunner/Roadracer/R/C. The same goes for Combat, to a lesser extent. Metal Blade comes close in number of albums I like, but they did not release many of my all-time faves (noted with an asterix). Megaforce issued some killer albums, of course, but they were not very prolific. Shrapnel had plenty of releases, but I was not the target audience for most of them. The same went for New Renaissance and Wild Rags. I listed a few other US labels as well.

Century Media was just starting out during this period. Earache had some cool stuff, but I was always much more of a thrasher than a death metal fan. Titles on most of the other European labels were only available as imports. Steamhammer was the most successful with me, followed by Under One Flag and Aaarrg. Music for Nations was big in Europe, but they mostly had titles that were available on other labels in the US. I listed a few other European labels as well.

For those of you who were into metal during this period, what were your favorite record labels? Did you buy imports through mail order or a store? Most of my import orders came from Metal Disc. I do not recall brick-and-mortar stores having many imports back in the day.

Roadrunner / Roadracer / R/C (Acrophet, Annihilator*, Artillery*, Atrocity, Atrophy, Believer*, Chastain, Crimson Glory*, Cynic*, Defiance, Disincarnate, Exhorder, Fear Factory, Gorguts, Heathen*, Hittman, Holy Terror*, King Diamond*, Paradox*, Pestilence*, Razor, Realm, Sepultura*, Sword, Toxik*, Whiplash, Xentrix*, Znöwhite)

Noise (Coroner*, Deathrow*, Helloween, Kreator*, Mordred*, Rage, Running Wild, Sabbat*, Scanner, Skyclad*, Tankard, Voivod*, Watchtower*)

Combat (Agent Steel, Cyclone Temple, Dark Angel, DBC, Death, Exodus*, Faith or Fear*, Forbidden*, Heathen*, Megadeth*, Nuclear Assault)

Metal Blade (Anacrusis*, Armored Saint, Artch, Atheist, Bitter End, Candlemass, Détente, Fates Warning, Flotsam and Jetsam, Helstar, Intruder, Juggernaut, Liege Lord, Nasty Savage, Omen, Sacred Reich, Sacrifice, Slayer, Thought Industry*)

Megaforce (Anthrax, Metallica, Overkill, S.O.D., Testament*)

Shrapnel (Apocrypha, Chastain)

New Renaissance Records (Deadly Blessing, Gargoyle, Screamer)

Wild Rags (Arcane)

I.R.S. Records (Black Sabbath, Nuclear Assault, Shok Paris)

Restless (Death Angel, Oliver Magnum*)

In-Effect (Nuclear Assault, Scatterbrain)

Torrid Records (Exodus, Tension)

Century Media (Despair, Hexx, Poltergeist, Sentenced)

Earache (Carcass*, Confessor, Entombed, Meathook Seed, Nocturnus, Pitchshifter)

Steamhammer (Assassin, Destruction*, Evildead, Pariah*, Sieges Even*)

Under One Flag (Acid Reign, Agony, Onslaught, Re-animator)

Aaarrg Records (Last Descendants, Mekong Delta, Siren, Target)

Active Records (Hexenhaus, Mezzrow)

Rising Sun Productions (Mystic Force, Psychotic Waltz, Taramis)

Atom H (Accuser, Forced Entry, STS 8 Mission)

Mausoleum Records (Dead On, Donor)

Metal Master Records (Alastor, Astharoth, Turbo)

Megamania (A.R.G., Stone)

"It's not exactly a horrible album, but it's no better than something by, I dunno, Pagan's Mind or some other shirt-tucking nerdprog band." - Matt Johnsen of Pharaoh
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