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|Distributor(s)||RED Distribution (US)
Fontana Distribution (US)
Sony Music (CAN)
eOne Music (Worldwide)
|Country of origin||Germany|
Nuclear Blast is an independent record label and mail order record distributor with subsidiaries in Germany, the United States and Brazil. The record label was founded in 1987 by Markus Staiger in Germany. Originally releasing hardcore punk records, the label moved on to releasing albums by melodic death metal, grindcore, power metal and black metal bands, as well as tribute albums. Nuclear Blast is widely respected as the top label for the death metal scene, along with fellow non-RIAA label Century Media. The label's main office is in Donzdorf, Göppingen. Nuclear Blast America and Century Media work together as a strategic partnership between the two independent metal labels. They are distributed through RED Distribution, Fontana Distribution, eOne Music and Sony Music Entertainment.
At their inception, Nuclear Blast focused on releasing hardcore records by bands like Agnostic Front, Attitude and Stark Raving Mad. They progressed toward metal in 1990, however, signing and distributing dozens of artists such as Dimmu Borgir and Hypocrisy. They have also released a series of compilation albums called Death Is Just the Beginning.
Nuclear Blast was formed in 1987 after founder Markus Staiger travelled throughout the United States for four weeks and saw a gig of his favorite band BL'AST!. The label was originally titled simply "Blast", but this was soon changed to Nuclear Blast. The label's first release was a vinyl compilation called Senseless Death (NB 001) featuring US hardcore bands like Attitude, Sacred Denial, Impulse Manslaughter and others. The first edition of 1000 copies was sold out after one year.
Nuclear Blast started signing grindcore acts after Staiger discovered Las Vegas' Righteous Pigs. This followed with releases by Atrocity, Deathstars, Master and (Incubus) Opprobrium, which all sold over 30,000 copies. The grindcore explosion is considered a landmark in the label's history, gaining it worldwide attention.
In the early 1990s, black metal became more popular in Europe, and Nuclear Blast signed many bands. Many of them, such as Dimmu Borgir and Dissection, are still signed to Nuclear Blast. The black metal trend became increasingly popular, and by 1996, several Nuclear Blast-signed artists were entering European charts. By the end of 1997, Nuclear Blast had 20 employees and mailed out a 100 page catalogue quarterly to 50 countries.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), they expanded into a direction of power metal, promoting bands such as HammerFall and the German power metal innovators Helloween. During the 2000s (decade), Nuclear Blast started promoting some Finnish bands, such as Stratovarius, Wintersun and Sonata Arctica, and the German band Blind Guardian, expanding their style further into different subgenres of metal.
Swedish band Meshuggah became the first band in the history of Nuclear Blast Records to crack the Billboard 200, landing at number 165 with their 2002 album, Nothing. Meshuggah also became the first Nuclear Blast band to be reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2004, Finnish melodic metal band Nightwish released Once on Nuclear Blast, which rocketed to the top of the charts in multiple countries, including Finland, Germany, Norway, Greece, Sweden, Austria, and more. It became the first release in the company's history to reach number 1 on the German charts.