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|Distributor(s)||RED Distribution (USA)|
|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.
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 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.
2007 marked the labels 20th anniversary and opened with In Sorte Diaboli of Norwegian Dimmu Borgir hitting the US Billboard charts at rank 43, and Exodus' The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A hitting number 112. A remarkable event in their anniversary year was the signing and release of Sonic Syndicate who won a band contest originally started in 2006. Their debut Eden Fire was a great success with euphoric press, European chart entries and shows at some of the big festivals in Europe such as Wacken Open Air and With Full Force. More European chart entries were achieved with Tobias Sammet's metal opera project Avantasia releasing their third album. The year was round up with Nightwish releasing the first track with the new singer Anette Olzon, which caused a great deal of response thanks to the charity nature of the release.
In 2008, Nuclear Blast managed to continue their increase in public attention and success stories with a high number of media presence. Finnish Nightwish were awarded an Echo ("German grammy") for Dark Passion Play, Subway to Sally won a band voting competition in German national TV channel Pro7, both causing the respective releases reentering the charts all over Europe. With Rage new release Carved in Stone also entering the charts a few weeks later, Nuclear Blast was able to set a new record regarding the amount of releases being in the charts simultaneously. Two other bands also managed to be in the public eye in this year, with a Liquido track being featured in a Carlsberg beer commercial and Swiss Gotthard's track "Lift U Up" promoted as official song for the European Soccer Championship in Switzerland and Austria. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Swedish Meshuggah started in the US Billboard charts with obZen in Spring, hitting the same rank as US thrash heavyweights Testament, placing on spot 59.
2009 had the high media attention continue with German Rage appearing on one of the biggest Late Night TV Shows in Germany, TV Total, usually seen by several million people, and entering the channel’s song contest. In Flames managed to score a P3 award ("Swedish Grammy") as Best Rock/Metal Act, as well as winning the prize and the one for best video clip at the Swedish Metal Awards. HammerFall's No Sacrifice, No Victory reached gold status in Sweden and entered the German charts in the top 10. More international charts entries in this year included the new releases of Gotthard, Epica, Nile, Sonata Arctica and Nightwish, who released their first live recording with their new singer. 2009 also sported new signings and releases of distinctly heavier bands such as Suffocation, Behemoth, Vader, Annotations of an Autopsy and Ex Deo, a de facto side project of Kataklysm.
2010 started with a number 2 place German charts entry of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia and more chart entries by Rhapsody of Fire, Sabaton and Exodus, who were also able to win certain magazine ratings and awards with the sophomore of their Exhibit series. The new century also marked the beginning of Swedish Sabaton who would initiate their fast rise to success with their debut album. In the same Summer, Avantasia and Blind Guardian headlined Wacken Open Air, after the latter had hit the first rank in the Billboard Heatseeker charts. Chart entries continued to be reached on a regular basis by the multiple releases of the labels broad artist roster, although being overshadowed by the death of Swiss Gotthards lead singer Steve Lee in a motorcycle accident in the USA.
2011 opened with more international chart entries with artists such as Belphegor, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, HammerFall, Flotsam and Jetsam, amongst other Nuclear Blast artists. Remarkable releases of the year also contained the release of critically acclaimed Fleshgod Apocalypse album Agony, of newly signed Origin, or the re-release of Tarot's iconic 1986 debut The Spell of Iron MMXI. The year ended with the first Nuclear Blast releases of a remarkably high number of new signed bands, such as Seven,[disambiguation needed] Cipher System and We Came as Romans. Gotthard released a live album honoring the legacy of their previously deceased lead singer Steve Lee and subsequently started their search for a new vocalist.