Shrapnel Records

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Shrapnel Records
Shrapnel logo.png
Parent company Sony Music Entertainment
Founded 1980 (1980)
Founder Mike Varney
Distributor(s) The Orchard
Genre Heavy metal, speed metal, neo-classical metal, hard rock, instrumental rock
Country of origin U.S.
Location Novato, California
Official website

Shrapnel Records is a guitar-oriented record label started in 1980 by record producer Mike Varney.



Guitarist Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth, ex-Cacophony), one of the label's most successful artists, first appeared on the album Unsung Guitar Heroes II in 1980 with the band Vixen. Vixen would later change their name to Hawaii and release the album One Nation Underground for Shrapnel. In 1981, a friend gave Mike Varney a tape featuring a 17-year-old Swedish guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen. A year later, Malmsteen wrote to the label stating that he wanted to export his music to America. Varney, who started writing a column called "Spotlight" for Guitar Player magazine in 1982, featured Malmsteen in his February 1983 column. The record executive flew Yngwie to California and set him up with vocalist Ron Keel's new band called Steeler. Steeler's self-titled album became a best selling release for Shrapnel Records.

The Shrapnel Records label and a growing worldwide interest in virtuoso "neoclassical-fusion" guitar playing helped launch the careers of dozens of other technically adept guitarists such as David T. Chastain, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert, Bruce Bouillet, Joey Tafolla, Jason Becker, Michelle Meldrum and Nicole Couch (Phantom Blue), Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Borislav Mitic and the aforementioned Marty Friedman.

In the 1990s, established players such as George Lynch (Lynch Mob, Dokken) and Michael Schenker (MSG, Scorpions) recorded albums for the label. In the Mid-2000's the label signed Marc Rizzo from Soulfly and John 5 of Marilyn Manson fame. Shrapnel Records continues to provide a platform for exceptional hard rock, shred, progressive metal and heavy metal "guitar heroes".

The label was acquired by The Orchard, subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, in November 2015.[1]

Related labels[edit]

In 1989 Mike Varney co-founded progressive rock/metal label Magna Carta Records. In the 1990s Mike Varney also started the Tone Center Records and Blues Bureau International sublabels to promote fusion and blues respectively.

Notable early Shrapnel Records releases[edit]

# Artist Title Year Note
SH-1006 Unsung Guitar Heroes (V.A.) U.S. Metal Vol. 2 1982 feat. Michael Angelo Batio and Marty Friedman
SH-1007 Steeler Steeler 1983 feat. Yngwie Malmsteen
SH-1009 Hawaii One Nation Underground 1983
SH-1013 Unsung Guitar Heroes (V.A.) U.S. Metal Vol. 4 1984 feat. Shawn Lane
SH-1014 Keel Lay Down the Law 1984
SH-1018 Chastain Mystery of Illusion 1985
SH-1020 Vicious Rumors Soldiers of the Night 1986
SH-1021 Tony MacAlpine Edge of Insanity 1986
SH-1023 Racer X Street Lethal 1986
SH-1024 Chastain Ruler of the Wasteland 1986
SH-1027 Vinnie Moore Mind's Eye 1986
SH-1030 Joey Tafolla Out of the Sun 1987
SH-1031 Cacophony Speed Metal Symphony 1987
SH-1032 Racer X Second Heat 1988
SH-1033 Vicious Rumors Digital Dictator 1988
SH-1035 Marty Friedman Dragon's Kiss 1988
SH-1036 Jason Becker Perpetual Burn 1988
SH-1037 Greg Howe Greg Howe 1988
SH-1038 Racer X Extreme Volume Live 1988
SH-1040 Cacophony Go Off! 1988
SH-1042 Richie Kotzen Richie Kotzen 1989
SH-1043 Phantom Blue Phantom Blue 1989

Official Shrapnel Records Website[edit]