Alright... there were lots of good comments about the first part of the Guide. I deeply thank everyone for their support. It feels REAAAAAAAAL good!
About some things I said:
Dream Theater, in the reedition of their first CD, When Day And Dream Unite, were described as a crossbreed between Metallica and acts in the likes of Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd. I hope you understand that Metallica is Metal. As I also hope you understand Rush and Floyd are ProgRock acts.
One of Dream Theater's most renowned assets is drummer Mike Portnoy. I sincerely hope you agree that Mike could easily fit in any Metal band. As we also know that Mike is a great addition to many ProgRock musicians (Neal Morse, TransAtlantic, OSI).
John Petrucci: Duh... he riffed his way through "Train Of Thought" as Jani Liimatainen riffed through Sonata Arctica's "Winterheart's Guild". Heavy, hard, fast. Power chords. Lots of palm muted E-String between short three-fingers Power Chords.
Dream Theater played complete Iron Maiden and Metallica records before recording "Train", and they have "Master Of Puppets" covered from "Battery" to "Damage Inc." on their bootleg list. They played the latter with Napalm Death's Barney Greenwald. You can even see James LaBrie sporting a Napalm Death t-shirt in the videoclip for "Pull Me Under".
If these guys aren't Progressive Metal... I fuckin' don't know what they are.
To my man Prospect: I agree. Jazz is a great style, and has its bunch of excellent musicians. I, myself, am a fan of the late Shelley Manne. Damn, that man drummed something! But still, Jazz has some basic concepts and limits you don't want to cross, or else you're not Jazzy anymore. A Michael Angelo solo in a Jazz song, it doesn't fit. A Jazz touch in a Metal song though...
About age ranges: Common sense has it that the average Metalheads really gets into by 14-15. There are of course many exceptions.
With that cleared, let us move to the 2nd part of the Guide:
Ask any metalhead who knows enough about today's Metal to tell you where most of his CD's come from: The names Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Spinefarm, Elektra, Sanctuary and newcomers Roadrunner might be the ones you'll hear the most.
So I decided to talk a little bit about these companies: Their history (shortened, of course) and the most important players in their rosters.
Century Media (USA)
Century Media is a true American success-story. Century Media started in 1988, in San Francisco, California (Duh... every good Metal thing that came out of U.S. came out from 'Sisco.) They started with a small, yet powerful roster, and throughout the years gained huge importance by becoming the most important distributor for EuroMetal around North America. They distribute, most notably and ironically, artists registered under the Nuclear Blast US banner (Nuclear Blast Euro is Century's most dangerous enemy.)
Their main guns: Arch Enemy, Blind Guardian, Children Of Bodom (US Endorsement), Cryptopsy (Canada's Own!), Dark Tranquillity, Finntroll, God Forbid, Jag Panzer, Lacuna Coil*, Nevermore, Shadows Fall, and I'm not talking about their Alumni Roster...
Nuclear Blast Records (Germany)
When you think Metal in Europe, automatically you think Nuclear Blast. They are the most important Metal in Europe, and are fighting for the #1 spot with Century Media. Nuclear Blast was founded in 1987 as a hardcore / punk / grindcore label by Markus Staiger. The label soon evolved into an extreme Metal label, and then started signing Melodic Metal acts. By 2004, they had a couple of hundred chart entries everywhere in the world. They are one the most important show contributors in Europe.
Their Cruise Missiles: Anthrax (For Europe), Children Of Bodom (Euro Endorsement), Death Angel, Dimmu Borgir, Edguy, Emperor, Exodus, Hammerfall, In Flames, Katakylsm, Meshuggah, Mnemic, Nighwish, Satyricon, Soilwork, Sonata Arctica, Thunderstone.
Sanctuary Records (USA)
Sanctuary is not an all-Metal company, but they hold major players of the business. I have to mention Sanctuary because of those guys:
Anthrax (US), Dokken, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Motorhead.
Apart from those guys, Sanctuary is all around.
Spinefarm Records (Finland)
Spinefarm is Universal's Finnish division. They are basically distributing Century Media and Nuclear Blast material in the Metal Motherland.
Elektra Records (USA)
Another band I have to mention because they have some powerful Metal acts under their sleeve:
Metallica*, Dream Theater, Pantera and Damageplan (R.I.P. Dimebag...)
*Be warned, 'cause Metallica is strongly rumored, if not confirmed, to be signed under Warner Bros. for their next album.
Roadrunner Records (USA)
These guys have my total respect. They came out of nowhere and immediately gained huge popularity thanks to their punchy and modern roster. Roadrunner is mostly a metalcore / Death Metal label, but they are also distributors for Nuclear Blast's biggest act.
Their Boys: 36 Crazyfists, Chimaira, Cradle Of Filth, Deicide, Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Nightwish (US Distribution), Slipknot, Soulfly, Type O Negative.
This article is a nice breather between my last article and the next, which will be a bit more biased (I loooooooove this word!): Watch out for Part 3: Power Metal!!