Hope you didn’t mind my slight reworking of the classic Slade tune for my title but it felt so right to me. So check this stuff out that I just received. In a music scene where we are constantly hearing about record label closures or takeovers that leave a bare shell of what they used to be, it was great to see this broadcast about the legendary Noise Records. The label delivered some fantastic Metal during its years of existence and now thanks to the folks at BMG, it is returning. Check out the massive missive below for the full details and then I’ll return with some added thoughts.
The Press Release:
BMG Announces Major Reissue Campaign From the Legendary Metal Label, Noise Records – The 1st Eight Brand New NOISE Best Of Releases are now available!
The creation of Karl-Ulrich Walterbach, Noise Records’ origins lay in the late 70s/early 80s West Berlin punk rock scene. Against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall, the convergence of volatile music, left-wing ideals, and anti-government sentiment spurred Walterbach to release two punk compilations, Soundtracks zum Untergang (Soundtracks to the Downfall), on his first label, Aggressive Rockproduktionen, otherwise simply known as AGR.
Due to the influence of Los Angeles hardcore punk masters Black Flag, Walterbach would gradually turn his interests from punk to metal, forming Noise Records in 1983 as the European response to the likes of Metallica and Slayer. From there, the label would enjoy an unprecedented signing streak of bands who would play a significant role in defining underground metal as we know today.
Noise’s early releases – including the seminal 1984 Death Metal compilation – would lay the groundwork for future European metal mainstays such as Grave Digger, Hellhammer (who became Celtic Frost), Helloween, Kreator, Running Wild, and Tankard. These acts would become Noise’s bedrock outfits, leading the charge in heavy metal innovation via death metal (Celtic Frost), power metal (Helloween), and thrash metal (Kreator).
The label’s roster was filled with variety. Coroner emerged as arguably metal’s most talented power trio, with budding guitar hero Tommy T. Baron mesmerizing audiences across the globe. Mordred beat the entire rap metal movement to the punch by several years, as the street-level rhymes of Scott Holderby set the table for Rage Against the Machine and Korn. Rage released a string of critically-acclaimed, well-received melodic metal albums, while the serpentine thrash of Britain’s Sabbat would introduce the metal world to Andy Sneap, currently one of the scene’s most in-demand producers. The manic, sci-fi explorations purveyed by Voivod brought forth a new level of weirdness, and Watchtower’s outrageous math motifs instantly earned them cult status in the progressive metal scene.
But it was the success of Helloween that propelled Noise to the next level. The band’s twin Keeper of the Seven Keys albums (Part I and II) were milestones for the genre. Guided by the stratospheric vocals of Michael Kiske, Helloween’s epic, strident, and symphonic numbers were in a league by themselves circa the late-80s. And with hit songs such as “Future World” and “I Want Out” leading the way, Helloween became the first Noise outfit to reach seven-digit figures in album sales.
Famed “pirate metal” act Running Wild weren’t too far behind, as their 1987 Under Jolly Roger album moved an estimated 250,000 copies, helping the band earn headliner status across continental Europe. The brave, bold, risk-taking Celtic Frost forever solidified their status as metal’s most adventurous band with 1987’s Into the Pandemonium. Kreator released a string of explosive, neck-snapping albums that shaped the face of pure German thrash, and were flanked by Tankard, the first band to proudly proclaim themselves as “beer metal.”
As the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, the music scene and political landscape underwent radical changes. By then, Noise’s worldwide distribution setup covered 43 countries, boasting a highly-profitable back catalog and lasting viability in territories like Japan, ensuring the label’s survival as the genre of metal struggled with diminishing sales and negative public perception. Bands such as Kai Hansen’s Gamma Ray, British folk innovators Skyclad, Floridian melodic metal upstarts Kamelot, and Finland’s Stratovarius carried Noise throughout the turbulent 90s, allowing the label to remain vital, even as newer, more “alternative” forms of rock became popular.
Not wanting to contend with the oncoming digital revolution, Walterbach sold Noise to Sanctuary Music in 2001. Sanctuary would steer Noise for the next six years, helping launch the career of multi-national power metal sensation Dragonforce, until it was sold to Universal Music in 2007. Noise’s catalog has laid dormant ever since…
BMG purchased Noise’s holding company Sanctuary records from Universal Music in 2013, and will re-launch Noise Records in 2016. The label has planned a full-scale campaign featuring “best-ofs” of select Noise bands, along with reissuing classic titles from Celtic Frost, Coroner, Helloween, Kreator, Running Wild, Tankard, Voivod, and more, featuring expanded liner notes, rare bonus material, and a fresh mastering job.
The campaign will prove one thing: Few metal labels have a legacy roster with as much longevity and relevance as Noise. Several of the key bands Karl-Ulrich Walterbach signed and developed have actually become more popular as the years have progressed, showing that the lightening in a bottle he captured in the 80s was more than just a passing trend. It was a movement.
David E. Gehlke, Author of “Damn the Machine – The Story of Noise Records”
The 1st Eight Brand New NOISE Best Of Releases are now available! (links provided at the end of this narrative)
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PiercingMetal Thoughts: Okay did you make it through all of that safe and sound? I realize it was a lot to digest but hey this is big news right? So I am not going to dance around about how excited I am about this relaunch of the Noise Records label because the Metal Legions have really needed this for some time. Simply put, I love it and love how the relaunch begins with some fantastic bands and a collected edition of works from each of them. These are bands that some long time Metal fans would likely know and that newer fans can definitely learn from. I’ve said this before and I shall repeat myself – you can always explore the outer reaches of the Heavy Metal genre and still claim loyalty to the Slayer, Sabbath, Maiden and Priest realms. As a scribe of this nature, I love speaking about the myriad amounts of bands that are out there just waiting to be discovered and these first grouping of “Best Of” editions will allow you to do this quite easily. Some truly classic bands that for some reason or another might have escaped your personal music collection. It’s time to get on board my friends because a lot of these groups are still touring while so many others are winding down their career. Let’s keep the genre proliferating and reaching more and more fans. Are you with me? I hope you said “Hell Yeah” with that one. Of these selections I am most excited about the Kamelot, Helloween, Kreator and Grave Digger ones because these bands are hitting our region on a semi-regular basis and are must see in concert groups. Nothing against the others of course but my background is limited on them and I am still going to add each copy to my collection and speak about them right here on the website to make you more aware too. So as I close this up, let me ask what you think of the return of Noise Records? Do you still have some albums in your collection? I know I do. Fill me in down in those comments below.
Running Wild: http://smarturl.it/RunningWildBestOf
Grave Digger: http://smarturl.it/GraveDiggerBestOf
More NOISE Classic Reissues and Best Of’s to come in 2016/2017!