Metal Race Records is one of the most active and successful labels in the CIS countries. Yesterday, February 23, 2019, the label that was founded by my old friend Anatoly Metalov, celebrated its fifth anniversary. Could you imagine a better opportunity for the interview? Anatoly is a special person; radical ideology and real old-school metal-enthusiasm are perfectly combined in him. Although our lengthy conversation concerns mainly the second aspect of Anatoly's personality, I am sure you will find it very interesting.
Hi Anatoly! You and I have long been acquainted, and it can be said that Metal Race has grown before my eyes, but I think it will be interesting for readers (and me too) to learn more about the development of the label. Tell me, when did you first get the idea to establish your own label? What tasks did you set for Metal Race when it existed only as a project? How did you choose the name for the label?
А: Hello! Yes, we have known each other for a long time, and, to be honest, your label Possession Productions was one of those that inspired me greatly for my own activities in this direction. I thank you and Leanid with all my heart for all the support and invaluable help that you gave me at the beginning of the journey, and for your continuous help now!
As for the story, too often I had to tell about Trizna band demo tape that fell into my hands from my older metal comrade, and I just can't repeat it anymore. But I’m happy to tell you about the tasks and the name - for some reason this key moment never interested anyone!
As far as I can remember, I always played music - different, but mostly Metal. In school and student years I had some experience in Doom, Death and Black Metal, then we tried to play Heavy. Some projects even made records. Then, at a more conscious age, some Black Metal bands appeared in my life. I played there as a drummer. They inspired me to start making my own music. So, I created a few Black Metal projects (I consider it unethical to cover the work of these groups as part of this interview, since these are two different ways and, in fact, two different sides of me). Also I participated in Thrash Metal band Etnawhich began to take the first steps on the local scene. We began to make our records, and as a result, we were talking about the development and releasing of our material on physical media. It was then that the question arose: as it turned out, there were no ideological labels that would cover only a particular direction in music - I mean the Old School. Yes, there were and there are ideological Black Metal-labels, but I'm not talking about them right now. So, I decided to try to create my own Old School Metal-label, and the main band of this label supposed to be my band - at that moment it was Etna. Actually, the reprint of rarities is a kind of cunning, because by drawing attention to the label's products, you automatically draw attention to your creative brainchild. True, in the case of Etnait all gone south. Later I started to play in Sociopath band, but that's another story!
Two points spurred me to choose the name: the composition of my adored Shah “Thrashing Metal Race" and the desire to create a new movement, to unite people with the same interest. And the best name was precisely the Metal Race that is, a separate system of people living according to their principles, according to their convictions. And the label was supposed to be a kind of guardian of the purity of this very race! Something like that 🙂
It seems to me that Zlatoust isn't the best place for this kind of business. Did you have any concerns opening a label here? How does local specifics affect Metal Race? Do you work somewhere else besides the label?
А: Zlatoust isn't the best place for human existence in general. Despite the beauty of the surrounding nature, this is the deepest shithole. They say that Chelyabinsk is the land of "harsh people", but then Zlatoust is inhuman at all!
There were no fears at that time, since I did all this with the support of my comrade, who has some financial background. In addition, I had a good job, which I successfully lost over time. After that I decided to make Metal Race my primary financial source.
Local specificity does not affect the business of the label, except that you have to spend more money on various transportation services, since we are far away... from everything!
How do you think Metal Race is different from other publishers?
А: It's hard to say now, but at first we were really fighters for the purity of the metal race. Today (winter of 2019) I could say something like that again, but I won’t🙂
Every underground publisher is familiar with such problems as lack of cash for sending orders, the release of prepaid releases with a delay, the sudden dissatisfaction of musicians with the quality of the release / conditions of the contract, and so on. How do you handle it?
А: I will start from the end - I don’t remember disgruntled musicians; everyone always liked everything. There was only a small fail with ДАЙ band - one the reissue of "Виновен тем, что жив" album. The colors in the booklet were a bit blurry, but, in general, they were still satisfied. There were shoals to fulfill the conditions of the contract, but we keep up to our promises, and we NEVER deceived anyone in this life!
As for cash and delays, this has already become part of the workflow. Many buyers are well aware of the specifics of the work of underground publishers, and they do not ask unnecessary questions; on the contrary - they are trying to help. And the inadequate fuckheads who always try to hurt, prick, point to "homegrown", indicate how "they would do" - well, you always have plenty of them. It’s impossible to please these people. Over time, I stopped paying attention to them, and, taking advantage of the opportunity, I publicly want to tell them to FUCK OFF! Burn in hell, assholes!
Who is more among your customers - young people (up to 35) or old-timers who listened to albums that were republished by Metal Race at first press times?
А: I think it is about equal. I note only that among those buyers who you are meeting with, most of them can not be visually identified as metalheads :) This is strange, but it is a fact. The more a person is devoted to music, the less he resembles a subculture freak. I want to understand how it works, but I still can't!
From a certain moment you began to cooperate with Sergey from Moscow, but so successfully that Metal Race now has a real branch in the capital. How did you meet and get to this? What has changed in the work of the label after the start of your cooperation? Does he share your views on music?
А: Oh, it's a long and uninteresting story. Sergey for a long time was a buyer, and often he took stuff wholesale. We rarely talked with him, we had nothing in common, including music, we love different stuff. But when it came to the vinyl edition of the Aspid band and he once again ordered a batch of discs, some kind of a trigger switched,and I wrote something like: "Would you like to be our representative in Moscow?' Sergey immediately replied: "Yes, of course!". And so it began 🙂
There were a lot of prerequisites for this; First of all, endless correspondence with people about a particular product that they would like to have, but they will not communicate with mail and transfer funds to the plastic card under any circumstances (s (I have an assumption that in Moscow every ATM has a rubber dick which, with all the dope, beats a person in the face when trying to transfer funds to another card, and in post offices they start criminal cases for receiving packages - I can’t explain otherwise, alas). It became necessary to have our own point of delivery of orders in the capital city so that this segment of the market would also be subservient to us, and now, we conquered it!
Can you name your favorite release of Metal Race?
А: Probably not. Very hard to choose. Musically, I find Anal Pus, Mortifer, ДАЙ, Импакт, Adolf Castle, Firetower, Drugger very close to me. In terms of design - Железный Поток «Мистик» and «Зовущая Вечность», also I listen to PARANOIA very often... Let's just say: the best release of Metal Race is still ahead, and I love them all!
If you look at the label roster, you will notice that almost all releases in the first couple of years of its existence are re-releases of old albums. But later the situation was balanced, and now we can see more fresh albums released on Metal Race. Was it a natural development, or did you feel that Metal Race is perceived by the public as merely necromantic label that does not have its own identity?
А: I always didn’t care how people perceive me, in 100% of cases they are wrong. Re-releasing is just a good way to make a name for yourselves. We did it, which means we already had something to offer to young groups. That’s all. But we never wanted to be a “reissue label”, we always wanted to support the bands that play today. Only the time will tell if we succeed. In this regard, I used to criticize myself, but, nevertheless, we will continue not only to republish, but also to acquaint people with new names, releasing them on physical media with dignity and quality!
What sells faster - reissues of retro albums or new stuff?
А: It is not possible to guess at all. I have always said and I will say that music does not need to be sold; if it is good, then it will go to the listener itself (in our case, to the buyer); if it’s bad, there's nothing you can do. And here I always gave an example with the Ukrainian DETONATOR - the disc was sold out in less than a year. The same with ИМПАКТ, the same story was with the split of СОЦИОПАТ and ТИРАН. But there are modern albums, which, it seems, will have to be thrown out or distributed on distro as promotional materials. I’m not afraid to say the names; one of the examples is HORRORAISER band. The guys wrote potentially cool stuff that sounded convincing and powerful as a demo, but when they essentially offered me to release the same demo, it jarred me a bit. How you can do that? Drum machine, licked guitar sound... But they said that it's OK. Well, then it's OK - you wanted it yourselves. Now I am very sorry that I gave up the slack and agreed to publish the disc in this form. The only thing I can say in my defense is that before publication we gave different people respected by us to listen to this disc, and they liked it. But from now on I’m not going to waste my time on the opinions of even the most respected people!
Metal Race is one of the most successful underground publishers in the CIS. While the overwhelming majority of local labels do not go along well - even very good albums limited to 500 copies sometimes collect dust on warehouses shelves for decades. What do you think is the reason for your success?
А: Indirectly, the reason for success can be considered our approach - a product from metal fans for metal fans. From collectors to collectors. People understood that our product can and should be bought, because it is well made. Plus, we carefully choose what we publish. There are people who buy our releases, not listening to them in advance, only because of the presence of our logo on them.
In Metal Race roster, there are albums of some bands, published at the expense of the groups themselves, according to their wishes (among them are НАТИСК and ALLIGATOR). The advantages of this approach are clear, but doesn't it seem a bit doubtful to you? What was more in these cases - the real desire to associate these albums with Metal Race, or you just wanted to make your roster wider using these bands?
А: Looks like it's time for some kind of coming out? :) Well, there was a period in the history of the label when we suddenly decided to stand - on the example of our “colleagues” - on a commercial footing. At that moment we experienced a serious crisis, we were ready to close the label and send everything to Hell. Time ruthlessly tested us for strength. We have released at least 6 albums this way. Today we are ashamed of them, and yes, we do not want to associate with them, but what's done is done, we will carry this cross. It makes no sense to justify, the choice was made consciously. In fairness, I will note that НАТИСК is precisely and strictly NOSTALGIC release! As I wrote on my page in VK, I was passionate about it when I was a teenager, when we had to listen to everything with a postscript ROCK in order to get something that was at least a bit heavy. We heard "Одинокий Герой" in the year of its release on a cassette, which happened to be in one of our music shops. At a time when mp3 was not there, and the tapes needed to be asked and taken from someone, we eagerly listened to everything that we could obtain. The older generation of metalheads did not communicate with us very much, and of course they never borrowed anything to us. And, frankly, we knew only a couple of such people, so we had to find the music ourselves. At that moment, НАТИСК seemed a benchmark of Heavy Metal, and we listened the shit out of that tape. Only later, at the time of MP3, when we got the opportunity to listen to Rainbow and Dio, we realized that all this time we were fans of Russian-language cover songs, but it was too late. The taste was formed, and this music was already in our blood. I decided that it would be useful to re-release this album.
In general, this is quite funny: living in the ass of the world, we formed our tastes not on Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio and so on, but on the more easily accessible music: АРИЯ, ЛЕГИОН, НАТИСК. Later, when we studied the original sources, we were going crazy about how incorrect were our previous thoughts about real metal sounding. Of course, sometimes we managed to find some real classic bands to listen to, But somehow everyone got АРИЯ tapes, but for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest you had to fight and kill. I'm not even saying anything about extreme metal. I heard it already in high school, and here it also began with CIS bands: my friend had a selection of tapes, among which were Sermon, Depression and Nokturnal Mortum…
I am sure that with new releases, the announcements of which will begin in mid-March, we will adapt for everything and redeem ourselves in front of common sense and the underground! 🙂
You recently announced changes to the label’s policy, saying that you’re going to put more emphasis on the real underground. Tell me more about it.
А: We will no longer produce music that somehow contradicts the label’s original policy - Only OLD Fucking School!!! We will focus on the underground, and not only Russian. That is, if we had ambitions to try to publish something from the so-called major league (remember, we swung to E.S.T.?), but after all this shit that started to happen, we will never do anything like that anymore! Fuck all those armies of dissatisfied fans and half-wit right holders!
When re-releasing old albums, Metal Race always makes a thorough remastering, which, in my opinion, is simply flawless - it retains all the “analog” qualities of the original recordings, but the sound becomes much better. What do you think prevent other labels from doing the same? Most prefer the easy way, so hated by music lovers: just make it louder and don't forget to turn normalization on!
А: This is a very good question, the answer to which I don’t know ... Oh my God, how many of such labels we have... they are all very vocal with their opinions, but in fact they simply save on everything, releasing shit in the end. We have already made a whole list of releases that we want to re-release in year or two - just to correct the mistakes of other labels.
It's so easy to sit down with a sound engineer, show him examples, explain what you want. In our case, we just found like-minded people...
Which audio carrier do you prefer as a collector?
А: CD and cassettes. But cassettes are strictly nostalgic. Anyway, CD is the most sane and correct format, if you really love music, not trying to show off.
Metal Race is not just "thrashy" label; You focus on different genres of extreme metal. But Black Metal (BLOODRAIN debut doesn't count) was never relased by you. Why?
А: The hardest question. I will try to answer it, but I'm not sure that everyone will understand my message.
It happened that Black Metal is probably my favorite genre of metal. Maybe only in some particular moments of my life I preferred Thrash Metal stuff.
The aesthetics of Black Metal was presented to me when I was in 8th grade of basic school, and since then this art form has taken me deeply. For me, this is more than just a musical canvas with an image; it is a way of thinking and, as a rule, an action. In the music I love (and I like the more underground and isolated manifestations of BM), there is no place for compromise. Consequently, it can coexist only with a similar art - uncompromising. Tell me, how Black Metal can coexist with НАТИСК or NAVALM? It's impossible. It was decided not to sign the groups of this style on the label and not to accept the proposals of these groups to be published at Metal Race. Currently we are working on separate label for Black metal. Despite the fact that the label will be managed virtually by the same person, there will not be anything in common with Metal Race . All names will be changed, and coincidences are random 🙂
As for Bloodrain - 1) It was strictly their wish; 2) they are as much Black, as much as thery are Thrash, and it means that they are OK for us; 3) this is 100% Old Fucking School; 4) Jan is one of our best supporters from day one! Hi, Jan! Hail, Bloodrain!!!
What happens more often: you find the bands to release yourself, or they find you?
А: Always myself !! Except for commercial releases.
Do you have a publishing dream - an album, having released that, you could retire with peace of mind?
А: No, I have no favorite band, no favorite album, and I will retire only on the funeral pyre!
You constantly work with old musicians and near-music people. Who left you the best impressions, and who - the worst?
А: You know, all people are interesting in their own way, and definitely, everyone taught me something. And I think that it will be simply unethical to name some pieces of shit on the pages of your zine! As I always say - health and prosperity to all friends, and the enemies must burn in hell!
Were there any cases of rip-off from other labels or groups? And, on the contrary, who are the most pleasant people to work with?
А: There were, and are periodically, even in Russia! For me it is always like a sickle in the balls, but it happens sometimes...
The best cooperation I always have with Possession – probably, therefore, we still not only cooperate, but also are friends in one sense or another. Of foreigners, I really like the attitude of Peter from Polish Defense.
Tell us a little about your musical activities. Where are you playing now, what are your plans?
А: Today I am totally focused on Black Metal-projects where my second personality is acting.
Unfortunately, СОЦИОПАТ band split up almost 3 years ago, so there is no more Thrash Metal in my life.
At the time, you were declared a member of the band АРБИТРАТОР, with which Metal Race had a rather close relationship. But soon this relationship faded away - what was the reason?
А: It's all ambiguous. The reason was the usual domestic conflict on "you are doing it wrong" topic. But a lot is seen at a distance, and today, answering this question, I speak with firmness - I just reluctant to play in this group, and that is why I let this small conflict develop into a scandal. There was a reason to slam the door.
When I started playing with АРБИТРАТОР, I imagined everything completely differently, I did not have enough balance between drive and work. You seem to be playing Metal, at the same time, you clearly feel the approaching oldness... It was scary. Without going into details, it is difficult to specifically describe everything that happened, and of course I don't want to do that.
Can you remember any funny, mystical or just interesting stories related to Metal Race?
А: Not quite about Metal Race: when we went to our first tour (it was a series of joint concerts with above mentioned АРБИТРАТОР), we, as СОЦИОПАТ, played the cover song of МАСТЕР's «Fallen Angel», but we sang it in Russian, using the text translated by M. Pushkina:
«Satan! Fire Plodge! Satan!
Satan! Upside down cross!!»
According to the tradition, after each concert we made a farewell group photo, and each of СОЦИОПАТ musicians suddenly had completely white eyes on this photo. This was noticed after the tour. Quite a strange shit... I don't know if it was something mystical or just a crooked-hands photographer, but it happened :)
What would you advise today to yourself five years ago, just before setting up a record label?
А: Count the money carefully, you bitch!!! Do not listen to ANYONE'S advice, except men from Possession and Der Schwarce Tod!! Count the money carefully!!!
Tell us about Metal Race plans for the near future.
А: Oh, I'm not a superstitious person from the word “absolutely”, but all that concerns “sharing plans” is TABOO! I hope for your understanding 🙂
Thank you for your time and for all your activities! As usual, I leave you a place so that you can speak about all the important things that we forgot to mention during the interview.
А: Thank you for such interesting questions, for five years of existence of the label and dozens of these interviews - it was the best !! I answered these questions on the day of the fifth anniversary of Metal Race, and I had the feeling that I am summing up. I want to wish myself that these results were intermediate!
All the rest - thanks for the support.
Today I came to where I started, but now I have rethought my goals and objectives, and therefore, I will change my direction. All those who stay with me on this path will get a lot of interesting things - I will try to do my best. Who wants to go further alone - happy journey to you, try not to come back!