Founded in 1993, Metropolis Records has developed a strong reputation over the years as a leader in various genres of underground music. Though widely known for electro-industrial, synthpop, future pop, darkwave, and gothic music, the label has always operated with a bent towards all genres of dark alternative music, be it electronics-based or post-punk.
In 1993, Dave Heckman formed Metropolis Records, and started the process of building a roster and partnerships with bands and labels overseas. The label’s first releases were issued in May of 1994. These albums were “Teignmouth” and “Mental Traveller” by Love is Colder Than Death, “Revelations 23” by Mentallo and the Fixer, and “Bioculture” by Electro Assassin. Almost immediately, the company was able to expand past simply licensing albums from overseas partners, with the thirteenth release, Mentallo And The Fixer’s “Continuum”, being the first direct signing by Metropolis.
The label quickly built a reputation, fueled by classic albums from such acts as Lassigue Bendthaus, Numb, and Evil’s Toy.
A huge step forward for the label came in 1995, when Metropolis landed its first flagship band, as legendary industrial act Front Line Assembly joined the roster. With this signing, paired with the label’s reputation for fair treatment of its artists, Metropolis began to rapidly expand. Another major factor that lent itself to this growth was a distribution deal with Caroline Distribution, which made it possible to get releases into national chain stores like Borders and Tower.
Renowned names as Project Pitchfork, Die Form, and cEvin Key (of Skinny Puppy) were released alongside lesser-known acts. The unique position of the label enabled it to build an extensive promo pool, servicing and sponsoring club nights and release parties all over the world. An additional highlight to this era was the coproduction of 1997’s Dark Harvest III concert in Philadelphia, which featured the exclusive return of the legendary Sisters Of Mercy to the US for a one night only performance.
By 1998, the label was considered the premiere dark electronic label and was closing in on its 100th release. This milestone was celebrated by the issuing of Re:Boot, a live album from legendary EBM pioneers Front 242.
The end of the 1990s and the dawn of the 2000s saw Metropolis on the forefront of a new wave of popularity in the underground electronic scene. As guitar and rock based industrial music faded, trance and techno influences merged with European EBM. Metropolis Records played an integral part in the growth of the late 90’s-early 2000’s “futurepop” era, with albums such as VNV Nation “Empires”, Apoptygma Berzerk “Welcome To Earth”, Icon Of Coil - “Serenity Is The Devil” and Covenant – “United States Of Mind”, among others garnering breakthrough success in North America.
At the same time, instead of focusing too much on one specific brand of music, the label releasing a slew of now-legendary releases by acts such as Wumpscut, Das Ich, Suicide Commando, Clan Of Xymox, Juno Reactor, Wolfsheim, London After Midnight, a newly reformed KMFDM, and both an album and DVD by the legendary Bauhaus.
Over the next few years, Metropolis continued to expand and grow more diverse, as evidenced by signing bands such as The Birthday Massacre, Electric Six, Juno Reactor, IAMX and Gary Numan, as well as the label’s top selling album to date, “You’ll Rebel To Anything” by Mindless Self Indulgence. 2010 saw Metropolis Records join forces with long-time supporter and friend Jim Semonik to release his “Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music To Cure Cancer” series, a set of massive compilations wherein bands from all over the world donate tracks. To date, the compilations have raised over $30,000 for cancer charities such as Gilda’s Club.
Recent additions include the electronic pop singer Alison Moyet (Yaz) and the legendary Skinny Puppy.
As Metropolis Records has navigated over the course of the turbulent landscape of the current music industry, the label continues to expand and diversify its roster, boasting releases from punk to ambient experimental, rock, trance, electronic industrial, goth rock, and more. Adding greater credence to its reputation as an unshakable pillar in the independent music world, 2014 sees Metropolis Records closing in on not only its 20th anniversary, but also the 1000th release.