Los Angeles is a mecca for heavy metal musicians and fans alike; our city’s history and infatuation with rock music goes back generations. So in 2018, it makes total sense that one of heavy metal’s newest D.I.Y. record label is being run out of a one-bedroom apartment in downtown L.A.
Metal Assault Records is a culmination and expansion of a website of the same name, run by L.A.-based heavy metal fanatic and heavy metal blogger–turned–concert promoter–turned–band manager Andrew Bansal. Bansal’s passion, support and dedication to the heavy metal community, and his experience working with bands like Huntress, Warbringer, Night Demon and many others, got him attention in L.A. Weekly in 2017.
Since then, Bansal has officially launched Metal Assault Records and, to date, the label has three singed bands.
“Metal Assault is a two-man team,” Bansal says during an interview at a Chinatown restaurant. “My partner, Sebastian Vazquez, is the drummer of a band I manage, Tzimani, from San Diego. He is very motivated to make it in this industry. He’s very business-minded, and after talking we decided to partner up.”
Bansal was adamant that, from the start, the interests of the artists would be Metal Assault's priority.
“The bottom line is about the music. We want to be known as a very artist-friendly record label,” he says. “I have interviewed thousands of bands and you hear these horror stories about labels treating them like shit or ripping them off — we won’t be one of those labels.”
Though Bansal is still active in the L.A. metal community booking some shows here and there, he says his main focus is not as a concert promoter. He’s focusing his efforts on Metal Assault Records. To date, the label has signed L.A.-area bands Goliathan, Dawn Fades and Solar Haze.
“Goliathan is a doomy stoner metal band from L.A., and they might be compared to Russian Circles. They are an instrumental band, all talented musicians,” Bansal says. “The album came out on Nov. 16 and we are excited to have them on our roster.”
Another L.A.-based metal band to sign with Metal Assault, Dawn Fades, are what Bansal calls a “post-metal band, clean and harsh vocals.”
“It’s very progressive but also heavy in the style of bands like Opeth, Enslaved, Alcest, Katatonia,” he says. “Dawn Fades will have their album released in February, in limited-edition vinyl pressings and digital format as well.”
Dawn Fades, as a unit, released a written statement about the partnership: “Andrew has been with us from the start, having booked us some of our first shows. He has always believed in us, and we believe in him and what he is doing with Metal Assault Records. We're very excited to be in on the ground floor!”
Bansal says that L.A.-based heavy stoner rockers Solar Haze are Metal Assault’s third signing, in a multi-album, long-term deal.
“This is a band we are taking under our wing,” he says. “We will fund their recording in our studio, put them on tour and get their name out there. These guys have big plans, and they play a lot of local shows all over L.A. and the O.C.”
When it comes to day-to-day operations, Metal Assault Records is literally as D.I.Y. as a company can get. “I sit in my one-bedroom apartment all day and run this label all day. It’s my daily office job,” Bansal says. “I send daily emails to media outlets, listen to demos and set a lot of things up for bands. My partner Sebastian handles digital publishing as well as legal distribution, and some scouting as well. We split costs and profits.”
Bansal said that though the first three artists to sign to Metal Assault Records are from L.A., he doesn’t want to limit the possibilities to just bands from L.A. “We are getting submissions from all over the world, from Costa Rica to the Philippines, Eastern Europe and even the Middle East.”
Bansal admits that, within heavy metal, there is a lot of ground to cover.
“There are tons of subgenres in heavy metal music, and we want to reflect that with Metal Assault Records,” he says. “We want to do everything from thrash, death metal, black metal and more. There are different audiences for each style.”
Bansal has high hopes for his newly formed record label. He's optimistic and focused on long-term goals in mind and on the horizon.
“In the long term, I would love to emulate someone like Brian Slagel from Metal Blade. That would be amazing,” Bansal says. “So far, we have gotten a lot of great positive response. This journey has not been a rush, but only time will tell. But I am happy to be representing heavy metal music.”