US metal band Metallica has acquired a majority stake in Furnace Records, a Virginia-based vinyl pressing plant that has been pressing records for the band for over a decade.
The iconic rockers behind Enter Sandman and Master Of Puppets (which recently reached new audiences after it played on Netflix's Stranger Things) have had a bumper couple of years when it comes to record sales, with the band reportedly pressing over 900,000 individual vinyl pieces in 2022. According to Luminate (via Billboard (opens in new tab)) the quartet sold 387,000 albums in 2022, ranking them at number six among the best-selling artist in the United States. The year before they had sold 337,000; putting them at number seven on the 2021 list. Considering they haven't released a new album since 2016, that's some pretty impressive numbers.
However, that's all about to change, as their upcoming album titled 72 Seasons is set to launch on 14th April, and we can expect to see plenty of vinyl stock thanks to this news. Singer/guitarist and co-founder of Metallica, James Hetfield, says that this partnership means that fans will have "continued access to high-quality records in the future." We're already anticipating a new high-quality pressing from Metallica, could we have new reference material on the way?
Furnace Records was founded in 1996, is one of the biggest vinyl manufacturers in the US, and is renowned for its high-quality pressings. It's been pressing Metallica records consistently, ensuring the band's entire catalogue remains in shops, and even producing special and audiophile editions for enthusiasts. Just last year they produced the remastered edition of The Black Album, including the ludicrous special edition box set which included:
"the album remastered on 180-gram double LP and CD, "Sad But True" picture disc, three live LPs, 14 CDs and six DVDs featuring unreleased content (live shows, rough mixes, demos, etc), MP3 download card of vinyl audio, four tour laminates, lanyard, three lithos, three guitar picks, lyric folder and sheets, and a 120-page hardcover book with never-before-seen photos + stories from those who were there."
Furnace Records also holds a close industry partnership with the German pressing plant Pallas, which is also known for producing high-quality records and was brought in by the band's management, Q Prime, as a way to outsource some production in order to avoid potential supply chain issues. Furnace Records has anticipated high demand for Metallica's upcoming album, as it's been pressing copies since January of this year.
So what does this mean for the future of Furnace Records? CEO Eric Aster says not much will change, as the plant will continue to work on projects for other artists and bands, as well as Metallica's upcoming and previous releases. Astor says that this new partnership will allow Furnace Records to invest more while retaining its values of independence and high-quality processes.
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