L to R: Rob & myself with the Rebel Radio staff at Milwaukee Metalfest

The Record Label....................Est. June 1998

In June 1998, Martyr Music Group was born in New York City (my home at the time). I was working at another record label, as I usually had more than one job at a time, but since Martyr started out gradually it wasn't a problem. When I stopped working for Nuclear Blast America I decided to leave NYC and go back to my childhood home outside of Boston where I stayed for a couple of years before moving the company to Pittsburgh (but I get ahead of myself, don't I?) Here's the timeline in it's abbreviated form:

June 1998: Martyr Music Group, Inc. is formed. Its owners back then were myself and my former partner Rob Smith. (Rob later left to devote his time and energy to his family). Rob brought Drained (Boston) into the picture and I brought with me from previous dealings, Broken Hope. Via Brian Griffin of Broken Hope, Em Sinfonia and Novembers Doom immediately followed and we (quite suddenly) had a four-band roster to start out with. (Probably the last time anything went that smoothly but that's okay)

Drained CD cover


1999-2000: We released Drained's "Suspension of Disbelief" CD, Broken Hope's "Grotesque Blessings", November's Doom "Of Sculptured Ivy and Stone Flowers" and Em Sinfonia's debut MCD "In Mourning's Symphony" which remains one of my favorite MMG releases to date.

2001: Em Sinfonia, with a few personnel changes, went on to record their first full-length CD "Intimate Portrait". Pittsburgh Doom masters, Penance, enters the big picture, courtesy of bassist Mary Bielich who was also working with the label as Director of Sales and "alpha & omega" is released on CD, worldwide. North American licenses for Rebaelliun, Blood Red Throne, Sinister, and Aeternus are obtained and Council of the Fallen is signed for a 2 album deal.

2002: Aeternus "Ascension of Terror" and Council of The Fallen "Revealing Damnation" are released. Penance's previously self-released CD "Proving Ground" is remixed, remastered and repackaged for an August release. Pittsburgh's Circle of Dead Children and Italy's How Like A Winter are signed.

alpha & omega cover


2003: Early in the year How Like A Winter's debut CD "...beyond my grey wake" comes out and the response was simply phenomenal. The year continued with two other big releases for the label - Circle of Dead Children "Human Harvest" and Penance "Spiritualnatural". After months of chasing down the Pale Divine guys, they finally wrote some killer new doom riffs and signed aboard with me for their upcoming CD "Eternity Revealed". Lots of changes and hardships marked the music biz overall this year and we expanded a lot more agressively toward the merchandising side of things, offering a wide variety of patches, jewelry, household decor, metaphysical and more... Later in the year an old friendship was strengthened and it came to be that I would re-issue an awesome 10th anniversary special edition of CRISIS' debut full-length "8 Convulsions". The agreement for that was signed and the year closed with us moving our offices (and inventory-yuck!) yet again to a larger space.


2004: This year I released CRISIS "8 Convulsions" and Pale Divine "Eternity Revealed". I also started a sister-company, which offered independent press and marketing services, as well as graphic design. That has since been folded back into MMG.

Crisis CD art



So much has changed since I started the company and I find myself constantly reinventing it. First the marketplace saw many mom & pop stores go under, unable to compete with the likes of the major chains and mall stores. Then even those stores changed their focus, downsizing music departments in favor of a growing electronics market. And then came the MP3... well I don't think I need to expand on that much. It all but killed CD sales, making it much harder and at times impractical to continue releasing CDs by new artists. As such, MMG has gone to a primarily digital format, while selling through the last of the inventory on hand.

To this day, people still ask me what my favorite release has been on MMG. They all hold unique and very personal memories for me (Martyr Music Group is my baby you see). I absolutely LOVED working at Relativity, Metal Blade, and Nuclear Blast but Martyr Music Group will always the jewel closest to my heart.


The Service Side

This just developed naturally from the skillsets I had already learned from my 15+ years of music business experience. I still provide many services to music companies, artists, and non-entertainment business entities. I believe in hard work, vision, and pragmatism. My name is Maria Abril. I am my business.