Stained Class Records gives Toronto a heavy metal injection


GRAND OPENING IN-STORE with MANACLE and CHAINBREAKER at Stained Class Records (1614 Queen West), February 18.

Who knew Toronto would get so excited about a heavy metal record store? Inti Paredes and Ian Kilpatrick opened Stained Class Records a month ago in the back of Parkdale Platters, and already the vinyl bins are getting slightly thin. 

“I guess a lot of people feel the same way we felt – that there weren’t really any shops in the city for heavy metal,” says Paredes from behind the counter. “A surprising number of people still like heavy metal – more than we thought.”

Specializing in new and used vinyl, cassettes and even VHS tapes, the shop has a decidedly throwback focus – it is named after Judas Priest’s fourth album, released in 1978 – but there are no plans to get stuck in the past.

“We’re definitely a niche shop specializing in old traditional metal titles,” says Kilpatrick, “but we’re working on expanding our selection of death/doom/black metal. We realized pretty quick that those are the records people want to buy. We started out being a bit selfish, catering to our own tastes, but we’re working on broadening our selection every day.”

There’s also a strong local and Canadian focus, which ties into the store’s other goal of helping foster Toronto’s underground music scenes. Paredes says it’s important to him that Stained Class act as a hub to promote local shows, local musicians and the country’s heavy metal scene in general.   

“We really push Canadian stuff. I think Canada is one of the best countries for heavy metal, now and always. There’s a lot of good music from Germany and Sweden, but I feel like Canadian bands have always been struggling to get successful even though they can compete with the rest of the world. Razor. Sacrifice. Exciter. Anvil. We really want to be a support system for bands old and new.”

Stained Class Records


Co-owners Ian Kilpatrick (left) and Inti Paredes.

Paredes and Kilpatrick’s bands, Manacle and Chainbreaker respectively, are playing the grand opening in-store in mid-February, and albums by Toronto acts like Axxion, Cauldron (Kilpatrick’s other band) and Blood Ceremony are on prominent display.

It wasn’t easy getting the store off the ground. Due to the lack of affordable retail space, it took years for the dream to become a reality. And Paredes admits that the business is a bit precarious.

“All over the city rent is pretty unaffordable for anybody,” he says. “Plus, there are the low margins on the things you’re selling. I really wonder how a lot of stores stay in business. We came into a unique opportunity to share a space with another record store, which is really the best-case scenario for a start-up like us.

“This is a dream, but is it a life dream? I would like it to be, but unless I can buy my own storefront and live there, I don’t know if we can make it happen forever.”

Still, at a time of constant live music venue closures and DIY venue crackdowns that are making Toronto seem pretty far from being the Music City it’s trying to be, Stained Class feels like a good news story in a time of lots of bad news. 

“It’s kind of weird to think we had something to do with this,” Paredes says, smiling as he looks at the postered walls of the store. “This is like where we’d always wanted to work. You always picture that there’s a boss you’re coming in to work for, but, no, we’re the boss. I’m just not used to it.”

As for Kilpatrick, he’s also coming to terms with another unexpected reality of running a store.

“I’ve never been on the front lines of a business before,” he says, “so I wasn’t quite prepared for how much people like to talk. Considering the nature of our business, we brace ourselves daily to hear 45-minute-long stories of fan encounters with Lee Aaron and Honeymoon Suite.” 



Stained Class Records in Parkdale. | @carlagillis



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