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Earache Records: Labels that changed music.

by Kraig Heymans. Published Wed 16 Jun 2010 09:43, last updated: 16/06/10

A fervent and cataclysmic lack of control is usually the first sign of weakness, but few labels have capitalised more on this niche than England’s own Earache Records.

Based in the unfitting suburban surroundings of Nottingham, Earache has, for 25 years provided a safe and independent outlet for bands too noisy, disgusting, and often too unmanageable for mainstream A&R.

Yet the label is still going strong - that it was the first heavy metal record label outside of the U.S. to provide unwavering support to acts of varying quality certainly helped, but it’s whole ethos and base of operation is more than likely the overall deciding factor in it's success.

Artists (un)lucky enough to be signed to Earache were given more than just creative control, but by Dig Pearson (the label’s enigmatic founding father) himself, the full on encouragement was to be as ridiculous, disgusting and offensive as was plausibly possible.

Some argue that this is not really pushing the boundary musically, moreover just pushing what can be conceived as tasteful, listenable, and ultimately worth any merit whatsoever, but that is the whole point.

People reading too in depth into Napalm Death will likely be shocked and offended, but the kind of people these pioneering grindcore bands wanted to offend were the exact ones they shocked most - fans of Pink Floyd, Yes and Led Zeppelin.

The first wave of bands released energetic, horrifying, and utterly contemptible music, yet they themselves were not to be judged by this, often actually being bright, funny, and almost always politically active people.

This whole devotion to shock was another extension of the awareness these bands wanted to raise for themselves, and mostly their cause. The fact that most saw the scene as heavily unwashed, mentally ill young men thrashing instruments, just goes to prove how ignorant some people in the music press can really be.

#1: Napalm Death – From Enslavement To Obliteration

The perfect companion to the record that kick-started Earache, Napalm Death’s second effort is often overlooked in favour of its groundbreaking and utterly hateful sister debut, Scum, but nonetheless, this album bubbles with disgust and venom, still remaining a challenging classic in extreme micro-metal.

#2: Carcass – Symphonies of Sickness

Local heroes Carcass remind us how to perforate eardrums, with lyrics brimming with gore, guitars overflowing with distortion, and a little bit more than a huge tongue in their collective cheeks.

#3: Municipal Waste – Hazardous Mutation

One of Earache’s softest (WHAT?!) acts on the roster, Municipal Waste still manage to bring the pain with their hipster friendly crossover thrash.

#4: Morbid Angel – Blessed Are The Sick

Morbid Angel carve up one of the most uncomfortable 40 minutes in music with their classic death metal diatribe against life, loss and everything unlucky enough to be caught in-between.

#5: Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror

Taking a break for a funky interlude, Cathedral provide a sonic backdrop based more on Black Sabbath’s discography than the crust punk of yore, and look like a bunch of weird neo-sex-hippies in the process.

Earache Records official site: http://www.earache.com


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"Insightful and juicey words there Kraig, nice amount of pertinent info in so few characters (I myself am strained) Nice work and toodle pip!" Si Finnerty, Liverpool around 12 years, 2 months ago