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Earache Records is an independent record label, music publisher and management company founded by Digby Pearson, based in Nottingham, England with offices in London and New York. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing early grindcore and death metal records between 1988 and 1994. The label roster has since diversified into more mainstream guitar music, working with bands such as Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and The White Buffalo. The company also hosted the 'Earache Express' stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2017 and will be hosting 'The Earache Factory' at Boomtown Fair 2018.
An independent record label is a record label that operates without the funding of major record labels. Many artists begin their careers on independent labels.
In the music industry, a music publisher is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television.
Digby Pearson, also known as "Dig," is a British musician, producer, and businessman. He is the founder of independent record label Earache Records.
The logo of Earache Records is an homage to Thrasher Magazine as envisaged by owner Digby Pearson being a keen skateboard culture enthusiast himself.
Earache was founded in 1985 by Digby Pearson who prior to launching the label proper had compiled 'Anglican Scrape Attic', a proto-compilation of early hardcore punk and crossover thrash acts which included Hirax, Lipcream and Concrete Sox. Accordingly, the first official Earache release on vinyl in 1987 with catalogue number MOSH 1, was The Accüsed's The Return of Martha Splatterhead . This was followed by a split LP by the crust/crossover band Concrete Sox and the proto-grind band Heresy. The label's first major release of note was MOSH 3, Napalm Death's Scum . Famously, John Peel was a champion of the band and supported them on BBC Radio 1. The record went on to reach number 7 in the UK indie chart. 143–146 The label later made its name signing acts from the emerging grindcore and death metal scenes such as Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed and Terrorizer. :148–186:
Hardcore punk is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern California which arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."
Crossover thrash is a fusion genre of thrash metal and hardcore punk. The genre lies on a continuum between heavy metal and hardcore punk. Other genres on the same continuum, such as metalcore and grindcore, may overlap with crossover thrash.
Hirax is an American thrash metal band from Cypress, California. Starting in 1984 under the leadership of vocalist Katon W. De Pena, the band played in Los Angeles and San Francisco with several of their thrash metal peers such as Metallica, Exodus, and Slayer. The band was an early example of thrash metal, speed metal and crossover thrash.
In the early 1990s Columbia Records, seeking to break into metal, inked a deal with Earache. Columbia would license rights and market and distribute them in The Americas, with rights reverting to Earache upon completion of the deal term. It is widely accepted that Columbia failed to deliver the expected sales that they themselves had projected and thus they sought to prematurely terminate the agreement. 219–236 Barney Greenway of Napalm Death objected to the deal with Columbia (a subsidiary of Sony Music) on the basis that it was "selling out". The rights to all licensed titles has since reverted to Earache meanwhile Napalm Death have themselves released five albums for Century Media, another Sony Music subsidiary.:
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Mark Andrew "Barney" Greenway is a British extreme metal vocalist, who is currently the lead vocalist of Napalm Death, and was formerly a member of Extreme Noise Terror, and Benediction.
Sony Music Entertainment (SME), known as Sony Music, is an American global music conglomerate owned by Sony and incorporated as a general partnership of Sony Music Holdings Inc. through Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, which in turn is a subsidiary of the Japanese Sony Corporation. It was originally founded in 1929 as American Record Corporation and renamed as Columbia Recording Corporation in 1938, following its acquisition by the Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1966, the company was reorganized to become CBS Records, and Sony Corporation bought the company in 1988, renaming it under its current name in 1991. In 2004, Sony and Bertelsmann established a 50-50 joint venture known as Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which transferred the businesses of Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group into one entity. However, in 2008, Sony acquired Bertelsmann's stake, and the company reverted to the SME name shortly after; the buyout allowed Sony to acquire all of BMG's labels, and led to the dissolution of BMG, which instead relaunched as BMG Rights Management.
During the 90s Earache signed experimental artists such as Ultraviolence who produced heavy techno music and also pioneering dance artists such as Lenny D.
Ultraviolence is an industrial/techno band formed in London in 1991 and headed by 'the Quentin Tarantino of techno' Johnny Violent. To date, they have released five studio albums, including a ten-year retrospective, and six EPs/singles. The group have produced a number of club classics which include the tracks Hardcore Motherfucker and Psycho Drama and have been recognised as being at the 'forefront of the UK Industrial-Cyber scene'. The Ultraviolence sound incorporates elements from various styles including hardcore techno/gabber, breakbeat hardcore, industrial techno, power noise, metal and rap.
Since the Columbia deal, Earache has remained wholly independent, working with distributors as opposed to licensees.
In 2010 Earache signed Singaporean grindcore band Wormrot, releasing the band's debut album and two further albums.
Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The nation is known for its transition from a developing to a developed country in a single generation under the leadership of its founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Although intrinsically linked with death metal, the labels catalogue is varied and also includes Welsh ragga-metal act Dub War (later known as Skindred), Birmingham's industrial metal pioneers Godflesh, Nottingham's Pitchshifter, hardcore techno outfit Ultraviolence, Mick Harris' industrial/experimental Scorn and releases by Deicide. Earache signed musically adventurous groups such as Ewigkeit, as well as blues rock bands such as Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke and The Temperance Movement.
The label has number of subsidiary labels, including Wicked World Records, Elitist Records, Sub Bass Records and the short-lived Necrosis Records.
As with many labels, Earache has transitioned over time from its initial "extreme" output and now focusses primarily on modern, accomplished guitar projects. Rival Sons are the most notable of the modern crop of artists however as of April 2018 they have signed to Atlantic Records signalling the end of their Earache term. In their home territory of the United Kingdom London based The Temperance Movement are one of the larger acts and will play the mainstage at Download Festival 2018. Newer signings include Nottingham's Haggard Cat and Lancaster's Massive Wagons.
Infamously within the music business, Earache signed the first independent label direct deal with iTunes shortly after the service launched.
Earache currently holds two Guinness World Records. The first is that of the World's Shortest Song, currently held by Napalm Death with "You Suffer" at 1.316 seconds long. The second record is the world's shortest full music video, a record held by Brutal Truth with their track "Collateral Damage".
In 2015 Digby Pearson received the Association of Independent Music Pioneer award.
In 2018 tech sitcom Silicon Valley featured "You Suffer" repeatedly in one episode. In response the label created a twitter bot (@NapalmDeathBot) which sends an hourly tweet with the price of Bitcoin. They also inserted "You suffer" into the blockchain, a first for a label.
In August 2018 Earache signed trap/rap artist ALIREZA301. Alireza is a metal influenced rapper from Maryland who performs a style of trap/rap which in parts heavily incorporates guitars.
In 2017 Earache were invited to host the first ever stage for heavy music at Glastonbury Festival. 'The Earache Express' was a recycled London underground tube carriage located in the 'Shangri La' area of the site. The stage featured performances from Napalm Death, The Dead Kennedys, Ho99o9, Hacktivist, Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, Steve Ignorant of Crass and Wormrot amongst others.
Having been well received by Glastonbury Festival, Boomtown Fair (who are affiliated to Glastonbury) invited Earache to curate a stage at their 2018 event which took place in Winchester during August 2018. The stage (named The Earache Factory) was designed around the concept of a disused factory within a run down part of a futuristic town. It featured artists such as Soulfly, Dead Kennedys and Enter Shikari not to mention a headline set by British upstarts Idles (band).
In 2019 Earache will be hosting an evening at Camp Bestival in Dorset bringing along Napalm Death, Lawnmower Deth, Diamond Head and Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons.
Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.
Napalm Death are a British extreme metal band formed in Meriden, West Midlands, England, in 1981. While none of its original members remain in the group since December 1986, the lineup of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera has remained consistent of the band's career since 1992's Utopia Banished, although, from 1989 to 2004, Napalm Death were a five-piece band after they added Jesse Pintado as the replacement of one-time guitarist Bill Steer; following Pintado's departure, the band reverted to a four-piece rather than replace him.
From Enslavement to Obliteration is the second studio album by grindcore band Napalm Death, released in 1988. It is the final studio album with vocalist Lee Dorrian and guitarist Bill Steer, and the first to feature bassist Shane Embury, the band's longest-tenured member. A remastered version was released on 2 April 2012.
Harmony Corruption is the third studio album by Napalm Death, released in 1990 on Earache Records.
Extreme Noise Terror are a British extreme metal band formed in Ipswich in 1985 and one of the earliest and most influential grindcore bands, particularly in the crustgrind fusion genre. Noted for one of the earliest uses of dual vocalists in hardcore, and for recording a number of sessions for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, the band started as crust punks and helped characterise the early, archetypal grindcore sound with highly political lyrics, fast guitars and tempos, and often very short songs.
Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness is the second album by British death metal band Bolt Thrower. It was recorded at Loco studios in April 1989 and engineered by Tim Lewis. It was mixed at Slaughterhouse Studios in July 1989 and engineered by Colin Richardson. It is produced by Bolt Thrower and Digby Pearson. The cover artwork was produced by Games Workshop. The whole album is closely tied to Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 game background and Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness was the title of a gaming book by Games Workshop released in 1988.
Mick Harris commonly known and credited both as Mick Harris or occasionally M.J. Harris, is an English musician. He's generally credited for coining the terms 'Blast beat' and 'Grindcore' to describe his ferocious drumming attack and the genre he helped create and popularize.
Shane Embury is a British bassist and, since 1987, a member of grindcore and death metal band Napalm Death.
Painkiller is a band that formed in 1991, combining avant-garde jazz and grindcore. Later albums incorporated elements of ambient and dub.
Repulsion is an American grindcore band from Flint, Michigan, founded in 1984.
Unseen Terror was a British extreme metal band formed by Mitch Dickinson (Heresy) and Shane Embury, and played extreme metal with a technical edge along with elements of hardcore punk. Their most notable feat took place in March 1988, when they recorded tracks for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 program.
Words from the Exit Wound is the eighth studio album by British extreme metal band Napalm Death, released in 1998 by Earache. It was issued only on CD. It is considered the final album of the band's "experimental" period, while simultaneously foreshadowing the band's return to a more traditional death metal and grindcore sound.
Breed to Breathe is an EP by English extreme metal band Napalm Death, released in 1997 through Earache on CD.
Grindcrusher is a CD/LP released by Earache Records in 1989 showcasing nine of the label's bands. It contained a number of pioneer grindcore and death metal groups such as Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Carcass and Repulsion. This compilation was later rereleased in 1991 as Grindcrusher: the Ultimate Earache, augmented with 14 extra tracks by the likes of Entombed and Nocturnus.
Napalm Death: Thrash to Death is a short heavy metal music documentary aired on British channel BBC. Thrash to Death centers around grindcore pioneers Napalm Death. An interview with its four members is conducted at their hometown, interspersed with footage from their live show at the ULU, also featured on Arena's "Heavy Metal" documentary.
Wormrot is a Singaporean grindcore band formed in 2007, immediately after the founding members had completed their mandatory two years of national service. The band have released three full-length studio albums to date, as well as a number of EPs and split releases with other bands. Their latest full-length album Voices was released on October 14, 2016 through Earache Records. They have been described as one of the top 10 grindcore bands by OC Weekly, and have toured Europe, and the United States. In 2017, they became the first Singaporean act to ever play at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival.
Dirge is the second studio album by Singaporean grindcore band Wormrot. It was released on 3 May 2011 by Earache Records. The digital version of the album was released for free download in prior due to an online leak.
Voices is the third full-length album by Singaporean grindcore band Wormrot. It was released on October 14, 2016 on Earache Records.