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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 'The Earache Factory' at Boomtown Fair 2018.
The logo of Earache Records is a homage to Thrasher magazine, due to Digby Pearson being a skateboard culture enthusiast.
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 Following this, Earache released music by many bands from the emerging grindcore and death metal scenes, such as Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed, Bolt Thrower and Terrorizer.:
Although intrinsically linked with death metal, the label's catalogue is varied and also includes Welsh ragga-metal act Dub War, Birmingham's industrial metal pioneers Godflesh, Nottingham's Pitchshifter, hardcore techno outfit Ultraviolence, Mick Harris's industrial/experimental group Scorn, John Zorn-led experimental group Naked City and doom and sludge metal bands Sleep and Acid Bath.
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", although Napalm Death have since released music also distributed by Columbia parent Sony Music Entertainment. The rights to all Columbia-licensed titles have since reverted to Earache, who thereafter have been wholly independent, working with distributors as opposed to licensees.:
The label has a 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 focuses primarily on modern, accomplished guitar projects. Rival Sons were the most notable of the modern crop of artists, before signing with Atlantic Records in 2018. Newer signings include Australia's Massive,Nottingham's Haggard Cat and Lancaster's Massive Wagons. More recent grindcore and death metal signings include Wormrot and Deicide.
Earache also 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.
To begin the new decade, Earache Records announced a compilation vinyl titled "The New wave of Rock N Roll" featuring a host of new acts.
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.
In 2019 Earache will be hosting an evening at Camp Bestival in Dorset bringing along Napalm Death, Lawnmower Deth, Diamond Head, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons and Nosebleed.
Over the years, the relationship between the label and some of its former artists have become fraught, and Pearson has made a number of disparaging blog posts about, among others, JS Clayden from Pitchshifter and Barney Greenway of Napalm Death.Greenway responded that Pearson "expects everybody to be subservient", while Clayden called Pearson "petty and vindictive" and criticized the label for not allowing fans to stream or purchase Pitchshifter's albums that were released on Earache. In the documentary Slave to the Grind, Scott Carlson from Repulsion accused Earache of not paying the band, adding "I'm sure they sold way more records than they told us they did." Former Iron Monkey drummer Justin Greaves accused Earache of refusing to support the band financially in an emergency when during a European tour, singer Johnny Morrow fell sick and needed to return to the UK, which the band couldn't afford to cover.
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 considered a more noise-filled style of hardcore punk while using hardcore's trademark characteristics such as 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 an English extreme metal band formed in Meriden, West Midlands 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.
Scum is the debut studio album by English grindcore band Napalm Death. It was released on 1 July 1987 through Earache Records. It is widely considered a formative influence on the grindcore genre.
Harmony Corruption is the third studio album by British grindcore band Napalm Death, released in 1990 on Earache Records.
Diatribes is the sixth studio album by English grindcore band Napalm Death, originally released in 1996 on Earache Records. It was released as double 10" vinyl, regular CD, special digipak CD with space for the Greed Killing EP and MC. In 2010, Earache issued a re-release of Diatribes in a box set that also included the Greed Killing EP and the live album Bootlegged in Japan.
Utopia Banished is the fourth studio album by the British grindcore band Napalm Death. The album was released in 1992 by Earache Records. It is the first album featuring Danny Herrera on drums following the departure of Mick Harris.
Digby Pearson, also known as "Dig," is an English musician, producer, and businessman. He is the founder of independent record label Earache Records.
Streetcleaner is the debut studio album by English industrial metal band Godflesh. It was released on 13 November 1989 through Earache Records and was reissued with a second disc of previously unreleased material on 21 June 2010. The album is widely acclaimed by critics and is often cited as a landmark release in industrial metal; though not the genre's first release, Streetcleaner helped define what industrial metal would become.
Pure is the second studio album by English industrial metal band Godflesh. It was released on 13 April 1992 through Earache Records. Though originally labeled only as industrial metal, the album has since been recognised as one of the earliest post-metal releases. Musically, Pure is rhythmically mechanical and features harsh guitars, with protracted songs and an abundance of deliberate repetition. Like much of Godflesh's music, it is regarded as particularly heavy and aggressive, and these elements helped it gain critical acclaim.
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.
Fear, Emptiness, Despair is the fifth studio album by British grindcore band Napalm Death, released on 31 May 1994. Napalm Death's inclusion on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack brought significant exposure to the band and this album, alongside the fact that the band's label Earache had formed a partnership with Columbia Records which allowed the album to disseminate to a wider audience. RAW magazine listed Fear, Emptiness, Despair as one of the essential album of the 1990s.
Breed to Breathe is an EP by English extreme metal band Napalm Death, released in 1997 through Earache on CD.
Godflesh is the debut extended play (EP) by English industrial metal band Godflesh. It was originally released in 1988 through Swordfish Records and later saw several reissues on Earache Records with two additional songs. An unexpected underground success, the eponymous EP made it onto the UK Indie Chart and peaked at position 20. Though not supported by any singles or music videos at the time, a fan-made video for "Avalanche Master Song" has since been made official by the band.
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.
The English industrial metal band Godflesh have released eight studio albums and six extended plays along with a number of singles, compilations and remix and live albums. The group formed in 1982 under the name Fall of Because, but they did not release any music until 1988 when Justin Broadrick and G. C. Green changed the project's name to Godflesh and recorded a self-titled debut EP. That EP, released through the independent label Swordfish, was met with underground success and has since been recognised as one of the first industrial metal releases, if not the first.
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 studio albums to date, as well as a number of EPs and split releases with other bands. Their latest 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 play at the 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.
Grindcore in Indonesia refers to a regional scene of Grindcore music that originated during the early 2000s. Prominent bands include Noxa, Funeral Inception, and JASAD. Indonesian grindcore retains a number of a influences from both foreign grindcore bands, such as Napalm Death, and other genres.