Napalm Death – Scum
We all know the pivotal role Napalm Death have played in Extreme Metal and – as this feature will testify – they not only influenced but physically populated the ranks of some of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time. What you might not know is how the band first caught the attention of the label with which they are synonymous.
Al Dawson recalls that prior to the inception of Earache, he and Digby travelled to a Distortion to Deafness gig at the legendary Mermaid pub in Sparkhill, Birmingham. One of the opening acts was an early incarnation of Napalm Death and the main thing that hit him was the sheer speed at which they played. When Digby later wrote to him, saying that he was starting a record label and that Napalm Death were to be one among the first signees, it made perfect sense.
MOSH2 in the Earache canon marked Napalm Death’s debut, Scum, and it still stands as a seminal blast of urban fear and loathing – UK style. Recorded for the princely sum of fifty quid, it sounded like David Lynch’s Eraserhead in sonic form and while its breakneck blasts of impenetrable noise and fury brought them notoriety, it was beat-downs such as “Siege of Power” which demonstrated the earth shaking weight they could channel.
Al believes that Scum took Earache to the next level and rightly regards it as being an essential addition to any Metal fan’s collection. Indeed, its influence resonates outside the world of Metal and the fact that we’ve heard an avant-garde jazz saxophonist in London parping out covers of “Parasites” and “The Kill” testifies to that fact!
Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror
Vocalist Lee Dorrian exited Napalm Death in 1989 – having tired of their Death Metal aspirations – and he was to trade one of the fastest Metal bands in the world for one of the slowest when he formed Cathedral with roadie Mark Griffiths and Gaz Jennings of UK Thrashers Acid Reign.
Art that will eventually be lauded as ‘classic’ often meets with hostility at first and Cathedral were no exception to this rule. Al, who booked the studio for their Sabbath-worshipping debut Forest Of Equilibrium, remembers the hate mail Earache received from a sea of fans who were expecting Lee Dorian’s new band to be Napalm Death, Part 2!
In 1993, on release of The Ethereal Mirror, a work which truly set the dials to ‘bonkers’, it only got worse. “I wanted a doom record and I got a Poison record. Fuck you guys!”….read one particularly charming missive received at Earache HQ.
A dark fairy-tale landscape filled with crushing grooves, psychedelic leads, acoustic guitars and outrageous disco-funk segue ways, The Ethereal Mirror showed utter contempt for convention. Songs like “Ride”, “Midnight Mountain” and “Grim Luxuria” were the work of craftsmen at the peak of their creative prowess and the Doom Metal scene – considered to be all but obsolete at the time – took a quantum leap forward into the unknown.