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10 Game Changing Releases From Earache Records

An earache worth having!

Terrorizer – World Downfall

Source // c2.staticflickr.com

Source // c2.staticflickr.com

Thought of by some as the Reign In Blood of Grindcore, World Downfall showcased clarity (courtesy of Scott Burns’ exemplary engineering job), song writing and sheer power at a time before Extreme Metal became obsessed with clicky bass drums and detuned guitars.

Check out the grinding grooves of “Dead Shall Rise” as a prime example of how sonically devastating Grindcore can sound when given room to breathe.

Terrorizer may have burned brightly for only a very short time – of their three albums, only this one featured the golden line-up of Oscar Garcia and the late Jesse Pintado alongside Morbid Angel’s David Vincent and Pete Sandoval – but World Downfall still stands as a prime showcase of how a band can sound catchy and tight without compromising….on anything!

Carcass – Heartwork

Source // static.stereogum.com

Source // static.stereogum.com

While Carcass began their illustrious career with grim subject matter, lo-fi production and the kind of brutality that you might expect from another off-shoot of Napalm Death, Messrs. Steer and Walker quickly evolved wit each release; by the time they delivered their second album, Symphonies of Sickness, they were already mixing a little melody into their gore stew. Then, in 1991, Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious changed Death Metal forever; influencing generations of imitators to follow their path to technical ascendency. However, Carcass’ evolution had yet to plateau and what followed took their art to hitherto unknown heights of sophistication.

During the recording of Heartwork, Al and Digby waited like expectant parents for Colin Richardson’s progress reports but the band, much to the chagrin of their support network, would not be hurried. Base-lining the guitar sound alone took four days, during which time they tried every permutation of mic position possible with a Marshall cabinet, but once they started tracking, the results spoke for themselves.

Earache knew they were onto something special with Heartwork and when it was released to rave reviews, their faith was well and truly vindicated. To capitalise, Earache organised a touring schedule, huge by the standards of the time, at 30 UK dates! In tandem, Earache had to ensure Heartwork had a noticeable presence in the marketplace and this meant presenting their credentials to large multiple retailers – virgin territory for Extreme Metal back then. Nevertheless, it had to be done, as Heartwork’s place on their shelves might mean the difference between commercial success and failure. Al recounts this attempt to pitch the album to one such buyer, renowned for his bluntness:

“So I go into my spiel, telling him that it was produced by Colin Richardson and that it got five Ks in Kerrang. Now, you understand that a lot of these national retail buyers have to have a very broad understanding of many different musical genres and 99% of the time Metal is not their favourite. Far from it. But normally, they at least feign an interest. But this guy was like: ‘5K in Kerrang – so what? Metal Hammer cover and 30 UK tour dates? – That means nothing to me.’”

Exasperated and fast running out of sales points, Al took a last stab, “Well, they have a review in The Guardian…”

“What?!” Came the brusque reply and Al feared that the mere mention of said lefty broadsheet had blown it.

But that was not the case.

“I read The Guardian!” he shot back. “Put me down for 5000 units to start with!”

That sealed the deal and the resultant support in getting Heartwork the breadth of exposure it needed helped make the difference between it being a great underground record and the legendary Metal record that it stands as today.

The 90’s! Those were the days, eh!

To this day, Earache continue to seek out and champion bands who further the art of heavy music rather than chasing the latest trends and their catalogue continues to grow as their story unfolds with current bands like Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement and Blackberry Smoke proving this point. Now, as always, Earache Records stand as a truly multifaceted label powered by passionate people, who release music on the strength of its merits, regardless of genre. Long may they reign!

Many thanks to Al Dawson for his invaluable assistance and anecdotal prowess.

About Stuart Bell (55 Articles)
I was born in 1975 with a pile of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple vinyl next to my cot. I ate off a sheet of ply-board propped up between two Marshall cabs and shortly after I learned to read and write I learned the E minor chord and the pentatonic scale. One day my Dad bought me Iron Maiden's first album. Metallica's Ride the Lightning followed. Then, things got serious. I have held almost every rank in the Army of Heavy Metal: Fan, drunk fan, roadie, guitarist, producer and label scout. My Wife knows what Mastodon's Crack The Skye is about and my child can play Breaking the Law on piano. Go figure.

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