Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Was Carcass Necroticism CD part of the 'loudness war' ?

Question from user1138 ( :

You wrote on this blog:
"Earache is not into the Loudness War and we master our Cds carefully, not brickwalled to the max." And you sympathize with "turn me up"?

I just bought Carcass Necroticism Descanting the Insalubrious 2008 release Dualdisc. I regret it.

The EQ of the guitars does not sound as good as the original but the worst part: It is bricked! The peaks are cut off. Why compress? What's the point of playing this on my hifi-system? Okey, i have seen worse remasters...

I compared 1991 and 2008 release in an audio editor. Image can be found above, or this link

Why did i bought the 2008 release? My original CD is damaged and i only have a FLAC backup. Now i have to find the original 1991 CD release on discogs or something...

from ]

Answer: Well Robert, this is a pretty hot topic on this blog right now- I had no idea so many fans were eager for audiophile-type discussions. To answer your question- I don't believe the audio waveforms of Carcass pictured above give the full story, the truth is, both of them sound OK. 1991 is from the analog era so is immensely dynamic but way too low in volume according to modern -digital era- standards, this may or may not be a fault, it depends if reaching for the volume control spoils your enjoyment, because to many folks, it does. The 2008 on dualdisk (now outdated CD+DVD combo format) is noticeably louder, very acceptable according to modern standards, but it also retains a certain punch and dynamism. You can see the waveforms does retain all of the peaks and troughs, so it is definately not brickwalled.I'm glad you mention you've heard worse, so you accept its OK.

The problem is this: that for the period of late 90s to mid 00s most people were easily impressed/fooled by louder sounds,and powerful sound-manipulation software tools found its way into every artists studio. It's a sad fact that for 99% of the public (and 100% of musicians), a louder CD IS a better CD, or rather it was the converse which mattered to them - I've had fans complain that their quieter CD dating from the early 90s must be faulty somehow. The truth is that there are way more casual fans of music, even metal music, than audiophile fans.

Earache succumbed to the "Loudness war" for a lot of releases in that period, it was mostly the Industrial releases which would be brickwalled to insane levels of +5 dB simply so they'd sound more powerful on cybergoth/industrial dancefloor club systems.

Earache nowadays is quite proud to not take part in this foul practice- for proof, check out our Thrash and HM bands of recent years.Bands like White Wizzard, Cauldron, Evile are perfect examples of magnificently rich, warm, dynamic yet powerful albums, both on wax and disc. In fact Rival Sons album "Pressure and Time' should win awards for the perfect combo of clarity and punchy dynamism of its sound, plus it will blow your face off with it's sheer volume. That's a tricky skill to pull off.

As we enter 2012, the practice is very much old-hat now - the reason is not because of the concerns of audiophiles, but simply because most people consume music digitally either via Youtube, Spotify or iTunes and all these sites include their own built-in audio-limiting software, to make all tracks sound similar volume, this is to enhance the listening experience of the user, because having to reach for the volume control on the PC is more or less considered as a design fault to their users.

The loudness war is over on the Hi-Fi and on the computer- but appears to have moved to the TV set instead. Have you noticed how the adverts sound louder than the actual program/film itself? This is the advertisers using the age-old psycho-acoustic 'louder=better' tactic to make you remember their brand over the others in the ad-break.

Heres a pic of the original 80s era PCM Betamax tape used for the Napalm Death "From Enslavement.." release on cassette.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why no Trap Them on Earache ?

Question from () :

here's one ive always wondered why is it Trap Them never ended up on earache? surely with Brian being in december wolves who at that time were still signed to earache and their sound a hardcore punk/grindcore mix. They would have been a prime choice for the label?


Answer: Yes I agree, it sounds a perfectly logical match-up on paper, but it's all about timing, gut feeling and impression dude, I'll try to outline the various reasons why we didn't get involved in Trap Them after the demise of December Wolves.

Brian's band DECEMBER WOLVES were signed to Wicked World/Earache from 97-2003 or so, releasing 2 albums. Both discs were undoubtedly office faves round here because of their full-on, blasting, twisted and hateful brand of black metal. It was unique at the time, we thought the band were brilliant and success would be a cinch. Unfortunately the band did not tour, so the music failed to catch on with fans, hence did not sell in any meaningful numbers.

At the time we suspected the reason for poor sales was because they were regular T-shirt and jeans guys, and failed to fit into either the corpse-painted, spiked, Kult BM scene and of course were a million miles away from the coming more cerebral ambient-BM scene which was about to hit. No fault of the band, but they just didn't fit in to what the fans wanted.

DECEMBER WOLVES- To Kill Without Emotion.

After two underperforming albums, Earache decided to not continue with December Wolves, and from memory Brian announced at the same time the closure of the band. He also said he was going to pursue other musical projects for a while, and would keep in touch.

A while later we received a demo of Trap Them & Kill Them - I remember it well as you rightly point out, punky/grindy stuff is in our blood, and I did like it a bit. But the key consideration is that Earache had moved on by that point, we were signing acts like Ephel Duath and working with acts like Cult of Luna by that point, and so the punky/grindy mix of TT&KT just wasn't to our liking, so we passed. Its also worth mentioning that because of the failure of December Wolves to sell, Brian's output was slightly tarnished from our viewpoint, sadly.

Our loss was Prosthetic records gain, they were the label (after a couple of 7inchers on Deathwish Inch) who snapped up Trap Them and they've been very successful ever since. We wish them and Brian all the best.

Here's Trap Them:

Thursday, November 03, 2011

NAPALM DEATH-why the big change of style between FETO (1988) & Harmony Corruption (1990) ?

Question from Vicky ( :

Just wondering if, after the recent Nalpalm Death 3 x cd boxsets you recently issued, there were any plans to do the same to earlier Napalm Death Earache albums/ep's etc???

Also, as a fairly newcomer to the world of Napalm Death what are your feelings and recollections of the fairly vast style change between the 1st two albums and Harmony Corruption???

Also what do you think of their post Earache output???


Answer: Yes, I agree it must appear totally weird if you are a fan getting into the band in recent years, looking back, their Earache-era back catalog has 3 distinct phases - the breakthrough Scum/FETO era (now hailed as the classics), then the mid-paced Florida Death Metal-influenced era, and by mid-late 90s the band's ill-fated groove-grind period where the fanbase deserted them in huge numbers.

In the summer of 1989 Napalm Death had a massive and very abrupt change of line-up when guitarist Bill Steer and singer Lee Dorrian unexpectedly quit the group on their return from their first Japanese tour. Remaining members Mick Harris (drummer and driving force of the band) and Shane Embury (Bass) recruited 2 new guitarists from Los Angeles in the shape of Jesse Pintado & Mitch Harris (no relation) plus a local Death Metal singer Mark 'Barney' Greenway (who was previously a fan of the band and occasional ND roadie, as well as fronting Brummie Death metallers Benediction). This new-look line-up subsconciously meant the band had the opportunity to break from the past, with a fresh start and fresh outlook.

The new members had a stronger affinity to and were massive fans of the newly spawned Florida Death Metal scene and this came through in the follow up album, as opposed to the Hardcore/Crust Anarcho punk influences that they'd had previously. The band even decamped to Florida's Morrisound studios to record the Harmony Corruption album with hot producer Scott Burns.

Napalm Death during that era was a fast-moving and highly volatile entity- their rise from playing Birmingham pubs to sitting atop the UK Indie charts at number 1 was pretty meteoric, but this meant nothing to the newcomers, who were starting from scratch, but had pretty much walked into an already successful band and were given complete artistic freedom by Earache.

You should know that by 1989-90 the UK scene was awash with a ton of early Napalm Death sound-alikes, much to the bands annoyance. Since Mick and Shane have always prided themselves on being musically progressive, exploring new sounds and never standing still, pushing forward with new sounds comes as second nature. The fact is that the contemporary Florida death metal scene, led by Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Obituary & Massacre was just more exciting then say, crap like Sore Throat's endless joke-grind albums.

It was never actually intended that they piss off and alienate the early grindcore fans who had helped Napalm Death acheive their fame and career, however the album charted at 67 on the UK national Charts- which made it the first extreme metal album to chart- this meant the fans did appreciate it, and very much validated their decision.

As for their post-Earache output, I've not been that bothered to follow the band, but musically at least, either by design or accident, it seems the penny dropped because they immediately 'returned to form' making a succession of albums of intense blasting grind for a variety of new labels, which is all the fans wanted all along. Their longevity has meant they have proven themselves to be not only the originators but also the longest serving stalwarts of the scene they single-handedly created all those years ago.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why were Machine Head off Roadrunner and unsigned in 2002-3?

Question from bill ( :

Theres always questions about how to get new bands signed but I have two seperate questions I've often wondered about - How does a band like Machine Head (in the past) have a problem finding a record company willing to sign them? They've always been a band that will sell allot of records by metal standards, have a relativly large fan base in Europe and sell out gigs but at one point, after selling a very successful, if not critically acclaimed record, couldn't get a record deal. Its on record that they were rejected by nearly everyone they approached.

My second question relates to this; why would their label get rid of them in the first place? They were dropped after their last album with that label sold 250k copies, which in metal standards is quite allot! Why would a label drop or not renew a contract of a band which obviously can make a label substantial amounts?


Answer: First of all I gotta say I'm a massive Machine Head fan, they are certainly one of the best pure unadulterated metal bands of all time, and here's a little tidbit for ya- Earache actually made offers to sign the band for the USA territory during that crazy 2002-3 period when they were label-less.

It seems insane that a band of their stature could be unsigned, but it happened and I'll try to explain why. In a strange way Machine Head were partly victims of their own early success, their 1994 debut album Burn My Eyes had such monster sales right out the box, it's kinda almost overshadowed all their albums since.

A major factor has been the band's own longevity- it meant they lived through a ton of changes in the scene during the late 90s and early 00s. Their label Roadrunner evolved from a respected Indie to a full-blown mini-major because of Nickelback. Machine Head's 'Supercharger' might have sold 250,000 across the globe, which is decent numbers, but label mates Nickelback were doing 5 Million, Slipknot 1.5 million around that time. I mention these bands to put things into perspective. To the hierarchy in RR's New York office they just were not a big deal anymore, their time was deemed to have passed, especially as a high percentage of the sales were overseas anyway.

The fact is Machine head, along with all other decent selling 1980s and mid-90s heavy bands, were dealt a cruel blow by the major-label-led Nu-Metal explosion of the late 1990's and into the new millenium. Bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit brought in a new cross-genre rap-rock style with massive appeal. Limp Bizkit actually sold a staggering 1 Million copies in a week - yes week - in summer 1999.

Every major label formed a stampede to sign radio-friendly alternative metal or Rap/metal acts with a platinum sales ambition. Through no fault of their own, Machine Head's pure unadulterated metal sound became deeply uncool, especially so in America, where compared to the stratospheric sales of the Nu-metal acts all around them, they'd become comparatively poor sellers too.

Some commenters below have pointed out that the band did flirt heavily with Alterna-metal and Nu-metal for a couple of albums around the turn of the millenium when those scenes were in full swing.
Heres examples:

My guess is the band were susceptible to label pressure to conform to the current big selling nu-metal/alterna-metal sound, because it was all over the radio at that time, and if it caught on, it would undoubtedly propel them into the big league. Like a lot of acts, Machine Head has always been a decent selling band, but never a major league top seller. Therein lies the problem - never being huge enough to just do whatever they damn well liked on their own terms, they had to listen to label advice, however misguided. Effectively the band gambled away their core US metal fanbase for a shot at the lucrative American rock radio gravy train, and failed. Watch the documentary below to hear Robbs take on those dark times.

Luckily for Machine Head, the UK and European metal fans did not desert the band, neither did the European arm of Roadrunner, who cleverly retained their services, so even in their darkest hour, the band were thrown a lifeline from the European metal scene. Eventually the USA Roadrunner arm decided to see sense and carry on with the band.

Now in 2011 Machine Head are metal legends and survivors, having seen off the trends which have come and gone in their 17 year career, and outlived those self same Nu Metal acts which nearly derailed to their career a decade ago.

Catch Machine Head on their UK arena tour in December 2011.

Robb Flynn explains with typical honestly this whole dark period of the band in their amazing documentary, its well worth watching:

Machine head documentary part 1

Machine Head documentary part 2

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Napalm Death Live At Salisbury CD box set (1992) confusion.

Question from Omen Jinx ( :

Hi, I hope you can help me with this question. I purchased a Napalm Death box set of 4 C.D albums which comes in a nice black box with a white Napalm Death logo on the front. On the back of the box it reads which albums it includes. Scum.1987 and 'From enslavement to obliteration'.1988 (both as 1 CD), 'Harmony Corruption'.1990, Death by manipulation singles comp.1991 and Utopia Banished.1992. Now, in the box-set I brought, it has instead of 'Utopia Banished' a copy of 'Live Corruption' Mosh67CDL. Can you please tell me, was this a printing error on the box and Utopia Banished was never met to be part of the box-set, or was I sold a copy with the wrong C.D included? I brought the box-set maybe back in the late 90s early 2000's? I cant remember. As for where I brought it, I again can't really remember? Thanks, Omen Jinx.


Answer: The box you describe and its contents are exactly as it was released, with the correct Cds, but the box was made at a very specific time in Napalm Death's career and was released like that for a very specific purpose- to boost sales of the soon to be released Utopia Banished CD. Yes that's right- even though it is listed on the back of the box, its not included in it. The album wasn't even released at the time- the cunning plan was to include a space for the CD so that fans and collectors would later buy it in order to complete their box set. The Live Napalm Death CD was included to fill the space reserved for Utopia Banished and give fans value for money and an extra bonus for shelling out on the first 4 releases by Napalm Death. Actually it is the Live CD which is the rarest item these days, that CD is what gives the box its value to modern day collectors and ebayers. From memory the sticker on the box explains that it includes "space for Utopia Banished" and info about the Live Corruption CD, but if the package is opened, the info will be lost.

Back then compact disc was still new, and fans needed to be urged to adopt it. CD was expensive to master, pricey to press, and generally a tough sell (vinyl LP and cassette still outsold it)- that's the reason Scum and FETO were combined on one CD and were sold together right up till 1995 or so, when they were finally released separately.

Heres a track from the video of the gig Live At Salisbury:

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Browning are Electronic Deathcore.

Question from Skingame ( I like what I hear by The Browning online but how come Earache signed them, and where do they come from?


Answer: Well glad you like 'em Skingame. The Browning are a brand new band from Fort Worth Texas, and appeared on Earache's radar late last year because Noah the drummer is a fan of some of our Death metal bands- Decapitated, Carcass etc- and happened to send us some early material by his band, which featured Jonny McBee (ex-As Blood Runs Black) on vocals & electronics.

The band name raised some eyebrows, but I immediately loved their electronica-meets-Deathcore style because it was so well thought out and cohesive. Unlike 1000s of other hopefuls, the band have a great ear for songs and seem to meld the two genres of Metal and Electronica effortlessly into a unique package. Its harder to pull off than you think. The band also have no singing "emo" vocal parts, its brutal vocals all the way, which I like.

They are hardly the first band to mix electronica with metal- there's a UK band which has been mining that field very successfully for a couple of years called Enter Shikari.

Another UK band Asking Alexandria play a similar style:

The Browning's mainman Jonny McBee has a deep understanding of, and instinctive mastery of all types of DJ culture & electronic music- the best thing about their upcoming album 'Burn This World' is that it is far from a one trick pony, its a genuine genre mash-up masterclass. The Browning offer so much more than the hackeneyed Dubstep-meets-breakdown type of deathcore which is all around.

Their album does contain one Dubstep-meets-metal song, but there's also plenty of seriously bangin' Hardstyle -a more underground form of hardcore techno - beats aswell. The album is littered with electronica-style glitches, even some 8-bit chiptune parts, but best of all is the overall catchiness and aggression of the songs.

Heres the latest video- Bloodlust

Heres The Browning clip for 'Time Will Tell' from last years digital EP.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why did Jeff Walker (Carcass) change his hairstyle?

Question from Teo () :

What's up? I know I might sound silly but I bet that I'm not the only true fan who has had this in mind: back in the day Jeff Walker had long dreadlocks. In a matter of 2 years (from Nekroticism to Heartwork) he mysteriously unlocked the locks, and showed up with long straight hair. Fake locks or super-fast grow, huh?


Answer: First of all I should point out that Earache has never at any point had much of a say on how Artists dress or style their hair, we don't even hardly comment on that aspect, because we're pretty much all about the music. The dramatic change of hairstyle that Jeff Walker undertook around 1993 was purely his own (or maybe his managers) decision- I can only guess they wanted a more unified, more Heavy Metal "look" as the band were on the up, they had developed a polished metallic sound, and it was expected for the singer to 'look the part' of a Heavy Metal frontman, as Bill Steer and Michael Amott already did with their long hair.

The dreadlocked look was quite big in the crusty/punk circles of that era, and that was Jeff's trademark for many years. I was as surprised as anyone else when he appeared out of the blue one day with the dreads gone, and instead sporting long hair.

heres CARCASS in 1992

Don't fear tho- there was nothing fake or mysterious about it. The story I heard was that the dreadlocks were painstakingly unpicked - which was a long process- and with copious amounts of hair-care products brought back to life as long hair. Thats dedication for you.

Heres CARCASS in 1993:

Where does the audio for Earache's vinyl LP re-issues come from?

Question from Jason ( :

What is the audio on Earache's vinyl re-issues cut from? Is it re-mastered from the original tape or is it the same lacquer used on the original pressing?


Answer: Thanks for the great question Jase. We recently re-issued the first 4 Morbid Angel albums on gatefold LP wax, and the audio for them simply comes from the CD, but newer acts have their wax pressed direct from the studio masters (also known as "files") obviously. The recent Morbid Angel wax was certainly NOT advertised as "coming from original masters/tapes" or anything, but partly due to audiophile concerns we did re-issue the recent Napalm Death 'Scum' vinyl as Full Dynamic Range audio from original PCM betamax tapes, complete with rough mixes (from cassette tape!).

Earache keeps an archive of original analogue tapes and we also keep some metalwork (Mothers) used in making the original vinyls but sad to say, its just not practical to use them to produce new vinyl in 2011. For this reason the new LPs do sound slightly different to the original editions which were created using an all analogue signal path back in the day.

Analogue audio is a very temperamental format- playback of old tapes from the era is a real chore, that is if you can still find the right kind of tape player in the first place! Unless the exact speed, settings, EQ and other controls are set exactly like in the past -ie on the day of the original mastering session - the resulting audio coming off the tapes can be pretty unfamiliar.

I've mentioned in the past on this blog how we attempted to release a "re-mastered from the original tapes" version of Morbid Angel back when we last did a re-issue campaign, but scrapped the idea because it sounded so different. I really should dig those tapes out and post em here.

01 Maze of Torment (rough mix) by digearache

Another wrinkle in the process is that few vinyl pressing plants still exist these days- something like 75% of all European wax is made by one plant- GZ in Czech Republic - who prefer delivery of audio files over the internet, a fact which would shock the audiophile all-analog purist crowd.

The main reason for using the CD to make the wax is not the convenience but familiarity. Many thousands of copies have been sold in the 2 decades since release, so that is the sound that fans are used to, we'd get complaints if the vinyls sounded any different I think.

Newer Earache bands released in recent years don't have that kind of 'familiarity problem'. Hence Earache does aim to release all its newer vinyls as close to the original studio sound as possible - we go to great lengths to ban any digital FX added in the mastering process for vinyl. Our mastering engineer performs 2 mastering sessions, one for LP with emphasis on maintaining the studio dynamics, and one for CD/digital with a touch of EQ and compression for a tad of loudness. I should point out that Earache is not into the Loudness War and we master our Cds carefully, not brickwalled to the max.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seth.ECT want to sign to Candelight

Question from aybars altay ( :


My name is Aybars, writing you for the band "Seth.ECT" we released our first album Godspeak and Feedbacks are Awesome so I would like to share with you...Exept that we recording second album right now and we want to sign with Candlelight... At least if you can motivated to invest 10 minutes to me so we can fix this problem :)

Ashmedi from Melechesh, Roxanne Constantine from Quo Vadis and Arkin Allen a.k.a MERCAN DEDE (world famous Dj) can provide personal information about us...

Hope the hear from you soon.

Thank you & Best wishes

Aybars ALTAY | Seth.Ect

„A fantastic example of how to mix one‚s culture with musical taste"

Artist ˆ Seth. ECT

Album ˆ Godspeak

Label ˆ Independent

Release date ˆ April 4th / 2011

Website -

Free Download The Whole Seth.Ect Album GODSPEAK (Mp3 or wav)


Track Listing:

1. ECT

2. B.L.A.S.T

3. For Se7en Years

4. Hollow Earth

5. Heart Beat

6. Call Of Ancients

7. Orison

8. Earth Rise

9. Keops

10. When The Simurgs Collapse

11. Orison II

Featuring Artist - Arkın ALLEN a.k.a MERCAN DEDE

Experimental Chaos Theory (Demo) 2009

For Seven Years (Single) 2010

GODSPEAK (Full Lenght) 2011

Formed at the end of 2008 by Vocalist Aybars Altay, Guitarists Izmael & Murat and Bassist Mert Tartac,

Seth.ECT was formed with the intention of combining the power of Industrial music & the aggression of extreme metal with oriental music,

creating a truly haunting, brutish yet vastly appealing sound that‚s encapsulated perfectly on their upcoming album, Godspeak.

Currently receiving mass praise throughout the UK and EU, early reviews of the album have described it as „A fantastic example of how to mix one‚s culture with musical taste‰ and

„A ballsy, powerful creation that takes absolutely no prisoners.‰

Reviews can be seen below:

Spirit of Metal Webzine(20/20) -

Metaliville-Sonic-Shocks(8/10) -

Bringthenoise United Kingdom (9/10) -

Tom Brumpton Seth ECT - Mudkiss Review -


Official Web Site:

SONGS: for some demo tracks etc. a free-download song titled "For seven years" from Godspeak album.



Aybars: Vox

Mert: Bass

Murat: Gtrs

Izmael: Gtrs

Sem: Drums - Session

Live performance:

- MHM 2009 / UKR

- Survival of the fittest tour(headlining with Quo Vadis(Canada)) 2010

- Seth.ECT wants to perform shows after the album is out (April 4th)


Answer: Good luck with getting signed fellas. This blog post should help you on your way.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why did Earache sign Pitch Shifter?

Question from Marshall: Why did Earache sign PitchShifter back in the early 90's? They were highly influennced and sounded almost identical to Godflesh (in the early days), and you have been known to not sign bands in the past(Fear Factory etc) for sounding to much like other Earache artists.

Thanks from

Answer: Good question- I actually dunno why I bothered with Pitch Shifter, what a collosal waste of space that band turned out to be. The short answer is because they were a local Nottingham band, we moved in similar circles, they were on our doorstep and I'd seen their buzz building up close. In truth, the main reason is because they pretty much blagged themselves onto on the label. PSI are the only band I've worked with who kinda begged to be signed up to the label - and during their 4 year stint on Earache released 2 x EPs & 2 x albums. The band later also campaigned and begged- very vociferously, very bitterly and publicly - to be let go from the label deal whilst it was still ongoing. They got their wish.

Here's the early PSI sound on the Deconstruction clip:

It's true that for a few years Pitch Shifter were known within the scene as Poor Man's Godflesh.Also on the circuit were Londoners Sonic Violence who were affectionately known as Shit Godflesh. Both bands more or less aped & copied the Birmingham band's unique Industrialised Metal sound around 1990-2. PSI seemed to do everything Godflesh did, but a couple of years after them. Be it signing with Earache, varying their sound, doing film soundtracks, or signing a major label deal- which PSI inked with Geffen in 1997. Godflesh were released on Sony/Earache in the USA in 1993. They'll probably even reform 2 years after Godflesh!

Pitch Shifter didn't play grindcore or Death Metal, their sound utilised the latest music technology of the day- drum machines, early samplers, but with heavy guitars & growly vocals. It resulted in a sound which was very cool and contemporary for the time. Industrial Metal was widely viewed in the Music Industry as the "next big thing" after Grunge, so the Industrial Metal/Rock scene spawned a ton of major-label acts like Stabbing Westward & Gravity Kills in the early-mid 90s period. Though it must be said that it was Ministry & Nine Inch Nails and to some extent Godflesh who were the innovators and leaders of the scene. They put it on the map.

Back in the early 1990's though, scoring a major label deal was the last thing on the bands mind, they just wanted to get signed, and so Pitch Shifter's debut album "Industrial" appeared on Peaceville. Peaceville were presumably chuffed to get their very own Godflesh sound-a-like on the roster, and the band were up and running with a record in the shops.

During that period, I got on best with original PSI guitarist Stuart Toolin and from memory it was him who opened the discussions with me to see if Earache could get involved with PSI, citing severe lack of promotion by Peaceville as holding them back from progressing. Their shrewd and very persuasive manager Stuart Knight - he's the fella brandishing the flame throwers in the Deconstruction clip - also made the case for the band being on Earache. So a deal was duly signed and PSI walked away from Peaceville to become an Earache artist. Obviously I had no clue at the time they'd repeat the process some years later, to leave Earache and sign with Geffen.

Heres the Triad clip from their debut Earache album, 'Desensitised':

Almost as soon as the ink was dry on the contracts, the problems started. Stuart Toolin was ousted from the group, and in hindsight, it was from this time onwards that ours and the bands ideas began to differ, as the label's main contact in the PSI camp had gone. Frontman Jon 'JS' Clayden became the band leader and its fair to say I've never seen eye-to-eye with him. Despite this, during the course of their two albums for Earache, the Pitch Shifter fanbase grew steadily, and the band experimented with their sound, so as to not follow in Godflesh's slipstream anymore.I encouraged them to listen to The Prodigy and the burgeoning UK underground dance/rave culture for new inspiration, which they were reluctant to do at first. I remember well Jon Clayden's comment on the matter: "Techno scares me". The band seemingly absorbed the advice though, as rudimentary drum n bass/breakbeat samples appeared on 1996's Infotainment album, which finally shook off the Godflesh comparisons once and for all.

The album was a breakthrough of sorts, charting high on the Independent charts, which boosted the bands profile considerably. Behind the scenes though, things weren't as upbeat, as a looming sense of dissatisfaction began to develop between the band's camp and label.

In hindsight, I'm fairly sure the signing of local Notts/Derby hopefuls Bivouac to Geffen had a lot to do with the Earache-PSI deal ending. When Nirvana toured the UK in the early years, a crazy dancer would jump onstage with them. Kurt Cobain took a real shine to the fella, and he became an onstage fixture with Nirvana. The dancer was Tony Hodgkinson, drummer of Biviouc. This chance association with the world's biggest selling band at the time brought Geffen A&R's beating a path to Bivouac's door.

Bivouac and Pitch Shifter shared the same management team so around that time the possibility of Geffen getting involved with PSI too, became apparent. Just one snag stood in their way -Earache held the band's Recording contract for two more albums. It's impossible for me to blame any band for wanting to move onto a major deal from an Indie, because the difference in finances and promotional clout offered by Geffen, when compared to an Indie like Earache is seriously vast.Bare in mind this story happened in mid-90s, and the differences between Majors and Indies is less huge nowadays.

However, the underhanded way Pitch shifter engineered their move showed absolutely zero respect for Earache. Even though I cancelled the contract to allow the band to move on, Jon Clayden made absolutely scandalous and unfounded remarks about Earache for years afterwards, presumably to justify their move to their core fanbase, and themselves. The bloke has breathtaking arrogance, and no class whatsoever.

Pitch Shifter's last clip for Earache- Underachiever.

On Geffen Pitchshifter refined their sound to become a slicker modern industrial rock band and did enjoy a high level of success, with regularly charting singles in the UK and numerous placements of songs in computer games and movies. The band were dropped after a single album on Geffen, before moving onto a succession of other labels- MCA, Mayan/Sanctuary, while later releases post 2003, have been self-released under a PSI records label.

Here's their biggest Geffen-era single: Genius

Nowadays Pitchshifter appears to be on semi-permanent hiatus, consisting of the core duo of the Clayden brothers plus various touring musicians. Ex-guitarist Johnny Carter teamed up with ex-Bivouac Paul Yeadon and together they run a local Nottingham studio/production unit The Moot Group. The ex-PSI management run Xtaster which is a successful UK street team/promotion company for music and film.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Morbid Angel intro to Immortal Rites- how did it come about?

Question: Hi Dig!

Speaking of Morbid Angel, I have one question that has been nagging me since 1989. You are the producer of Altars of Madness, and maybe you know the answer. How did the backward introriff to Immortal Rites happen? From where came the inspiration/idea? Why was it made this way? Was it a coincident that sounded cool? Was it tried (by the producer) on another album earlier with another band? And is it in the same tempo as the "correct" introriff?

Thanks and cheers!

Torbjörn from

Answer: Recording bands in the analog tape era was a real chore. Ampex 24- track tape was one of the most expensive parts of the process, costing about $350 for each reel, which held 15 minutes of music max. That is also the reason why so many classic albums from the time clock in at 40-44 minutes, it means 3 reels of tape were used in the session.Its also the optimum time for sonic quality on a vinyl LP, 20-22 minutes a side of wax.

Back then, the bigger budget recording studios would employ a tape operator (for smaller budgets this was the usually the engineer himself) for the sole task of operating the bulky 24 track tape machine. Their job would be to fast rewind the tape to precise points so that extra overdubs could be added, eventually filling all 24 channels allowed on the tape. It's no exaggeration to state that a single tape would be played and reversed 1,000 times in a session. Think about that next time you point and click to start a song with yer mouse!

Anyway, as Immortal Rites was being recorded it became noticed that when the tape was reversing at normal speed the main opening riff sounded pretty cool when played backwards. It was remarkably similar to the forwards riff, but with a sort of eerie, other-worldly vibe. Since Immortal Rites was decided to open the album, the band and myself figured we needed a cool intro to come before the main song starts. Usually for a metal band that means creating something evil sounding on the keyboards or a sampler or something to begin the album.

Instead of that, the idea came to me to add a small passage of that backwards riff as an intro. It was meant to imply the band arriving from another, satanic dimension or something, and the album itself explodes with a drum hit and goes into the song. I recall Trey loved it because it added an extra insane vortex of sound to the album, much like he was trying to create within the rest of the band's songs anyway.

To prove its the exact same sound as the rest of the song- here is the beginning of IMMORTAL RITES played backwards. You can hear that the intro is in fact the main riff of the song. It's the exact same tempo, in fact it was completely untouched except recorded at slightly lower volume so the song had impact when it began. I've never heard of it being done before or since actually, but I guess it is such a simple idea, it must have been done somewhere elsewhere, I just don't know any examples.

MORBID ANGEL - Immortal Rites backwards intro by digearache

Heres the actual song played normally:

If you believe in the power of backmasking, as this technique is known, then check this out. When Obama says 'Yes We Can', backwards it is 'Thank You Satan'.
Yep, for real:

NAPALM DEATH DVD was banned in Germany

Question: Hi there!

I´ve found something at this german site:


(it´s a list of all censored cd´s movies and so on in germoney)

According to their list, is Napalm Death: the dvd censored in germoney and can not be advertised nor sell to minors... Can you tell something about it, why and how does it come, and so on...

Thanks in advance

Answer: This topic was answered a while back on this blog..heres the story:

Answer: Fora few years Earache had to refrain from selling the DVD by Napalm Death onsale in Germany because the authorities in that country told us its illegal to sell it or even display it. On later editions the offending clip "Breed To Breathe" was removed and the authorities eventually passed the DVD by Napalm Death for sale by allocating an FSK age rating of 16.

The original DVD included a promo clip for the song "Breed to Breathe". The band and the director made this clip is 1997 and if you know Napalm Death's music, they are definately not a gore-type band or a Cannibal Corpse type death/horror metal band, many of their songs have a social or political meaning. The title and lyrics deal with subject of life and death, so the director of the clip made many references to birth, as you can see in the conception footage used throughout the clip. He also highlighted death too, and the clip shows many examples of sudden death and violence.

Meanwhile, to protect the youth of Germany from extreme images, which might cause psychological harm to children, all movies/ DVDs and I think also video games have an age rating system called FSK. A panel of experts sit and actually view the game or DVD, its mostly movies but also Music DVDs, and decide an age rating.The record label is informed of the FSK rating decision, which is final and must be displayed on the packaging, its usually 12, 16 or rarely, 18 if its adult themes.

Every DVD Earache has ever released has been through this process, its pretty routine, and most often our DVDs will come back with a 16 rating. In the case of the Napalm Death DVD, which contains about 6 of the bands video clips and tons of live footage, they contacted us to tell us the news that having watched the many clips on the DVD, they were very disturbed by the extremely graphic scenes in Breed To Breathe. They were actually so shocked - by scenes of burnt bodies in a car, and a guy jumping from a multi-storey building - they decided to refer the clip to a higher court to see if it was actually illegal material.

We were shocked too by the news.To be honest, we had actually forgotten how extreme the parts of the clip actually are, I can only guess that the director had access to some very gruesome footage, and had decided to include it.

In 1997, you have to remember the clip was made before any kind of streaming video was common on the internet, Youtube wasn't even launched until about 6 years later, so it was made with a very small, in fact, tiny viewership in mind.

The ability of DVDs and Youtube to distribute such clips in the last decade has meant many more people can finally see them.

The higher court ruled that the material is actually so gruesome, and graphic, it is akin to "snuff" parts, so was ruled actually illegal. The 18 rating would not be enough. We were asked to remove the offending scenes and the rest of the clip is actually OK, but we refused as it would compromise the integrity of the original video idea. It was easier all round to remove the song itself from later editions of the DVD disk.

Heres the clip: NAPALM DEATH Breed To Breathe

Meanwhile its quite shocking to see this banned products website still has it listed along with many white power Nazi bands and other unsavoury bands. Funny to see also Slayer and Cannibal Corpse also have albums on "the Banned list".

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spotify - US launch expected mid-July?

Question: How important is Spotify to Earache? Do you make a significant income from it? I'm a subscriber to their premium service for £10 per month and have a number of Earache albums on my playlist (including the new Rivals Sons album), which admittedly I won't be buying the cds. I assume this is acceptable to Earache, as you have chosen for your albums to be accessed via Spotify.

I'm just keen that even if bands don't make any money from it (which I don't think they do) then at least underground labels such as yourselves do, so that hopefully the income can be invested into new bands etc.... is this the case?


Answer: Yes, of course, it's VERY acceptable for you to play our albums on Spotify- that's why we put them on there! In fact, I'd encourage you to playlist and stream even MORE Earache albums, because that's how we (and our artists) get paid. Open Earache New & Classic to grab a bunch of new and classic Earache albums handpicked by myself (Spotify needed).

Spotify is amazing and I use it myself on a daily basis, there's nothing better than dragging/dropping a bunch of new albums to my phone which I can then take with me to listen to on the daily commute into work. Its all legal and costs the price of one CD a month, any fool can see it's a bargain really. The key difference is that the songs remain in the cloud and are streamed to the device. Such cloud-based music services are the hottest new trend in tech, with Google and Amazon already launching cloud based music locker services, and Apple promising to launch a similar 'iCloud' with iPhone 5 in September.

Glad you are enjoying the new RIVAL SONS album on Spotify, but there is a slight sting in the tail because the iTunes version (which is on sale for the princely sum of £5.49) contains 2 bonus songs unavailable anywhere else. iTunes is the undisputed daddy of the music industry. From a standing start in 2004, it now represents a staggering 33% of the entire USA music marketplace.However, iTunes are anything but a faceless tech behemoth- they were smart enough to hire genuine music fans as label-liaison staffers for each genre- so customers get a knowlegable guide to all the new music every week. Many notable music writers and bloggers from the recent past have ended up working for these new billion dollar music sites as label-liaison staffers, its been a lucky career boost for them.

As for how we get paid- Spotify logs every stream, which number many billions per month, from a European user base of around 10 Million, of which 1 million are premium subscribers and pay the monthly fee.

It reports and pays labels like Earache based on the exact proportion which our tracks take up compared to the overall number of tracks streamed. All the numbers are becoming eye-wateringly huge. Earache typically has over a million tracks streamed every month, and as Spotify increase their income from encouraging more sign ups to the paid-for service, our income increases too. Earache's monthly income from Spotify has doubled in the last 12 months and is rapidly gaining on iTunes.

It's reported that some Swedish major labels make more income from Spotify than iTunes now, which shows the power of the site in its home country. Luckily for Earache, we have quite a few important Swedish Metal acts in our back catalog, which serves to boost our income.

The make or break moment for Spotify is looming soon as it finally enters the USA marketplace next month. Similar streaming music sites already exist in some form - Pandora, Rdio and MOG being the front runners, but the European invasion is imminent. Some very high profile backers - including original Facebook investors- have invested in Spotify making it a billion dollar gamble. If they are smart they'll sort out immediately the shockingly poor front page, which simply displays a random selection of the latest uploads, without regard to my listening tastes, and is a major turn off for new users.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

MORBID ANGEL: Illud Divinum Insanus - "This is Your One Warning"

Question: Just wondering what you think of Morbid's new cd.. I think they've lost their minds! So much potential for greatness... ::::facepalm:::
from: Rob Alaniz

Answer: Well I pre-ordered the wooden box special edition from Season Of Mist so I'm obviously still a fan of the band.I'm just playing IDI now on release day, and I honestly don't know what all the online fuss is about- OK it doesn't beat the B, C or D albums because they were ahead of their time and nothing could ever top their groundbreaking and classic A album- but it sounds pretty great to me on first listen. The production is dynamic and lively, which makes it an improvement over the sterile sounding H album. If anything its the 'weird' tracks which are the interesting parts for me.

After the traditional Laibach-esque instrumental as album opener, the album proper begins with David Vincent announcing, rather prophetically, "This is Your One Warning"- before a barrage of programmed kick drums take over and the band goes right into Too Extreme!. Frankly, I was blown away by the audacity of this, they could have chosen the "safe' option- but the band will have known full well that a song like this would polarise opinion right from the outset. Personally, I find the kick drum programs a bit 90s and a bit dated, but I really love the constantly pitch-changing FX on the guitars. This track's vibe is like teetering on the edge of chaos, which sums up everything about Morbid Angel.

On 'Radikult' and also to some extent 'I Am Morbid', overtly self-referential lyrics come to the fore, sung in an almost bragging style. This is new territory for Morbid Angel, and seems strange coming from a band who built their zealous fanbase by dealing in other-wordly, magical and mystical themes.

What is also different about this album - their first in 8 years- has been the absolute shitstorm of online opinion immediately prior to its release. This is their first album released during the highly socially-networked era, and to a very different generation of extreme music fans than those around for 2003's Heretic. Back then, there was no MySpace, YouTube or Facebook, even Blabbermouth was barely up and running- all fans had to exchange views and communicate were a few metal message boards and ye olde "word of mouth". Also new is the ease which which fans can download leaked Mp3 copies and seemingly have been doing so in their thousands in the week up to official release. It's pretty easy to be super-critical after downloading free files when you've not made any financial or emotional investment to obtain it.

Watching this shit-storm of hatred from so-called fans venting their spleen online has been the REAL eye-opener for me. I've never seen such a vitriolic backlash, except maybe following Metallica's 'St Anger', and even though Earache has nothing to do with the new album, it's been quite educational for me to follow the firestorm. I'm transfixed.

It seems everything we do online these days has turned into a popularity contest, the biggest sites ask you to register your like or dislike of whatever page you are on, the instant you land on it. Morbid Angel is a band who are pretty introspective, who steadfastly follow their own creative path, rarely if ever checking out what their peers are doing. As Trey says in interviews, they create their music firstly to satisfy their own creative instincts- not for any fan or journalists approval.Even so, I suspect they have never witnessed such a deluge of disapproval arriving at their doorstep,like this:

Hitler reacts to new Morbid Angel:

Whats laughable about this is David Vincent sings "Killer Kult, Killer Kult" at the beginning of Radikult yet the online geniuses/critics misheard the lyrics as "Kill a Cop Cop, Kill a Cop" and the baying mob swallowed it whole. When the critics cite "Bodycount called and want their lyrics back", which is patently wide of the mark, things really are way out of hand, and have reached the pinnacle of absurdity.

What is bemusing to me, is how fans are zeroing in on the weird tracks as if its a total sell-out to the death metal scene for a band to experiment a bit or break up the album flow with a different vibe. Morbid Angel has always done this, on every album since A. Admittedly the quirky interludes were short and were hardly main album songs.Often they were simply a chance for the band to indulge their Laibach or video game fantasies before returning to the main business of blasting, shredding death metal. Check out Trooper or Dreaming :

Morbid Angel Trooper

Morbid Angel Dreaming

I'm pretty certain that a good proportion of the current generation of Death Metal fans will know the band only from single mp3 track downloads, or possibly even Youtube clips of the main songs from Morbid's back catalog.

This has made them pretty intolerant of anything but their fave tracks. I speculate that today's fans can't actually handle and are ill at ease with a complete 45 minute album. No-one has time to waste checking out the variety of vibes which can be displayed on an album anymore, mostly they'll just cherry pick the most well-known songs.

I suspect a good proportion of fans don't even actually play albums anymore- just mp3 collections of their favourite tracks.

Despite all the backlash, if what I'm hearing is true 2000 of the special wooden box editions are completely sold out, at £100+ a time, so you do the math! For Morbid Angel in 2011, its very much Death Metal business as usual.

Long Live Morbid Angel.

[DISCLAIMER: I signed Morbid Angel and my label Earache released everything they recorded for the first 9 releases, working with them daily for almost 2 decades. Earache parted ways with the band in 2004, but we continue to promote their stellar back catalog and regularly co-operate with band and their management over re-issue campaigns.So,yes I'm biased.]

PS: When Trey talks about Terrorcore in interviews, I assume he means stuff like this:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RIVAL SONS say: "Don't Give Them Your Soul"

Question: Hey Dig, what's the story behind Rival Sons? I mean, they're not exactly the usual Earache fare...Earache is predominantly an extreme music label and the only thing extreme about Rival Sons is that they're extremely good; they're a 21st Century Zeppelin.

And I don't think it is a bad thing that Earache is branching out into other, maybe more accessible genres, which leads me to my second question: the music biz. I know that this has been written about many times before, and on this very blog, but has the changing face of the music industry kinda necessitated that you take on bands that, maybe, just a few years ago, would not have found a place on your roster?

I know Earache has always had the odd "misfit" here and there, but they could still be viewed as being, to some extent, extreme (Ultraviolence and Fudge Tunnel, for example) but Rival Sons are stadium rock giants in the making! They sound like a major label act, a band that could, conceivably, sell millions.

Answer: Cheers for the kind words about RIVAL SONS Terry- they are indeed one of the most brilliant new bands around. UK's Classic Rock magazine even proclaimed them as "America's best new band" on last months cover. Err, maybe that's taking things a bit far, but its undeniable they are one of the hottest new Rock bands on the scene. In no time at all the band have scored a powerful management company Azoff/Frontline (Van Halen, Aerosmith, Journey etc) and hooked up with Kiss' publishing company to rep their songs. This is all before the band even has a proper album out. Their 2009 debut album was a DIY affair- no CD, just self-released digitally, so the follow up 'Pressure and Time' (Earache 20th June) will be the first time fans can actually purchase a real physical copy, on CD and Vinyl LP.

I take your point about it being unusual for Earache to be working with such a "commercial" sounding band, given the extreme acts we're famous for. I'll explain how and why below.

The truth is - the band were signed for the exact same reason that any number of our previous 450 releases on this label were- we absolutely LOVE Rival Sons, LOVE their music, LOVE the fellas in the band, and especially LOVE the musical 'authenticity' they are spearheading back into the turgid rock scene.

Heres the RIVAL SONS Pressure and Time clip, filmed in 23 locations around Southern California over 2 days.(No CGI or green screen was used)

Earache is a rare Indie label in that I actually founded it and still own it and run it, so there's no business suits/ shareholders/money men to pander to. Meaning I sign and work with whatever bands I feel like. Working in the metal biz as I do, I hear so much manufactured, modern, pro-tooled crap that to hear a genuine, authentic kick-ass rock band who sounded alive in the studio, was a joy to behold.

I discovered the band on the web, and last summer began excitedly tweeting about them, meanwhile opening contract talks to sign the band. Guaranteeing them complete artistic freedom as well as a more than fair record deal ensured a deal was struck. Helpfully, Rival Sons were not in anyway judgemental about an Indie label deal, some of the members had been on a major for a previous band, but the deal went sour during downsizing/ cut-backs so they know the harsh reality. Earache and Rival Sons are both strongly inclined towards the counter-culture movement so we're on a similar wavelength, which again, helps.

Everyone from teenage thrash-heads to elitist blues-buffs can relate to the RIVAL SONS' honesty, energy and genuine vibes. Earache isn't the only Indie Metal label going down this route either. Long standing Dutch Indie Mascot/Provogue records arguably led the way with Black Country Communion who were one of my albums of last year. Like Earache, Mascot spent the 90's releasing Death metal acts such as Sadus. European metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast recently entered the 'classic' Hard Rock fray too, their Swedish band Graveyard is one to watch out for. Its worth mentioning that London's Rise Above label was releasing 70s sounding rock records before anyone else.

RIVAL SONS are no mere Classic Rock/Led Zep copyists though - their musical roots go much deeper than that. Rival Sons go right back to the original source material, the members have an encyclopedic knowledge of early blues and soul music, from which they draw their musical inspiration. As frontman Jay Buchanan says in interview- he's as much influenced by Robert Johnson as Robert Plant. Jay also cites The Staple Singers, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Leadbelly, Wilson Pickett, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, John Jacob Niles, Johnnie Ray, Robert Petway, Son House and countless others.

"I spent my childhood like any other young boy," BUCHANAN recounts, "I wanted to be a Samurai, a cowboy, a professional skateboarder etc. But the biggest difference between my friends and I is that I mostly wanted to be
Robert Johnson when I grew up."

It was blues legend ROBERT JOHNSON's landmark 1930's recordings which displayed a combination of blues guitar, oozing with genuine soulful feeling, that would influence musicians for generations to come, including the likes of JIMI HENDRIX, ERIC CLAPTON, BOB DYLAN, LED ZEPPELIN - and several decades later, would also influence a young teenage BUCHANAN at home in California: "I would sit and listen for hours on end to those old blues recordings, and I remember feeling possessed by those ghosts and their honest, spooky voices."

Heres RIVAL SONS with their epic, jawdropping, set-closer "Soul":

As for your claim they could be "stadium rock giants in the making"- well only time will tell. I agree with you that RIVAL SONS would deserve it, but its a long shot in the current music industry climate. A biz which worships at the altar of the Televised talent show/ X-factor production line type crap is not known for valuing honesty or integrity in music.

Wish us luck!!

Heres Blues legend Robert Johnson:

Heres an inside look at RIVAL SONS filmed by new bourbon drink Jeremiah Weed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whats up with Akercocke?

Question: Is there any current (as in 2011 or at least late 2010) status on Akercocke? Their website went down and it seems that the DVD they were going to release just kind of disappeared? I've been missing them.

Also, thanks for the 320 rip of the new Wormrot album, it's good to see even record companies caring about good quality!


Answer: Akercocke are still semi-active dude, they just played Norway's INFERNO festival a couple of weekends ago infact. See the song 'Leviathan' performed in France as recently as April 2011 below:

Akercocke hasn't been on the Earache label for a few years now - since their deal with us expired after 2007's "Antichrist" they decided to go the DIY route- which is fair enough, and we wished them the very best in that endeavour.

So speaking unofficially, it seems to me that a few factors have affected the Akercocke camp in recent times to cause them to disappear from view. Notably mainman Jason Mendonca has a young family now - preventing any extensive touring.Though the band do still play weekend gigs and a select few festivals so they still have a profile and have categorically not split up.

Because of the recent hiatus, guitarist Matt Wilcock and drummer David Gray formed The Antichrist Imperium, while David has been bashing the skins at a much slower tempo as drummer for My Dying Bride on the live circuit.

It was reported last year that guitarist Matt Wilcock (Ex-Berzerker) was quitting Akercocke to persue other projects, with no bad blood evident. He was replaced by Dan Knight of fellow London extremists Ted Maul, who can be seen on the video above.

As for the non appearance of the DVD. I have no first hand knowledge, so can only speculate: I reckon that somehow the finished footage didn't match the bands exacting visual standards, so it must have been shelved, rather than release a sub-standard product to fans.

The band website going down and domain being for sale is news to me- given that Jason is a highly qualified IT professional in his day job you'd think it would be a breeze to at least fix up a website to keep fans informed. The fact they choose to not keep up a twitter or facebook account, and their last update to myspace was Feb 2010, just adds to the overall air of mystery surrounding the band. I'm sure its just simply because mainman Jason is too busy with "real life" to find time to update.

Heres AKERCOCKE at Inferno festival May 2011.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Should GOOGLE just buy the entire Recording Industry?

This posting on the famously anti-Music Biz site Techdirt has me incensed. From their one-sided viewpoint, it seems a rather trivial matter for Google to buy out the 4 major record companies and then control the access and usage of music online in the future. Free Mp3's for all, for ever, would be the result and music fans could rejoice at music finally being released from the clutches of the evil, slow, dumb Record companies. Everybody wins. Or do they??

Sure, undoubtedly GOOGLE's pockets are deep enough to do it. WARNERS is currently on the block and inviting bids in the region of $3 Billion. EMI, SONY/BMG could be bought for roughly the same and even the world's biggest Music Company UNIVERSAL could go for under $20 Billion. The entire Major label Recording Industry (minus the 1000s of Indies), if it was for sale, would fetch maybe $30 Billion maximum. Google's current market capitalisation is around $170 Billion so the founders could indeed buy the Music Biz with their pocket change, if they wanted. But why would they- the culture of the modern Tech companies is totally alien to the culture of the Music industry, it would be a disaster for all parties. I imagine Google would not take too kindly to Death Metal or gore-grind bands??

Google's worth is built on coding an immensely popular search engine for the internet during the last decade, whereas the Music Companies essentially tap into a tradition of human creativity and expression lasting for millennia. Classical Music dating from a few centuries ago is still popular because it is some of the finest forms of human expression ever conceived. A 1960's band The Beatles still regularly tops the itunes charts even in 2011, 50 years on. Whatever the format of music choice is in 2061, maybe it'll be some life-like hologram type gizmo I imagine, you can bet that The Beatles will still be relevant, yet Google will certainly be just a distant memory.

For the last 300 years music has been consumed via hand-written sheet music, printed sheet music, 78rpm records, vinyl LP, cassette,Compact disc and now the current Mp3 era. My point is- music transcends formats because it is an intrinsic part of our expression and culture. Search engines and targeted Ad-words are not meaningful to our human existence- but music is.

This incessant talk of modern super-smart shiny new Tech firms overtaking the old, dim-witted, litigious record companies is so deluded. People need to remember that Record companies were themselves once the most cutting edge tech companies on the planet-Phillips invented the CD, Sony the cassette Walkman, OK it was back in the pre-PC days, but their expertise is borne from decades of smart and cutting edge research and development. Record companies and their parent companies were the tech titans of the pre-PC era.

We have been here before- in the early history of the internet back in the 90s, the Google type behemoth of tech was AOL.Being the first ISP to allow the average Joe pain-free access to the internet, it became hugely popular during the early web era. At one point AOL boasted 30 Million subscribers and a market capitalisation of $240 Billion. Exceeding Google's paltry $170B as it stands at the moment. Things move at lightening pace in tech, todays tech titans all to often become tommorrows tech trash- see Netscape and countless other so-called "success stories" for proof. AOL was eventually sold to Time-Warner for a knock down price as tech moved on at its usual fast pace and AOL became seriously outmoded.

Myspace is showing signs of being the latest tech casualty- I'm sure a few years ago there might have been a similar clamour from the deluded tech-acolytes for MySpace to 'take on' or even 'buy outright' the music Biz. Nowadays its a busted flush, and its most likely fate is to be bought itself by a Record/Media company. Actually its reportedly on the block for $100 million as of late April 2011. News Corp paid $580 Million for Myspace a few years ago.Oh the ignominity!

Talent always trumps tech.

In recent months Google's own share forecast has been downwards. Lately there has been talk of Google-owned You Tube tube beginning to start acting like a entertainment company and create its own content. Apparently YouTube is investing $100 million in exclusive and high quality content. I guess relying on a succession of viral hits is not really a way to build a sustainable business. There are only so many Skateboading dogs or cute kitties to go around- they provide a few LOL moments but don't have the power to touch or effect people's lives as music so often does.

Music makes up 30% of all YouTube streams, and 6 of the top 10 twitter accounts are musicians.This remarkable statistic bares repeating- how come its not sports stars or actors or TV personalities which form the bulk of their content and earn those companies millions in ad revenue? Ironically, it's the new tech companies which have benefited most from the countless talented folks who choose to express themselves within the music scene.

The idea that Google should buy the Music Biz is ludicrous. Google is not unassailable, and the fate of all tech firms is seriously perilous as the pace of progress marches on. A more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that Google within a few years becomes painfully outmoded, maybe due to the ceaseless rise of Facebook, or possibly even newer tech firms formed around the mobile platform will rise up to steal Googles thunder in coming years. Who would bet against the likely buyer of Google being an old fashioned record/media company?

[DISCLAIMER- I write this article as long-standing and unaligned Indie record label owner. My label has some distro tie-in with EMI in USA and Warners owned ADA in UK but there's no ownership to any Major Record Co.]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Meshuggah invented Djent, and Periphery perfected Djent.

Question: What the heck is Djent, this new genre I've been reading about? Will Earache be signing any bands like that soon? cheers, Anthony


Answer: Djent is a new name that's been circulating around recently to basically describe a new breed of bands who merge Progressive or Experimental Metal stylings played with Meshuggah style guitar tone and instrumentation. Tech-wise this means 8-string guitars and lots of outboard gear to get that deep guitar tone. Musically its about the drummer creating mesmeric multiple-grooves by use of complex polyrhythms and the guitarist creating their own separate rhythm aswell.Together they can create an intoxicating vortex of sound. Repetition and 4/4 timing is anathema to Djent, the song must be ever-evolving and changing. Long progressive songs about space, time-warps or abstract subjects are the norm in the genre, sung with mostly melodic but also some growl-type vocals.

The name itself stems from an interview Meshuggah guitarist Marten Hagstrom gave when asked to describe in words their fantastically rich, deep, crushing, warped guitar tone- he replied, "it just goes like "Dj-ent Dj-ent Dj-ent".

Watch Meshuggah perform "Straws pulled at Random" for the Djent masterclass from the Swedish expermental metal innovators:

Meshuggah are indeed the sole inventors and forefathers of the entire scene and carved out a unique niche because for many years nobody except them played this style. What has caused the sudden boom is the stampede of younger American fans exiting the metalcore/ mathcore and to some extent deathcore scenes and opening their minds to the more complex playing involved in Djent. Seemingly from nowhere, there has been a sort of Meshuggah-isation among a whole generation of formerly pretty standard metal/mathcore/tech metal type acts.

Musicians who are fantastic on their instruments seemingly want to just play ever more expansive and progressive music. Influences from Tool, Dream Theater and even Mastodon's more proggy moments all seem to be evident aswell. My theory is that Djent offers new bands a sense of anything goes, of complete musical freedom- its more or less a reaction to the rigid constraints of the old mathcore/tech metal scene. The leaders of this new US breed are undoubtedly Periphery.


At the same time in UK and Europe bands like TesseracT seem to have their roots in the, dare I day it, more 'traditional' progressive kind of metal vibes, but its this freedom to play whatever they damn well like -as long as its not in the dreaded 4/4 timing and shows off their musician-ship - which unites the US and UK scenes.


I have talked about bands like TesseracT and Cloudkicker on this blog last February where I mentioned they were good enough to be signed, and sure enough Century Media inked a deal with TesseracT at the end of last year. Fair play to them for spotting their undoubted talent and giving them a chance.

The glare of the spotlight on the Djent scene has unexpectedly given a huge boost to all those Progressive and Experimental Metal bands who were toiling away for the past few years in the shadows. Bands playing progressive metal to a small but highly appreciative audience - albeit mostly via message boards and internet forums - can expect to see a huge rise in interest.



The Djent scene has also been a boon for all the solo guitar improv players. For these one man type of "bands", you could argue Joe Satriani is the godfather of Djent more so than Meshuggah. In some ways the scene has exploded because there are just so many of these solo bedroom improv guitarists out on the net, they finally have a genre to call their own. Here's a few of the best of them.


Chimp Spanner

Jakub Żytecki

Following Periphery in the USA are a chasing pack of bands- most notably Veil of Maya who started as a more straight up metalcore/deathcore act but now have way more Djent parts in their songs.

Veil of Maya

Marten Hagstrom explains the Djent quitar technique -"Muffled thing with powerchord" is what gives the Djent sound, unfortunately he has no outboard gear in this clip.

As for wether Earache would sign any Djent bands? Even though they are nothing to do with it, we'd sign Toubab Krewe first because the musicianship on display is just superlative in the extreme. Hey- maybe we could promote them as "Ethno-Djent" or "Medieval Djent". I'm joking of course. I just wanted to embed a clip from a great band here, hopefully my blog readers will get a kick out of them. Enjoy.

Toubab Krewe

Friday, March 04, 2011

When the underground meets the mainstream, bad things happen.

Question: Hi Dig,

My question is a bit of a weird one, I was wondering what your opinion on music 'breaking out of the underground' (so to speak is), and whether many underground genres don't really get a chance to properly flourish when they are pushed into the mainstream, which can lead them to 'die'

One of the things that led me to this question was reading some old posts on your blog from last year, you spoke of the big new rise of 'deathcore' and how you saw it being a big genre coming into the metal scene, and spoke about signing Oceano etc, but this conflicts with the views of many fans of the genre who would say true deathcore came around in about 2004-2005 and died only a few years later, with the scene now being 'stale' with carbon copies everywhere, and I think though not entirely true this is a very good point (a good example being bands such as bring me the horizon, though their EP and debut album could certainly be categorized as deathcore, their new material is very far from it!).

So in so many words I think I am trying to ask when it comes to signing bands of a certain up and coming scene or sub genre would you rather be looking for something BRAND new and really relevant to that time (deathcore in 2006 for example) or would you rather wait and catch the bands who arrive onto the scene a few years later when elitists (and many original fans of the genre) would claim it was dead and buried but more and more bands are appearing and audiences are getting bigger, younger and more mainstream (normally a sign of the end in any metal subgenre?)?

I think I may have overused deathcore as an example but it does seem to happen with more genres of music, IE it rises on the underground, gets really big, then a lot of the originals get disregarded leaving newer, less original bands with more mainstream appeal to carry the genre?

I've probably phrased it a bit weird but what is your answer if you understand the question!


Answer: I've been around long enough to witness quite a few brand new music scenes evolve and rise out of the underground, and I'm not just talking about the various metal sub-genres like Grunge, Grind, Death Metal, Goth Metal,Glam, Industrial Metal, Black Metal, Doom, Post-hardcore, Emo, Screamo, Metal-core, Nu metal, Folk-metal, Deathcore, and this years newie- Djent. I've seen more widespread and general innovations in music too, for example the rise of electronic music in the early 90s onwards - from Jungle, Techno, Drum n Bass, Hardcore Techno, Grime, to Dubstep etc.

Regarding original Deathcore circa 2006, Earache prides itself on signing bands early on in their career- so we were aware of Deathcore early on and actively tried to sign Suicide Silence, Job For a Cowboy & As Blood Runs Black (via Mediaskare) but with all the activity taking place in California, and we're based in Nottingham UK, we couldn't strike any deal unfortunately. Instead in 2007 we secured the rights to the debut album by UK band Bring Me The Horizon for sale Stateside. A couple of years later in 2009 we signed Oceano, mainly because they were the heaviest of the following pack of bands and we liked their style.

It's fascinating for me to watch scenes evolve over time -whatever scene you care to mention, there is a real distinction and time-lag- often a mere 4-6 months- between the early innovators (usually a handful of people) and the huge masses of the followers which can number in the thousands. Mostly the innovators take the plaudits of their peer-group but very often don't get the rewards.

In many cases its the second or third wave of bands who clean up financially because the innovators in any scene find the going extremely tough- playing something new means you take all the hard knocks and ridicule in the early days, because the status quo is highly resistance to any changes. It can knock the stuffing out of the best of bands. Also adapting to unexpected success can derail unwary bands- ask any of the early members of Napalm Death why they quit- you'll hear tales like "The joke was wearing thin" or "It seemed like a short lived fad" or "there was no way such extreme music could last beyond 6 months". Shane Embury was made of sterner stuff, though he was not an original member, he proved everyone wrong by keeping the band going for 20+ years.

In the 80s-90s, pre internet, big selling Underground bands would have to adopt a more mainstream persona - meaning try to score a major record deal and then adapt to becoming radio and TV fodder - in order to try and sell a serious amount of records. Nowadays, successful underground bands don't have to defect to the mainstream anymore, it seems they are just expanding the underground to previously unheard of levels.

As a music fan years before I even started the label, I'd always been seriously interested in whatever was the most contemporary, innovative and newest-sounding thing around. On one the earliest Earache releases Unseen Terror (Mosh 4) I paid homage to the Thrasher-led Skater scene and the Def Jam-led early Rap scene by using a Thrasher & Def-jam logo style for the Earache logos on the vinyl labels of Mosh 4. Those scenes had influenced my tastes a lot early on. To me they were both similar forms of street-music and were appealing for that reason.

One thing I learned from my 10+ years of avid listening to John Peel on BBC Radio was that not every band trying something new makes it big. Only a handful of the bands Peel showcased would go on to spawn hordes of imitators and make their permanent mark on the music scene. Most of the bands given sessions would fade back into obscurity just as quickly as they arrived, which was puzzling. Not many people realise that for every sub-genre of music that gains its own Wikipedia page, there are dozens more that never get off the launch pad.

Scenes are really all about a time and a place. The intensity of a shared experience by a small group of fans can cause a ripple effect that spreads further afield and resonates with an entire generation of similarly-minded fans far away who were,it seems, 'primed for it' anyway. In the blink of an eye, everyone that matters is dancing to the exact same beat, while everyone else is wondering "How the hell did that happen?".

Pre-internet, scenes took place in a physical location, examples would be Thrash in the Bay Area, Grunge in Seattle, Grind in Birmingham (much like the original Heavy Metal before it), Death Metal in Florida, Black Metal in Oslo.

Nowadays of course the shared experience is on the Social networks or YouTube and going 'viral' is the term for a video that is breaking out. Justin Bieber is the first global music star to break via YouTube and he won't be the last. I think it will probably be a long while before the Music Biz/ Grammys do actually give awards to Tom Anderson (Myspace founder) and the Google/Youtube folks for all their work in breaking bands, but they will definately deserve such recognition from the Biz, when it arrives.