Sunday, December 27, 2009

Napalm Death 'Breed to Breathe' clip is illegal in Germany

Question: Hello,

I recently bought the limited double disc edition of Napalm Death's "Utopia Banished" with the "The DVD" as bonus disc. Is the DVD censored? I can't find the "Breed to Breathe" promo video on the dvd neither in the menu or on the disc. From:

Answer: You cannot find the video clip Breed To Breathe by Napalm Death onsale in Germany because the authorities in that country told us its illegal to sell it or even display it. Thats why the clip is removed on the DVD edition you purchased, sorry.(maybe it mentions the clip on the packaging? if so it is a mistake.)

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.

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 the disk.

See what all the fuss was about for yourself:
Napalm Death - Breed To Breathe 1997.

Moshpit Tragedy records- the future of labels?

Question: With all this talk of free music downloading taking over, what do you think of Moshpit Tragedy records stance, the first label to offer all their music as free music? From:

Answer: Yeah its very interesting model, but I dunno about if its going to burn down the industry! We spoke to Moshpit Tragedy's mainman Rayny Forster in 2008 when he was looking to find a larger label to take his project under his wing, or even to buy him out. Rayny is a super smart guy who has that great ability of self-promotion, and will no doubt be pretty successful in any endeavour. His choice of bands are cool too- hes a punk/crust/grind fan, so you can get Extreme Noise Terror or Phobia and about 20 more punk/crust albums - all for free download from his site Moshpit Tragedy.

Oh- you can also pay for them too- he has sliding scale of payment option, tho he confided to us that the majority of fans take the free option, which is fair enough.

Recently he announced - proudly- that all his releases will be download-only, no physical product. I applaud his conviction, because if we tried that with our bands, there would be a riot, as there is nothing our band members covet more seeing their album in their own hands, as a nice lavish Cd or vinyl edition of their work.

Rayny has a great promotional angle and decent taste in music, if he can persuade some biggish bands to join him then it could really spell trouble for the regular music industry.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The origins of the NWOTHM? Its the NWOBHM!

Question: So im wondering who started this nwothm thing in your opinion, I actually think its a band from the other side of canada to cauldron. 3 inches of blood, sounds bizare I know however they were playing traditional style heavy metal to metalcore audiences. infact their formation as a hardcore band is what helped with their touring and punk esque ethic to DIYing everything. Im curious as to whom your opinion is to whom think the root of this nwothm is? From:

Answer: It's hard to credit who is responsible for the upsurge in interest in bands playing classic Traditional/True/Timeless Heavy Metal, but it sure wasn't 3 Inches of Blood, at least according to my definition of NWOTHM anyway.

There have been countless bands in recent years playing modern music with hints of a traditional metal flavour from the past.You could count Power metal (Hammerfall) or Doom (Electric Wizard) or even Sleaze-Rock (Steel Panther) or straight-up 70s rockers (Firebird). All these bands lay claim to be playing authentic proper Metal in the classic tradition.

What they all have in common is that as far as influences go, they skipped the 90s- a decade where Death/Black metal and extremity in music came to be highly regarded, rising to prominence so much that Black/Death metal had more or less come to represent the mainstream modern underground metal sound during 1990s onward.They also skipped the noughties (00s)- a decade defined by Korn/Bizkit and endless rap/metal, nu-metal clones,plus female gothic and any type of metal with an added 'core'.You could sum it up as a decade of crossovers, metal was mixed, remixed, cut-up,and matched to suit all tastes, even symphony orchestras were added to metal and nobody seemingly complained. Urgh- why?!! Now a stampede of pure, undiluted True/traditional/Timeless metal bands are set to take the stage.

(Disclosure-I'm not a journalist or pundit, I'm an Indie metal label owner. My label signed some of the bands listed in the below NWOTHM list and this blog aims to help promote those bands.At the time of posting, none of the bands are anything much, most have'nt even barely released their debut album yet.As an aside, Earache never used the term NWOTHM- that was coined by Metal Hammer mag, and seems to have stuck)

If you've followed metal trends for a while, you'll know, aside from the ludicrous Italian Power Metal bands, or the postings of Rich Walker's Miskatonic label, as well as the Kings of Metal themselves, Manowar, there has not been too many bands claiming "True metal" status in recent years. In the underground, its mostly been the Doom metal bands who have been the ones flying the flag for "true metal" for the longest time. Doom bands by definition have no problem with being retro,being originally all about Black Sabbath worship, then lately branching out into other 70s classic metal offshoots. Look at the Rise Above Records roster for a comprehensive list of the bands who revel in the sounds of this era, a great example is probably Grand Magus.

Being retro is a large part of what makes the Doom genre cool, but by and large the Doom bands have concentrated on perfecting the riffs of trad metal, ignoring the 3 octave vocal Halford/Dickinson-style "metal scream" which in my opinion is the defining essence of the new breed of NWOTHM bands. I have no idea why they ignored this - my guess is its 1) harder to perfect 2) derided as "cheesy" and 3) mostly the ages of the members of the bands means they are products of the Death metal era and so growly vocals are de rigeur.Doom has always been about the authentic riffs anyway.

The one band who did most to popularise true HM first would be Sweden's WOLF.

My own definition of NWOTHM could be summed up as early Maiden/Priest worship.I mean metal with nimble riffing, and great classic vocals.In essence the roots of the NWOTHM is the NWOBHM, unsuprisingly- the clue is in the name. The key element is the 'NW' meaning New Wave, alluding to influence from the original NWOBHM era which dated from about 1979-1982 in the UK.This time span witnessed a huge explosion of metal bands with an almost punky DIY attitude and threw up so many debut seven inch records - it was the evolutionary equivalent of metal's 'Cambrian explosion', and could be summed up as Heavy Metal's "Punk phase", where anything went, more DIY the better.

For me personally, any bands with 60s, 70s, 80s classic rock/metal influences, that makes them retro, and even quite cool in many cases, but to qualify as NWOTHM their strongest influence must undoubtedly be the bands of the original NWOBHM era.Scandinavian bands can substitute Merciful Fate for Maiden and still be authentic.

Earache has signed retro rock in the past, we signed both Clutch (as a quirky Philly HC band) and Sleep ( as straight-up Sabbath worshippers) in the 90's, Cathedral also, and in my opinion the bands playing retro rock nowadays are nothing original, nothing excites me from the entire Kemado label roster for instance, and the proggy or psyche touches displayed by certain metal bands claiming true metal status also leave me cold.

Retro-rock is big business nowadays, from the stellar sales of Wolfmother to the psyche touches in Mastodon, every band in the land has a retro-rock flavour, its standard fare almost.

To counter this, and cos my tastes are quite niche, in my opinion NWOTHM must be narrowly defined, its about 79 Maiden/Priest era, nimble riffs in normal tuning, not ponderous downtuned Iommi style riffs- actually and most crucially, its the punky slant that is missing from most of the other current retro bands, its this punky aspect which makes the NWOTHM bands by far the most contemporary-sounding metal bands around presently.

Also it goes without saying that regular recent-ish Metalcore bands who adopt a few half-assed high (ish) metal screams here and there don't cut the mustard, I'm afraid.3 Inches of Blood are basically OK, and have a few songs which were a really good stab at the style, I do quite like them -in fact I tried to sign the band recently without success.3 inches of Blood are a band stuck in the middle of two scenes, they were'nt fully NWOTHM when they had second short-haired screamo-singer Jamie.He ruined the band for me, his screamo vocals more or less ruining the effect of true metal singer Cam Pipes, who is excellent.

3 Inches of Blood:

A young band who trailblazed the way in 2007-8 for retro rock to be cool again, and on a major label too, was Florida's BLACK TIDE, though they did not have high pitched vocals. Heres Black Tide 'Show Me The Way' clip


Grand Magus
Slough Feg
The Gates of Slumber
Viking Skull
The Sword
Sister Sin
Black Stone Cherry
Steel Panther
Heaven's Basement
Holy Grail
3 Inches of Blood
The Devil's Blood
Dear Superstar
Savage Blade
Sinister Realm
Twisted Tower Dire
High Spirits
Metal Law
Conquest Of Steel
Steel Horse
White Skull
Barn Burner


Powervice ex-members formed Devils Blood
White Wizzard ex-members formed Holy Grail
Helvetets Port
Crowning Glory
Volture - Ryan & Phil from Municipal Waste's great NWOTHM side project.
Icarus Witch
Overloaded Split-Guitarist Erik joined White Wizzard
In Solitude
Evil Survives
Diamond Snake
JC Satellite

Here's WHITE WIZZARD 'Over The Top' Official Video




Here's RAM :

Heres Overloaded (RIP)

heres Crowning Glory :

heres Voltax :

And the youngest newcomers of them all- JC Satellite:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Which social network is best for promotion?

Question: Yo! It seems like, according to some people, that myspace is dying. People move to facebook which took over the un-hip masses (myspaces was only for computer freacks and alternative freacks of any age). Moreover, many other sitese came out like twitter, reverb nation, I Like etc... Ok, the question is: what should a band do now about internet promotion? Which are today's and tomorrow's most important portals? Which can be neglected? Because there are so many options that take you entire woking days... From:

Answer: The internet has allowed mass communication on a scale never before imagined,so now anyone with an internet connection has an extensive network of potentially the entire online human population at their fingertips, this kind of power was once only in the hands of the prime-time Television networks during events of global significance.Now its routine, just spark up your browser, and its yours.

Back in the mid-90s during the early stages of the 'net bands used free web-page hosting site Geocities to house their website, to host their songs and Yahoo groups to cultivate fan discussions and comments. Basically it was a pain to update 3 separate sites regularly plus, the bands of that era still had the 80s mindset, which was to interact with fans only when a new release was imminent, like every 20 months or so, to generate interest leading to a successful album launch.

The previous generation of bands also had wonderful things called 'fan clubs', where bands would type out and mail a newsletter or maybe even a cassette tape of new music to fans who had signed up and paid for such privileged one-on-one access to their favourite artists.

Myspace was the first site to combine all 3 factors, and it took the music industry by storm, its fair to say it revolutionised how fans have access to bands and vice-versa. Only launched in 2004 its instant huge success came from it being free, and from its 'killer app'- Myspace was the first site to stream music properly without installing extra software. It was a very much a musical revolution. Bands that took adding Myspace friends seriously soon found this new found power of interaction with fans intoxicating. By the same token, it gave fans unprecedented access to the musicians aswell. It was a win-win.

Many new teenaged bands took to this like demons, updating their activities daily or even hourly with fans, this open-ness and interactivity turned what were once mere fans into hopeless fanatics. Without even realising it,they used the power the site gave them to eventually launch successful careers some years later. Its fair to say that most if not all of the Emo and Screamo scene bands of recent years became popular by using Myspace, and are now household names in the metal music scene. Myspace founder Tom Anderson is surely overdue his spot in the Music Hall of Fame somewhere,I seriously think that.

Nowadays of course MySpace is showing its age,every site streams music now, and a generation of folks have migrated to Facebook and the current internet trend of Twitter, but personally I still use Myspace as my first port of call for checking out new bands, because the music is what I need to hear, so its not all doom and gloom for Myspace. Twitter is a hit because its essentially just short status updates- it mirrored the growing massive trend for short SMS texts which anyone with a mobile phone instinctively knows is the quickest way to communicate simple messages to others. Twitter just 'socialised' the process.

Back to your question - in short your answer is YouTube, mainly because Facebook and Myspace are walled gardens, or pretty much closed communities. It seems silly to even mention it, such is the power of the site, but youtube has been quietly revolutionising the entire music industry, as well as the television industry, movie industry and advertising industry. People have no idea of the scale and the power that Youtube wields, it has acheived absolute dominance in the streaming video field, almost by stealth.

Make no mistake- if you are a new band, you need to be filming yourself continuously and posting it to YT, because new music stars are are being born on Youtube, on a regular basis.Biggest recent example might be Susan Boyle, the middle aged Scottish singer failed to even win last years X-factor TV talent contest, but her striking performance later received over 100 Million plays on youtube, catapulting her to global fame. Her debut album was released last week selling 3 Million.

At the other end of the age-scale is Justin Beiber (see pic), a 15 year old teenage pop phenomenon in the USA whose debut album was released last week reaching top 10 on the Billboard chart.As a 13 yr old in Canada he started posting clips of himself singing covers of well-known pop songs to Youtube, which soon earned him a fanatical following of admirers. His clips would generate millions of views, which eventually caught the attention of R&B star Usher who signed him to the Island record label. His whole fanbase was originally created using Youtube.

The future stars of tomorrow will be created on the mobile networks,so an iPhone app which displayed real-time Twitter feeds combined with Youtube video streams from a band would be my best bet for a successful promotion method of your band.

Good luck with it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Downloading music is the future

Question: What do you think of the opinion that the only music being really affected by downloading is shite music? In that now people can try before they buy, and you no longer have the situation of someone going to a record store buying somthing taking it home and thinking this sucks! I read an article in the paper that the only bands its affecting really are buzz bands who would have a short shelf life anyway and if a band had some longevity towards them people would buy their records. From:

Answer: Yes, I take your point, but there are two type of downloading : the free download (from rapidshare/ megaupload or via torrents) and also, beleive it or not, you can also pay for downloading music aswell. Paid for downloads are typically from itunes for like 99c a track or $7.99 an album (you need a credit card or a prepay card).

I only mention this because your question seems to assume all downloads are free- many people do prefer to pay for music from itunes or other reputable sources like This is to make sure the title tags are full and correct, the d/l doesnt contain any malware.In the case of new itunes 'LP' offering, you get the full artwork & lyrics included in the d/l aswell which makes it pretty decent value i think.

Earache is -unlike many other record companies- pretty open to fans downloading our bands music for free.We just did exactly this with the new Gama Bomb album Tales From The Grave in Space.Fans can try it out at its a free download, powered by Rapidshare.

If you like Gama Bomb, maybe you'll buy a CD or vinyl copy when its released on January 18th next year. We are OK with the fan having the choice, you either pay your money, or you don't. I gotta say the CD booklet for the release is totally stunning and takes the form of a comic book, which is worth buying on its own in fact.There is also a plan to release a severely limited box set (300 copies only) of the Tales from the Grave in Space album containing material unavaible elsewhere, and a limited edition shirt= this is a must-have for Gama Bomb completists.

The record industry as a whole is gearing up for the decline of the physical record.In many ways its going to evolve into a much wider reaching, ubiquitous "music is used everywhere, and for free" industry, because music and the promotion of musicians is what we are involved in.

There is a precedent for this, in the song publishing industry. Back in the 10s and 20s of the last century the music industry consisted of songwriters of the day, and their publishers, selling printed copies of the sheet music of the latest tunes, for families to play on the piano in their own homes.Hit songwriters of the day like Irving Berlin and Ira Gershwin were kings- operating out of the New York Tin Pan Alley district- because at that point there were no record players,and hence no record companies, because the easy-to-use gramophone record had not been invented yet.The songwriter was the star, and the performer was yourself at home playing the popular tunes of the day, on the piano.

This printed sheet music industry was huge - it was how music was copied and distributed in the pre war era, and so - in the UK especially- it laid the foundations of the modern music business, as many of the laws and payments for hit songwriters date from this era. Its hard to believe it but there are still no actual laws in place in the UK dealing with musicians or performers payments from recordings of music. Mainly because the technology to mass produce a recording- the gramophone record - had not been invented by that point, it wasn't even thought of by the lawmakers.

So in essence in the UK it is the actual songwriters who rule and the recording artists who perfom those songs, must drool, because the laws here for rights and payments to songwriters predate the concerns of the later-coming recording artists.

In the USA its the opposite way round as the record business grew a decade or so after Tin Pan Alley, and it grew huge around the new technology of the day.In the 30s the gramaphone-recording industry was newly invented and it was this technology which was the driving force behind the nascent US music industry. Gramaphone records replaced sheet music as the predominant method of music distribution, hence the actual recording artists became the stars, and the rights of the songwriters behind those hits became neglected and faded away.

Fast forward a century, and now digital distribution of music via the internet or mobile phone networks, is causing a similar siesmic disruption to the status quo.The Mp3 music compression algorithm was invented by a little-known German scientific research institute FRAUNHOFER and was released without any fanfare under a free-use license - but heavy users of Mp3s like Apple and other audio-tech companies do have to buy a license though. Now billions of Mp3s are distributed every day, and its is the main method of music distribution.

I recall seeing with slight horror a drab little Fraunhofer stand at a PopKomm music industry conference in Cologne in the mid-late 90's.I had a chat with them because I'm fascinated by new-tech, but most folks attending the conference ignored their stand as they appeared to be a distinctly un-rock n roll bunch of boffins. Who would have guessed that this innocuous little institute, along with the broadband internet- could have caused the current transformation and meltdown among the seemingly monolithic Recording Industry.

Music companies of the future cannot be anything like the ones of the last century, and those that try to hold onto the bygone ways will no doubt be seen as dinosaurs and become extinct.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Make Rage Against the Machine the UK Xmas No 1

Question: Being as you've talked about downloading alot on this blog im curious as to what you think about the "get rage against the machine to xmas no 1 campaign!"? Surely if this is sucessful this will break the november/dec lull period in releasing music that you talked about in the video concerning gama bomb, in relation to the comerical rubbish that gets released over the xmas period. I personally see it as the people making a stand. As someone whos very vocal about downloading i would love to hear your take? From:

Answer: Yeah this is one of the most radical ideas I've heard of in years, but its not about Downloading per-se, its about disrupting the X-factor talent show's domination of UK's popular culture and the charts. Basically in the UK, the number one single in the chart during xmas week is traditionally a hard fought race between labels and bands, because any band that can score enough sales to be at the top of the chart during that week (actually week prior to xmas) usually gains a prime time TV slot on the famous Top of The Pops chart show, during the BBC afternoon Christmas day programming.Its one of the most watched shows of the year, the viewship is massive and the effects on a bands career are immense, it sets their career, for life.

The TV exposure guarantees massive sales for the first few weeks of the year, as its a UK tradition among many families to watch the Top of the Pops together, and buy the number one as a present to young uns. Many UK Xmas number ones of the past became bona-fide classics, even if they were gimmicky at the time. Having an Xmas number 1 guarantees fame and fortune for the band that can score it.

The trouble started because for the past 5 years this Race for the Xmas number one has been won by Simon Cowells production line of talent-show muppets.Every year he cynically times the debut single release by the winners of his hugely-watched TV talent show. The "X-factor" winner's single generates huge numbers of sales, often 500,000 or more, which almost guarantees the band an Xmas number one, and the subsequent fame that comes from that.

This year some bright spark has started a Facebook campaign, using the internet and crowd-sourcing, to break this Simon Cowell production line of talentless morons, and the idea is quite simple. Every person who cares about music should download (a paid for download, like from itunes) Killing in The Name of by Rage Against the Machine between December 13 and 19th. It has to be a legal paid for download to qualify for the chart sales. If approximately 500,000 people choose to do this, then its possible Rage Against the Machine will be number 1 instead of the X-factor winner.

I think its a great idea, and would demonstrate the immense power of crowd-sourcing if it was successful. I dont think Rage's label (Sony, who also distro Simon Cowell's records, oooh the irony) or even the band have prompted this move, its a genuine fan-driven attempt to restore a bit of unpredictability to the UK Xmas number 1 race, but 500,000 buyers in 7 days is a phenomenal amount of buyer-power.

I'll certainly be logging onto itunes next week and will buy the song.

Deathcore tips for 2010

Question: Kind of fits in with your previous question of picks for 2010, im wondering what new deathcore bands do you think will be in a good position by the time 2010 is over? I live in the uk deathcore stronghold of the south west ( the genre has breathed life back into my local scene so i really like it!) however most of my picks are from the other side of the pond. I pick Chelsea Grin, The Myriad Burial, The Nauseating Stab and also earache's own And Hell Followed With for big things. Im curious as to what your picks in the genre are? From:

Answer: Yes dude thats about the newcomers summed up.Obviously,I agree with AND HELL FOLLOWED WITH they are making their album for Earache right now- I expect it to blow minds in around March of the new year. Chelsea Grin are superb, we tried to sign them actually- their management is Artery Foundation, who actually started off a few years back with 2 Earache bands- Shortie and With Passion from Sacramento, neither of which took off, sadly. Artery is now a major powerhouse in the scene with THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.


I also expect ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY to grow huge this year- now signed to Nuclear Blast, Earache obtained the rights to their debut in USA, and its likely they could spearhead the scene by years end.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tips for 2010

Question: hey Dig this is the time of year when magazines pick the cream of the crop for the coming year.So, have you got any tips for next year, seeing as you are involved in the music and have an ear to the ground on developments.

From :

Answer: Well I never saw Lady Gaga coming in 2009, thats for sure, even tho her album The Fame became one of my faves of the past year. For Hip Hop 2010 will be all about Canadian DRAKE, on the Young Money Label, apparently he made his demo for $400 and the leading Hip Hop producers fell over themselves to work with him, offering staggering amounts, hes the new Eminem. DRAKE last month had 2 singles in USA top 10 so its already a fact, he's a major name in waiting.Hear why here:

In techno/dance scene, its all about the inexorable rise and rise of Dubstep, MAGNETIC MAN is the stage name of a teaming up of two of the biggest DJ's- Skream and Benga. Watch for this name all over the festivals summer 2010.

Rinse FM Presents Magnetic Man feat. Skream + Benga + Artwork from Rinse FM on Vimeo.

In Rock/metal I reckon our own Los Angeles traditional heavy metal band WHITE WIZZARD will rise through the ranks and by the years end could be a major force, but that might just be wishful thinking, I dunno. Not many people know the band had a major split in the ranks, so bassist/mainman Jon Leon seemingly pulled off the impossible, and recruited an even better band, topped of with an incredible new HM singer with 3 octave range, by the name of Wyatt Anderson.Here I'll post the new video for title track from 2010 album Over the Top when its ready:
The video was shot on the vintage set of many old western movies- the location still exists, deep in the California desert at Palm Springs, but almost unbeleivably the band found the set was covered in snow when they arrived.

WHITE WIZZARD - 'Over The Top' Official Video

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dub war's 1998 demos

Question: Hello. Firstly, I think that it is awesome that you're taking the time and making all this effort to answer people's questions. Nice one. Secondly, I would like to ask a Dub War related question please. According to, some demos that DW recorded in 1998 (presumably for what would have been their third full album) were made available as mp3s through in 2005 and then the next year as part of the 'Total Collection'. I can't seem to find them anywhere, are they still available or, if not, is it likely that they might resurface at some point? Thanks very much! From:

Answer: Dub War's debut album "Pain" in 1994 did very well,charting in the UK Indie charts at number one.This was a result because it was essentially a new and alien sound to rock/metal fans at the time- Ragga infused Rock/metal which Benji and Dub War singlehandedly pioneered in South Wales, away from the glare of the London music scene.The band sounded exactly like their own diverse range of influences- Rock, Ska, Punk, Ragga, Metal etc, and was a genuinely innovative, fresh sound in Rock for the mid 90s.

The follow up album initially did well also, spawning a couple of hits which grazed the top 40, but on release of "Wrong Side of Beautiful' in 1996, other bands like Skunk Anansie had stolen the fanbase and hogged all the press coverage of what Dub War were initially doing.

Dub War's fanbase halved overnight, which was unexpected and disappointing.Obviously this wasn't in the plan- so serious doubts started to creep into my mind about the band's chances of future success at that point. Unknown to the band, their deal with Earache was struck during our USA label license period with SONY, which meant the bands contract was fairly lucrative, it was a major label-style one, as SONY were effectively bankrolling the label in America at that time. By 1997 that label license deal was well and truly cancelled and Earache was once again a true Independent label, with limited resources (ie, my own pockets).

This meant that Dub War's deal for the third album was just too rich for Earache to afford, and so their deal hung in the balance, unless they could come up with some sure-fire hits. In 1998 the band made demos for the label- these songs were just "so-so" and didnt persuade me to finance the proper recording of the 3rd album. The band didn't take the news too well, and promptly disbanded, blaming Earache for being dropped and their resulting financial woes.

Mainman Benji briefly carried on working with Earache, despite the rest of his band leaving him high and dry, but again, his solo demos didn't impress me. Benji demoed a couple of numbers for the label which turned out to be a pure Hip Hop style.Earache has zero experience with Hip Hop, so with no rock music in evidence, Earache -very reluctantly, I must say- finally closed the door on Dub War.

The members weren't unsigned for long as they'd regrouped as Skindred and scored for the first time a proper, experienced management deal in Northern Management, who also look after Paradise Lost etc. Skindred bounced right into a major record deal with American label Beiler brothers, run by successful US record producers, and financially backed by Atlantic records, part of Warners. The Skindred debut album for Beiler sold an incredible amount in the USA.

It should be noted that the Nu-metal and Rap-metal scenes had exploded by that point, bands like Limp Bizkit and System of a Down were mainstream bands who had changed the culture and landscape of the rock scene, so Skindred's hybrid sound was more accepted by radio stations and finally caught on in a big way. The Dub War era that proceeded it was by then a distant memory.In Skindred, the band finally got the rewards their talents deserved.

Earache in 2005 launched its own paid-for MP3 download site- was actually partially coded by staff at the label, and was effectively home-brew software, but it worked and a lot of fans did use it to download Mp3s from us. We added some of the rarest material we could find in the vaults, to bring attention to the site, and Dub War demos 1998 were among them. Sadly by 2007 the site was attacked by hackers looking to grab stuff for free, this brought the site down and made it unusable, and never worked since. It taught us a lesson in how fans attempt to get free music (or possibly the card details of our database of users, which they didn't get as that stuff was held at paypal site) and also showed how Earache was pretty lax about internet security at the time.

Your question is well-timed, because we have recently started talks with Benji about plans to release a DVD of the final Dub War show in January 1998, this was released on VHS back at the time.The idea is to include the demos and other missing final tracks to make a complete great value fan-package to make available the material from the fateful 3rd album era of Dub War.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

No love for Aussie avant-black pioneers Portal then?

Question: Been reading your blog and also your twitter for a while now dig and ive been wondering. why is it you think when you say you dont like certain bands, the press goes on about them like they are the saviours of a genre in respect of the reviews and also the coverage they get? The two I can think of recently are Portal and Skeletonwitch, although to be honest i do actually like what portal are doing as a band because at least they are trying somthing different (although its heavily indebt to morbid angel). From:

Answer: Is this the Portal street team emailing? You're persistant mate, I'll give you that. Y'know, its very rare for me to pass comment -good or bad- on this blog on any new band, I'm not a journalist so my opinions on bands are mostly kept to myself.I empathise with new bands - we have plenty of newbies on this label aswell- most are simply trying their damndest to do their best and to get noticed in the scene, so public criticism is not very helpful.

Eighty percent of the mails this blog receives is from new bands who want an A&R opinion of their music, I'm trying to avoid turning this blog into an A&R forum for new bands. Also I've been in the game long enough to know that bands can go from promising to devastating in like 6 months, which makes a mockery of any criticism, and on the downside, can also ruin any chance of Earache signing them in the future.

I was asked twice about Portal on this blog, and don't like em, I just don't get what the fuss is about,its actually not avant-garde enough for me because it sounds like early Akercocke to my ears, though the headgear is a wonder to behold. If other people love em, then thats great.Most of the stuff on Profound Lore leaves me perplexed, to me, its like the sound of Black Metal in its death throes. When the tag "avant-garde" or worse still, "progressive" becomes the accepted bench-mark by which bands are judged, its gotta be the death-knell. When style takes precedence over substance then its time to hang up the guitars. One Profound Lore band I am digging is Krallice though.

Heres Portal:

As for Skeletonwitch, my tweet was prompted by my shock and surprise at seeing them adorn the cover of Terrorizer mag. I'm not saying they don't deserve the accolade, any band who tours as much as Skeletonwitch, who tour like dogs, deserves all the breaks. Mostly it was a reaction to the description of the band in the mag: "blackened death-thrash".Now that is a pretty honest depiction of how the band sounds, but its also absurd, 3 genres in one tagline is what I'm objecting to.

I've followed Skeletonwitch closely for ages, and came close to inviting them onto our new school Thrash comp "Thrashing Like A Maniac" but the deathy/black vocals ruined it for me, somehow made the band non-thrash to my ears.

The new wave of Thrash scene - which has been covered in this blog since 2006- is rapidly splitting into 2 camps.The 'pure thrash' bands- Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, Violator, and the 'Thrash, but with other influences' brigade, which journalists are predictably lapping up, as a hint of black or a dash of death, well, its more familiar territory to them. How long before corpsepainted thrash band is heraled as the best new thing. Well, at least they dont live in the 80s!

For the last year, Earache has received thrash demos by the bucketload from bands who obviously were playing Death or Black Metal a year or so ago, but switched genres, because its now cooler to play Thrash.

Somehow the bands which single-handedly brought new life into the ailing scene, and blazed the trail for modern Thrash, are all of a sudden derided because they have no deathy parts, or blackened parts, and no mosh parts.

It's gonna be fun to see how it pans out.

Heres Skeletonwitch:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Earache & Nile??

Question: I couldnt help but noticing in your bands you nearly signed question you had a file marked "Nile". As a massive Nile fan with the ink to prove it im wondering what era of nile this was. would have it have been after their first label Anubis Records went out of business or would it have been after they departed relapse records? From:

Answer: Earache became aware of Nile quite early, the band were serious fans of, and protégés of Morbid Angel, and as Earache had released all Morbid Angel's output up to that point, we thought they would be a great band to work with. Plus, we liked their take on Death Metal with the Egyptian themes to the fore and considered them a leading upcoming DM band.

Additionally, the highly experienced management of Morbid Angel were involved in helping out Niles career aswell, so we had a connection that way.Earache thought it would be a simple matter to pick up the band. We were wrong.

Our offer to Nile was made in 1998, and the band chose to sign officially to Relapse who had, from memory, already released the bands debut on a one-off basis, I think?

Looking back, our monetary offer (advance) was low - our thinking was that the band would jump at the chance to be on the same label as Morbid Angel.Unknown to us, it was also the management policy to spread their bands around all the bigger metal labels, as having all their eggs in one basket is not an ideal scenario if anything goes wrong.Ironically, this 1998 era was when journalists and some fans were accusing Earache of turning its back on the Death Metal scene, so signing Nile would have made a nonsense of that arguement.

Seems Nile made a good choice anyway, as the band had an amazing run of success on Relapse.However,that deal ran its course and the newest album For Whom The Gods Detest was released last week on Nuclear Blast.

Earache is well used to not getting to work with the bands we want, our list of bands who we had shown interest in, but didn't sign, would extend to hundreds over the years.

Bands, or those who control the bands affairs (managers/agents) are in the ascendancy these days, they call the shots about the length and type of record deal they are willing to commit to.Most bands also weigh up the option of going it alone on their own label- using the internet as distributor- these days too.

Many weigh up the pros and cons and still decide to sign traditional record deals, which nowadays include Publishing and Merchandising options, and even live income options- these are known as 360 deals in biz-speak, and came about because of the declining (some say terminal) CD sales.

Labels now spread the risk of the heavy financial investment in a band, by negotiating some slice of the income from other, more lucrative areas,ones that cant be file-shared (yet), like song publishing and merch, which once were considered off limits.

Even highly ambitious bands can be scared off the DIY route by the practicalities of financing their recording, and all the expensive marketing that is required to promote the record it seems.

That's why labels still exist- because banks have a habit of saying "no".

It takes an eye-watering amount of money to release a physical CD or LP release into the global record marketplace, and for it not to dissappear without trace.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ask Earache is 12 years old

Heres a funny thing you blogonauts might find interesting- this ASK EARACHE page has existed as a feature on since at least 1997.Back then the word blog did not exist, there was no, but I dutifully tried to answer a variety of fan questions on the labels page.

Due to the wonder of internet archive I found a snapshot of the page from Feb 1998, wth working links.It dates from a weird time in the labels history,so the questions are mostly about the dropping or splits in the ranks of our biggest bands of the day.Carcass had formed Blackstar and Morbid Angel had just lost original singer Dave Vincent- in depth explanations are given as usual.

See the Ask Earache Archive

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What happened to MASSACRE?


Answer: We did release the follow-up, 1994's album was entitled 'Promise' (see pic). Massacre was indeed one of the top USA death metal bands.When Florida Death metal was at the early demo tape stage, MASSACRE's demo was as popular as DEATH and MORBID ANGEL demo's, but they suffered from line-up problems,and bad luck, as DEATH would later get signed and recruit 3/4 of their members for their second album.

Kam Lee and Rick Rozz were 2/3rds of the original and groundbreaking DEATH, led by Chuck Schuldiner. Kam was on drums and sang, he even drew the famous Death logo- the original with the spiders web etc I mean. Massacre formed after Chuck threw Kam and Rick out of Death, but by an ironic twist Massacre folded a few years later as 3/4 of the band- Rick Rozz, Bill Andrews and Terry Butler- were re-recruited in 1988 by Chuck Schuldiner to play with him on the DEATH album Leprosy.You have to realise that all the local Florida bands had fluid line ups, nothing seemed solid because only DEATH had a record deal at that 87-88 point in time, the eyes of the global death metal hordes were not yet on Florida so musicans would rotate regularly, nothing much was a stake.

Ex- growler Kam Lee spent a few years in the wilderness as the Death Metal scene he helped create blew up almost overnight.It must have bugged him that he was ignored while his ex-band mates and even ex-fans (who had gone on to form bands like Obituary, Deicide) were touring and playing Death metal and getting signed. Kam became the forgotten man of early DM.

Earache is the reason that Massacre even got together to record, it was only through my perseverance and persistance that 'From Beyond' even got recorded and released. When I approached them to sign them up to record the album of the demo tape faves that history compelled them to make -and if there was any justice, really should have been recorded years beforehand -I soon found out the reason why it had never been done up til then.

The ex- members of Massacre were pretty dysfunctional to be honest.They had become estranged from each other, and to make matters worse,mainman and singer Kam had moved far away from Tampa, living a sort of nomadic life in the north of the state.

Even though he was only about 100 miles away from Tampa, still residing in Florida, this was before email or cellphones existed, so he was effectively out of the DM loop.Kam drifted in and out of the scene for many years,I think he had other options in life -jobs, relationships- so he himself chose when and how to resume his DM scene activities.He still does this - every few years Kam will announce he is coming back into the scene with a new band, whenever it suits him, which is his prerogative of course.He is a legend so he can do what he likes. Kam is the one who invented the death-growl, Napalm Death's Barney Greenway simply copied Kam's vocal style.

In 1990 Earache provided the means for Massacre to record their debut- producer Colin Richardson flew to Tampa to record them in Morrisound studios,and after a lot of headaches, the album From Beyond finally saw the light of day in July 1991, about 3 years after it should have been released.It was not an easy recording session as the band was in total disarray, I even resorted to bribery and all sorts of tactics to persuade Rick and Kam to get in and do it.On the flipside Bill and Terry acted like seasoned professionals and were a dream to work with.

On its release it sold OK but nothing like the other DM Florida bands who had stolen Massacre's thunder in the intervening years. To be frank, From Beyond was seen as a historical artefact even on release- zillions of other bands all over the world had already taken the Death metal prototype and many were well on the way to forging lucrative careers by 1991.Massacre folded again soon after a UK/EU tour to promote From Beyond,proving it was a seriously fragile band once again.

After a few more years in the wilderness,in 1994 Massacre recorded the follow up album - entitled Promise. Promise was pretty shocking as the band decided to ditch the DM style and embrace a more Pantera-esque heavy groove metal style but with a horror-ghoul theme as this was the metal style that was getting popular at the time.Its not a bad album,but its not what the Massacre fans were expecting, so they shunned it completely.

Massacre folded once again after that,Kam sang on Promise but soon bolted from the scene again. Rick recuited a replacement singer and tried to carry on but the band was in terminal decline and they soon split up once more- seemingly for the final time.

It just occurred to me that Massacre's story is totally similar to Repulsions history.Repulsion (as Genocide) were playing speedy death metal up in Flint, Michigan making a demo which subsequently became popular with the grindcore freaks, but at the the time garnered little interest outside their local area.Death mainman Chuck Schuldiner saw their potential for his band though, and after kicking out Kam and Rick, promptly invited Genocide's Scott Carlson and Matt Olivo to Florida to join him in DEATH.This line up did not last long,and never recorded, so Scott and Matt returned to Michigan, re-naming their band REPULSION.The similarity is that both bands were pretty much derailed for a year or two, by Chuck recruiting their key members.

The further similarity is that Earache resurrected and finally released (via Bill and Jeff Carcass' short lived NECROSIS imprint) REPULSION's debut album about 3 years after it was recorded and due for release by local label Wyatt Earp records.This was I believe the bands own label, financed by a local friend, but the album had been shelved due to lack of finances.

The resulting album - 1989's Horrified was, much like Massacre, received as an historical artefact by fans, and got a lukewarm reception.Old(er) bands are seen as being different to active, current, gigging bands, shops deemed it to be back catalogue, on its release.

Horrified cemented the bands place in the grindcore/death metal history books which would hit the bookshelves about 2 decades later, and that was pretty much our sole aim in releasing it.Relapse later picked up the re-united band for a 7inch, and redid the Horrified album aswell with demos added.

Looking back through the prism of history, its obvious that both Massacre and Repulsion's widely circulated demo tapes were instrumental in influencing the style of the coming grindcore/death metal wave of bands which flooded the global scene a few years later.Earache as a label owes them a great debt of gratitude-so, cheers to them!

Heres Massacre in 1991 during UK tour playing song: Biohazard

Heres the rather unfortunate look they adopted to promote 1994's Promise- Rick is to the right of pic.It seems even Death Metal legends can have a bad wardrobe day.

Bringing us up to date, heres Rick Rozz's new band M INC with song Bonedust (2009)

BoneDust by digearache

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hesper Payne

Question: how often, if at all, do you have to pass up on a band you love musically but are just not financially viable, even if they are something that would fit on the earache roster. Any notable examples.

I'm just listening to the latest Gama Bomb, i read somewhere they are on a 360 deal (correct me if im misinformed) given that the label would be taking revenue from additional streams how would/do earache work with those areas e.g. tour/gig booking merch ect

A bit of a personal one. Some feedback from an independtant person with your experience in the area would be much appreciated. Ive been trying to get my band going for years now but cannot find any musicians interested in joining so its been me, the bassit and a session drummer (he's commited to a large, well known touring band and lives 200 miles away so not really a viable full timer) It wouldnt be so infuriating if people told us we sucked, but we get the opposite. Everybody and their gran seems to think we are great. Not just the usual friends and familly but complete strangers, even people who dont normally like metal, ive lost count of the number of EP's ive sent out on request and downloads and often find posetive reviews from 'zines the world over ive had no contact with. Despite this we cannot get a full live line up together and its driving me mental, ive tried everything i can think of, even moving to a major city to find people. I live to play live and want to push the band as far as i can but after six years have gotten as far as most bands in do in 6 weeks. Is there something we are missing? Do we really suck but everybody is being super nice about it? Is there some secret heavy metal jedi trick you can teach us to force the right people to join, or should we just give up (ive already tried this, it doesnt work the music is inside and wont leave me be untill its heard)

any advice, suggestions, constructive critisism would welcome.

cheers! From:

Answer: Here's a funny thing- when I was a little kid we had a neighbourhood friend called Ester Payne -bizarrely, I was drawn to your question and clicked the link because your band name sounds similar.There is a Utah based USA band called Clifton who I followed the progress of aswell, just because it was the name of the neighbourhood where grew up. A stupid reason really I suppose- Clifton even signed to Century Media offshoot label, but nothing much happened.

Anyway- Regarding bands I'd love to sign but they aren't financially viable- wow there's literally hundreds of them. My label started as a DIY hobby label but luckily it grew large with some successful bands, and in doing so, became the main place of employment for a lot of people- the label staffers and quite a few bands make their main income from our activities.

We simply dont have the financial power/freedom to just do whatever we like.That's the reason we can't support poor selling, non-profit making acts for very long, because it drains our ability to promote the bands who are selling, and going places. By the same token, we very often pass on established bands who make unrealistic financial demands in order to be signed.Manowar made such unrealistic demands from Nuclear Blast after their German chart-topping album "Warriors of the World", that the label took the unprecedented step of letting the band go while mid-contract, so rival German label SPV stepped in and signed Manowar up for huge advances.Now SPV are bankrupt -the SPV bankruptcy proceedings even quote "paying too much for bands" as the reason - while Nuclear Blast is still going strong and enjoying massive success.

Its probably not the coolest answer, but its the truth. By the way, this hard-nosed 'profit motive' is not an exclusive trait of Earache's - it actually drives the entire western world we live in.

As for 360 deals- its not exactly true. We'd refer to 270 degree deal as being the more accurate description. If you take a pie chart and divide into quarters, roughly speaking, musicians can make money from 4 sources- the recordings, song publishing, merchandising and gig fees/touring. Mostly we have negotiated a slice of the income from 3 out of the 4 sources- touring is 100% controlled by the band and Earache does not share in this at all ( even tho we pay out for bands to go on the road in the early years).Hence 270 degrees.

Your band Hesper Payne is actually pretty darn good in places, but also has its bad parts too, which turn me off instantly.It's nothing too dire, but you ought to know that the opinions of a label A&R dudes like myself, are uneven.Average riffs are passable, but I hate a bad riff 10 times more than I appreciate a good riff, if that makes sense. One bad riff can ruin an entire song, an entire album even.Quickest way to improve a song is simply by weeding out that bad riff.

Out of all the songs I only like Horcums Slumber- but I REALLY love the opening 40 seconds of Horcums Slumber, that is truly world class,the vocals are great too, but by the later ambient passage around 3 minutes, I'm bored. I would recommend ditch the ambient parts, as you don't seem to be able to capture them well enough. They are what mark you out as progressive and probably what the whole essence of the band is about, but personally they don't do it for me.Being a straight up doom band is better suited.

Its weird you dont have an actual band photograph anywhere on the myspace- I guess it marks you down as one of the many one man bands, or non-band, as you truthfully point out in your question.

Wish you the best of luck with Hesper's anyway- if a few breaks go your way, Profound Lore could be calling in a few months, hopefully.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breaking out of Ireland?

Question: As you know the Irish metal scene has never been the strongest. But when you listen to bands like Gama Bomb and Primordial and see how they're getting on you always have to believe that there is hope. So I guess my question is simple, if the band is good and the music is tight and you're gigging regularly how do you get noticed by a label such as Earache, or any label for that matter!? Is it that Ireland is ignored because of the small scene? or is the that we are isolated from the UK and America? Sometimes sending your demo to everybody you know and gigging in every venue you can think of isn't enough so what do you do if you want to make music your life? From:

Answer: I suppose the short, extremely glib answer is - move, dude. Get down the Dublin ferry terminal and hit the waves to Holyhead- a car is only Euro 79 and takes 90 minutes. I wouldn't say Gama Bomb have exactly 'made it' out of Ireland just yet, to us they are still a relatively new band, even if top fashion models can now be seen moshing at Gama Bomb gigs.They travel bloody everywhere- in fact, they are on UK and European tour right now, supporting the new studio album- grab the free download from by the way.I'm meeting them in a bit, as they play my hometown Nottingham tonight. I told you they get everywhere.

The thing about Gama Bomb is- they are seasoned travellers.Also being the friendliest of characters and having an encyclopedic knowledge of thrash gains them fans and friends everywhere they go.Even before they were signed to this label, the band were such regulars on that Dublin-Holyhead ferry, they might as well have named it after them.It impressed us no end that they were endlessly visible in the UK scene, playing Thrash Assault in Huddersfield and various small-scale, even tiny, gigs back in 2006-7 when the new wave of Thrash was still way under the radar of most of the metallic hordes.

Even after they were signed, Gama Bomb undertook their first proper-ish Uk tour by- get this- public transport. I kid you not.In all my career, I've never known any other signed band do this.For some reason they could'nt suss a van or driver so after every show they would stay at friends houses, then get up early to walk to the bus station or train station for the next gig.While carrying all their gear.

Endlessly playing your home town to the same faces is not how you build a buzz around your band.I've said it many times on this blog- you simply have to hit the road.Doing mini-tour swaps of like 4-5-6 gigs with local bands from far away is a good tactic, but to organise this stuff you have to network and communicate with like-minded bands from say UK or even EU.Further tips are explained in Martin Atkin's essential book for bands new to the touring circuit- Tour:Smart, its crammed with tips, written by the drummer of Public Image, Minstry & Nine Inch Nails.

If you need further proof heres a quote taken from the Pink Floyd Wikipedia: "Pink Floyd (the definite article was dropped at some point in 1967)[36] replaced their ageing Bedford van with a Ford Transit,[37] and used it to travel to over two hundred gigs in 1967 (a ten-fold increase on the previous year)".

Pink Floyd performed 200 gigs during 1967.Pink Floyd are the biggest selling rock band of all time.I guess it worked for them.

Psykosis-Toxic Fugitive

Monday, November 09, 2009

Who did Terrorizer art?

Question: Hello I wanted to know who created the album cover collage for Terrorizer's first LP "World Downfall"? Cheers From:

Answer: It was Earache's earliest staffer- dude called Martin Nesbitt, who worked with me from 87-90, this was when Earache still operated out of my apartment.We wanted a typical scum/feto political type b/w collage, but instead of hiring an outside artist, it seemed easier - and cheaper- if Earache made it inhouse.Martin was handy with scissors, ye olde Pritt stick and Letraset(if you're under 20,look it up) plus he had an eye for design, so he cut and pasted by hand old newspapers and various newsworthy pictures of the time, to create the sleeve.The cover has become quite iconic itself over time.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Something Thrash/NWOTHM is stirring in Sweden

Question: Hi, so my simple question is something like this; Sweden is worldfamous for metal and mostly Melodeath, Death and Black Metal. But how up to date are you about what happens in the Swedish scenes that isn't "classical Swedish"? As an example there is a young striving thrashscene with great bands such as Raging Steel, Entrenched and Lethal. One thing that is blowing to be huge is the New Wave of Swedish Traditional Heavy Metal with bands like In Solitude, Helvetets Port, Ram and FourEver. Does Earache keep a close eye on these scenes too or is it the typical Swedish stuff you are most intrested in? From:

Answer: Sweden always spews up great new bands, Earache takes a lot of interest in the Swedish scene, in the past some of that country's greatest bands recorded for us, early Entombed,Carnage, At The Gates/The Haunted and Cult of Luna currently spring to mind.

Short answer is- thanks for the tip off dude, we know all about the upcoming Thrash and NWOTHM scenes, in fact we already released material by some of the bands you mention.

Earache made a new wave of THRASH compilation in January 2008 called Thrashing Like A Maniac, if you have Spotify, get it here.February 2009 we made a NWOTHM compilation called Heavy Metal Killers, again its free to stream on Spotify here.

Helvetes Port: Lightning Rod Avenger

Friday, November 06, 2009

OK, I'm signed- now what ?

Question: When you first sign a band what are the first things you do for them, say in the first 6 months or a year? Do you make a special attempt for them to get noticed or just let time take its course so to speak, and what do you find most effective in bands furthering their fanbase and 'getting their name out'

Cheers From:

Answer: It's hard to fully explain what happens when you sign to a label like Earache- and its not much different at the other main metal labels. The main change once the deal is inked is the surge in the level of expectation of the band, by the label.You are expected to become a major breakthrough artist within 2 albums.To say its a competitive environment is a gross understatement.Momentum is the key thing, fast rising bands gain everyone's attention, and are accorded the most praise.Most people's attention span is miniscule, so the way to get noticed is to be constantly visible and in people's faces.Any new band is a major undertaking for a label.

Some labels we know will immediately assess the skill of the players in the band, firing the weakest, least committed member(s) and demanding replacments. Its not unknown for labels to insist the band even change their name, especially if another previous band has the same or similar moniker or has already got the URL.If someone else comes up as the first result in a Google search, its not good.

My label Earache wouldn't go this far, but I'm basically pointing out that your casual question about "allowing the band the time to take its course" is pretty naive. From the moment you are signed, it gets very very serious. Its simply a change in attitude, thats all- unsigned bands have it easy, gigs can be good or bad, its not a big deal, but once signed there is the expectation from the label, and indeed everyone within the industry that you'll be a success.

History is full of talented, great bands who never made it, its often because they simply lacked enough drive or ambition. Labels are not used to promoting failure- at Earache you'd be given sort of regular pep-talks in the form of - here's your stab at a chance to forge a music industry career,but only if you follow the relatively simple career advice. In short - its write great songs, and go tour them, tour them some more, don't split up in the process, cos its gruelling and hard work.Then repeat.

Unsigned bands have no clue about the amount of money spent by labels- medium sized Indie Metal labels can routinely spend a minimum of £100,000 and often more on each new band over the course of the debut and the follow up.The major labels like Universal/Sony/warners/EMI often splash out £1,000,000 per band, but these labels mostly stick to indie, commercial rock, RnB, dance or pop acts.

It is possible nowadays to raise money from your own fans, or future fans- sites like help you raise the money, and lets you keep all your rights, though they take undoubtedly take a cut out of the proceeds received for their work. Promising bands can raise serious money, which is not a bad thing,you could even say - who needs a label? What is missing is the expertise, knowledge and career guidance which labels like Earache offer.Sure, newbie bands now have the means to raise capital, but the industry is infested with well-meaning-wannabees, complete fantasists and a few outright con-artists, who can easily drain all the money the fans gave you away with false promises and exaggerated claims, and no results. Its tough knowing who to trust.

As for spending the money, the actual recording the album is often the cheapest cost, most of the money labels pay out goes on touring the band, because in the early days of a career the gig fees paid to openers are tiny, often zero, but the costs involved in travelling around say EU or USA are extremely expensive.Touring USA for the first time for a new UK band can cost $25,000 easily, but the way to soften the financial blow is to get skilled at making and selling great merch. This is the secret to constant touring on a global basis - its paid for by merch.

Going up touring ladder circuit and rising up the bills of tours or getting festival slots takes great skill and involves the services of a major gig agency.I reckon its harder to get the bigger touring agents involved in new bands than score a record deal, the agents are too busy selling tickets with their main top draw acts to be using valuable time helping out new bands get started on the ladder.

What could be seen as Old-school type promotion activities cost a lot but do gain massive visbility.Money is spent on gaining radio play or videos on TV channels and press features in the main magazines - this is expensive but gains the band credibility, fast. Most of the money spent by labels is with the major bricks n mortar record chains.Unknown to most outside the industry,they charge outrageous fees to the label for the 'privilege' of a debut album to receive some paltry racking space in their retail outlets across the USA and EU.Even going into the A-Z section costs a packet. They maintain their floor space is valuable real-estate and it costs money to devote it to an unknown band.Bricks n mortar chains are struggling so charging labels is how they survive.Even internet retailers have cottoned on to the scam, and now charge labels for extra visibility and special placements on their sites, even tho hosting a few extra pixels on a webpage is almost free.

Digital and the internet is changing everything, very fast though.We advise bands to communicate with their fans more, much more. In this age of facebook, twitter, youtube and other free social networks, it makes interacting with fans a cinch. Some bands we know tweet, blog or bulletin on literally an hourly basis. Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed sends 25 tweets per day for instance. Doing a monthly newsletter, which was the the 90s equivalent,marks you as quite outdated. We also expect bands to also make and post video interviews on youtube regularly explaining to fans whats happening in their camp.A web enabled cameraphone and some basic video editing skills are important.

The pay off of course, is the prospect of a lucrative music career.By lucrative I mean the members can live OK off of their music.If you want the champagne lifestyle, you are reading the wrong blog dude- you'll need to be playing RnB or Pop for that.

It's true that lucky breaks do play a large part in breaking a new band through- but as they say in this industry, you make your own luck. New bands do come through the ranks into metal stardom on an annual basis,but its only maybe an handful each year.Recent examples might be Bring Me The Horizon or Gojira.Both were newbies even a few years ago, but by their sheer hard work and the talents of their respective labels (and managers) they are now packing out venues and both should enjoy long and fruitful careers.

I wish you well with your band dude, hope this gives some pointers how we do it, and doesn't scare you off.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Death Metal vs Deathcore

Question: Earache,

I was surprised based on the history of your releases, and also the tastes that you guys express throughout this blog, to also find that you have such high regard for deathcore.

When considering deathcore, I always find myself coming back to one issue - in striving to be "brutal" (yeah, I hate using that word)it seems to me that a lot of these bands have forgotten the most important element, feeling.

The Red Shore for example, who you have mentioned in a positive light previously, and who are certainly a solid live band, seem to suffer from a very common symptom of deathcore: ridiculously over triggered drums, and just generally compressed production, to the point where their recordings have absolutely no dynamics, and no feeling.

I think that's where a lot of the appeal comes from in early grind. You listen to bands like Carcass, and it's incredibly heavy, but also organic which lends it a certain sort of mojo. It possesses a certain level of honesty and real-ness that I feel is missing in deathcore.

What do you think about that? It seems to encompass a lot of issues including digital vs analogue recording and the like, but I suppose the main question is, at what point do triggered blast beats become so robotic that they lose their relevance, and in striving for "brutality" have a lot of these bands missed the point?

I mean no disrespect to these bands or people who love their music. And I love the blog, cheers! From:

Answer: I've signed a fair few Death metal bands over the years, and yes, I don't see what all the fuss is about Deathcore- to me, its just the new generation of kids' take on DM, they are adding a whole bunch of Hardcore influences, I don't have a problem with it at all. To be honest most of the debate is just the older DM crowd bashing and ragging on the much younger, teenage deathcore guys.The arguements rage across the internet, occasionally it might get as silly as you can't play Dm with a fringe or bald head- only DM played by long hairs is real DM. That's absurd of course (unless its Ripping Corpse ha ha)

To be honest, Deathcore does actually sounds fresh to my ears,its like an injection of new ideas and innovations- I did Morbid Angel and Carcass etc 20 years ago but I'm not a nostalgic person, they were the originators and lay down the blueprints for what is heavy and deathy in metal, but it doesn't mean DM always has to sound like that forever.

But time moves on, and I'm pretty sure it is old school DM band Suffocation which somehow became the major influence and blueprint for Deathcore- who knew? Suffocation exhuded sheer brutality, they were the first to play DM styled breakdowns (taken from the HC scene, like Hatebreed) galore, and had arguably, the most brutal vokills in the scene.

As for the productions on the albums, I take your point- all of the early 90s bands recorded analogue, there was no digital recording programs on laptops back then. Technology also moves on, and recording digitally makes common sense for all newer bands, its probably a quarter of the cost of analogue studios, if you can find any left.

I think part of the problem is Deathcore is a catch all term for say the likes of Annotations of an Autopsy, Acacia Strain, Oceano but also includes bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Red Shore.There is a world of difference between those bands, to my ears the first 3 are pure brutal Deathcore, while the last 2 bands have other influences besides pure Death Metal- ie Swedish Gothenburg DM and plenty of HC are in the mix on their albums.Still heavy and relenting but slightly less brutal.

Oceano just played in London and destroyed the place, the power coming off stage was simply incredible, its one of the heaviest gigs I've ever seen.We had a few beers with the guys after the show- Pictured L--R is Jeremy & Adam of Oceano with myself (Dig) & Dan, the Earache label manager.

If you want to know who Earache considers the kings of brutality right now- its Oceano, see A Mandatory Sacrifice clip :