Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scum 20th anniversary edition sound problem.

Question: What\'s wromg with the N.D. \"Scum\" Anniversary disc from 2008?

Audiowise, this release sure offers a much better sound quality compared to the original CD release. However, someone must have slept through the Quality Control part. Starting at the eighth track (Siege of power) you can hear that the audio is speeding and slowing (not the band, mind you...). And in the next track (Control) it gets ridiculus! Listen from the beginning and notice the crazy speed-up at around 0:25!! What\'s up with this? It is NOT supposed to sound like this, never did.
Will there be a corrected version?

Cheers! From:

Answer: Well spotted my eagle-eared friend!You are right, I can hear a subtle upward change in pitch during the song "Control" which gives the impression of speeding up.It is really hard to notice unless you are massively familiar with the album. Heck, I even just played it to my label manager who could hear nothing amiss. You are the very first person to point this out, but the 20th anniversary edition with DVD is sold out and wont be re-printed anyway.The reason its hard to notice is because to the untrained ear, the band varies speed so much on the album, from extreme sludgy slow riffs to chaotic extreme high speed noise, that in the context of the song, the pitch variation you pointed out seems "normal". But its definately a mistake in the master, yes, sorry if it spoils your enjoyment of the album, but 99.9% of listeners don't seem to notice it.

We can't explain it, its somehow got on this pressing.I can only guess that during the mastering from original tape, some kind of tape slippage occured, but that would result in slowing down of the tape- this is sped up.Its some kind of analogue error, I dont think digital mastering can have such a speeded up effect, though I'm not sure, so will ask the audio experts.

One thing I have noticed is that when we revisit the old masters of Earache's classic early titles, many of which were recorded in the 80's, the modern day mastering software accentuates some of the sounds- the high and low end- which due to restrictions of analog equipment in the 80's werent present on the original printing back in the vinyl and cassette days. When we remastered Altars of Madness from original master tapes we opted to scrap the new modern master because it sound so UNLIKE the 80s version, and kept with the original instead.

Heres the soundfile of CONTROL taken from the original CD from 1988, Scum and FETO together, Ampex master tape of A-side of Scum was already 2 years old at that point.

Now compare to CONTROL from the SCUM standalone CD from 1994, master tapes were 8 yrs old by that point, its noticeably different,mastering made it a bit louder.Its from same source original tape!

Unfortunately I can't upload the 2007 Dualdisc Uk 20th Anniversary edition because my mac cant rip dualdisc, so cant play here the actual song you are mentioning in the question, but i'll work on getting a rip up here.I already reckon it might have been taken from this 1994 CD, that would explain it.

I should point out there have been a zillion printings of the CD in the 20 years, at myriad plants and using different masters (often a regular CD) and they are all fine.Even in this case the album is fine -its the song CONTROL which suffers this pitch change.

Feel free to comment on the differences, as I have no simple explanation for them.

As I mentioned in the answer- the reason remastering of Altars was scrapped was because of the vast change in the audio when remastered 15 years after the event.It seems vintage tapes played into a pristine digital software mastering suite era 2000 sounds 'off' when compared to the original master which was made back in the 80s era analogue environment.

I think the same thing happened here with Scum, our ears want it to sound the same as 80's vinyl, but coming off 8 yr old analogue tape in an analogue mastering environment, it doesn't, sadly. To sum up, that's the 'beauty' of Ferric Oxide, its not digital perfection, nor is it bad quality control, you simply get whatever is on the tape on the day you run it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why so few Earache band shows in Ireland?

Question: Hi Guys, been a long long term fan of earache and everything they stand for. Just one curiosity though .... why the hell are there so few N.Ireland shows penciled in? We have a thriving scene and lets be honest aren\'t really a million miles away ... keep it extreme ..

G. From:

Answer: Its not deliberate, we encourage our bands to play everywhere they possibly can, but I agree, the amount of shows played in Ireland, be it the North or the South, are very sparse indeed. The reasons are purely economic. We have currently signed to the label an Irish band with members hailing from Newry & Dublin - GAMA BOMB plus we recently worked with CELTIC LEGACY on our Heavy Metal Killers compilation, and neither of those bands seem to play much in their home country either.Though Celtic Legacy played Full Metal Racket fest in Belfast in April, according to their myspace.

We know there are tons of fans of heavy and extreme stuff in Ireland,our webstore sells a ton of Cds/Vinyl and shirts to Irish metalheads so we hear from you all the time, plus for a few years Earache had a Irish dude working over here at the Nottingham HQ of the label, he clued me in on the whole scene.

Its not a million miles away, as you say, but the costs of bands travelling on the road is enormous, and sadly, Ireland is in the wrong direction, and a expensive ferry ride away, which makes bands think twice about it. For the overseas bands coming over for a European tour, say flying in from USA , they invariably touch down in London/Heathrow and their touring endeavours begin and end at that location.For smaller bands the income from touring and selling merch literally keeps the show on the road,so they stick to shows which pay a decent amount, mostly its the ones on the English small/medium club circuit of major cities- London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds- plus the biggest paying shows of all, are over on mainland Europe- Germany, France, Holland .

The small to medium size bands and their booking agents (the ones who book the tours) naturally gravitate towards the cities which pay decent fees, and this means they invariably play a handful of cities in England, then catch the Dover-Calais ferry to head east into mainland EU. Things could change easily if the promotors in Ireland could guarantee the bands healthier fees, you can bet the bands would be queuing up to tour there in a flash.

This doesnt apply to the larger bands- Machine Head, Motorhead and the like- because Ireland does have its fair share of massive level promotors and the fanbase to make it economic. Thats why you mainly see the big metal bands appearing in Ireland, for 20 Euro and up priced tickets, in the large concert halls & arenas.Interesting blog about the gig scene here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

No Metalgaze on Earache- Iroha/Nadja etc

Question: Being as earache had so much to do with the roots of the genre, does earache have any interest in the metalgaze scene at all? The core bands seem to be jesu, iroha, nadja etc. Earache seemed to lay the foundations of the genre with godflesh and scorn. Is earache not interested because of the scene inbreeding of the bands? or is there another reason for this? From:

Answer: Thanks for the interesting question.I'm noticing more questions from the blogonauts along these lines lately - someone wanted to know why there have been no Avant Garde bands on the label recently aswell, both are tough to answer in any detail apart from the "we're just not feeling it" line.

The sound of the bands you mention just doesn't seem all that contemporary to my, admittedly shot-through, ears. By definition, if Earache was releasing the early bands which are now considered the roots of the style all those years ago, its damn hard for us to find the same sounds as contemporary in 2009. Time moves on and what was once radical ends up being considered traditional (tradical?) some might even consider it safe.
Personally I think Iroha is pretty cool,the song Iroha itself has a haunting quality which is mesmerising. I prefer em to Nadja (pictured) anyway, who simply seem like a polite Jesus and Mary Chain to me. Anyone remember the original shoegaze act from the 80's My Bloody Valentine ? they were the definition of radical noise for much of the 80's, well, until Napalm Death came along they were.

Having said all that, you should check out Swedes Cult of Luna who over the course of 4 albums on Earache have plenty of 'Metal-gaze'ish moments, interspersed with intensely heavy parts, so could be classed as similar.

Earache is not opposed to signing a newish totally out there experimental band, its probably long overdue in fact, we just need to find the right one that floats our boat.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Earache is NOT on the Nottingham tourist map

Question: I\'m visting a friend in Nottingham during the Summer, but I will probably have some time to myself when he is at work. So, I was looking for somthing to do, and I was wondering if you do tours of your offices? Is there anything worth seeing?

Alternatively, is there any places in Notts you reccomend I vist? I would like to see the places that started my favourite record label. From:

Answer: Well, Punk7680, we might just be able to "make your day".Its been a while since we had any fans want to check out the Earache HQ, tho I vividly recall back in the labels heyday we had regular visits every summer, from Inter-railing European fans. Swedes, Japanese, Germans, Canadians and even the worlds biggest Napalm Death collector Mykul from New York made the pilgrimage. Most would simply call round to get a peek at the place, or try to buy rare test pressings or to drop off a demo tape, while they were here.

Some went much further- a group of lads from Basque country (Spain) came into the office and proceeded to climb onto my desk and stagedive off it into their mates arms. It was hilarious to watch - I guess it was a hoot to tell their mates "we went to Earache and stagedived off Dig's desk".Mad bastards.

Office is first floor above the Peckish Cafe.Entrance pictured.

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The label actually started in this terrace apartment, minus all garbage outside it I might add.My first floor flat (window wide open) was the place Earache began.Every early grindcore musician used this place as a hotel while on tours or recording etc.I doubt the local council are in any rush to put a plaque on the wall, ha ha.

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No visit to Nottingham is complete with checking out ROCK CITY club.

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For smaller punk & metal gigs try the OLD ANGEL

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Earache has no 'Avant-Garde' bands any more?

Question: Dig, you mentioned how hard it is to find new scenes and start new musical genres nowadays. Bands that are creating are faced with hostility and misunderstanding. However, they are the ones who progress when the genre is set and clones begin to appear. Earache had been focusing in re-heated thrash metal (80s clones) and the established mainstream scene of metalcore. Do you ever feel you would go back to the days of releasing REALLY out there and risky stuff like OLD, SCORN, PAINKILLER and so forth? Bands that had no fanbase, no hype around them, but the art itself was something new? Even SCUM and the whole grind scene were risky at a time that was not understood at all (Say Mosh 003-50)

Record sales are down and playing it safe is the rule for money making, but do you have the drive or will to release absolutely avant garde, risky stuff that may or may not mark the world of music forever? Or is it Earache now strictly about keeping it safe within the established metal genres and revivals that are floating the market, providing what you see as \"quality stuff\" within well defined and already hyped up and popular scenes? From:

Answer: I dunno dude, one person's cutting-edge Avant-Garde band is another person's snooze-fest.Its all about individual tastes, and for Earache, having a label is all about inflicting our taste in music on the public.As you say, we've been taking the risks and releasing bands who have no fanbase to speak of, and definately no peers, for decades. You mention OLD, SCORN and PAINKILLER.We did John Zorn's Naked City too (see pic above). Don't forget ULTRAVIOLENCE, DOA, TEMPER TANTRUM and DELTA 9- the harsh electronic music they made was considered radical and out-there back in mid 90's , nowadays of course there exists a thriving Hardcore Techno underground.

Even DUB WAR aswell, their mid- 1990's Drum n Bass excursions were highly risky and would'nt be classed as any kind of safe option for a Metal label.Latest example might be Ewigkeit, who were a brilliant UK rock band innovating with experimental sounds and sound-bites.

When bands take off its a vindication of our choices and immensely satisfying. But when they fail and the fans shun them, we face the sometimes bitter recriminations.When bands find they have no takers it knocks the stuffing out of them unless they have abnormally high self confidence. Ultimately it leads to members leaving, or the clever ones quickly bury their mistake and move onto pastures new.From a label point of view its no fun losing money and believe me, selling no records gets boring real fast.

Thats not to say we don't like taking risks, actually we get a kick out of doing the un-obvious and keeping things interesting.Earache does have some bold plans for some immensely risky releases soon though, expect to read about that stuff later in the year.

I'm keen to know what sort of Avant Garde bands you are referring to? Please feel free to comment on this post with names of suggestions and links to hear the bands you feel Earache should be pursuing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The New- NWOBHM 2009 Scene explained

Question: Do you think that the increase in newer nwobhm style bands is connected to Iron Maiden doing record numbers now than during any part of their career? As surely it would make it easier to sell this form of music if the band headlining the major festivals is also of that style? From:

Answer: You might be right, Iron Maiden are enjoying an amazing year, selling more concert tickets than Coldplay, and with their blockbuster movie Flight 666 due out soon aswell, things can only get bigger. After video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I agree, the resurgence of all things 'Traditional Heavy Metal' can be attributed to Iron Maiden's ongoing success.

Meanwhile the 'scene'- such as it is - of young NWOBHM-influenced bands is very tiny indeed. We discovered it by accident almost, hanging out with our new crop of Thrash bands. At an ENFORCER gig in Birmingham we found out that the bands themselves and also their young fans are not so much into the currently highly popular and prevailing Death Metal and Black Metal scenes. They simply are not listening to say, Mastodon or Lacuna Coil, nor Darkthrone or Morbid Angel or Dillinger Escape Plan. These young bands turn out to be more influenced by the classic timeless HM sounds of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang.It was an exciting discovery for us.

Earache tried to showcase this new scene (Traditional Heavy Metal or NWOTHM) on our HEAVY METAL KILLERS compilation. It was a tough task to do it, because bands of that ilk are so far below most of the metal scene's radar, they are positively subterranean.ENFORCER, CROWNING GLORY, RAM and our own signed CAULDRON, WHITE WIZZARD and POWERVICE all feature on the comp.

Power metal bands like Hammerfall or Primal Fear have been huge in Europe for a decade, both are praised for singlehandedly keeping the true HM flag flying during the dark days.However, these new NWOBHM bands are distinctly different from their Power metal predecessors.NWOTHM means a return to no-frills, song-based, basic true-to-the roots HM. The focal point shifted away from the riff (See the Sabbath/Doom scene for that) and back onto the singer, and the song. Most tellingly, there are no 20-piece orchestras making an appearance or histrionic lengthy solos, and no glam-rock affectations. The NWOTHM bands appear almost 'punky' and down-to-earth in outlook actually, which is what we like about them most in fact.

Watch WHITE WIZZARD explain it themselves:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Do we sign Bands or scenes?

Question: Ive wondered when doing A&R for the label is it easier to monitor certain scenes that have developed for example yorkshire being branded the new bay area because of the amount of thrash bands that are from there, or the south west uk being branded the new flordia because of the large amount of death metal bands that come from the bath and bristol area, im wondering how do you decide of which bands of that scene which ones are you going to sign do you take the scene leaders who have been there the longest but are more likely to move on? or do you go for the second wave of band who are still obsessed in the core value of the scene? I based this question on somthing tony wilson once said about how the manchester scene evolved from joy divsion esque bands to happy monday esque bands obviously ive put it in more of a metal context. From:

Answer: Doing A&R for a label is a tricky business. You end up saying "No" about 99% of time to the bands- being so predominately negative, well, lets just say it doesn't particularly endear you to many people.But it comes with the territory so no complaints from me.
The truth is we do monitor scenes, yeah- because we find that hardly any band that is worth a damn develops alone, most bands who create even a small ripple of attention on a local level soon spawn 2-3-4 clones of other bands aping their style. Its miraculous how quickly that happens actually.One prized skill we do possess is instinctively knowing -just by having a keen ear- who are the leaders and who are the followers of any given scene.We find there is a distinct, sharper,more intense depth of focus in the originators, which the next wave of bands, even if they form a mere couple of months later, lack.

The latest UK scenes you mention are still growing, but ones Earache are involved in- be it EVILE leading the stampede of Thrash bands streaming out of Yorkshire, or TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED leading the wave of modern DM bands battering their way outta the South West.We signed IGNOMINIOUS INCARCERATION out of that scene, as we had already missed out on undoubted leaders Trigger.Local label Rising got the bands signatures first.

I would say the two biggest scenes which have had most impact on the UK metal landscape in recent years are the South Wales metal/emo/screamo scene- this stampede was spearheaded by Funeral For A Friend & Lost Prophets, and swiftly followed by Bullet For My Valentine, plus a zillion others from the area, most of these names now dominate the UK metal charts.Also the Watford Hc/Punk scene led by Gallows obviously.Earache missed out on both,to be frank we never saw these coming, or rather we saw the bands were developing a buzz, but did not act on this information, as the music wasn't really 100% to our liking. Other, newer, labels saw what we didn't - and those labels reaped the rewards, meanwhile we umm-ed an arr-ed and lost out.We took it on the chin and moved on.

This question is really astute : "(when) going to sign, do you take the scene leaders who have been there the longest but are more likely to move on? or do you go for the second wave of band who are still obsessed in the core value of the scene?"
No one has ever pointed out the difference to me before, you are seriously bang on with this assessment.My instinctive answer is - whenever possible we sign the leaders, because over the course of time no one remembers the also-rans.

Most of the most iconic and legendary breakthrough metal acts received scathing reviews from critics at first. UK rag Kerrang! famously gave Slayers debut the ultimate thumbs down score- one K. I believe Emperors debut also received this dubious accolade of a lowest possible mark. Thats why journalists don't make it in A&R.

It must be said that the originators and trailblazers of any scene do not pick an easy path, at first all they meet are detractors with at best, puzzled looks, and at worst, open hostility.The casualty rate is high, because it requires unbeleivable mental toughness and unshakable self-belief to make a lasting impact on the music scene. The leaders are the ones who have to fight damn hard for any acceptance, they are the ones taking the flack and suffering the knocks which come with trying to do anything new.Many of them don't survive the ordeal, often losing members or splitting up entirely due to the accumulated pressure associated with the constant battle to be different but also trying to be accepted.

Meanwhile the chasing pack of bands close behind have a much easier ride of it, as the sheep-like majority of metal fans are more accepting of a newish radical style, but only once its broken through and deemed "OK" and "safe" to like.


Carcass Red vinyl symphonies 1989

Question: Hello again,

i know that you don\'t want to answer some kind of questions. Maybe this one is one of them. The last time i wrote you about a \"symphonies of sickness\"-rerelease i was watching it at ebay. I didn\'t get an aswer from you, but i bought it. Its a sealed rerelease with a sticker on the plastic that says \"only 1000 copies on colored vinyl\". My question is (again): Which pressings had this sticker? Just the red european 1000 copies or also the us-releases? Or just the us releases? It would be very nice if you could tell me that detail. I\'m NOT going to sell that copy with \"Earache told me that this record is rare as hell\"! You can check my site, so you can see that i am a collector, not a seller! its:
Thank you very much. From:

Answer: The 2002 US vinyl edition of Symphonies of Sickness is what you have, judging from the sticker text. The original 1989 version was 1000 red vinyl for Germany only, check it out in detail HERE.Some more info on vinyl colors and quantities is HERE