Perfect Sound Forever

Jon Paris (Earache PR)

ED NOTE: This is a response to Carlos Pozo's article on Grindcore

I checked out the article. Very cool and exhaustively researched! I do have some issues with Carlos referring to us as a label in decline, however. In complete fairness, his opinion did seem to represent the feelings of many grind fans at a point in Earache's existence...and coming from that point, it's hard to argue against. The early days of Earache were a very special moment in time: it was the dawn of a new sound, something that captured the ears of true heavy music fans around the world. That specialness often causes grind fans to think of Earache as something that is partly theirs, something that owes something to them. Which is great! That's what every label tries to do and most of them fail.

That being said, there was a 'revolt' of sorts when the label started to release other forms of music several years ago: the hardcore techno/gabba stuff, non-grind metal like Misery Loves Co., Dub War, etc. People took this as a change of direction, a shift of priorities, an abandonment of the glory that they remember from the late 80s/early 90s. But Earache never 'created' grindcore...the bands did. And in the mid-90s, there was very little excitement happening in the grind world. Almost every band, at the time, seemed content to repeat what had already been done. Our illustrious owner, Digby Pearson, is someone who craves new sounds. He was a big fan of the mostly UK/Dutch phenomenon of gabba/techno (the hardest dance music on the planet) and felt that this music was extreme, new and deserved attention. Mass confusion among metalheads ensued....

Today, we are in anything but 'decline'. Morbid Angel have just released the finest, most focused death metal album in their careers (and it's regularly hailed in the press as the best death metal album to come out since those early days). Napalm Death are still a vital grind machine. Godflesh is still in its permanent state of evolvement. Sweden's At The Gates broke up and reformed as The Haunted and will be touring for the next year. And we've started a new sub-label called Wicked World that is dedicated to combing the underground metal scene for new bands deserving of attention (December Wolves, As I Lay Dying, The Elysian Fields, Dawn of Relic). IRON MONKEY are becoming underground champions in the US, even though they've never set foot in America. Janus Stark (featuring Gizz from Prodigy) is certainly an Earache curveball - but it's certainly not techno, it's punk rock in a Descendants kind of way. Gizz had the option of signing with a major label, but wanted a label that cared about music. It's the most pop-oriented record we've ever done and we love it because it's full of great songs. We also love underground metal, always have, and our continuing mission is to discover the best that the world has to offer.

Any label that unearths a new form of music will eventually find themselves at a crossroads. Motown had it's glory days....more recently, so did Sub Pop and Epitaph. Now, Motown wasn't content to release Gladys Knight knock-offs, and Sub Pop wasn't content to release second rate grunge bands....they left that to other people!

Anyway, we will continue to forge ahead, exploring the vast musical landscape for those dirty little golden nuggets. Metal is who we are and we'll never turn our backs on it or the fans we've gained through the years. Pound for pound, our roster of acts today is heavier and more vital than any other record label out there. You can't argue that. History can sometimes seem like our best friend and worst enemy simultaneously, but right now, we're focused on the future. Metal isn't leaving, and neither are we.

Thanks for the tremendous article and best of luck in everything you do.

CARLOS RESPONDS: To be fair- the article was written before Earache announced its new Metal sub-label. Iron Monkey seems to be builiding up some good word-of-mouth. Have not tracked them down. At the Gates were truly excellent- I'll wait and see what The Haunted offer up. So maybe they are not as dead as they seem.

I guess my main quibble with his response is that he approached it as if I was an outraged "metal-head", which I'm not. I've always liked all sorts of music, I've just never liked "bad" music. The implication that my head is stuck in some grindcore past is just wrong- you can probably tell from the contents of Angbase (and the table of contents of issue 2 I sent you earlier) that I'm interested in all sorts of exciting new music.

Oh well... all in all I like his response and it makes a good counterpoint to the article- which is what its all about, right?