Earache Records is an independent record label, music publisher and management company founded by Digby Pearson, based in Nottingham, England with offices in London and New York. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing early grindcore and death metal records between 1988 and 1994. The label roster has since diversified into more mainstream guitar music.

The label's first major release of note was MOSH 3, Napalm Death's Scum. Peel was a champion of the band and supported them on BBC Radio 1. The record went on to reach number 7 in the UK indie chart. The label later made its name signing acts from the emerging grindcore and death metal scenes such as Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed and Terrorizer(2).

Although intrinsically linked with death metal, the label's catalogue is varied and also includes Welsh ragga-metal act Dub War (later known as Skindred), Birmingham's industrial metal pioneers Godflesh, Nottingham's Pitchshifter, hardcore techno outfit Ultraviolence, Mick Harris' industrial/experimental Scorn (2) and releases by Deicide.

(Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links to Peel

In the early years of Earache Records, Peel offered a vital national radio platform as the fledgling label quickly grew into a central player in the explosive emergence of grindcore in the UK. From his initial support for early Heresy and Napalm Death releases, the DJ proved hugely enthusiastic about the abrasive new music, giving airtime to subsequent records on Earache and many sessions to bands from its growing roster. At the end of 1988, Peel declared an Earache release, Carcass debut LP "Reek of Putrefaction", to be his favourite album of the year.[1]

Earache founder Digby Pearson later recalled:

"Peel embraced what we were doing straight away. Out of our first ten releases about eight of the bands did John Peel sessions. He put the label on the map and gave us respectability."[2]

In 2009, the label issued the triple CD box set Grind Madness At The BBC, bringing together 17 Peel sessions totaling 118 tracks from eight Earache bands. In the accompanying booklet, Mick Harris of Napalm Death commented:

"No Peel and no Digby at Earache? Forget it. It would not have happened. Respect to Dig, because he heard something and he was blown away by it and he checked Napalm out and confirmed that it was brutal and he wanted to sign us. But Peel was that final connection. He just made it happen."

In fact, Peel was not the only Earache fan at Radio One. Over on the Friday Rock Show, after playing two tracks from the Napalm Death debut album, Tommy Vance stated:

"Of course, to a lot of people it's gonna be real earache, that sort of stuff, and that is why it's on the Earache record label, and why not? I actually think they're brilliant, I really do ... they are so fast and so solid. It's an acquired taste I suppose ... but I think it's superb."[3]

Away from the initial grindcore template, Peel was also happy to give airtime to later Earache "extreme" artists deploying drum machines, samples and other elements of electronic music, including session bands Godflesh, Pitchshifter, Scorn (2) and Ultraviolence.


(Earache artists who recorded Peel sessions. List includes sessions when the artists were not on Earache.)

Festive Fifty

  • No records released on Earache are known to have placed in the year-end poll of Peel listeners.
  • Earache band Extreme Noise Terror did reach #44 in the 1992 Festive Fifty (for "3 AM Eternal", with KLF), but the single appeared on KLF Communications / Vinyl Japan.[4]


(Plays by Peel of various artist (v/a) compilations released on Earache, listed by release, in order of first play. Please add more information if known.)


(LP+7” Grindcrusher - The Earache Sampler)

(CD - Masters Of Misery - Black Sabbath: The Earache Tribute)

(CD - Hellspawn (Extreme Metal Meets Extreme Techno))

See Also


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