Ask Earache: Why Aren’t There Any Black Metal Bands On Earache?

Posted: September 4, 2014 in Ask Earache
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Question:  Is there a specific reason that there were none, or a very minimum number of black metal bands signed to Earache records? I notice the only black metal band Earache obtained in sometime is Annal Nathrakh but that’s about all I can see from the catalog of bands.  Is it based on preference (maybe Earache isn’t too fond of the black metal genre) or is it based on just the idea that Earache is solely for death metal and grindcore?

Dig’s Answer:  Yes you are right, there is precious little Black Metal on the Earache label catalog, sure it’s deliberate, and its for a variety of reasons.  When Black Metal began to break out of Norway in the early 90’s, Earache at the time was enjoying its golden period..we had acts like Entombed appear at number 3 in the Swedish National sales charts for instance, and our Grindcore and Death Metal acts like Napalm Death & Morbid Angel were selling well.  I wouldnt say we looked down on the new BM scene, but our acts certainly did – due to pure arrogance – bands like Entombed would just laugh at the shambolic playing, the non-existant production of the early recordings, and the ‘panda’ make up and DIY spike armbands that did admittedly make the early BM acts look and sound kinda cheesy.  Little did they know it would usurp them in popularity within a few years.

The world’s extreme music scene was damn tiny in the late 80’s so naturally I had known Euronymous, I sold Mayhem’s first LP, Deathcrush, for him in the UK, when I had a mail-order, plus I met him in Oslo on tour with Napalm Death, he was a cool guy who worshiped, and looked a bit like, Cronos from Venom – he seemed to be involved in a cool growing scene in Oslo that was keeping the flame alive to true satanic metal, a style which had died out everywhere else.  Later he named the catalog numbers of his newly formed label Deathlike Silence “Anti Mosh” which was a blatant jibe at Earache’s then runaway success, so our friendship immediately cooled a lot after that, as was our interest in BM, because it seemed to be anti-us!

Earache was also put off getting involved by the fact that many of my UK friends had formed new fledgling labels to sign the first wave of BM bands and we didn’t want to rock the boat of such new start-up labels – Neil (Nihil) started Cacophonous to release Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, Lee Barrett (though I didn’t know him then) had formed Candlelight to sign Emperor, Hammy at Peaceville had signed Darkthrone (via Deaf records).  Earache did not want to encroach on those labels.

However, it was obvious in 1992 or so, we had to sign one of the new Norwegian BM acts though – and frankly, the ONLY band which Earache wanted to sign was Burzum, because they stood out musically and seemed to offer something very different to the rest.  Varg was very interested, so he flew into the UK for a meeting at our Nottingham offices, and a deal was struck, but we had problems with his right wing racist views, so quietly backed out of the deal.

So for various reasons Earache ended up with NO black metal bands during the 90’s.

You can read other Ask Earache columns here.



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