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: