Is Earache Records, The Label of The Future?

Earache Records continues to bewilder. While becoming a pioneering and leading label in the digital space over the past year+, the 25+ year-old label’s band roster continues to be firmly rooted in the past.

Earache released their Extreme Stage-Diving iPhone App to great fanfare this past November. As far as I know they’re the first metal label to release a label-centric app, and more importantly they’re the first label to release an app of any kind that’s actually fun instead of just being a boring news hub for all of their bands. Meanwhile Earache head-honcho Digby Pearson continues to write his behind-the-scenes-of-a-label blogs, which for all the shit I give them are actually really informative, entertaining, and further call attention to the fact that Earache understands the digital space. Most recently Earache announced an extensive series of live albums that are available as digital-only releases; looks like they finally got the memo that people care less and less about owning music on plastic and that manufacturing, shipping, returning, distro fee, etc etc etc on all those physical goods is expensive. Ok!

The problem is that Earache’s artist roster of late has been just a step behind the game. They’ve really hedged their bets on re-thrash, which — at least in the U.S. — is quickly proving a disastrous decision (lone exception: Municipal Waste). Newer trad-metal bands like White Wizzard and Cauldron have one-and-a-half feet planted firmly in the past as well, as talented as both are. While Earache remains firmly committed to their legacy acts (Napalm Death, At the Gates, Cathedral, Deicide), the only bands that could really be considered “modern” on their roster are of the vile deathcore ilk, certainly not pioneering by any regards; Oceano and And Hell Followed With. There’s The Browning, a band so vile that Sergeant D is sure to hop on their bandwagon any day now. And then there’s Wormrot; alright, Earache, you win with Wormrot!

I point all this out of course because ultimately I want Earache, and every metal record label, to succeed on into the Twenty-Tens. For a label that really seems to “get it” Internet-wise, it’d be awfully sweet to see them “get it” music-wise too; pair those two things together and you’d have a recipe for total Earache domination.

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