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History of Grindcore Explored on Expansive Three-Disc Set

Between 1967 and 2004, the late, great BBC DJ John Peel invited over 2,000 artists into the station’s studio to record three or four songs at a time, which he later aired on his radio program. These “Peel Sessions” helped develop the careers of countless bands, including Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Fall, the Wedding Present, the Smiths, Nirvana and the White Stripes.

With such high-caliber talent walking in and out the door, the program seemed like the last place that would have any interest in promoting extreme British metal bands inspired by hardcore and death metal. Yet not only did John Peel promote grindcore, he almost single-handedly broke the scene, exposing a nation of dedicated radio listeners to the underground cacophony of Napalm Death, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror, Bolt Thrower and others.

Between 1987 and 1990, eight of these bands recorded 17 different sessions at the Maida Vale studio complex at the BBC in London. These 118 blistering tracks, some of which have never seen the light of day, have just been assembled on the three-disc set ‘Grind Madness at the BBC: The Earache Peel Sessions.’ The set includes some of the very first grindcore recordings, made even before the scene had a name and the bands involved had a label — Nottingham, England’s Earache Records.

Earlier this year, Earache founder Digby Pearson obtained the rights from the BBC to release these sessions in their entirety for the first time. The set is comprised of 34 Napalm Death songs recorded over three sessions, 22 Extreme Noise Terror cuts tracked from three sessions, eight Carcass numbers recorded in two sessions, 12 Bolt Thrower tunes tracked in three sessions, 19 Heresy songs cut in three sessions, 11 Intense Degree songs, eight Unseen Terror numbers and four Godflesh tracks recorded in a single session each.

Liner notes for ‘Grind Madness at the BBC: The Earache Peel Sessions’ were written by ex-Napalm Death drummer Mich Harris, who coined the term grindcore.

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