If you're a fan of Extreme, Death and Grindcore Metal then you're probably already well aware of Earache Records since they were one of the first labels who were willing (and brave enough) to release this kind of music for its equally extreme fan base. They were the place to find your Morbid Angel and your Deicide, your Carcass and your Napalm Death and should you be someone who is also following the newer bands that delve into the regions of extremism in the genre, well you will be happy to know that they are still hard at work bringing it to your attention. The 6CD boxed set Metal: A Headbanger's Companion is the perfect place to begin your quest into that which is Earache Records past and future history. It's loaded with over 100 songs by some of the heaviest bands that have come up during the label's existence and if you are looking for a lesson in these respective genres then you need not look too much further. The tunes and bands are broken up into six sub-genres of Death Metal, Grindcore, Metal/Rock, Industrial, Punk/Hardocre and Leftfield, and with it done in this fashion you can better absorb how these groups present their wares against others in the similar genre style. I've listed the bands as opposed to citing 100 song titles since that information can be found at the click of a mouse. Read on.
DEATH METAL: Deicide, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, At The Gates, Carcass, Decapitated, Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Hate Eternal, Akercocke, Severe Torture, Vader, Blood Red Throne, Anata, Nocturnus, Carnage, Massacre.
*** This was probably my favorite CD of the bunch since you can never go wrong with Death Metal that comes at the hands of bands like Morbid Angel and Vader or Hate Eternal. There are the beginnings of the Gothenburg sound with At The Gates and the dawn of Black Metal with Deicide. This disc will be one that you play a few times before you move further into the collection.
GRINDCORE: Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, The Berzerker, Terrorizer, Bolt Thrower, Mistress, Anal Cunt, December Wolves, Anaal Nathrakh, Cadaver Inc., Nox, Citizen, Carcass, Unseen Terror, Hellbastard, Filthy Christians.
*** I've never been much for Grindcore but I have always recognized how bands like Napalm Death were among the first and strongest bands to do it. As a matter of fact the early Carcass stuff fell along those lines as well before it became more like Technical Death Metal. This portion of the set gives you some of the most brutalizing artisans of the format so if this is where you most get your kicks then this CD shall be one you spin again and again.
METAL/ROCK: Carcass, The Haunted, Cathedral, Adema, Candiria, Biomechanical, Society 1, Linea 77, Urkraft, Evile, With Passion, Addiction Crew, Shortie, Gandalf, Sleep, Confessor, Usurper, Pulkas, Dub War.
*** My second favorite CD in the batch because I always leaned more to the purer sound of the genre first and foremost before I ever expanded into the supremely heavy side of things and by having some more Carcass, The Haunted and Cathedral you are off to a good start on this one. There are also quite a few bands who might have escaped your attention in the recent years so this gives you the chance to build some new favorites as well.
INDUSTRIAL: Godflesh, Mortiis, Pitch Shifter, Society One, Ultraviolence, Generation X-ED, Scorn, Signs Of Chaos, Adrenalin Junkies, Ewigkeit, Morbid Angel Vs The Beserker, OLD, Misery Loves Co., Meathook Seed, Ultraviolence.
*** Proving that Industrial twisted Metal didn't begin at Nine Inch Nails and end with Ministry comes the CD that brings you the darkness of Mortiis and very many more. This realm of the genre takes some deep listening to as it's often as much about the atmosphere that they are laying down as much as the music they do. It's really interesting stuff to sink your teeth into but it will take one or two bites before the taste overwhelms you.
PUNK & HARDCORE: Municipal Waste, December, Clutch, Deadbird, Coalesce, Heresy, Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, Hellbastard, Disgust, Beecher, Linea 77, Fudge Tunnel, Iron Monkey, Rabies Caste, The Haunted, Janus Stark, Lawnmower Deth, Intense Degree.
*** With the Punk and Hardcore segment in the set you can lace up those boots and get to stomping in the mosh pit with your friends. Turn it up and mix it up with Municipal Waste and a little more Napalm Death tossed in for good measure. Clutch is here and Heresy along with many others who show you how to do it when you break it down to the bare bones roots of the genre.
LEFTFIELD: Cult Of Luna, Blackhole, Ewigkeit, Ephel Duath, Scorn, Dr. Phibes, Break You, Godflesh, Carnival In Coal, Blood From The Soul, Akercocke, Mortiis, Spazztic Blurr, Hyatari.
*** Exactly as it's labeled comes the leftfield stuff which is music that falls from way out of the uhmmmm - left field. Let's face it, sometimes we hear stuff and debate where it falls and often we are surprised when the artist lines out where they think they fall. This CD allows us to make our own determination and perhaps . Mortiis makes another appearance to show he is not to be pigeonholed into one genre specific while we also find Godflesh and the incredible Akercocke and many more. This one will take a few go rounds to catch most likely and perhaps once you have done that you will better realize where they fall in the large Metal scope of things.
Of course you can expect a collection that gives you over one hundred tracks to cost a small fortune but the folks at Earache Records felt that this should not be the case and as result you can get this for less than it costs you to see a club show nowadays. Based on the cheap price and the overall Metal diversity that you will find across the board on this collection there is no reason that you should pass this up if the Extreme side is where you dwell. It's a good place to examine should you be among the curious about these bands but be warned, once you walk these lands there is no easy coming back unscathed. Thanks Earache Records for reminding us every day just how heavy Metal can be. Horns up!!!