It was only seven shows in seven days in 1989. But it will never be forgotten. Four of the best death metal and grindcore bands in the world, united by the leading extreme metal record label at the time, Earache. The Grindcrusher Tour was more than just a brief tour organized by Earache Records that started on November 10 and ended on November 16, 1989. It was an event announcing that things were changing: death metal and grindcore were creative forces to be reckoned with.
I remember an incident when we played Nottingham Rock City. Dave Vincent had requested a bucket full of maggots which the local crew – all massive, hard-as-nails Hells Angels – had to obtain from the local fishing tackle shop. They were not pleased about this, not impressed at all! We all found this most amusing, which didn’t really help matters much, but for the Morbid Angel lads this was all quite normal and what they did at all their shows. I remember Trey cutting up his arms to let the blood flow just before they went on stage and quite innocently asking him, “What are you doing that for?”
– Karl Willetts / Bolt Thrower interview, Decibel, 2016
You can read the whole story about the tour on Decibel here, where Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willetts, Carcass bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker, ex-Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist David Vincent, and Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury goes down memory lane.
Starting out as a three-piece, Carcass were one of Earache Records’ grindcore flagship and had a huge impact on the birth of the so-called goregrind style. The group debuted with the extremely lo-fi underground classic “Reek of Putrefaction”, which the late BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel declared as his favourite album of 1988. With 1989’s “Symphonies Of Sickness” the band developed the goregrind style further with the addition of vastly improved production values. The album tour also saw the addition of a second guitarist Mike Amott.
Bolt Thrower were a British death metal band from Coventry, England. They formed in 1986 as Bolthrower and changed to the commonly known spelling after their first official practice rehearsal demo in December. In 1988 they released their debut album “In Battle There Is No Law”, but it was with the 1989 album “Realm of Chaos” they made a real impact on the death metal scene.
Formative genetic material of death metal, Morbid Angel formed in 1984 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and recorded its first album “Abominations Of Desolation” in 1986 (albeit not released until 1991), so their debut became “Altars of Madness” in 1989, a now legendary album that’s probably on most death metal fans top 10 list.
Formed in Birmingham, UK in 1982, by Nik Bullen. Napalm Death were originally one of the bands that defined the Grindcore sound of the mid-late 1980s, along with bands such as Extreme Noise Terror, Doom and Sore Throat. The band has gone through countless line-ups and many former members have gone on to become significant figures in a variety of musical scenes.
Although their debut album “Scum” featured members Justin Broadrick (who was also a member of Fall Of Because, the band that later became Godflesh, at the time) and Nik Bullen (later part of Scorn), the first stable line up consisted of Lee Dorrian (vocals), Bill Steer (guitar), Mick Harris (drums) and Shane Embury (bass).
By late 1989, Lee Dorrian, whose vocals epitomised the early Napalm Death sound, had left to form another band (doom metal band Cathedral) and focus on his label Rise Above. Bill Steer also left to concentrate on his other band, Carcass. Dorrian was replaced by former death metal band Benediction’s vocalist Barney Greenway, and an American guitarist, Jesse Pintado, was recruited from fellow Earache label-mates Terrorizer. A short time later Mitch Harris from Las Vegas’ grindcore outfit Righteous Pigs joined as second guitarist.