Earache Records is an independent record label based in Nottingham, England and New York, United States. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing many of the earliest grindcore and death metal records in the period 1988–1994.
Earache was founded in 1985 by Digby "Dig" Pearson. In 1985, before adopting the name "Earache Records," Pearson released Anglican Scrape Attic, a compilation of early hardcore punk and crossover acts (Hirax, Lipcream, Concrete Sox, etc.). The first official Earache release, on vinyl in 1987 and with the catalogue reference MOSH 1, was The Accüsed's The Return of Martha Splatterhead. The label's first major release, however, was Napalm Death's Scum. Then, in 1989, Earache released Naked City's Torture Garden, an LP of "hardcore miniatures." Other early records include albums by some of extreme metal bands.
Until recently Earache had a number of sub labels, including Wicked World Records, Elitist Records, Sub Bass Records and the short-lived Necrosis Records, the later of which was run by Jeff Walker and released the first albums by Repulsion and Bill Steer of Carcass.
Earache has become inextricably linked with the death metal scene in particular, but also released Welsh ragga-metal act Dub War, Nottingham's hardcore techno outfit Ultraviolence, and Mick Harris' industrial/experimental Scorn. Earache have signed even more musically adventurous groups such as Ewigkeit in recent years, but the death metal and grindcore with which it made its name still predominates.
In early 2007 the label signed a distribution deal with EMI. The deal includes both digital and retail distribution of the label's releases.
In 2009, Earache repressed Texas grindcore band Insect Warfare's World Extermination album for the European market, after having only previously been available from a very small independent record label in America. Later on in the year, even though the band had split up months beforehand Earache brought the band over to the UK to play a farewell tour playing numerous dates around the UK and Ireland only.
In early 2010 it was announced that Earache's newest signing would be the Singaporean grindcore band Wormrot, and that the label would be reissuing the band's debut album - which had only previously been available direct from the band themselves - along with a second disc of over thirty bonus tracks.