Long-running New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) pioneers HOLOCAUST — perhaps best known for penning the track "The Small Hours", which was later covered by METALLICA on their "The $5.98 E.P. - Garage Days Re-Revisited" EP — have issued a lengthy statement slamming Sanctuary Records for the job the label did on the recently-issued double-CD compilation, "Smokin' Valves: The Anthology", calling it "not just shoddy, but insulting as well."
The following is HOLOCAUST drummer Ron Levine's statement in its entirety, as taken from the group's official web site, www.holocaustmetal.com:
"In this age of mp3 controversy and the attempts of the record industry to wield ever-increasing power, it has not become uncommon for artists to speak out against practices employed by various record labels. Those of you who have kept up with news regarding HOLOCAUST (and the Neat metal label in general) know that Sanctuary Records recently purchased licensing to the HOLOCAUST back catalogue. Rather than give our CDs proper reissue (for which there just happens to be considerable demand), they opted to issue a double-CD compilation of these recordings. Compilations — when done correctly — benefit both the band and the record label by presenting an accurate representation of the artist's work and history. We feel that Sanctuary's job on 'Smokin' Valves: The Anthology' largely fails and warrants honest feedback. Consider this to be constructive criticism from the band, including myself — Ron Levine — a 14-year fan of the band.
"I received my copy of the new 'Anthology' one week ago. By the time I got it, it had already been out for several weeks. Why didn't I get it sooner? Because I had to order my copy from eBay. That's correct — not only did the band not know that this release was even being issued until the week before it came out, but three of us had to buy our own copies. My first impression was confusion at the cover art. It looked awfully familiar — probably because it was the cover art of 'The Nightcomers'. Rather than contact the band for ideas or at least come up with something original on their own, HOLOCAUST now has two CDs with the same cover. Wonderful marketing strategy. I'm sure that'll help sales when people flip through HOLOCAUST CDs at record stores.
"Now come the really fun parts. Again, rather than contacting the band or a real fan (hell, they could have asked ME and had both in one shot!), a gentleman named John Tucker wrote the liner notes for the CD. As I read his words, I can picture him in his suit and tie sitting behind a desk at the Sanctuary offices, wondering how he got stuck with an assignment to write liner notes for this HOLOCAUST band. Let's take a look at his handiwork:
"[HOLOCAUST guitarist/vocalist] John Mortimer — one of metal's most underrated, persevering and influential players and songwriters — deserves to at least have his name spelled correctly in the liner notes. He is regularly referred to as 'John Mortimore,' despite being credited correctly in the track listing credits.
"While the early band lineups are well documented, no mention of members after 1992 are made. Apparently, members such as Graham Cowen and Iain McKenzie do not warrant mention, whereas other shorter-term members do. Furthermore, while Sanctuary went to the trouble of putting on three tracks from the obscure 'No Man's Land' LP, they couldn't be troubled to find out exactly who played on it.
"The liner notes are more complimentary towards 'The Sound of Souls' EP than 'No Man's Land' (and quite rightly so), yet they include three tracks from 'No Man's Land' and zero from 'The Sound of Souls'. Brilliant.
"According to the liners, 'many of the songs' on the 'Hypnosis of Birds' CD 'were far too long for their own good.' Presumably that's why disc two includes 'The Tower', which the longest — and arguably, least accessible — track from 'Hypnosis'. Right.
"Rather than include unrecognized classics like 'In the Dark Places of the Earth', 'Caledonia', 'Alexander', etc., they put on the cover of 'Master of Puppets', which was never meant to be taken seriously in the first place (and 'Spanner Omelette', as much as I personally love that track, also falls into this category). It appears that Mr. Tucker — or someone who knows as much about HOLOCAUST as he seems to — must have chosen the track listing for this compilation.
"To be blunt, some of the CD cover pictures in the booklet look like ass. This is because they quite obviously grabbed the pictures off of the bio page on this very site, and those pictures aren't of the best quality. Don't they OWN the rights to this stuff now? They can't do better than to grab the pictures off the page?
"Some of the band pictures are no better. Sanctuary was already using this page to snag pictures of CD covers, and they couldn't drop us an email to request a real photo rather than copy and resize an already resized .jpg file?
"Perhaps the most insulting of all: they had no problem making use of the band page when they needed pictures, but couldn't be troubled to say a damn thing ABOUT the page — they didn't even provide the address! Instead, they made it sound like no one knows whether HOLOCAUST did (or will do) anything after 2000's 'The Courage To Be' CD ... meanwhile, right next to the very paragraph that questions our existence is a freaking picture of the 'War in Heaven' CD we put out last year! Hello?! On top of that, it's not like the impending 'Primal' release is any great secret either ... hell, WE OFFERED THEM THE CHANCE TO ISSUE IT LAST YEAR!!
"So here's what we've got. Sanctuary purchased our back catalog right up to 2000, but couldn't be bothered to take on 'Primal'. Fine, that's their choice, however little sense it may make to me personally. Then, rather than give that back catalog proper issue, they put together — at best — a half-assed compilation which a) does the band no favors in terms of track listing or publicity, b) has no band input, and c) the band didn't even know about until the week before release. Meanwhile, that's OUR name in big letters on the cover. They did a crap job and put our name on it, while the word 'Sanctuary' is in little letters in the bottom right-hand corner in the back. In the name of accuracy, this release should have a big 'Sanctuary' logo on the front, and a little note on the back that says 'This product happens to include recordings by HOLOCAUST.'
"As I stated earlier, a compilation can provide benefits to both the artist and the issuing label. This compilation does neither. The music, by itself, is still excellent (and as a fan, I do particularly enjoy all of the rarities on disc 1), but it is unfortunate that Sanctuary did not see fit to make use of the band's easy accessibility to make this package the truly outstanding product that it could have been. It is precisely this kind of behavior that propels record labels towards extinction."
As previously reported, HOLOCAUST's ninth album, "Primal", will be released on May 19.
The CD, which was recorded in both the States and Scotland, marks a return to the group's metal roots and marks the recording debut with the band of new members Levine, John McCullim (guitar), and Bryan Bartly (bass).
The complete track listing for "Primal" is as follows:
01. Iron Will
02. Black Box
03. Hell On Earth
05. Fools (Bring On The Night)
06. Made Righteous
07. It's Your Dream
08. They Colonize
10. Lost Horizons