Who would have thought that an unassuming BBC radio broadcaster named John Peel would have had such a monumental impact on the feral metal form known as grindcore? These days a "Peel Session" evokes immediate recognition, as the rabidly anti-commercial music of so many early bands (British ones on Earache in particular) were given wide exposure at his hands. "Grind Madness at the BBC" is a 118-track, three-CD compilation that captures those seminal, well known and not so well known, grindcore acts shaking studio walls during Peel Sessions recorded during the years 1987-1990 and it is without question a mandatory purchase for both grindcore fanatics and fans that seek an introduction into the nascent phases of the style.
Included in the fracas are NAPALM DEATH (pre-Barney and post-Dorrian), EXTREME NOISE TERROR, BOLT THROWER, GODFLESH, CARCASS, HERESY, INTENSE DEGREE, and UNSEEN TERROR. The NAPALM DEATH sessions tend to be the ones that first come to mind when "Peel Session" is uttered and the absolutely savage live treatments of tracks like "Scum" and "Suffer the Children" are the reason. Nobody shocked and awed in quite the same way as the Birmingham rabble and these 34 tracks are nothing short of exercises in sheer sonic terror and live lunacy. The opening collection gives the first indication of the excellent recording quality of all three discs; the intensity, the clarity, and the viciousness are brought to the fore in a way that must be heard to be believed. The eight CARCASS cuts benefit the most from the recording treatment, giving one a clearer, though no less sanitized, idea of the madly scientific genius of the gore grinders.
While the offerings from EXTREME NOISE TERROR and the equally frantic machine gunning sounds of the more punk/hardcore-peppered attacks of HERESY and UNSEEN TERRER are proud and pointed representations of the style, it is the decidedly less grindy approaches of BOLT THROWER and GODFLESH that are most interesting for those that may not have been familiar with the early works of either act. The industrial abrasiveness of GODFLESH heard on the studio albums work incredibly well delivered here live; every bit as unique and eerie, yet refreshingly organic in the Peel Session setting. For those most familiar with BOLT THROWER's later years of traditional tank-column death metal, several of the earliest songs show sides that are both thrash-inspired and more chaotic.
Any way you slice it, "Grind Madness at the BBC" is a terrific trip down memory lane and primal experience that sounds just as relevant today as it did all those years ago. The interview with ex-NAPALM DEATH drummer and coiner of the term "grindcore" contained in the booklet adds immense historical value to the package. Do yourself a gigantic favor and order a copy of "Grind Madness at the BBC" now. It is easily the best compilation I've heard since "…And Back to Earth Again: Ten Years of MeteorCity" and is arguably more important to metal historians. Yes, it is a perfect compilation. For the love of all that is unholy, just buy it!