Some of my earliest experiences with the Earache bands and the late 80's grind/death scene coming out of the UK came in the form of the Hardcore Holocaust compilation cassettes and Peel Sessions full lengths that came out on the Strange Fruit label. Those classic early recordings of bands like Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, The Stupids, Bolt Thrower, those Strange Fruit discs were my introduction to all of the brutal underground noize that was coming out during that period. Those old Peel Sessions releases have all been out of print for years, but Earache just compiled the complete Peel Sessions for their flagship bands on this massive 3-disc set that features scorching performances from some of the UK grind scene's most seminal outfits. I couldn't ask for a better lineup on this - you get the crucial Peel sets from Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and Godflesh, as well as sets from lesser known (but still RIPPING) thrash bands like Unseen Terror, Heresy, and Intense Degree.
The first disc packed with multiple sessions from Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror; the Napalm Death sets are possibly the band's most extreme and bestial recording ever, drawing heavily from Scum, the songs played at nuclear tempos, the vocals distorted and animalistic, everything blown to hell, all three sets (from 1987 through 1990) doused in gasoline and blasting violently, with the band delivering a skull-shredding cover of Siege's "Walls" that I've never heard anywhere else. Awesome. Then there's the total grind/crust overload of the Extreme Noise Terror sessions, a thrashier and more hardcore style assault, total crustcore violence, unhinged D-beat drumming blasting through manic detuned riffs and the turbo-demon vokills.
On disc two, Carcass are raw and crushing, a frenzied, impossibly chaotic grind assault that includes devastating renditions of classic tracks like "Empathological Necroticism", and are followed by the thunderous crusty death metal of Bolt Thrower, their set drenched in reverb, starting with the thrashing "Forgotten Existence" and then making their way through their crucial late 80's death metal jams.
Godflesh start off the third disc with a sixteen minute set that includes "Tiny Tears", "Wound (Not Wound)", "Like Rats", and "Pulp", these versions filthier and rougher than the studio versions; this set is particularly notable for featuring Kevin Martin (The Bug / Ice / God / Techno Animal) blasting some screeching, hellish free-jazz saxophone blurt over the last half of "Pulp", dropping some scathing Borbetomagus-like sax noise over Godflesh's pounding industrial metal. Then it's Unseen Terror's awesome blistering Brit ultrathrash, their fusion of classic hardcore and death metal so ridiculously aggressive and fast, ending with a supersonic cover of "It's My Life" from NYC hardcore band Madball; followed by speedcore legends Heresy, who blaze through a bunch of short, catchy blastcore jams, their super-fast hardcore thrash riddled with poppy, anthemic hooks. It ends with Intense Degree's insanely fast grinding speedcore assault, ferocious and sort of Siege-esque, with a raging rendition of their classic jam "Skate Bored".
The set comes in a cardboard slipcase and includes a thick booklet that features an interview with Mick Harris on the influence that John Peel and his BBC show had on the burgeoning grindcore scene in the UK in the 80's along with liner notes and photos.