In 1986, it was unimaginable that death metal and grindcore would ever impact popular culture. Yet this shockingly fast and barbaric amalgam of hardcore punk and heavy metal would define the musical threshold of extremity for years to come. Initially circulated through an underground tape-trading network by scraggly, angry young boys, death metal and grindcore spread faster than a plague of undead zombies as bands rose from every corner of the globe. By 1992, the genres’ first legitimate label, Earache Records, had sold well over a million death metal and grindcore albums in the United States alone. When label President Digby Pearson inked a licensing deal with Columbia Records a year later, he fully expected to be lining his walls with gold and platinum. Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore, featuring an introduction by legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, conquers the lofty task of telling the two-decade-long history of this underground art form through the eyes and ringing ears of the artists, producers, and label owners—past and present—who propelled the movements.

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