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Sunday Old School: Unseen Terror

For some people, grindcore is a hard to define genre. At the time, many bands rejected the tag, which was coined by Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris, who when speaking of the experimental rock band Swans, could only use the word "grind" to describe them. Though Napalm Death and Brutal Truth gladly took on the mantle, the likes of Extreme Noise Terror outright rejected the term. One band, who straddled the line between grindcore and extreme metal and proved to be influential regarding both, was Unseen Terror.

Unseen Terror were formed in Birmingham in 1987, from the ashes of Warhammer, arguably Britain's first death metal band and featuring Shane Embury on drums, along with guitarist Mitch Dickinson. Though not necessarily a grindcore project, their blend of extreme metal and the harder edge of hardcore punk put them in with the burgeoning genre. The two worked together on their craft, taking particular inspiration from Idaho based group, Septic Death, who gave Dickinson the inspiration for the name Unseen Terror from the song, "Unseen Terror - Terrorain" and focusing lyrically on the politics of the time, a common theme of the grindcore scene, as well as the nod to everyone's favourite lasagna eating cat, Garfield.

After recording some of their rehearsals in Dickinson's father's living room, the subsequent tape started to gain the attention of the underground, including a man named Digby Pearson, who metal fans will know went on to form Earache Records. He invited the duo to take part in the "Diminished Responsibility" compilation, for which they contributed the tracks, "Beyond Eternity" and "Expulsion of Wrath." The tracks impressed Pearson enough to offer the two a record deal, which led them to invite Pete Giles to join as bassist, who they knew from his relationship with former Warhammer guitarist Wayne Aston, with whom he collaborated on the Azagthoth, which also saw Shane Embury performing drums on their EP, "Shredded Flesh."

Unfortunately, the band would not last long as a trio, as the studio dates could not be moved from the ones they booked, Giles was unable to take part in the recording as a result of living in Essex, something of a distance for those with little money. As a result, Embury and Dickinson were forced to record their debut album, "Human Error" by themselves, with the latter handling the vocal, guitar and bass duties. The album was quite a success, now being considered a must have for grindcore and extreme metal fans and earning plenty of recognition from their contemporaries, including an offer to Embury from Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris to join on bass, which he declined.

Speaking of which, Harris himself soon joined the ranks of Unseen Terror as a vocalist and performed with the band for a one off performance in Nottingham, which also featured Wayne Aston on bass. The trio were then invited to record a session for the BBC as part of the famous John Peel sessions, which were later released as an EP in 1989, as well as being included on the Earache compilation, "Grind Madness at the BBC" in 2010. This would be the last release from the group, who folded in 1989, after which Embury accepted a second offer from Harris to join Napalm Death, with whom of course, he remains with to this day. Though Unseen Terror reformed in 2001 for a live show or two, the chapter of this underground, yet highly influential band had been more or less closed, leaving behind a classic album which challenged the establishment, as well as Garfield's treatment of Odie.

Unseen Terror - "Oblivion Descends"

Unseen Terror - "Divisions"

Unseen Terror - "Death Sentence (Of The Innocent)"

Unseen Terror - "Garfield For President"

Unseen Terror - "Odie's Revenge"

Unseen Terror - Peel Sessions

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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