Friday, December 2, 2011

Hellhammer - Triumph of Death (1983)

When people think of Hellhammer, most tend to hear the dark and morbid sounds of Satanic Rites or Apocalyptic Raids resonating within their brains. While those recordings were not without flaws, the 1983 Triumph of Death demo seems to have been crafted by a completely different band. Many of Satanic Slaughter's trademark riffs are present, but the overall feel is really pathetic and it is amazing that the band remained together long enough to develop beyond this poor representation of Black Metal.

There are so many things wrong with this that it becomes difficult to keep it all organized. The poor songwriting and sloppy musicianship are actually among the better qualities that this demo possesses. The vocals are so ridiculously bad that there is no way that the rest of the recording can be taken seriously. For a band so highly-influenced by Venom, there was absolutely no attempt at following in the footsteps of Cronos, voice-wise. Instead of sounding evil or demonic, Tom just sounds drunk. One would expect him to be tossing out cheap pick-up lines, rather than odes to the underworld. This almost suits the overall feel of the music, as much of it has an upbeat, poppy feel. This is most evident in the drumming. These kids really were not sure if they were out to create Black Metal or simple Punk Rock. There are far too many catchy rhythms on this demo and it kills any attempt to get into these songs. Perhaps, they were listening to too many Misfits songs, while writing this material. Even the songs that were later re-recorded for Satanic Rites lack any of the dark atmosphere that they later acquired.

The production would be a severe hindrance, if the material was worth hearing. The bass is too loud in the mix and the drums seem too separate from everything else. The guitar and vocals are buried, though in the case of the latter that may have been a good thing. Everything sounds too clean, which is almost surprising to say about a Hellhammer demo from 1983. Nothing about this sounds Metal, at all.

Fans of Hellhammer (or just early Black Metal, in general), are encouraged to avoid this at all costs. Triumph of Death is a miserable recording that will kill your opinion of this band, quite likely. Despite the classic material that they later released, this demonstrates that their true essence was something far removed from those that they imitated. If you have heard Satanic Rites and Apocalyptic Raids, then you know all you need to, regarding Hellhammer. Stay away from this.