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Thrashback Thursday: Hellhammer - Satanic Rites

I've said before how despite the name, Thrashback Thursday won't be entirely dedicated to thrash metal. In today's case, we're making an ever so slight departure from the style, to look at one of the most influential proto black metal bands ever, all the more impressive when you consider they never released an album. Hellhammer was formed by Thomas Gabriel Fischer in Switzerland in 1981 and would release three demos over three years before transforming into the much more critically revered, Celtic Frost. This week, we're looking at the title track from their third and final demo, "Satanic Rites," which was their first to feature the recently passed bassist Martin Eric Ain.

While many point to "Messiah" as the essential Hellhammer track which sums up the band (and perhaps it does,) "Satanic Rites" does perhaps just as much in this respect. It begins with a build which would be more atmospheric were it not for the poor production quality, a staple trait of Hellhammer and indeed the early black metal genre which they helped mold. Before long, it explodes into a catchy but nonetheless chaotic riff, accompanied by the grunting and shrieking of Tom Fisher (aka Tom Warrior.) Warrior would later claim in the "A Dying God" documentary that he was embarrassed by the lyrics to this song and a scan over them reveals why; A series of stanzas which are perverse, yet oddly cringe worthy. While BDSM participants would no doubt find delight in the lines, "Be a good girl, And just do what I say, I whip you 'till you faint," less welcomed are lyrics about cutting off children's legs.

All of this however is what made Hellhammer great. At the time, such lyrics were even more shocking than they are now and had it been Hellhammer that signed with Noise Records rather than its successor Celtic Frost, where Warrior really came into his own as a superb lyricist, the PMRC would have been ringing wet at the prospect of taking them on. The messy sound and raw production was a result of young men (Martin Ain was only fifteen at the time) still learning their craft and budget contraints, which just like Venom before them and Bathory around the same time, proved to be an extraordinarily vital component to the Norwegian black metal sound.

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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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1 Comment on "Thrashback Thursday: Satanic Rites"

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1. hellrat writes:

haha yessir! I also do believe that hellhammer influenced a good many of the thrashers as well, at least the euro ones no...definitely those whom have held up to the test of time

it was like a primative seed that sent roots deep, and has continued to sprout trunks and branches to this very day

RIP Martin \m/

# Dec 7, 2017 @ 10:06 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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