Oh wow man! When I heard about this collection of Hellhammer coming out I was really excited about it. I'll admit that I've not heard much of Hellhammer's music. I'm really only familiar with the ep "Apocyliptic Raids." I had heard some briefly when I was in high school with some stoner buddies of mine. I've actually read about them more than I had the chance to hear the band thru books and various magazines.
Everyone always had good things to say about Hellhammer. Countless bands have said that they had been heavily influenced by, to me, this elusive band. Mayhem, Emperor, and Burzum, aka: Count Grisnacht or Varg Vickernes if you want to get technical. Those bands that I just mentioned were coming up in the early and mid 90's. During that time, black metal was the new craze in the heavy metal underground. The funny thing about Hellhammer though is that they were playing in the style of black metal almost 10 years earlier. 1982, 83' to be exact. Black metal as a style on the metal family tree was just germinating at this time with Venom's second album titled "Black Metal" which was released in 1982. But Venom was more than a black metal band. They were thrash, speed, death and black metal. (Sorry I'm using the phrase: black metal too much but, what else can you call it?) Hellhammer on the other hand was pretty much the prototype "black metal" band. It really blows me away that there was music this fierce and heavy so early into the genre of heavy metal.
The first disc of this 2 cd set is called "Satanic Rights." An incredible recording from the embryonic period of Celtic Frost. For example: "Buried and Forgotten" turned into "Necromantical Screams" on Frost's album "To Mega Therion" from 1985. It's a little different in parts but it's definitly there. Some of the other tracks I thought were cool are "Messiah, Maniac, and Crucifixtion." The latter song is an absolute masterpiece of pure black metal mayhem! But seriously folks, the whole first cd is really cool.
Cd 2 is a mish mash of various live stuff that sounds like it was recorded on a boombox in someone's basement. It's far from unlistenable though. Even if the bass and drums drown out the guitar and singing, this second disc is vital too a metalhead's cd rack. Just for the historical importance alone. If you are familiar with black metal it shouldn't bother you. It's all been remixed anyway so I'm sure it sounds a lot better than it ever did. The production on the first cd is better but it has that filthy sound which to me is kinda cool.
I would have loved to give this album 5 stars but I couldn't because of it's packaging. I don't mind that it was a gatefold slipcase, I actually like that but, where are the photos and all that kind of stuff? I like documentation and sadly this cd has has none save for 2 reproduced cd cards with old Hellhammer artwork. And then, I open them up and they are just black inside. They could have put a picture and some text on those 2 cd jackets.
But please, don't let that stop you! For one thing, the price is great and the musical significance of this band is a cornerstone in the history of extreme music. I highly recommend "Demon Entrails" for people who are into real heavy metal