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Hellhammer logo.jpg
Hellhammer's logo
Background information
Origin Nurensdorf, Switzerland
Genres Black metal, thrash metal
Years active1981–1984
Labels Noise, Century Media
Associated acts Celtic Frost, Triptykon
Website www.hellhammer.org
Past members Thomas Gabriel Fischer
Urs Sprenger
Pete Stratton
Jörg Neubart
Martin Eric Ain

Hellhammer was a Swiss extreme metal band from Nurensdorf, [1] active during 1981–1984. They are regarded as a key influence on black metal, [2] [3] In June 1984, Hellhammer disbanded and founded another highly influential band, Celtic Frost. [4]

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

Celtic Frost Swiss metal band

Celtic Frost were a Swiss extreme metal band from Zürich. They are known for their strong influence on the development of extreme metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and was active until 1993. It re-formed in 2001 and disbanded following frontman Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008. The band was inspired by metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Venom as well as alternative/gothic rock groups like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Christian Death and by the hardcore punk of Discharge.



Inspired by the music of Black Sabbath, Venom, Raven, and Motörhead, [5] guitarist/vocalist Thomas Gabriel Fischer (a.k.a. "Tom Warrior"), bassist/vocalist Urs Sprenger (a.k.a. "Steve Warrior") and drummer Pete Stratton formed Hammerhead (later Hellhammer) in early 1981. [6] Although Fischer was also "blown away" by the first two Discharge records - Why? and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing - he "was not into punk at all." [7]

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Venom (band) English thrash metal band

Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1978 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982)—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. Venom's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal.

Motörhead English rock band

Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums and "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitars.

After the exit of Stratton and drummer Jörg Neubart (a.k.a. "Bruce Day") joining in the ranks in autumn 1982, Hellhammer attempted to find proper rehearsal spaces, which proved difficult due to either exceedingly high rents or unavailable studio hours. [8] In June 1983, the group recorded their first demo tape, Triumph of Death , for a mere $70. [9] Despite being embarrassed by the end results, Hellhammer shipped their demo to a number of heavy metal magazines, such as Great Britain's Metal Forces ; critical response toward them was generally favorable. [10] Although rejected by the labels they sent tapes to, the band eventually caught the attention of newcomer Noise Records. [11]

Triumph of Death is a demo tape by the Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer. It was released in July 1983. It was recorded by producer Rol Fuchs in the band's rehearsal room on portable equipment sometime in June 1983, along with the material for the unreleased Death Fiend demo. The two demos were typically combined into one, simply called Triumph of Death. Along with Hellhammer's other demos, it had a major influence on the emerging death metal and black metal genres.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Steve Warrior had been replaced by former Schizo bassist Martin Eric Ain, a change which marked the beginning of a serious and radical transformation in the band's music and lyrics. These changes were ultimately responsible for Fischer's and Ain's increasing perception of being limited within the confines of the purposely primitive Hellhammer vehicle. On May 31, 1984, Hellhammer disbanded, and on June 1 changed its name to Celtic Frost. [4]

Martin Eric Ain American-Swiss bassist

Martin Eric Ain was best known for being the former bassist of the influential extreme metal band Celtic Frost. He used the stage name Martin Eric Ain throughout his career in Celtic Frost. He died on October 21, 2017 following a heart attack. He was born in the United States and spoke English as a first language.

At the dawn of the next decade Noise Records released a new version of Hellhammer's debut, retitled Apocalyptic Raids 1990 A.D. This re-issue was augmented by two tracks off the Death Metal compilation, which was "something we always wanted to, even back in '84", claimed Tom Warrior. This re-release also came with a new cover design done by Martin Ain. [12]

<i>Death Metal</i> (split album) 1984 compilation album by Helloween, Hellhammer, Running Wild and Dark Avenger

Death Metal is a split album by the bands Helloween, Hellhammer, Running Wild and Dark Avenger. It contains the only recorded material of the German band Dark Avenger.

In November 2007, Tom Gabriel Fischer announced that the original master tapes of Hellhammer's demos ( Death Fiend , Triumph of Death , and Satanic Rites ) would be released as a 2CD/3LP package, titled Demon Entrails , in February 2008 with new liner notes on the complete history of Hellhammer, unreleased photos and artwork, and all tracks remastered personally by Tom Gabriel Fischer, Martin Eric Ain and Steve Warrior.[ citation needed ] The album was released by Prowlin' Death/Century Media Records.

<i>Death Fiend</i> 1983 demo album by Hellhammer

Death Fiend is an unreleased demo tape by the Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer. It was recorded in June 1983, along with the Triumph of Death demo, and later appeared on the compilation album Demon Entrails.

<i>Satanic Rites</i> 1983 demo album by Hellhammer

Satanic Rites is the third and final demo tape by Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer. It was recorded and released during December 1983. Along with Hellhammer's other releases, it had a major influence on the emerging death metal and black metal genres.

<i>Demon Entrails</i> 2008 compilation album by Hellhammer

Demon Entrails is a compilation album that comprises three demos by the Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer. The demos – Death Fiend, Triumph of Death and Satanic Rites – were all recorded during 1983 and were properly remastered for this compilation.

Additionally, Tom Fischer has released a book titled Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost 1981-1985, which documents the early days of said bands. [13] The book featured a foreword by Darkthrone guitarist Nocturno Culto and an introduction by the author Joel McIver.

In 2016, both Century Media and Prowling Death Records joint released an unreleased 7" vinyl single the band originally recorded in 1983 titled Blood Insanity. Tom Gabriel Fischer explained that the band contemplated releasing material they recorded at the time of the Triumph of Death demo sessions which would contain two songs. Unfortunately, the single languished into an unrealized state until the band's split, rendering any plans for future releases redundant. Fischer went on to say that it never left his mind since then and presented the idea of releasing the single to Century Media, in which the record company agreed. [14]


Although its former members felt proud of Hellhammer's legacy by the end of the 1980s, that was not always so. [12] In fact, Tom Warrior feared that his prior commitment to Hellhammer could hinder the future of Celtic Frost.[ citation needed ] A 1985 Kerrang! review summed up his worst fears: "The truly execrable Hellhammer may now have turned into Celtic Frost but still suck on the big one." [15]

Other metal publications were also skeptical of Hellhammer's musical endeavor. Metal Forces , for one, absolutely loathed the group; that started a long-lasting feud between that zine and Warrior, which kept Celtic Frost from playing in England for a couple of years. [15] Rock Power was not fond of Hellhammer either - they considered it "the most terrible, abhorrent, and atrocious thing 'musicians' were ever allowed to record". [16] In fact, they were "receiving miserable reviews everywhere", Warrior concluded. [4]

Regarding the controversial status of his former band, Thomas said:


A four-track 12" EP, Apocalyptic Raids , was released in March 1984. At the time, it was regarded as one of the heaviest and most extreme records produced.[ citation needed ] By then, the band had already broken up, but the recording was one of the original black/death metal recordings, and spawned a legion of imitators, playing doom metal, thrash metal, black metal and death metal.[ citation needed ] Both Fischer and Ain later teamed up again when forming Celtic Frost in summer of 1984.

Countless Hellhammer cover versions by numerous underground bands exist.[ citation needed ] Hellhammer covers by notable bands include Napalm Death, [17] Sepultura, [18] Samael, [19] Incantation, [20] Slaughter, [21] Behemoth, [22] and Gallhammer. [23] Fischer's post-Celtic Frost band, Apollyon Sun, also re-worked "Messiah".[ citation needed ]

Band's members


Previous members





1983 Death Fiend
1983 Triumph of Death
1983 Satanic Rites

Studio releases

1984 Apocalyptic Raids EP
2016Blood Insanitysingle
2017Killing Fields

Compilation albums

2008 Demon Entrails


  1. "Hellhammer - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives".
  2. Rivadavia, Eduardo. "( Hellhammer > Overview )" . Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  3. Fischer (2000), p. 78.
  4. 1 2 3 Fischer (2000), p. 80.
  5. Fischer (2000), pp. 62 & 64.
  6. Fischer (2000), p. 65.
  7. Bennett (2009), p. 34.
  8. Fischer (2000), pp. 65 & 66.
  9. Fischer (2000), p. 72.
  10. Fischer (2000), p. 73.
  11. Fischer (2000), p. 75.
  12. 1 2 3 Warrior, Thomas Gabriel (1990). "The Macabre Existence of Hellhammer". Apocalyptic Raids 1990 A.D. (CD booklet). Hellhammer. Berlin, Germany: Modern Music Records. p. 2.
  13. "ONLY DEATH IS REAL: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost 1981–1985, by Tom Gabriel Fischer with Martin Eric Ain".
  14. "HELLHAMMER's Previously Unreleased 'Blood Insanity' 7" Vinyl Single To See Light Of Day". Blabbermouth.net . Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  15. 1 2 Gregori (2003), p. 11.
  16. Doe, Bernard (December 2007). "'Death Fiends': A Short Biography of Hellhammer". Century Media Records. Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2008.
  17. Rivadavia, Eduardo. "( Leaders Not Followers, Pt. 2 > Overview )" . Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  18. Loftus, Johnny. "( Revolusongs > Overview )" . Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  19. "Samael - Medieval Prophecy" . Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  20. "Incantation - Rehearsal demo" . Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  21. "Slaughter - Surrender or Die" . Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  22. "Behemoth - The Return of the Northern Moon" . Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  23. "Gallhammer - The Worship" . Retrieved April 24, 2015.

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