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HELLWITCH- Transgressive Sentience Demo Cassette (selfproduced, USA, 1986)

Hellwitch_coverHellwitch_demoHELLWITCH from Gainesville / Florida were one of the most original of the early Death Metal bands. Quite technical, fast (especially on the 1990 CD-album that followed this demo). There’s something really morbid about this band’s sound.

On “Transgressive Sentience”, the band showed a remarkable progress compared to the somewhat more generic first demo tape from 1984. Especially the wicked guitar work, but also the often ecentric vocals of guitarist / singer Pat Ranieri definitely set the band apart in the 1986 Death Metal scene (and I’m not even sure if the label Death Metal really fits HELLWITCH). When ripping the tape, I couldn’t help but noticing that the vocal style has some similarities to later SLAUGHTER (Canada). A bit punky and not really well done, haha.
All four songs here are great. “Nosferatu” is easy to enjoy and got speed up immensly on the band’s beforementioned CD in a redone version. “Satan’s Wrath” takes a bit of time to unveil its qualities. “Torture Chamber” is anothr fast number and “Fate at Pain’s End” is another incredibly tense and original track and my fave. The guitar harmonies are incredibly good and the relentless riffing and uptempo parts are killer!! Had HELLWITCH put more time onto the vocals, with a different singer, they might have become really well known among the blossoming DM thing that was about to explode in the late 80s. But time and audiences are cruel and merciless.

If Pat Ranieri reads this (who gave me this demo in person when I met him in 1986 at (maybe) the MASSACRE rehearsal space: Greetings from Erich Megawimp!

Satan’s Wrath.mp3
Torture Chamber.mp3
Fate at Pain’s End.mp3


  1. leviathan

    finally a new metal post. thanks for this. really wicked shit. great sound compared to the bad tape copy I have!!


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 11:06 | Permalink
  2. Hellhound

    Yeah! Hellwitch fucking rules!!

    Those demo tapes can still be bought from Mr. Ranieri himself ( just in case someone wants to actually buy it

    Thank you anyway for digitalizing it! And thanks for doing that blog! Love it – did cost me a whole lot of money to hunt some of these awesome records on ebay 😀


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 11:53 | Permalink
  3. Thanks Hellhound: Funny coincidence. I was also ripping the HELLHOUND demo for a future post today, just before I digitized the Hellwitch tape. 🙂


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 12:02 | Permalink
  4. Eudaemonium

    Good stuff, Erich, I have a bad copy of this as well, so it’s great to get an upgrade. I have a few shows of Hellwitch from 85-86 including one where Chuck Schuldiner of DEATH does vocals for a gig in 1986, and I have the video of them performing at Metal Mania where Kam does vocals on Infernal Death


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 16:49 | Permalink
  5. got to love nintendo hammer-ons!

    dude, is the anvil movie out on dvd?

    because of course it was only playing in new york and l.a. i think(?)


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 17:34 | Permalink
  6. Yeah, the dvd is out. Check out:


    Posted on 07-Jul-09 at 22:59 | Permalink
  7. zombie 666

    I ordered the anvil dvd from after I read your review. Can’t wait to finally see it!!!!

    Great weird demo you unearthed. Think I’ll have to order the other stuff as well.


    Posted on 08-Jul-09 at 00:40 | Permalink
  8. cristiano

    you can find a best version of this demo on the Syzygial Miscreancy Cd reissue released a few days ago by Displeased records


    Posted on 08-Jul-09 at 03:22 | Permalink
  9. You’re right, Crristiano – in the meantime I realized this too. Didn’t know when posting, but I know there’s a lot of people who would never have heard about this or the band in general if it wasn’t for this post. Plus it’s always nice to have the original piece documented. So yeah, go and buy the reissue. It’s well worth having! And greetings to the guy of Displeased Records (forgotten the name, sorry).


    Posted on 08-Jul-09 at 03:30 | Permalink
  10. cristiano

    i know Pat, he’s a good guy and has passed me a lot of live shows and flyers. And yes, it’s always good to have the “real” tape digitalized.. I am new to post here, though i know the site since long, but it’s always a pleasure to see old metal gems unearthed


    Posted on 08-Jul-09 at 08:15 | Permalink
  11. wow, thanks, that seemed to come out really fast!


    Posted on 08-Jul-09 at 19:52 | Permalink
  12. hörsthh

    These guys should have been huge; Inever understood why they failed to connect with their contemporary audience, I dont even think it was the vocals I actually like them better than the generic death growl; probably the general nervous, tense atmosphere; thanks for bringing them back to my attention!


    Posted on 09-Jul-09 at 05:52 | Permalink
  13. F.

    MANTALISTS OF THE WORLD UNITE AND TAKE OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Posted on 10-Jul-09 at 12:29 | Permalink
  14. Sean

    I remember this name volleyed back and forth “back in the day”. To me, the music overall is death-thrash typical of the era…but the “solos” (L-O-L!!!) and vocals really make the band feel silly. In fact, the vocals have this odd “sexy” edge to them akin to Venom (I don’t like Venom either! SHOOT ME!!!).

    Yes I’m picky…but still a good upload Erich…dunno where I’d finally hear some of this stuff elsewhere.


    Posted on 11-Jul-09 at 11:28 | Permalink
  15. What's the Truth?

    Nice to see some more extreme metal here, for a change of pace from the punk posts.

    Sean: I have to admit…I listened to Venom after reading your comment for the sole purpose of discovering the hidden sexiness of the vocals.

    Erich: That Omar Souleyman release is insanely catchy. That keyboardist is a real shredder, and the tunes have this unique, low-fi edge. Have you heard his newer Sublime Frequencies release yet?


    Posted on 13-Jul-09 at 08:18 | Permalink
  16. Sean

    “Sexy” ala “I’m the big BAD boy who’s gonna do you ON my chopper then break your heart” in comparison to the rest of the music. Like, the vocals in both bands attempt to harmonize slightly to the rhythms without a hint of gruffness to match the music. It’s akin to when Bill Steer made the analogy that Joey Belladonna wouldn’t work out singing for ND…the styles just don’t seem to mesh to my ears.


    Posted on 14-Jul-09 at 12:52 | Permalink
  17. brekinapez

    Saw Hellwitch at a few house parties and opening for some bands when I lived in Gainesville in the mid-80’s. Their GFs and pals would crowd the front of the stage and bang their heads insanely. I would always laugh when Pat sang the choruses for Nosferatu and Torture Chamber.

    Then they moved to South Florida in search of more coke.


    Posted on 15-Jul-09 at 21:57 | Permalink
  18. Jay Thurston

    Erich, I think it is time to post a new one…what do you think??


    Posted on 17-Jul-09 at 17:49 | Permalink
  19. Par

    This I remember but it´s sure better than I remember it. I love the “almost death metak” bands of the mid 80s.

    So Erich, were you there: ? And what do you think about this book?


    Posted on 18-Jul-09 at 23:26 | Permalink
  20. Par: I haven’t read the Hellhammer book, but I don’t expect too much from it. I’m pretty sure it will be, once again, terribly blown up to larger than life dimensions. Yes, I’ve been there too, in the later Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost days, in the bunker. In 1985, I organized the two first ever CF gigs and that was pretty much the turning point for me: The band got bigger and lost interest in its early swiss fan base (for which I couldn’t blame them) and Thomas Fischer turned more and yet more into the asshole he’s ever been since and which ruined the band more than once.


    Posted on 19-Jul-09 at 00:29 | Permalink
  21. What's the Truth?

    Haha, but Tom Fischer also gave us (at least me) hours of comedy. The guy has a way with English, but the stuff he writes on his blog is so “emo.”

    Also, he proposed to a female friend of mine a few years ago on the night of a Frost show here in NYC, and watching that was pretty funny, too.


    Posted on 19-Jul-09 at 09:59 | Permalink
  22. He writes with as much vocabulary as he can hog, without saying anything really. Illiterate and ugly – you have to come up with good riffs.


    Posted on 19-Jul-09 at 10:27 | Permalink
  23. stab

    Tom Warrior is about the funniest character that metal ever spat out. This guy’s blog makes me fall off my chair laughing whenever I visit it.


    Posted on 19-Jul-09 at 10:38 | Permalink
  24. great! thanks a lot for this!


    Posted on 07-Aug-09 at 05:28 | Permalink

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