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HELLHAMMER- Satanic Rites Demo Tape (Prowling Death Records, Switzerland, 1983)

VENOM had set in motion some kind of movement that soon was bigger than its originators, but it took a few years before they were dethroned.
In 1981, I had seen the «In League with Satan» Single on display at my local record shop. The cover was promising so much and when I bought the 7″ from my pocket money, I was not disappointed in the slightest. AC/DC, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Nina Hagen, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Blondie, Queen – I was sucking up music like a sponge. Some people at this age are sensitive to music, others to drugs or whatnot. My body was a vibrating  guitar string. VENOM was just the right thing at the right time. We all played these two albums up and down, up and down and even with bands like DISCHARGE, VENOM seemed just supernatural. It sounds so silly now, but back then, that’s how I was affected. Not for one second, you had to religious, believe in a christian concept like “Satan” – the shock value worked just fine and you’d piss off people with pentagrams and 666 just as good as with mohawks and stuff. VENOM was the real stuff – until in 1983, a small but very very effective array of records like “Kill em all”, “Show no Mercy”, “Heavy Metal Maniac”, “One Nation Underground” or “Dirty rotten EP” was unleashed. And one demo tape .

I don’t remember exactly who it was to introduce me to HELLHAMMER, but it was right after “Triumph of Death” was released, the 2nd version of the first demo (“Death Fiend”). I liked “Triumph of Death” and I especially liked the cover artwork, with the guy hanging by a tree. That was in fact a slightly altered book cover (of swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt, who posthumously got popular in the U.S. through the movie “The Pledge”, based on one of his books and screenplay), which I didn’t know back then, but nevertheless, it totally worked for me. I also loved the fact that Switzerland with “Triumph of Death” had its own VENOM now, but of course, the original remained untouched by it.
In December of 1983, VENOM were supposed to play Zürich. Due to poor ticket sales, the gig got canceled and instead, VENOM held a press conference in the Hotel Nova Park. There was not much press around, but about two or three dozen black leather jackets showed up, among them, as you have read in Fischer’s “Only Death is real”, the Hellhammer gang. The press conference was a complete desaster. VENOM turned out to be anything but what everybody was expecting. Just a bunch of rather ordinary lads, dressed in sweatpants and loudmouthed but insecure. Fischer had the right instinct: He inserted the “Triumph of Death” demo into some cassette player and asked VENOM’s opinion. They were not amused at all.
So expectations were high for the next HELLHAMMER demo and before I received my copy, I heard that it totally blows away the old tape (which all of a sudden was withdrawn). And these rumors were absolutely true: With “Satanic Rites”, it was more than obvious that HELLHAMMER had set the new standard in Black Metal (this term was very loosely used back then – the genre definitions were still in progress). One of the first questions I heard of Fischer was if I thought “Satanic Rites” is more brutal than SODOM. That was absolutely no question – and VENOM were out of the game, so to say. The catastrophic “7 Dates of Hell” tour (together with the stunning METALLICA) sealed VENOM’s fate: To a lot of people my generation, the band died with “At War with Satan”, not only due to the record’s inconsistence, but also due to the fact that HELLHAMMER had stepped out of VENOM’s shadow and made the band, well, disposable (of course, from today’s perspective, the first two VENOM albums are absolute landmarks and among my personal favorites).

Earlier this year, the guy named Mike Owens (he does not want to see his real in public; by the way the name Owens was meant as a tribute to the early socialist and entrepreneur Robert Owen) sat at my kitchen table and we talked about the old days. Mike was the 2nd bass player in HELLHAMMER, hired after Fischer had kicked out Steve Warrior. That’s how I originally met Mike.
I knew that it’s a tasty subject he doesn’t really like to talk about; he moved on with his life and when he was in HELLHAMMER, he was very young. But somehow, we started talking about his days in HELLHAMMER. Immediately before the “Satanic Rites” sessions took place, Mike left the band. “You know, looking back, it was the best thing for the band”, Mike said to my surprise. He was and is a technically really good musician and he co-arranged some of the songs on “Satanic Rites”. “But the problem was that I played so much better bass than Fischer played guitar, the whole thing didn’t rock. The songs sounded totally different when I played bass: I would always try and make my playing more dominant or simply respond to the guitar riffs. I think that’s part of what pissed Fischer off.”
We drank coffee after coffee. “You know,”, Mike said, “the song “Messiah” for instance is so much better without bass. And that goes for every other song on the demo: The missing bass-lines make these songs sound a lot more extensive and radical. Traditional rock music needs bass. But this demo was the blueprint for a new form of extreme music, something that years later got picked up by bands like DARKTHRONE. Reducing music can make it so much more radical. That’s the secret of “Satanic Rites”: My missing bass playing.”

Fischer’s vocals, the simple guitar riffing, the amateurish drums, the idiotic lyrics (before Martin Ain took care of things and gave the band some intellectual depth): It’s one of these magic moments in the history of recorded music when all weaknesses come together as strength and transcend into something very unique, very volatile.
I was in the band’s practice room in the very final days of HELLHAMMER and then a few times, just weeks later, when CELTIC FROST arose like a phoenix from the ashes. With the addition of a new drummer (Steve)  and bassist (Martin), something very astounding had happened. Even to my young and not too experienced ears, it was evident that the new band was nothing like HELLHAMMER anymore.

 

What you see above is the original demo. 200 covers were printed (kinda glossy paper; actual offset printing, not xerox) but less than 200 tapes were copied. A few people, distributors, got a stack of covers and a mastertape and copied for themselves. I had like, I don’t know, maybe 5 or 10 and it took me a while to get rid of them: People normally just shook their head and laughed when I played it.

[Intro].mp3
Messiah.mp3
The Third of the Storms.mp3
Buried and forgotten.mp3
Maniac.mp3
Eurynomos.mp3
Triumph of Death.mp3
Revelations (Of Doom).mp3
Reaper.mp3
Satanic Rites.mp3
Crucifixion.mp3
[Outro].mp3

24 Comments

  1. Forgot to mentionthat I heard some people complaining about the quality of the reissued demo on “Demon Entrails”. How does my rip compare then?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:05 | Permalink
  2. Classic, pure and simple! Thanks for finally putting this online; it was WAY overdue!
    If I may plug a bit, Erich, you all should also check the Kotsen tape he posted. Chaos punk from Hellhammer’s former bassist.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:15 | Permalink
  3. Kuhlcher Korner

    This is just AMAZING Erich!!! How can I get the mp3 files for a cd-r for personal listening pleasure?

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Why don’t you just download these and burn your own CD, DJ? By the way, this post is endorsed by the copyright owner of all Hellhammer material. Of course, you all should buy the official re-release. That goes without saying.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:15 | Permalink
  4. alex

    thanks!! first time i ever heard this at the proper speed. i have two previous CD bootleg versions (the 2xCD and a single CD), and both of them run too fast. i never heard the Demon Entrails version but i heard it was sourced from one of the bootleg CDs?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:20 | Permalink
  5. Slaughter Lord

    Awesome Post. And yeah, its the simplicity that makes the Hellhammer sound that aggressiv and stand-alone. One of the best bands of all time. Thank you, Erich

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:24 | Permalink
  6. Rivethead

    loss for words. I love you man.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:29 | Permalink
  7. 666.6

    The quality is outstanding as always. I think this sounds better than the official re-release. Thank you a million times, also for the background. As always: Best of the best in every aspect.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:30 | Permalink
  8. ChainSWray

    The quality is outstanding. Thousand thanks for this one.

    Compared to the official rerelease on Demon Entrails, I’d say this one has more bass and sounds a bit slower… But it’s definitely clearer (and this is just compressed mp3!) and more powerful. Best rip I ever heard !

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 20:52 | Permalink
  9. black metal brady

    I so wish you had written the hellhammer book LOL

    Love all your writeups.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 21:30 | Permalink
  10. mark anthony w.

    the quality is just wow. what do you think of triptykon?

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Triptykon bores me to death.

    [Reply]

    TimD Reply:

    best comment of the day goes to the Admin!

    [Reply]

    howardx Reply:

    stir that pot again admin! thanks for this, been listening to “apocalyptic raids” again recently so this is very timely.

    [Reply]

    the rager Reply:

    FUCK YEAH!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 21:32 | Permalink
  11. E-celeste

    Sounds a lot better than the version on the triple lp. A LOT!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 05-Dec-11 at 23:39 | Permalink
  12. Fuckin’ eh Erich, perfect…from your first words to the last note on the demo. As many bands as there were in NWOBHM, it’s a shame that there weren’t more bands in that early Venom, Hellhammer vein. I have always preferred that sound over rabid mutation that was Metallica. Thanx as always!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 06-Dec-11 at 03:13 | Permalink
  13. bubba

    eric I heard that you’re the only person to own a recoding of Hellhammers “demon entrails” song and some rehearsal tapes etc? that true?

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    It’s a fragment only, just the intro and a few chords, before they fuck the song up. But yes, I do have this and some rehearsal tapes. One has very early CF covering Anthrax and Anvil.
    I used to have a very good sounding Hellhammer practice room tape that Mike gave to me. It’s the lineup with him, practicing the “Satanic Rites” songs. Unfortunately this seems to be lost.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 06-Dec-11 at 16:38 | Permalink
  14. Pär Arvidsson

    Great one Erich. I love your version so much. One of the three best demos ever.

    How about uploading that unreleased Hellhammer now?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 07-Dec-11 at 07:03 | Permalink
  15. Flobreaker

    Nice reading. I always like it when people can write readable stories about how they percepted music. Even if I don’t know it or don’t like it, I can follow the general feeling of being hit by a certain music. If I do like the described stuff myself, like in this case, it’s even more interesting to read how someone else experienced it.

    But one thing stroke me:

    “AC/DC, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Nina Hagen, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Blondie, Queen – I was sucking up music like a sponge.”

    Nina Hagen – wasn’t there an act that I cannot speak of, in Austrian television…? Read something like that in “Lords of Chaos”…

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Ah, now that you mention it! Didn’t it have something to do with, um, damnedest thing – what was it again?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 07-Dec-11 at 16:50 | Permalink
  16. super interesting. thanks for posting.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 11-Dec-11 at 03:25 | Permalink
  17. madmohawk

    Did they listen to fang’s landshark 12″ before recording this(lol)?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Dec-11 at 15:49 | Permalink
  18. J. Low

    Definitely one of your best posts ever, Erich. HELLHAMMER is, was and will be forever one of the greatest bands in extreme music (be it metal, punk, whatever). The demo just blows me away, so brutal and fucked up. And in fact so much more evil than any of today’s oh so hard trying black metal mongo bands. And as always, your writing is a pleasure. Even if I wouldn’t be interested in the bands (which is almost never the case) I’d still read what you have to say about them. Always interesting thoughts by somebody who knows his stuff. So, thanks again!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Dec-11 at 21:12 | Permalink
  19. AOD

    Hell,

    thank you very much for that high quality rip !!!
    Would be so great to get a lossless version (uncut with original length of the pauses and noise between the tracks) !!!
    Thank you very much !!! The rip itself is excellent !!!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-Dec-11 at 14:46 | Permalink
  20. Nikolas

    Respect… I won’t dance…..

    [Reply]

    Posted on 24-Dec-11 at 10:56 | Permalink
  21. Cashba

    Great reading and quality rip as always,hats off!It almost sounds as good as that TDK Cro2 cassette tape i have,recorded by Frank Krynojewsky of Warhammer around 10 years ago .-)…I don’t know from which generational copy he taped it to me but honestly beats the shit out of that awful-sounding official CD re-release for sure…

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Almost as good as your cassette dub. Now that’s a good joke.

    [Reply]

    Cashba Reply:

    Oh,sorry,i forgot this blog is and the comments must be about polishing you….:-)

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    You’re learning fast.

    [Reply]

    Ritualist Reply:

    yeah almost as good as your x-generation tape copy. stupid ass.

    [Reply]

    Cashba Reply:

    Calling somebody stupid on the internet is a very brave thing,congrats,you fucking retard.My copy wasn’t x-generational,it was directly taped from an early copy,but doesn’t really matter,because i wrote a FUCKING SMILEY,you know…old miserable morons….

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    There is no crying in hardcore!

    [Reply]

    Cashba Reply:

    Practice what you preach! 😉

    [Reply]

    Posted on 17-Jan-12 at 12:49 | Permalink
  22. AOD

    I hope “Death Fiend” and “Triumph Of Death” will follow soon 😉

    [Reply]

    Posted on 30-Jan-12 at 00:44 | Permalink
  23. Per Eriksson

    Best Eric!You are one of the few bloggers out there that really know what you’re talking/writing about.:-)Because you were there when it happened and when the music was new and extreme, the first time ’round.The same goes for me.I’m gonna be 50 years old this august and wonder how many of your readers that can honestly say that they heard Motörhead in 1980 when ” Ace Of Spades” was released?My personal reaction to this music

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Well, I’m 5 five years younger but thanks to my family, I had an early start. When I first heard “hard” music, I was like 9 years old and Queen or AC/DC or Deep Purple impressed me so much that I literally couldn’t share the emotional impact until I was a little older and had friends who were into the same stuff. “Ace Of Spades” was a game changer and maybe even more so “No Life till Hammersmith” – I couldn’t get enough of it! Venom was very important too, the next year. I discussed this with Martin Ain just a few hours ago, while having lunch: The great thing back then was that ALL the bands mattered. Motörhead, Venom, Raven, Iron Maiden, Discharge, Mötley Crüe (first LP) and things only started tochange for us in 1983, when Slayer, Metallica, Savage, Exciter, Hawaii etc. came out and Hellhammer became a part of it with this demo here. From then on, you couldn’t go back to softer bands anymore. The genre-building set in and it was like a massive fucking rush for all us.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 06-Feb-12 at 17:11 | Permalink
  24. Per Eriksson

    was: ‘This record sounds like a train going insane.’The same in your face-feeling took over my senses when I heard the first Exciter album; or the first Metallica; or the first Slayer and the first and only Hellhammer album.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 06-Feb-12 at 17:34 | Permalink

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