*Triumph of Death's live album, Resurrection of The Flesh, will be released November 10th on Noise/BMG*
The band Hellhammer left an influential impact in metal. Cited by some as one of the bands, along with Venom, that spawned the occult and satanic origins of the controversial black metal genre with their releases, raw production and dark imagery. Though short-lived, only active for two years, the band would break up releasing only demos and EP's with a couple compilations. From the ashes rose Celtic Frost. Some of Hellhammer's music can be heard with former Hellhammer front man and guitarist Tom G. Warrior's act Tryptikon, playing one or two songs in the band's live set. Though Warrior himself has said Hellhammer will never reunite and no new music is happening in the near future, that doesn't mean the band will be forever silent and all material is lost to a live crowd.
Enter Triumph of Death, named after Hellhammer's most infamous song, the band is Warrior's homage and tribute to Hellhammer's lasting legacy, and the release of their debut live album Resurrections of The Flesh unleashes a full set of the band's dark origins. An idea spawned by Warrior and former Hellhammer bassist Martin Eric Ain, the project captures the raw and doom-like intensity in the band's performance over three festival performances in 2023. Has Triumph of Death captured and rekindled the dark and demonic legacy of its origins? Is this new band the reanimation of a band that needs to be heard for a new generation?
Opening up the album is "The Third of The Storms (Evoked Damnation)". The opening black metal sounding guitar riff and drums builds into a fast paced, head bobbing drum section as the song picks up. Warrior's gravely vocals ring through the double bass pounding behind him. The energy is tight and aggressive in the performance, almost giving off the energy of a young Hellhammer. The mix is also really good for a live album. "Massacra" continues the driving guitar sound famous in the first wave of black metal. With fast-tempo drumming punching hard through the ringing guitars, the vocals come out strong with Warrior almost having a demanding presence in the song. I love the gurgly bass of Jamie Lee Cussigh playing underneath the fast-paced, almost thrash sounding riff of the song. I love the opening drums of "Maniac", a total pit-starter song. The driving heavy metal sounding riff makes it a headbanger, accented by the drumming of Tim Iso Wey on the track. Warrior's vocals sound so good and youthful in his performance, almost like he's having fun performing these songs again.
The opening bass thump on "Blood Insanity" sets such an evil and foreboding tone for the song, reminiscent of the doomy era of Celtic Frost's Monolith album. Then the pounding double bass kicks in, mixed with Warrior's gutturally growl and shriek, into a thunderous and chugging palm muted riff. Reverbed vocals and that stank-face inducing chugging riff, makes it one hell of a track and one of my favorite tracks. "Decapitator" and "Crucifixion" are great one-two punches. Continuing the pummeling and driving aggressive guitars that Hellhammer delivered in the original recordings, the songs are quintessential proto-black metal and sound so good live.
"Messiah", the lead single for the album, just hits so good with that heavily distorted opening guitar feedback. Drums kick in hard with the riff picking up the tempo of the track. That gritty, driving bass underneath almost adds a groove to the track. Vocals are loud and proud, almost belting to the people way in the back of the crowd, with such vigor and intensity. I can picture the pit going crazy as the song picks up more speed, especially when Warrior screams out the song's title. With "Visions of Mortality", the song opens with a slowed down, almost groovier sounding riff. The double bass and d-beat style drumming of Wey on the song, just adds that up-tempo, pulsing, follow along headbanging feel to the track. Such a good song live.
The album's closer is "Triumph of Death". With it's slow, ominous intro guitar section, the song sets an anxious and brooding tone. A sporadic and fast paced guitar solo flurry peaks through as the guitar riff begins to build, speeding up before ringing out to the crowd into a wall of distortion and doom metal like fuzz of the guitars. The drums join in, building more tension, atmosphere and dread before Warrior's wailing cries ring out as the guitars ring and drums pound hard behind him. Giving off an occult-like ritual feel to the ambience of the track, like he is conjuring demons to the crowd. Then the classic heavy metal sounding riff kicks the song up at the halfway mark. Driving drums, an almost classic 80's metal tone on the guitar and wailing/gravely vocals, the song's energy goes from ominous and dark to more in your face and increased ferocity. Returning to the ritualistic tones and cries at the end, the macabre ends with Warrior's bellowing cries as the album draws to a close.
With Triumph of Death's live debut, I believe this homage to Hellhammer is very well done. The band is on point in the performance and atmosphere in the performance. Warrior's vocals sound so good in the mix and he sounds almost as good as he did on the original records. This will be interesting to see if this is a one-off release or if there is chances of more material in the future. Regardless of what happens with this project, they have done a great job channeling the aura and attitude of the origins of Hellhammer and is a great live album and loving homage to legends of heavy metal and proto-black metal.