Despite their legendary status within the extreme metal world, Hellhammer music has always seemed hard to find. Already a Celtic Frost fan in 1986, I remember looking in vain for Apocalyptic Raids, a difficult quest before the era of Amazon.com and downloading. I finally found it, but it was frustrating to know that there was still a plethora of Hellhammer material that I never thought I would hear. Demon Entrails, a remastered collection of the band's demos, has made it worth the wait.
Disc 1 is their "Satanic Rites" demo and is outstanding. The music sounds like a raw and faster version of Celtic Frost and it is quite unique and breathtaking. Punk, black metal, death metal, doom metal, and proto-thrash are all apt descriptions and the record is filled with great riffs and abrupt tempo changes. Every single track is excellent but my favorites are "Messiah", "The Third Of The Storms", Euronymos", and "Crucifixion". Later versions of "Messiah", "The Third Of The Storms", "Triumph Of Death", and "Revelations Of Doom" appear on Apocalyptic Raids as well but the versions here are faster and more aggressive, the drumming in particular is brought out more loudly and clearly in the mix. It is too bad that Tom G. Warrior did not include a remastering of Apocalyptic Raids on this disc, that would have made the collection complete.
Disc 2 includes the earlier "Death Fiend" and "Triumph Of Death" demos and is not as good as disc 1 but still quite fascinating. Songs are short, often 2 or 3 minutes, and include primitive versions of "Maniac", "Triumph Of Death", "Reaper", and "Cruxifixion". Audio quality is relatively poor, the songs are not well constructed, and Tom G. Warrior had not yet developed his trademark vocal style. However, his gift for writing riffs is already apparent and it is amazing to realize how far the group had progressed when Morbid Tales was released just one year later.
Demon Entrails is a must have for every Celtic Frost fan and anyone who enjoyed Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion. The music obviously has tremendous historical significance but disc 1 in particular is an excellent collection of songs that still sound heavy and timeless to this day. Whether you are rediscovering Hellhammer or hearing it for the first time, you will enjoy this and find yourself listening to it over and over again.