All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 23, 2016
I remember when I first discovered Switzerland's Hellhammer through the tape-trading scene back in the mid eighties. I was a teenager and was already into bands like Metallica, Venom, Destruction, Slayer, Hirax, Tormentor (pre-Kreator), Sodom and such and thought Hellhammer was rawer, darker and more extreme-sounding than anything I had heard before. Soon after Hellhammer I came across Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales EP and was instantly hooked by their raw, vicious and at times even punk approach on it (the heptagram on the cover was truly eye-catching as well). Punk Rock was nothing new to me so it was easy to fall in love with Celtic Frost's sound.
1985 was the real game-changing year for Celtic Frost. First their label Noise Records put out another 5-song EP titled Emperor's Return featuring such immortal songs like "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Dethroned Emperor" (both have been covered by countless bands since) and this was followed by the band's debut album To Mega Therion a few months later. This album featured one of the most disturbing, blasphemous and thought-provoking album covers in the entire history of Heavy Metal; "Satan I," an original painting by H.R. Giger from 1977. Celtic Frost wrote history with that record as one of the most extreme and finest works in the Heavy Metal genre. How could we ever forget the trademark "Uhs!!" "Oohs!!" or "Heys!" spat out by Tom G. Warrior? In 1987 Celtic Frost released their follow-up album titled Into the Pandemonium, which was a very ambitious album in terms of experimentation and pushing the envelope of Celtic Frost's already distinctive sound. It generated divided opinions amongst their fans due to the slight change of musical style which included softer and more experimental songs like the cover of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio" and the odd "I Won't Dance". On the band's third album, Cold Lake, let's just say Celtic Frost peeled off more skin than was needed. Cold Lake is remembered mostly as the album Celtic Frost should have never recorded, to put it in a polite way. Vanity/Nemesis, Frost's fourth album, was a "return to form" and avoided the cheesiness that plagued Cold Lake even if it didn't touch the glory of To Mega Therion or Into the Pandemonium.
In 1993 Celtic Frost disbanded and no one knew if their story had been written. The year 2001 saw some murky and ominous clouds gathering on the horizon over Zürich; Celtic Frost was reformed with Tom G. Warrior and Martin E. Ain at the core of the band. Monotheist, Celtic Frost's fifth full-length studio album, was a culmination of more than four years of songwriting and recording and welcomed all Frost fans back with the band's unique gloominess and darkness. It proved to be a pummeling piece of work of all the greatness that Celtic Frost was known for on their early works. Sadly, that album remains the last in the pages of the Celtic Frost saga.
Both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost had an undeniable influence on the extreme Metal scene so The Metal Crypt thought it would be a great idea to honor the legacy of these two fine Swiss acts by musicians from all over the world what Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have meant to them personally, how they have inspired the Metal scene and what the scene might sound like if they had never existed. Read on to find out...
Luxi: When was the first time you heard Hellhammer or Celtic Frost and what type of impact did that have on you?
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): I really can't recall when I first heard Hellhammer or Celtic Frost but it must have been around my teenage years. I remember reading the name Celtic Frost on the Internet and it was such a cool name I wanted to hear what kind of stuff it was! The first album I heard was To Mega Therion and you cannot be anything but overwhelmed by the sheer power of that record! I still think To Mega Therion is easily the best album Hellhammer/Celtic Frost has put out. I think I dug into Hellhammer shortly after hearing Celtic Frost. As uncool as it sounds, I was not introduced to Hellhammer/Celtic Frost by anyone in particular; I just walked my own path, so to say.
Wes Weaver (BLASPHERIAN): I saw Hellhammer for the first time in 1984. We picked up Apocalyptic Raids at a local record shop. The cover blew my mind! The same thing happened with Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales. I still have those copies to this day, and musically I automatically fell in love with both. Hellhammer was super raw and chaotic, almost punky; but every bit as aggressive as Slayer and Metallica. I love how they refined their approach with Celtic Frost but still remained super heavy, much heavier than their contemporaries. They had more occult and dark themes which I also loved!
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): I remember hearing Celtic Frost around 1993, when I was getting heavily into Death and Black Metal. To be honest, I didn't like them that much at first. It took me a full decade to fully understand their uniqueness, brilliance, importance, artistic courage and the sheer magnitude of their influence on extreme Metal music from Thrash to Death to Avant-garde to Black. When I heard Monotheist, my mind was blown to shreds. It was the ultimate manifestation of everything that was special about the band. As with all the works of Mr. Fischer, his albums are not just about music and lyrics, they are carefully planned entities where the artwork, photographs, logos, liner notes and such have great importance. It's been that way since the birth of Hellhammer, which I discovered very late, after the release of Eparistera Daimones (2010) by Tom's current band Triptykon.
Daniel Ekeroth (USURPRESS): Oh, this goes waaay back. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I first heard these bands. However I definitely heard Celtic Frost first. It was probably in 1985 and it was a classmate who played "Into the Crypt of Rays" for me. I fucking loved everything about the band and the song is still one of my all-time favorite tracks by any band. It has just the perfect natural middle ground between Punk and Metal and fuck that guitar tone and the vocals.... Just pure magic! Hellhammer I heard some months later on the Death Metal compilation. I really like the raw aggression of Hellhammer. It is quite a different beast from Celtic Frost.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST/HOODED MENACE): My first contact with Hellhammer or Celtic Frost took place in the mid 90s. I think I heard Hellhammer first, at the end of some tape my friend had recorded and to be honest, it did not make very big impact. I had already discovered more technical and tightly performed Thrash and Death Metal so from that perspective, Hellhammer's material sounded somewhat primitive and sloppy. Musicianship and technicality were both appreciated in those days. Maybe a lot more than they are today. Later I found To Mega Therion as a discount price CD. I had seen some reviews of old Celtic Frost albums before and that stirred my interest. I absolutely loved the cover art and as it was before the Internet so the cover image had a great impact on what you were buying. So, I took my copy of To Mega Therion home to give it a spin. The music inside was crude and a bit weird in places, but also very, very captivating. I was already a huge fan of Paradise Lost and the atmosphere of To Mega Therion was very close to my favorite Gothic tracks. Female vocals and orchestral arrangements, the bleakness of music; "Necromantical Screams" is a prime example of this. It was a revelation when I suddenly realized that I was listening to THE band that had hugely influenced my heroes Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride!
Nord (NORDJEVEL): I heard Hellhammer first, when I was a teenager. The first thing that hit me was how something that ugly could sound that appealing. It made a big impact on my relationship with production and how the production can shape the overall feeling of the music. The same goes for early Celtic Frost and I guess the element that has stuck with me the most for all these years are the vocals.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Although I might have possibly heard one of the Hellhammer demos at one point, I'm fairly certain that Apocalyptic Raids was my first real exposure to Hellhammer and as for Frost, it would've been as soon as Morbid Tales was released. Hellhammer was a bit of a shock to the system and was the dividing line amongst metal heads I knew; they could handle Venom and Slayer, but Hellhammer was just too raw and noisy for them. I thought it was awesome. Upon hearing Celtic Frost, I noticed that it was a little more "professional" than Hellhammer but still had plenty of rough edges. And, amusingly, most of the dudes who couldn't handle Hellhammer thought Frost was OK. As for me, I was profoundly changed upon hearing both bands – but more on that soon.
Dave Gregor (MORTA SKULD): To Mega Therion was my first introduction to Celtic Frost. They were doing music like no other bands at that time. The slow doomy riffs were catchy and grew on me from the first listen. It had big impact on me and the style of writing we were about to develop.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): First time I heard Hellhammer was on Metal Massacre 5, with the song "Crucifixion." It sounded crazy and raw to me and it definitely piqued my interest. I think the next thing I heard was the tracks on the Death Metal compilation album and wow, those were even better and way heavier! I loved 'em. So when Apocalyptic Raids came out, I was ready. Or was I? That thing is SO filthy and disturbingly insane. Yes, yes, yes! Next thing I knew, I read that Hellhammer was no more and Celtic Frost was forming and getting ready to crush. I scooped up Morbid Tales as soon as it came out and it did NOT disappoint. It still sounds bludgeoning today!
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): I think it was somewhere in 1984 when I got the demos by trading tapes. The tape had a horrible sound quality but I became a fan of the band immediately. Hellhammer's mini-album, Apocalyptic Raids is one of my favorite pieces of vinyl as well as Morbid Tales by Celtic Frost. Three years later I started Asphyx, which was influenced by Hellhammer and Celtic Frost.
Bagot (CVINGER): The first time I heard Celtic Frost was when I was in high school. I really can't remember the exact year. But first I discovered the Panzerfaust and Soulside Journey albums from Darkthrone and those led to discovering also Celtic Frost and Hellhammer.
"El" Necrogoat (GRAVE DESECRATOR): Actually I first heard Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales on a radio show back in the late 80s. I don't remember the name of that song anymore, I didn't pay too much attention to it, to be honest. A few years later I got the Brazilian copy of To Mega Therion vinyl and then my interest increased. I read an interview in Rock Brigade magazine and after I got dubbed tapes with the Hellhammer demos, I bought the vinyl of Apocalyptic Raids and all the shit started! I do have the Celtic Frost "Heptagram" tattooed on my arm. The other guys probably got the same idea I had when they listened to it for the very first time. That's what we wanted anyway!!
Thomas Goat (HERETIC): It was late 1993. I just got Darkthrone's Under a Funeral Moon and there was an interview published in Thrash Magazine. It featured a picture of the band and one of them was wearing a Hellhammer shirt which immediately got my attention and fascinated me tremendously. I started my quest to find Hellhammer's stuff, which wasn't that easy in the pre-Internet days. Luckily I eventually found two really cheap CDs and they blew my mind. I loved the sound of that pumping bass and that natural drum sound. It felt like you were standing in their rehearsal room. It was so pure and raw. "Triumph of Death" (and "Death Fiend") became the blueprint of what Heretic should sound like.
Aethon (EURYNOMOS): To be honest, I don't really remember. Celtic Frost was probably first in 1987 when I heard "Morbid Tales" (the song) on the radio. I thought, "man, this is a heavy and different!" Hellhammer I heard some months later after I bought Apocalyptic Raids from a record shop when I was on holiday in Thessaloniki (Greece). When I saw the back cover, I thought that "Satanic Slaughter" just was dug out of a grave. You rarely saw such morbid, dark photos back in those days. Then I asked a friend in Saloniki, who had a record player, to put it on 'cause I really wanted to hear it. I couldn't wait until I returned to Germany. He agreed and put the needle down and instead of side A, he put on side B and "Triumph of Death" was the first song that roared out of the speakers. I still can see my friend's face when Warrior's first scream came out of the speakers. He thought that hell opened its gates and that judgement day had arrived, ha ha!! That was the impact this song had on a guy who wasn't into Metal. It was really macabre and I still think that "Triumph of Death" is one of the darkest songs from the 80s. It took some time to get into the mini album but then it was one of my fave releases shortly after. The impact that Hellhammer had on me was due to its dark heavy power, both musically and visually.
Eugenio (EXCRUCIATION): The first time I heard of Hellhammer was when I met Isaac "Ike" Darso, promoter of Hellhammer and later on the first drummer of Celtic Frost, at a local record shop in 1983. We started talking about Venom and he told me that there was a band in Switzerland that was not only heavier but also a lot more evil than Venom ever was and that they were to release a new demo called Satanic Rites. I was total psyched about this news. He gave me his phone number so we could stay in touch and that was a big mistake. I started calling him at least two to three times a week asking if the tape was out. When I received it, I was blown away. This was the evil bastard son of Venom and Discharge mixed with the darkness of Amebix. They were combining my favorite bands in one record. Obviously, the first time I heard Celtic Frost was when Morbid Tales hit the shelves. My expectations were extremely high knowing people that already had heard some of the songs and all were praising them. Once again, this record not only fulfilled my expectations they exceeded them. I could not believe that this band evolved so much, lyrically and musically within such a short period of time. While Hellhammer was an angry testosterone-filled teen, Celtic Frost seemed more mature. They had a touch of seriousness that made them even more evil.
Nornagest (ENTHRONED): I discovered Frost around 1987 and at first I hated it ha ha!! I heard Into the Pandemonium first then one of my friend played Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion at his place and I said, "what the fuck is this??" I immediately became a fan. My first real band Heresia was actually strongly inspired by Celtic Frost and Hellhammer and that influence remains to this very day.
Kostas (ABYSSUS): The very first time I got in touch with the legacy of Celtic Frost was when I was a teenager of fourteen years. It was Obituary's cover of "Circle of the Tyrants." I was simply amazed by it! I was trying to find the original track like a madman. You know, it was in the middle of the 90s and there was no Internet or any such thing. Trading tapes was still popular and after some months To Mega Therion was bought by a friend of mine and the whole school, full of metalheads, got it dubbed on cassette shortly after that. I still have that tape. Celtic Frost is THE influence. For Hellhammer stuff I had to wait more years to pass as the music wasn't easily found back then. I think I was about seventeen when I got my first Hellhammer CD. The gates of hell opened in front of my eyes as Hellhammer's music had such a creepy atmosphere.
Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): If I remember correctly, my first Celtic Frost experience was when I heard "Circle of the Tyrants" thanks to Obituary covering it. That was 13 or 14 years ago (hey I'm 30 now!). I was very impressed by it because of its strong Punk vibe and decided to dig deeper into their discography. I listened to Hellhammer for the first time about 2 or 3 years later when I got to hear Apocalyptic Raids and I raised my fists in awe after hearing the album.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Fuck...!!! The first time I heard Hellhammer was on a local college Metal radio show on WMSC in Upper Montclair, NJ. It must have been around '84 if I remember correctly. That was the radio show that I heard so many great bands for the first time. The song they played was "Triumph of Death." It totally caught my attention. I was already into some extreme music by that time but Hellhammer was something on another level of darkness and heaviness. I just remember thinking this is the real deal; totally agonizing and demonic. It took a few listens to totally understand it but from the first listen I was possessed by the dark feeling of that track and knew I needed to learn more.
Tony Secthdamon (MYRKSKOG): To be honest I have never Hellhammer and I was about 15 years old when I heard Celtic Frost for the first time. They had no impact on me at all.
Bolverk (RAGNAROK): The first time I heard about Hellhammer was probably from Slayer magazine sometime in the eighties. I never really got around to checking them out back then. Regarding Celtic Frost, I probably read about them in Kerrang! or Metal Hammer. I don't really remember when I heard it for the first time, but "Procreation of the Wicked" is definitely the first of the band's songs that made an impression on me. I also hold the To Mega Therion album in high regard. It may be as late as '87-'88 that I got around to really listening to them. I also liked Into the Pandemonium, even if I haven't listened to it in a long time, but Cold Lake kind of put me off for a while. It wasn't really until '97 when Sepultura covered "Procreation of the Wicked" that I was reminded of them and got back into listening to them.
Tim (DAMNATION'S HAMMER): I would guess it was around 1984/1985 that I recall seeing the cover of To Mega Therion in a record store and being transfixed with HR Giger's artwork. I never heard the band but I knew it was going to be great just from the cover. There was something utterly compelling about this dark, simplistic music that sounded so heavy. I also remember seeing the video for "Circle of the Tyrants" around that time too. I taped it off some show like Headbanger's Ball and watched it over and over! It took me a while before I realized Celtic Frost was formally Hellhammer – obviously this was the pre-Internet days and information was gathered slowly back then. The first time I heard Hellhammer was on CD, so I guess it would be 1990. I seem to remember being not too impressed with Hellhammer at first. I can appreciate them now, of course!
Ramon (ETERNAL SOLSTICE): The first time I heard Celtic Frost must have been the "Circle of the Tyrants" video back in 1985. It was on the Monsters of Rock show on Sky Channel presented by the lovely Amanda Reddington. I taped it on video and watched it several times then my parents ordered the album (To Mega Therion) at the local record shop and I got it for X-mas. Soon after that I bought the first two EPs. I never got the Hellhammer EP as it was too hard to get at the time. I later got the Satanic Rites CD through Wim Baelus who was - and probably still is - a huge fan.
Vorskaath (ZEMIAL): Celtic Frost made their lasting impression upon my young mind sometime in 1986. We were too young to afford records and compilation tapes circulating amongst friends was the way we learned of good music at the time. A friend from the neighborhood gave me an old compilation tape he had made that included Emperor's Return. At that time, I had only known of bigger Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Saxon and so on. Celtic Frost was another thing altogether in my young mind. The stand-out track was "Dethroned Emperor." In 1989, when I finally formed my own band, the very first track I wrote and recorded for our demo begun with a riff that was my version of the "Dethroned Emperor" opening. Some years later we covered "Dethroned Emperor." I am listening to it as I write this and I still find it incredible. On the back cover of that legendary cassette, despite it being a compilation of various artists, my friend had written Hellhammer's lineup as it appeared on Apocalyptic Raids. The names Slayed Necros and Satanic Slaughter gave me an amazing impression. It led me to create my own hybrid pseudonym' "Necroslaughter", which was used until 1992 with Zemial and all the way to 1993 when I wrote Varathron's His Majesty at the Swamp. I first listened to Hellhammer in 1987 or 1988 via the Metal Massacre V compilation LP that featured "Crucifixion" which I thought was killer. I bought Apocalyptic Raids and the impact of that release on Zemial's music has lasted until Nykta in 2013. The extent of their influence upon me is something difficult for me to objectively gauge, yet I will state with certainty that "I Will Remain Alone in the Dark" is the greatest bit of information they have imparted upon me.
Yakir Shochat (HAMMERCULT): I should note that hearing is one thing and seeing is another. When Thomas did his guttural vocals I could believe that the guy who was singing was really bad ass. When I saw pictures of him I could not believe that he was a pencil-neck geek, skinny and thin like a corpse, which is creepy in its own way but not how I imagined him, certainly not a guy who refers to himself as "Warrior." But the music was and still is really great.
Borys Catelani (BARBARIAN): I can't remember exactly. I was a kid and I was into tape-trading because I didn't have the money to buy records. I remember Apocalyptic Raids and Morbid Tales punching my stomach. I instantly loved such raw stuff, simple, punkish, but tremendous.
Athenar (MIDNIGHT): I remember the first time I heard Celtic Frost very vividly. It was To Mega Therion on cassette in the fall of 1986. I was at my friend's house and we used to go into his older brother's room to check out his tape collection. I came across that cover and had to ask to borrow it. He was a cool older brother and he said, "yeah go ahead, it's heavy! The first thing I remember thinking was the guitar tone was so gross and wicked sounding. I thought "that sounds nothing like Metallica or Anthrax!" so I had to seek out more releases by these maniacs. When I discovered Hellhammer a couple of months later I was totally floored! Four songs of slimy, greasy, heavy, disgusting, scary stuff. I loved it even more.
Volker "Iron Lung" (WARHAMMER): As I'm a bit older, I listened to Apocalyptic Raids and Morbid Tales when they were first released. After the Apocalyptic Raids EP, I just had to get hold of the Hellhammer demo-tapes, too. When I first listened to Apocalyptic Raids I was speechless! The morbid and eerie atmosphere of the song "Triumph of Death" fascinated me beyond belief.
Ravn (1349): I don't remember exactly when I heard either band but it was Emperor's Return that I first encountered. After that the road was short to explore the rest of this universe and I quickly got caught up on the rest of the available albums. When it comes to the impact it was mind-blowing and the first thing I noticed was the groove and the abrupt drum solutions and here lies the key as to why Celtic Frost is one of my favorite bands. The way this band moves rhythm-wise is unique and it shakes you up never let you rest. Then combine it with one of the Metal scene's most characteristic guitar sounds and any idiot will understand you have a killer combination. Hellhammer showed the way to this stage but have a much rawer and primal musical touch. Truly music created by people that had a will and vision to create utterly heavy music.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): I think it was around the same time I heard both bands, maybe 1991. I was 11 then and not used to Black Metal, I was more into Death Metal. Hellhammer sounded shockingly evil and primitive in a way I wasn't really prepared for then, ha ha!! It took a while to get into.
Mika Hankaniemi (SUPREME HAVOC): Well, the first time I heard Tom G. Warrior's voice was at my friend's place back in the early 80's. He had just bought a copy of Morbid Tales and that material just blew me away, man. Right after that I discovered Hellhammer's Apocalyptic Raids. In a good it is a way more primitive and filthy experience than CF ever was.
Luxi: How would you say either Hellhammer's and/or Celtic Frost's impact can be heard in the music or lyrics of your own band?
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): I do not think that Hellhammer/Celtic Frost has influenced our music directly, more like the bands that have been influenced by them, have had an impact on us. I truly think that Hellhammer/Celtic Frost are monumentally influential bands when it comes to Death/Doom/Black Metal. Without them creating their obscure tunes many bands would not be what they are now, Solothus included. Lyrically, I think that the only connection is the topic of death and things surrounding it. As a fun fact, Solothus actually covered the song "Dawn of Meggido" way back, when we were taking the first steps as a band.
Wes Weaver (BLASPHERIAN): Without a doubt we owe a lot to both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Back in the day they showed me you could go for it; sound like yourself and be kick ass. They didn't sound like any other band from back in the day, which was an awesome thing about the beginnings of the extreme Metal movement. There were not a million clone bands!
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Kuolemanlaakso wouldn't exist if I'd never heard Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Triptykon. Period. Their albums, Tom's guitar playing and especially Monotheist's sound have influenced me enormously. Believe in your art, find beauty in the grotesque, be bold, be original and pay attention to detail as well as entities. Those are probably the biggest lessons that I've learned from those bands.
Daniel Ekeroth (USURPRESS): I think the progressive and unorthodox spirit of Celtic Frost runs through the musical ambition of Usurpress, trying to find the notes between the ones normally used. One of our songs, "The Wooden Sceptre," is pure Celtic Frost worship. Påhl came up with the slow riff and I thought it reminded me of a song like "Dawn of Megiddo." Then I came up with the faster riff, which is more in the Hellhammer vein. So it's like a combination of what is great about both bands. Lyrically, Usurpress is very much in the vein of Celtic Frost. In fact, Stefan has told me that this is the band that has inspired him most of all.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST/HOODED MENACE): Celtic Frost's importance to Sadistik Forest cannot be stressed enough. When Monotheist came out in 2006 I totally freaked out on the record. It was such a monolithic, gigantic piece of greater art, that it became the personal highlight of the whole year for me. It also convinced me that I wanted to play in a band that would be musically more extreme than the bands I was in at the time. A year later, we were forming Sadistik Forest with Antti Heikkinen and whereas Antti was influenced by Possessed re-union, I had Monotheist in mind. SF would be a completely different band if that album had not come out. We definitely bear the stigma of Celtic Frost in Sadistik Forest musically and especially mentally.
Nord (NORDJEVEL): I think it is very subtle, but our Thrash elements and some of the vocal elements definitely can be traced back to Celtic Frost. Nordjevel's mixture of melodic/atmospheric parts and grimness is also a reference.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): I can tell you with a straight face that every Brutal Truth riff that wasn't super-fast with a blast beat behind it had to pass the "death-grunt" test- no slow or mid-tempo riffs were used if you couldn't go "OOOGHHH!" at some point. 'Nuff said...
Dave Gregor (MORTA SKULD): I'd say it was major influence to be able to hear another band play like that. It was like "sweet, we can do that too but in our own way". Our first album Dying Remains has a lot of slow parts and the lyrics were in that vein, too.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): To be honest, I don't think there are any of their influences in Autopsy's sound but that doesn't mean that I don't love their records. With Autopsy we just wanted and still want to carve our own path.
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): Asphyx (my ex-band) and Soulburn are both heavily influenced by Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, Soulburn more so because of the obscurity factor. Lyrically, Soulburn is on the same path as both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost; occultism and dark matters.
Bagot (CVINGER): With Cvinger we went on different path of Black and Death Metal. We weren't impacted by Hellhammer or Celtic Frost very much but as a guitarist, I was
influenced by Black Sabbath and I think both Celtic Frost and Hellhammer influenced me quite a bit, too.
"El" Necrogoat (GRAVE DESECRATOR): I don't know. Actually people compare us to some old Brazilian bands, maybe old Slayer, etc. That's a huge mistake! Anyway, I don't think it's necessary to copycat primal bands of the extreme Metal genre in order to express that they've been an influence on your band. It's a much more subjective matter really! We all worship the legacy of both bands. They're both absolutely in our souls!
Thomas Goat (HERETIC): Hellhammer; just about everything from the simplicity of their lyrics to the raw punk vibe in their sound. The way Steve Warrior played his bass. I wrote a lot of songs with that bass in mind. I remember very specifically trying to create something as bombastic as Celtic Frost's "Innocence and Wrath" with the first version of "Forever Possessed" from the Gods Over Humans album. The operatic bombasts in that song and in "Oriental Masquerade" were brilliant and had never ever been equaled by anyone.
Aethon (EURYNOMOS): The heritage you can see in our band name, Eurynomos, which was a track from their Satanic Rites demo. The band name was not chosen because of Hellhammer but I liked the connection to Hellhammer anyway. It is symbolic for us that we are linked to the first generation of extreme Metal. There are some elements in Eurynomos' music that can be related to Hellhammer; some of the open power chords and stuff. Even though both bands are killer, I always preferred Hellhammer over Celtic Frost 'cause I liked the more classical Rock drumming and darker and open type of riffs. As an example, take the song "Messiah." Lyrically we are not influenced by any bands I would say. If so, it would probably be old Slayer and Venom.
Eugenio (EXCRUCIATION): Of course a lot of people compare us to them and, of course, we were and still are influenced by them but we never tried to be a clone, at least not deliberately. They were perfect in what they did and no one needed a new Hellhammer/Celtic Frost clone. The similarities also come from hanging around at the same places, having same circle of friends, listening to the same music. By the way, it was Martin Ain that suggested the name Excruciation and Mike "Grim Decapitator" Owens was for a short time the guitar teacher of one of our guitarists. They influenced us personally rather than musically.
Nornagest (ENTHRONED): Lyrically not so much, Enthroned has its own source of inspiration when it comes to the lyrics but musically both Celtic Frost and Hellhammer were some of the main influences for Enthroned at the very beginning, even if it is not so obvious. We have a couple of tracks like "Satanic Metal Kult" or "Blacker Than Black" where the influences are more obvious, I would say. Tom Warrior and Martin Ain had a way of bringing that oppressive heaviness into the music, something which I still highly appreciate with Triptykon today.
Kostas (ABYSSUS): To be honest, lyrically I am not very influenced by either Hellhammer or Celtic Frost but I still admire some of their song titles such as "Into the Crypt of Rays" or "Necromantical Screams" as they sound so unique and evil. Although lyrically I am not very touched by Hellhammer/ Celtic Frost, I cannot say the same for their music. We are, as a band, maniacs about their hellish rhythms and more than just influenced by them music-wise. I believe that Abyssus' music is based on the Hellhammer/Celtic Frost sound and we are servants to their legacy... Eternally!
Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): I think every Metal band that has evil and punk vibes in their music is influenced by Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, no doubt! Their influence on Bunker 66 is enormous, ridiculously enormous sometimes, ha ha! The "uhs!" and "heys!" abuse came out naturally since the very beginning but the riffing and drumming we have are often "Hellhammer-ish." We played "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Into the Crypt of Rays" live a couple of times and also recorded a cover version of "Seduce Me Tonight" from the ever-hated Cold Lake album and used it as the opening track for our Screaming Rock Believers album. We wanted to do something different and swim against the tide like Celtic Frost did with "Mexican Radio." That's our tribute to their spirit. Lyrically we don't have the same majestic and obscure/obsessive feel they fully developed in the mid 80s and in my eyes we also deal with more "earthly" topics compared to Frost.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Hellhammer and the first two Celtic Frost albums are without a doubt a big influence on me. They were just so crushing and catchy. There is no doubt that these albums are part of the musical fundamentals of what I would do with both Revenant and Incantation. I think most bands from my era of extreme Metal were influenced by these albums, if not they probably either suck or are lying. Lyrically they were a influence for sure. There was a way they painted a picture with their lyrics and they were more abstract at times, which for me is something that I have used with my own lyrics throughout the years. I would have to say without Hellhammer or Celtic Frost extreme Metal would be very different - and for the worst.
Tony Secthdamon (MYRKSKOG): I don't think anybody can hear the influence of those bands in either my music or lyrics.
Bolverk (RAGNAROK): The cold, brutal and direct approach of Celtic Frost is something that has been a great influence on the entire extreme Metal scene, I think. I can't really pinpoint exactly where these influences surface in our music and we are generally much faster but, in my opinion, it has influenced the dark, cold, eerie feeling of the entire genre. The same is probably true for the lyrics. They were using dystopic themes and satanic influences early on but they were definitely not alone in doing that.
Tim (DAMNATION'S HAMMER): When I formed Damnation's Hammer the idea was to sound as close to Celtic Frost as possible. It was after seeing the Celtic Frost reformation shows in 2006/2007 I remember they opened with "Procreation of the Wicked" but played at half the speed, it was so slow and majestically heavy! That's what I want to do!! It was in that moment that Damnation's Hammer was born, at least the idea to do it, it would be a couple of years until I found the right guys who shared my vision. I always said "Look at the photo of Tom G. Warrior on the inside cover of To Mega Therion – how Tom looks is how I want Damnation's Hammer to sound!" Musically I find it pretty damn hard to write riffs in the same style as Frost, it seems like a simple thing to do but the more I've written the less it really sounds like Frost however I believe I still retain the same atmosphere and spirit. Lyrically Damnation's Hammer is based loosely around the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E Howard so not too far from classic Celtic Frost. We're about to record our second album in July 2016 so our homage to the avant-garde continues!
Ramon (ETERNAL SOLSTICE): To me lyrics are the least important part of music. I often sing along but don't have a clue what the songs are about so I don't think we're influenced lyrically. Musically I have to say we never intended to sound like anyone but you always get influenced by the music you listen to. I must admit that on the songs we are writing now for the new album there are a few Hellhammer-style riffs. Normally when it comes too close to sounding like other bands we change things but these riffs sounded so cool that we kept 'em. How can something that sounds like Hellhammer not sound cool ha ha ha!!! Now that I think of it, when Misha (Hak, drums) first came to the band in 1989 we used to play the first part of "Circle of the Tyrants" in the practice room because it was and still is a cool song.
Vorskaath (ZEMIAL): Oh, in many ways. Definitely! Zemial's discography has many references to the music and the lyrics of both bands. I have tracks like "Eclipse" with an opening riff that is pure Celtic Frost/Helhammer approach. Let's not to forget the vocal department on "Breath of the Pestilence" and "Eclipse" when I decided to reference Warrior. However, since my music has been evolving considerably, the main element of Celtic Frost that has remained with me is the lyrical approach of Thomas Warrior. I remember reading the lyrics on To Mega Therion and Into the Pandemonium in absolute fascination with their poetic expression, their depth and their immense symbolism. Those visions remain with me just as poems and other good literature has.
Yakir Shochat (HAMMERCULT): On the first Hammercult album Anthems of the Damned there are many Celtic Frost/Hellhammer inspirations but mostly in the mindset for the album; as they did in Hellhammer we tried to push the boundaries of extreme Metal. With the first Hammercult album we wanted to push the boundaries of Thrash Metal and create the most aggressive Thrash Metal album ever released.
Borys Catelani (BARBARIAN): First of all, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were bands that "dared" regardless of expectations or accepted standards. I don't discard even the more controversial Celtic Frost albums as they are part of a creative continuum, like them or not. Apocalyptic Raids, Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion have been big influences on Barbarian, especially on the first album. It's about that particular atonal way of riffing that was something completely original in Metal. Barbarian lyrics have different sources rather than other bands lyrics but I can't deny that "Only Death Is Real" is a kind of recurrent theme.
Athenar (MIDNIGHT): Musically it's all over the place. It's ingrained in me so thanks a lot for that Mr. Warrior! Lyric-wise not so much. I thought CF's lyrics were great and went very well with the image, of course, but as far as being influenced by fantasy lyrics and such was just not me although the name of my first band was Procreation! I guess that means it was an influence, what do I know?
Volker "Iron Lung" (WARHAMMER): With Warhammer we always concentrated on Hellhammer. Celtic Frost was not an influence for us. These are two different bands despite the fact that both Tom Warrior and Martin Ain were in both. As far as lyrics are concerned, it's the same. Only Hellhammer's lyrics of Armageddon and religious insanity were of importance to us.
Ravn (1349): In 1349 it is mostly how Celtic Frost varied and approached their musical progression and how they changed from album to album, never being afraid to try new things or go new ways. This has been a goal for 1349 and the day we start to repeat ourselves it will be the end. 1349 is just like a shark: both need to move in order to stay alive. As for the Hellhammer touch, it can best be felt in the rawness and utter primal feel that 1349 projects. The most audible heritage when it comes to lyrics is the death grunts... Ugh!
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): Maybe not so much of an influence, but definitely an inspiration for the more eerie, weird and evil-sounding parts in Nonexist.
Mika Hankaniemi (SUPREME HAVOC): Someone said that you can hear some Warrior in my voice or vocal style when you listen to my current band Supreme Havoc. Maybe, go figure that out. I might have some "morbid" things in my backbone because I like to write about sick stuff.
Luxi: Hellhammer's Apocalyptic Raids EP (1984) and Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion (1985) both have pretty disturbing and bizarre album covers. Did seeing them make it easier to invest your money due to what they represented visually and would you say the music lived up to the expectations the album covers set?
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): Hmmm. I would say the covers really did not play a major part in my enjoyment of said albums. H.R. Giger's art on To Mega Therion does fit the album perfectly though! Seeing the album cover, you can't really tell what kind of music you are going to get.
Wes Weaver (BLASPHERIAN): For me those records fell under the category of "must purchase upon first sight." As soon as I saw Apocalyptic Raids I knew I had to own it. It looked so dark and heavy! And we were all blown away when we played it, especially "Triumph of Death", which was soooo heavy and morbid!
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): H.R. Giger has been my favorite artist ever since I first got sucked into his nightmarish world and his painting "Satan I," which graces the cover of To Mega Therion, is pretty much the most "Metal" album cover ever. So, I'd say the music and artwork go hand in hand on To Mega Therion as well as on Apocalyptic Raids, which is more primitive in every sense. And yes, the artwork made it easier to pick up (multiple) copies of both of these albums.
Daniel Ekeroth (USURPRESS): I bought every album with a cool cover back in the mid-80s and those albums surely met my expectations! My favorite cover is the one for Into the Pandemonium though; it's so dark, menacing, beautiful and alluring. Both Celtic Frost and Hellhammer presented themselves perfectly (up until that awful Cold Lake album at least...).
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST/HOODED MENACE): As I mentioned already, the cover of To Mega Therion was the biggest single reason for me getting the record back in the day. It simply just stood out on the shelves! To Mega Therion also lived up to the image projected by the cover art. Abstract, menacing and different are all adjectives that describe both H.R. Giger's artwork and the musical content of the album.
Nord (NORDJEVEL): Hellhammer's music definitely lives up to the cover art. It's black and white, grim and pretty low budget. With Celtic Frost it was been a bit harder to know what you were getting based on the cover art. With Nordjevel we put a lot of resources into the artwork but it has no direct link to our relationship with Hellhammer/Celtic Frost.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Well yeah, when you first see the cover of Apocalyptic Raids you damn well know that you're in for something evil and extreme, and the music certainly did not let you down concerning that! To Mega Therion was also an intriguing cover. I was not familiar with the work of H.R. Giger at that point in time. Strangely (or perhaps not) my first real take-away from that album was the introduction of "Heyyyyy" as a counterpart to the death-grunt.
Dave Gregor (MORTA SKULD): Back then it was much different than today; you wanted the killer album cover and you knew if it was a good cover the music and album were going to be just as good. I looked for lyrics and artwork to make my decision to buy or not and the Celtic Frost cover is legendary for sure.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I would have picked those records up regardless of the covers since I was already looking forward to them. The art fit 'em both perfectly though. Sleazy, cryptic, weird, disturbing...everything necessary to fit the vibe!
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): I knew the music already so I would have bought it anyway but the bizarre and disturbing covers are a nice bonus indeed. The covers represent the obscure, avant-garde visual direction that both bands had back then. The inside cover of To Mega Therion was also something else; sick but tasteful at the very same time.
Bagot (CVINGER): Hahaha...Yes, Hellhammer's Apocalyptic Raids EP cover is just majestic and had me into listening to it in a second. For Celtic Frost I always preferred Morbid Tales both as musically as well as graphically. I have to say when you see either of those covers you know immediately what to expect from them, right? I really cannot remember if I thought of much else regarding those album covers when I saw them for the first time.
"El" Necrogoat (GRAVE DESECRATOR): We just LOVE those covers! Total worship! We have nothing more to say, the art speaks for itself. It's integral to our graphic projections and inspirations! H.R. Giger is one of our favorite artists ever, btw! R.I.P.
Thomas Goat (HERETIC): The funny thing is that when I bought those Hellhammer CDs they had different covers than the actual demos they contained. It was Triumph of Death (which included the Death Fiend demo) and it had a very bright colored demon on the front. The Satanic Rites CD had this weird yellow fantasy looking cover with a figure wearing a Venetian mask if I remember correctly. I heard Celtic Frost on tape before I knew what the cover looked like but it lived up to all the expectations I had of this glorious album.
Aethon (EURYNOMOS): That's true, bizarre and sick artwork for sure, not something I would have put on my wall back then. Quite unattractive stuff. But being young and hungry for extreme Metal you could have put anything on the cover and I would have gotten my hands on it sooner or later, ha ha!! My first Celtic Frost release was the Morbid Tales MLP, so it was natural that I would get To Mega Therion as well, no matter what the cover artwork looked like. I even got Cold Lake later on and the photos on the back cover couldn't stop me for getting the LP anyway, he he!!
Eugenio (EXCRUCIATION): The cover of Apocalyptic Raids was one of the most extreme, if not the most extreme, I had seen on a record. This was not the usual "oh look we have the Devil on the cover" thing, this was evil and rotten to the bones. I loved it and it was on par with the music. And, of course, I was freaked by the cover of To Mega Therion. One of my favorite bands joined forces with one of my favorite artists of that time. Even if I had not known Celtic Frost I would have grabbed this album without listening to it.
Nornagest (ENTHRONED): I have been a fan of Giger since I was a kid and I even did an expose at school about him so that artwork was for me "the cherry on top of the cake." But as I said I wanted to buy the album even before seeing the artwork. I do not think these pieces of artwork are in any way disturbing. As far as I'm concerned they are more fascinating, especially the cover of To Mega Therion. The artwork on Apocalyptic Raids is one ugly piece of "work" ha ha!! It actually suits the release but it is not comparable with To Mega Therion.
Kostas (ABYSSUS): Every great album should have great artwork and those two masterpieces were not exceptions to this rule. The music comes first, of course, but the whole package makes a release special, including lyrics and artwork. Visually magnificent and musically superb, Apocalyptic Raids and To Mega Therion are two albums deserving places of honor in the Heavy Metal pantheon.
Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): I first saw those covers in a catalog but the images were very small. I saw the details as soon as I bought the records (a couple of months after I listened to some of the songs). That means that just the music was enough for me to worship them blindly. That being said, I immediately fell in love with the artwork and now the picture discs of Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion are hanging on my wall.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Yes, those covers are just totally sick!!!! They just gave me a vibe of total darkness and twisted blasphemy. I would look at them for hours just getting lost in them. The covers matched the sickness in the music perfectly. That style of art was an inspiration for what I was to do with Incantation on our Miran Kim album covers. We wanted a vibe that would describe our music without being generic like most other covers at the time. Thank you Celtic Frost for the inspiration, you have a lot to be proud of.
Tony Secthdamon (MYRKSKOG): Never ever heard any of their albums. I don't think I will ever buy Hellhammer or Celtic Frost albums either.
Bolverk (RAGNAROK): Yeah definitely. The visual part has always been important for Metal bands. Back then covers definitely were a way of getting people to listen to the music. The more evil the cover looked, the more you wanted to listen to the music. This is a bit watered down today, I think. I can't really think of the last time a cover made me want to listen to the music. I do, however, remember well how the covers of Venom, Kiss, Iron Maiden, etc., really made me want to check out the music. It's a good thing vinyl is coming back more and more though because that format requires a lot more quality in the cover art than the CD-format does.
Tim (DAMNATION'S HAMMER): Yeah, as I stated before it was the fantastic artwork of H.R. Giger that caught my eye and convinced me to buy To Mega Therion. Something with artwork that good must be special!
Ramon (ETERNAL SOLSTICE): No, but I was afraid my parents (me being 13 at the time) didn't like the cover of To Mega Therion and didn't want me to listen to the record but they never said anything.
Vorskaath (ZEMIAL): Yes, to both questions. I paid tribute to the front cover of Apocalyptic Raids (and to "Dance Macabre") with the piece "Pazuzu Returns" from Zemial's Face of the Conqueror release and the ensuing t-shirt artwork was done by Equitant of Absu and represents Equitant's tribute to Apocalyptic Raids. I devoured To Mega Therion. I spent ages meticulously studying the cover and photographs. It matched the expectations perfectly.
Yakir Shochat (HAMMERCULT): You know, in the late 90s as a teenager I used to go to record shops and I would purchase albums on CD and vinyl of bands I never heard of. It was a great experience for me to discover new bands that way. Sometimes it was failure, but sometimes this gamble had great reward. For Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, yes, the artwork was unique and different, like their music.
Borys Catelani (BARBARIAN): As I said before, my first impact with those records was through tape-trading before the Internet era so it took some time before seeing the actual covers and by the time I did, I already loved the albums. All I can say is that Giger is an artist that I admire. It's such an amazing experience visiting the Giger museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, by the way. I would say that the Giger-Frost connection inspired me to get in touch with the Beksinski museum in Sanok, Poland, to work out the cover for the first Barbarian album.
Athenar (MIDNIGHT): Yes, for sure. All of their album covers are fantastic. The graphic perfection of Morbid Tales, the evilness of To Mega Therion, Emperor's Return was great to look at as a young teenager.
Volker "Iron Lung" (WARHAMMER): Yes, the visuals were extremely appealing. And as a teenager I did not have much money so which record to choose was an important question. Both releases lived up to the high expectations for sure!
Ravn (1349): I can't think of a more perfect cover for either of the releases. The music fully lives up to the cover on both albums. A benchmark or "milestone" if you like in how an album and its cover complement each other perfectly. Hellish would be a more proper word to describe it.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): The To Mega Therion cover is superb. It really fits the music and lyrics - the dark, sinister atmosphere - and brings the whole package to another level. Yes, I think it definitely made it more attractive to buy.
Mika Hankaniemi (SUPREME HAVOC): To Mega Therion's cover is one of coolest one out there, man. I sure had huge expectations because Morbid Tales was so great. To Mega Therion is also full of killer songs.
Luxi: How important is the work of these two bands to Metal? It goes without saying that Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have certainly influenced many upcoming underground Metal bands both back in the day and they still do today...
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): Immensely important! As I mentioned before, I think that the impact Hellhammer/Celtic Frost had on Death/Black/Doom Metal is huge. They really paved the way for a lot of bands by showing how dark and ominous music really can be! If you are into the more "extreme" side of Metal then you really should bow at the altar of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost for you owe them a lot!
Wes Weaver (BLASPHERIAN): I would say they are as important as Slayer, Metallica and Exodus and I've always liked them both even more than the early German thrashers Kreator, Sodom or Destruction. Don't get me wrong the early material from those bands was really killer but to me Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were better, darker and much more morbid! I was also lucky enough to witness Celtic Frost live in 1986 and it was a life-changing event! To see the songs live was absolutely crushing!
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Their influence and legacy is already enormous and new generations of bands are discovering them every day. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were as important, if not more important, to the evolution of different fields of extreme Metal as Bathory. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were pioneers in Thrash, Death, Avant-garde and Black Metal, whereas Bathory were forerunners in Black and Viking/Pagan Metal. Ugh!
Daniel Ekeroth (USURPRESS): I think the importance of these bands is absolutely vital to all extreme music that came after. The guitar tone and the voice of Tom is the foundation for Death Metal and Hellhammer is as pure as Black Metal ever got. Music rarely gets as good as this.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST/HOODED MENACE): Oh, they still do! Definitely! When Celtic Frost folded and Triptykon emerged, I realized how important Tom G's works had become to me. It made me go back to Hellhammer and review the music with new ears. I hadn't listened to Hellhammer at all from the 1990s and 2010 and when I finally returned to it, I heard it as the first piece of Tom G's triptych. To me, Celtic Frost are the ultimate extreme Metal band of all time. They represent the original ideology of the movement that pushed the boundaries of the art form and was in constant motion instead of stagnation. To find a new angle that no one had ever tried before. The same mentality was behind Napalm Death's Suffer, Nile's Amongst Catacombs of
Nephren-Ka or caused Mayhem and Ulver go to the directions they have chosen. To be extreme you will have to challenge the listener and yourself. The word extreme has no "safe" in it. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have influenced an incredible amount of bands with their music but to me their ultimate legacy is philosophical. They defined what it means to be an extreme Metal band.
Nord (NORDJEVEL): They both had an immense impact on what the extreme Metal underground became; Hellhammer with their Venom-like rawness and brutality and Celtic Frost with their more experimental elements. Celtic Frost brought female vocals into the extreme realm, for example. I'm not certain if the young bands today draw much inspiration from either band but I'm sure their influences are directly inspired by them.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Hell yeah! What those dudes came up with in their little idyllic Swiss village in the countryside was groundbreaking for sure. Even more so when you consider that when you see these villages from the Swiss highway, everything looks like it's made out of candy.
Dave Gregor (MORTA SKULD): They had an influence the same as Black Sabbath did for most of us and I think they influenced the underground more so than other bands. The darkness of the music and lyrics was really only happening with Sabbath and at that time it was like another door was opened.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): There are countless bands that took and still take the influence of these bands very seriously, so that says something. Some wear it blatantly on their sleeves and some are subtler but their serpentine sounds permeate plenty of dark corners in the underground maze that is Death Metal. I still have my records and they sound so much better than lots of stuff that is out today. It is a perfect example of atmosphere melding with sheer brutality. Just don't try to copy them because it'll never be half as good!
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): The influence both bands have had on a bunch of newer and forthcoming bands is just unbelievable! Most blackened Death/Doom/Black Metal bands are very influenced by them. Without Hellhammer and Celtic Frost the extreme Metal scene would not be as we know it. Every well-known Death/Black Metal band has at least 1 or 2 very "Frosty" riffs in their songs, if not more.
Bagot (CVINGER): I think these bands had some of the biggest impact on the early Black Metal bands especially the flood of 2nd wave Black Metal bands in the nineties as well as on the 1st wave of Swedish Death Metal. We can 100% safely say that both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have had a big impact on newer bands these days. Also, if being totally honest when listening to the Darkthrone albums (from The Cult Is Alive on), we can clearly hear a lot of early Celtic Frost influences in their music.
"El" Necrogoat (GRAVE DESECRATOR): In a very short statement from me, they're one of the few reasons for our existence! Long live Tom Warrior and his legacy! Ugh!
Thomas Goat (HERETIC): I think most of the bands who claim to have been influenced by them WOULD have sounded the same without the existence of Hellhammer or Celtic Frost. In my opinion, 90% of the bands that claim their influence came from them, along with Venom and Bathory, just sound like Bathory and nothing else. Of course there are several exceptions and I am definitely not talking about the handful of bands that try to copy them exactly! But I personally think it's very hard to find genuine influences in Metal music. Except for Tom Warrior's famous "ughs!" They deserve their own mention, of course.
Aethon (EURYNOMOS): Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were important in terms of sound and disharmonic riffing. They were definitely unique and not just one of the many Speed/Thrash Metal bands back in the day. I think that was because Tom Warrior was more influenced by NWOBHM, à la Angel Witch (demos), Witchfynde, Satan (the Roxcalibur compilation songs), Venom, etc. plus Black Sabbath instead of Slayer and Metallica. This made his bands so special; he took the influences, mixed them into his own bands and created something totally new and unique. Other bands picked up that influence and developed it into their own style, bands like Darkthrone, Slaughter (Canada), Pentacle, etc., etc., etc. That is a big accomplishment for Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, inspiring other bands that keep the flame burning, influencing new bands, with Darkthrone probably being the most important since they were one of the first bands from the second Black Metal movement as well and real a successful one (A Blaze in the Northern Sky was a big seller). Also, people should not forget that there was a legendary band like Messiah from Switzerland. I believe the name is taken from Hellhammer as well, but then again I may be wrong. And visually, the early days of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were really unique, dark, morbid and evil. Imagine that at the same time, mullets, mustaches, etc. were "popular." Check out band photos from 1984 and 1985 that came from Europe and especially from Germany, and you'll know what I mean. In a way, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were ahead of their time even if they took their influences from early 80s bands.
Eugenio (EXCRUCIATION): I really think Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, along with other bands like Venom and Bathory, don't get the recognition they really deserve. Everyone is talking about the "big four (Metallica, Slayer Anthrax and Megadeth)" and sales-wise that may be true but Hellhammer and Celtic Frost had a bigger impact on extreme Metal subcultures like Death Metal, Death Doom, Gothic Metal and, of course, Black Metal. I know, recognition doesn't buy you anything but at least they will be remembered. So to make it short, extreme Metal wouldn't be the same without them.
Nornagest (ENTHRONED): Indeed, well, without them the extreme Metal scene would be different or maybe another band would have come up with that kind of influence later on, but who cares?? Hellhammer and Celtic Frost were there and came up with this strange, unique and dark style at a time when everyone wanted to go fast (in their own Speed/Thrash Metal bands) and revolutionized the whole scene. Just imagine Darkthrone without that deep Celtic Frost influence or Obituary or Gorgoroth or Neurosis even. You had bands that were basically tribute bands doing their own songs like Apocalyptic Raids. Warhammer, Gallhammer...these are just the obvious ones. It is pointless for me to say how massive their influence was or how they actually modified how we hear Metal as it is just too obvious to me. It is like trying to explain how sex influences birth or how decapitation brings death.
Kostas (ABYSSUS): You ask this question of a man who could say that if there were neither Hellhammer nor Celtic Frost maybe I wouldn't be playing this music at all. Many extreme bands have their music based on Celtic Frost's/Hellhammer's legacy. You can understand how important they are for me and how they have changed my life!
Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): It's absolutely essential! The list of bands they have influenced thus far would be endless. Hellhammer/Celtic Frost vibes can be found in the music of many killer bands from Darkthrone to Sheer Terror to Napalm Death to Slaughter and, of course, tons of today's underground bands are born from their semen. I love Old's Down with the Nails for example and I also enjoy tribute bands like Apokalyptic Raids from Brazil.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost are vital parts of the DNA of extreme Metal. Even bands that don't think they are influenced by them actually are because almost all extreme Metal bands from the late 80s were directly influenced by them. So the next generation of bands that were influenced by any late 80s extreme bands are indirectly influenced by Hellhammer or Celtic Frost. I think all extreme Metal bands should raise a glass to Celtic Frost and Hellhammer for making extreme Metal more enjoyable and darker for everyone.
Tony Secthdamon (MYRKSKOG): To me it seems they inspired the underground Metal scene but so did a lot of other bands. I never think of their status because I'm not into those bands but I do agree they have probably influenced older as well as upcoming underground bands just never any of the bands that I have been involved with.
Bolverk (RAGNAROK): I think they have been a great influence for a lot of extreme Metal bands and I think they still are. I don't really think they deserve the cult band status even if that's a badge of honor for some. I think they deserve so much more because their influence on the genre is indisputable. I caught them live on tour with Kreator once and was very impressed with how slow they actually played. In contrast to Kreator it seemed like they really tried to keep the tempo down and the heaviness up to emphasize their originality and it was truly impressive; a show I remember with joy. I read Tom's book Are You Morbid? some years ago and it was interesting reading. I also finally met him when we played at Blastfest 2013, I think it was. It was pretty embarrassing, really. Early in the day I was kind of star struck and didn't have the guts to ask for a photo but when we returned in the evening I was pretty animated and got my photo. The embarrassing part is that I had my cargo pants stuffed with backstage beer, about eight I think, and they made a lot of noise when I walked. I asked Tom G if he wanted a beer and he answered, "No, I don't drink..." and I thought he was very patient because I wasn't the only drunkard that wanted to talk to him.
Tim (DAMNATION'S HAMMER): Yeah, they were innovators for sure – they wrote the template, they made their own "musical rules" followed no-one and created something very special and unique. Those early releases have an almost innocence to them, like the band are taking steps into the unknown - which I guess they were – and in doing so they created something very natural and almost beautiful really. What they did in the 80s any band would kill for – to be revered and respected decades after your initial inception. It wasn't just their music, it was the whole attention to detail as to how the band was portrayed; the logos, for example with the classic "bat wing" which is a killer logo and they also have the band's name written in the unique "shield" font which is one of my all-time favorite logos. I mentioned the photo of Tom before and to present yourself and the band in such a way was so very, very Metal! Especially in 1984! You can hear some Celtic Frost/Hellhammer influences in a few bands these days obviously, however, I can't think of one band that sounds anything like To Mega Therion, Morbid Tales or Into the Pandemonium. If you know of someone let me know as I'd love to check them out. Thanks for the chance to be involved in this article; it's always a pleasure to talk about Celtic Frost, a very special, very unique band who will always be in my heart!
Ramon (ETERNAL SOLSTICE): Very important!!! They never should have done that Cold Lake stuff though but let's not get into that now.
Vorskaath (ZEMIAL): There would have been no second wave of Black Metal and music history as we know it without Celtic Frost and Bathory. Full stop. As a secondary example, consider Darkthrone's lasting impact on the scene. It came as a direct result of A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Their "breakthrough" album was a perfect amalgam of Bathory and Celtic Frost, musically, lyrically and in terms of production. Being fans of those giant bands, Darkthrone combined the elements with amazing results. The song "In the Shadow of the Horns" might as well have been Celtic Frost with Quorthon on vocals and second guitar. The tom-toms, the ride sound, the count on the rim between riffs; it is as if they were pulled straight out of Morbid Tales and Emperor's Return. Add the guitar sound of Under the Sign of the Black Mark and you have a devastating effect which influenced the entire second wave. And even though that is an example of how Celtic Frost influenced a band highly respected in this generation of this music, it really is not enough. There are so many aspects to what Hellhammer and Celtic Frost produced and its lasting effect upon music, that it is rather unfair to limit it to a mere comment or two.
Without them, certainly, I would not have created what I have.
Yakir Shochat (HAMMERCULT): They had their own sound, which not only inspired many bands in the last 30 years but also gave birth to multiple tribute bands such as Warhammer and Apokalyptic Raids. They earned their spot in the Heavy Metal hall of fame!
Borys Catelani (BARBARIAN): Yes, of course, they inspired a lot of bands. Not many people remember the abundance of Celtic Frost-like riffs on the first few Napalm Death records, at least until Harmony Corruption. More than the atonal riffs, which were the real trademark, the main influence lies in showing that being creative and pushing the genre to the extreme is possible regardless of technical skills of what other people say. Bands should always remember that this kind of freedom is what makes music personal (if not original).
Athenar (MIDNIGHT): Very important, of course, or you wouldn't bother writing this piece on them. To think that in 1983 in Switzerland of all places there would be a few kids bashing out some never-before-heard noise like this is just mind-bending. Great art will always survive!
Volker "Iron Lung" (WARHAMMER): From cult bands like Delirium (Netherlands) to Inner Sanctum (Uruguay) and countless others, you can hear the influence of both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. And of course, our good friends Apokalyptic Raids from Brasil. Without Hellhammer, there would clearly be no Warhammer, as we have chosen to carry on the legacy of the Swiss gods, not as a cover band but with our own songs!!
Ravn (1349): When they started, Hellhammer was not "approved of" in the Metal scene at all and in retrospect hearing the music you can kind of understand it because they were one of the first extreme Metal bands out there and Metal fans and musicians alike are not the best at greeting or grasping newer things. Then to see the success and respect they got with Celtic Frost and people going back to the Hellhammer material and appreciating that they were pioneers that just adds even more to the astonishing musical career that Celtic Frost and Hellhammer have had. Their legacy has stood the test of time and will continue to do so as long as people have a sense of rhyme.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): They still are, and will continue to be I think, one of the most revered, classic bands of Death/Thrash/Black Metal. They have inspired and influenced many bands and are very important indeed!
Mika Hankaniemi (SUPREME HAVOC): I think there are a bunch of bands who owe something to Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, if we're talking about the riffs, lyrics and the whole image, you know. Mr. Warrior is a genius.
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