There are a couple of reasons why Swiss band Hellhammer are considered one of the most influential bands for the whole Metal-community. Being one of the first bands (peaceful bands like Venom, Motörhead, Blitzkrieg, Artillery, Amebix, Warlock (though nameless until 1983, if I am not mistaken), Bulldozer, Slayer, Kreator (though under the moniker of Metal Militia first, then Tormentor), Sodom, Raven, Blizzard, Destruction, Metallica, Exodus, Tank, Mercyful Fate etc. were already active when Hellhammer were formed) that created something that was so dark and heavy… Or is it for creating a sound so unique and intelligent?... Anyway, the number of bands that pay tribute to Hellhammer, as well as the earliest years of successor Celtic Frost, is quasi uncountable (Usurper, Warhammer, Barbarian, Gallhammer, Scepter, Crude Society System, Nordic Mist and hundreds of others), and one of the most important names that is pure Hellhammer / Celtic Frost-fanship is one from Brazil, called Apokalyptic Raids. Hey, ‘apokalyptic raids’, it does remind me at something… (do I now have to add a smiley?). This Brazilian act was formed at the end of last century under the name of Apocalyptic Raids, and in 2001 they evolved into the current one, Apokalyptic Raids, with a ‘k’ instead of a ‘c’. I have no idea why, but I do not think it does matter…
[note: because this review deals with a re-issue of material recorded under the original name, I am about to entitle this review as an Apocalyptic Raids-release; but since the band is called Apokalyptic Raids at this very moment, I might have to use the current moniker instead? So please forgive me if you’re not pleased with the final choice, but in case you might have a problem: f*** off - and here we have another smiley…]
Bon, Only Death Is Real… (once again, I seem to have a déjà-vu???) was originally recorded in Spring 2000 at Fast Forward Studios (and then I am talking about Only Death Is Real… by Apocalyptic Raids, to avoid confusion; imaginary smiley again…) and initially released in 2001 via Brazil-based label Demise Records (this label did house tens of great bands at the end of last century and during the first half of last decade). It has been re-issued a couple of times before, and now Hells Headbangers, known for many other splendid re-releases (I am ‘into Hells Headbangers-worship…), do it once more; this time with more than one handful of bonus tracks, and in different vinyl editions.
To start with: the cover picture. Inspired by Hellhammer or inspired by Hellhammer???
And then, the musical approach… Damn yes, this sounds so Eighties, with nothing but details that are not able to deny any inspiration by the Swiss Kult-band. The riffs and rhythm, the vocals (including the characterising ‘ugh’…), the tempo, the lyrical approach; even the (lo-fi) production seems to be influenced by the originators. It isn’t just a cheap copying-of-heroes that Apocalyptic Raids did back then, because that would be too easy. No, these Brazilians really try to create an own interpretation, yet without betraying their respect for these Swiss.
The outro, by the way, reminds me a lot of Dutch (also Kult) act Necro Schizma, yet again, was this not one of the many Doom acts that are / were heavily influenced too by Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost (think: Winter, Incriminated, Pentacle etc.)?...
A warning, however, be made. In case you are a worshipper of Hellhammer and (early) Celtic Frost, you will adore this material. Reason: many bands try to copy (or is it: to pay tribute to) but do not succeed at all; these Brazilians do succeed! But since this material is so comparable, and if you can’t get seduced by these tunes of morbidity, you will not get satisfied by this stuff either.
The bonus tracks then. The second LP consists of eight epics. It concerns the tracks from Apocalyptic Raid’s 1999 rehearsal / demo, one track from the split-EP with Gravewürm (which was released as well under their moniker with a ‘c’, shortly before they traded that letter in favour of a ‘k’), and three new versions of older songs (two from the ‘c’-era, and one from the first official release done under the moniker that includes the ‘k’; are you still with me???).