Retracing where the primordial, hard rock adjacent origins of heavy metal ended and its more extreme cousin began is a fairly subjective and complex proposition, and few are more qualified to do so than one of the latter musical movement’s proverbial founding fathers Thomas Gabriel Fischer, better known to the masses today as Thomas G. Warrior.
As the guitarist and one of the principle vocalists of early 80s death metal trailblazers Hellhammer, his career stood at a crossroads between the gritty yet still hard rock oriented world of Black Sabbath and Motörhead and the slightly nastier and darker NWOBHM associated stylings of Venom, helping to pave the way for the eventual the more extreme expressions of thrash, death, black and even sludge metal on both sides of the Atlantic. Even in a 2023 context, the iconic riffs and sepulchral subjects that burst forth from this underground trio’s small smattering of demos alongside an EP and a single still hold up and speak to a vision that was well ahead of its time.
Yet behind these lofty accomplishments is a man who has a humbler take on things, recounting a band that simply made music on their own terms, bucking every trend during their relatively short run in the 80s and often being seen as outcasts in their home nation of Switzerland. Thomas often recounts playing shows in small venues to maybe 10 or more onlookers as a frequent occurrence during Hellhammer’s run from 1982 to 1984, as well as being at the receiving end of numerous jokes due to the unorthodox nature of what they were bringing to the table.
Even upon the dissolution of the band and the formation of the more polished and refined Celtic Frost, this marginalized artist and his musical cohorts would ultimately seek greener pastures in Germany for label support and an audience. But there remains an unmistakable mystique surrounding the small and lo-fi catalog connect to the Hellhammer name that has continued to inspire many, including The Warrior himself as his spin-off/tribute to the original band Triumph Of Death embarks on further touring since their 2018 inception.
In stark contrast to the arguably sloppy and amateur character of the source material, there is an air of professionalism surrounding Triumph Of Death’s approach to recreating the Hellhammer sound in a live setting. Thomas credits some of this to his growth as a musician over the past 40 years, as well as to the highly competent group of musicians that round out the fold, consisting of drummer Tim Iso Wey, bassist Jamie Lee Cussigh, and particularly the addition of guitarist/vocalist Andre Matheiu, resulting in an arrangement that is markedly fuller and larger in scope than the power trio format of the original.
In many ways, Fischer considers it a different band due to the greater professionalism that has resulted from the aforementioned factors, yet he stresses in no uncertain terms that the primary goal of the band is to faithfully recreate what Hellhammer originally set out to do. It is a sound that could be likened to what Hellhammer might have sounded like had they rerecorded their work during the early 90s death metal explosion in Florida and Sweden and then adding crowd noise for good measure.
Though a man that is often surrounded in a dark cloud of moribund mystery in the media and prone to sardonic humor, Thomas G. Warrior retains his affable qualities and continually proves a veritable wellspring of knowledge on how things were in the days when metal was considered the most dangerous music around. Our contributor Jonathan Smith caught up with the iconic guitarist and vocalist to discuss Hellhammer’s place in metal history, and among other things settling the longstanding dispute as to whether the death, thrash, black, speed or sludge metal sub-genres could truly lay claim to their legacy (Tom decisively places his band’s pioneering work in the death metal camp, while acknowledging the massive changes the style has gone through in the years since).
But above all else, the conversation was focused upon the soon to be released live album “Resurrection Of The Flesh”, which is sure to stand as the closest thing to a proper studio LP that will ever be released under the Hellhammer name.
Listen or watch their conversation below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
“Resurrection Of The Flesh” will be available as:
- Deluxe CD mediabook
- Double gatefold LP w/booklet and posters on black vinyl and B&W swirl (indie store exclusive)
- Super deluxe double red vinyl LP bookpack with bonus 7” single plus posters