Given the primitive, misanthropic and occult nature of the early, genre-defining black metal bands, it seemed best to go straight to the musicians covering them for the Primitive Black Metal Tribute night and ask them for some input on why these bands continue to matter and inspire. Thankfully, all four bands agreed to write about the band they chose to cover.

morbis infernus on BATHORY
sacrifice your soul to the black goat
by Astarot Lust

Infernal hails.

Poor production, raw sound, sloppy musicianship and a focus on Satan and darkness: total chaos attracted me and countless others to black metal. For the upcoming BM tribute gig, Morbis Infernus chose to cover Bathory’s self titled debut and The Return.

1984’s self-titled album is the most important release regarding black metal. It reaches perfection while also being one of the first releases to be labeled under the genre. The album starts with distant sirens slowly building up to sheer chaos as the opening track, “Hades,” assaults the listener’s ears with a raw sound that was unheard of back then. This chaotic madness continues until the end track, “War,” leaving the listener in a morbidly explosive mood.

This sound was, and still is worshipped today. Band mastermind Quorthon continued this style in 1985’s The Return, again with a lead in that could not possibly prepare anyone for what was to come. From the first track, the album is steeped in war horrors, as if the album evokes pandemonium on a global scale, total destruction. The album is still in the vein of this first, primitive and bestial, and continues in this sense until the closing track,

“The Return of the Darkness and Evil.” Quorthon’s horrific vocal performance summons darkness from the depths and you can feel it throughout.

Bathory is and continues to be black metal perfection. The atmosphere surrounding these albums possesses the listener, especially the occult/Satanic lyrical themes. Combine that with the primitive, raw music and it is a perfect vision of total darkness that bands constantly attempt to emulate to this day. The lyrics go beyond words; they’ve become a way of life. We worship darkness and death. We bleed for Satan!

apocalyptic raids of the emperor’s return
by Josh Kovatch

The power. The speed. The overall raw and nasty sound of the movement. This is primitive black metal. Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer (Celtic Frost), Sodom, Sepultura, Vulcano, Sarcófago, Mercyful Fate… Take your pick. They were all pioneers and masters of the trade in their heydays. What draws a person to this?

Zurich, Switzerland, 1982. A band called Hammerhead was ready to rush the newly forming metal scene with a horrific onslaught of Satanic rites. Shortly after their formation, Hammerhead had changed their name to a more fitting Hellhammer. Widely regarded (alongside Sodom) as the pioneers of extreme (black) metal, Hellhammer were ready to bring their brand of insane, speedy blackened thrash metal to the world. Their message of terror and pandemonium was loud and clear. After releasing three demos, one EP and one split, Hellhammer decided it was best to disband. The year was 1984.

Tom G. Warrior and Martin Ain formed Celtic Frost only a few months later. Still ready to offer up their snaky brand of pure Satanic hatred, they did so with fury. Celtic Frost drew on all the old aspects of Hellhammer, but this time with more speed and complexity. To this day, Celtic Frost still leaves you with chills. Thirty years later and their music is still emulated. Whether it is the crushing, evil riffs, the poignant use of satanic imagery combined with intellectual insight, or Tom G. Warrior’s voice sounding like Satan himself was singing you a serenade, the music is truly timeless. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have shaped black/speed and thrash metal as we know it. This is not for the faint of heart; this is not for the weak. Posers and wimps, F.O.A.D!

fornication on SEPULTURA
the troops of doom
by Joe McSween

BESTIAL DEVASTATION: The perfect two words to describe the hell storm of first wave black metal that was being unleashed in the early ‘80s and the first release by Brazilian demons Sepultura: an anti-Christian storm of primitive black metal rising, literally, from below.

The first wave of black metal was spawning in Europe, so to hear the blasphemies being conjured on the other side of the world, in a completely opposite culture during the same time frame, is quite interesting. Sarcófago, Vulcano and Sepultura were extremely ahead of their time. The style for which the first wave of European black metal acts were known – Bathory, Hellhammer, Sodom, Venom, Mefisto and Sabbat (Japan) – was typically much more thrash/heavy metal-oriented when compared to the black/death hybrid the South American hordes were spewing forth.

Compare the deeper and harsher vocals of European black metal against the more raspy vocals being used on Sepultura’s debut EP, the unrelenting Bestial Devastation, which takes you to hell and back in just over 15 minutes. The drumming style is pounding, aggressive and fucking wild. You typically didn’t see this hybrid emerge until the ‘80s second wave of black metal on Mayhem’s early releases and Blasphemy’s first demo. As soon as they had perfected it this style, Sepultura rose to global fame and massive success with a more death/thrash combination, though, unfortunately, this would prove to be their early peak: the band nose-dived in quality after ’91.

At the ritual on November 8/9th MMXIII we choose to resurface this unadulterated piece of chaos. Bestial fucking metal, the way Sepultura and Sarcófago did it before many of you were even living on this piece of shit earth. The troops of doom shall gather for this war against the heavens!

blackrat on SODOM
adore the bestial rites
by Stu Loughlin

Unexpectedly and without mercy, in the industrial expanse of northern Germany in 1981, blackness bled from the earth. Spawned of sepulchral aura and sadistic blood, Sodom emerged to conquer the throne of evil heavy metal. It wasn’t until the release of the unconquerable EP, In the Sign of Evil, that Sodom had fully designated their rights to Hell’s hierarchies. Three commanders of hell by the names of Witchhunter (R.I.P.), Grave Violator and the notorious Angelripper managed to produce some of the most evil music ever created, formidable even in today’s metal landscape. The five-track EP is arguably the fastest and most extreme release of 1984. Comparable to Venom, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Destruction and a handful of others in extreme metal, Sodom’s early release put them among a pantheon of evil gods who had forged the path to black metal. A repugnant amalgamation of hardcore punk, thrash metal and pure Satanic aggression, In the Sign of Evil delivered a sound which has been worshiped for decades: distorted tones of pure terror; ominous hell thunder and a demonic voice; sequence after horrifying sequence of sonic blasphemy, conjuring up nightmares of being locked away in undead vaults; voracious demons clamouring for your soul; the record is reminiscent of a deluge of black napalm, drowning the cries of the earth in abysmal hellfire.

Undoubtedly, the mongrels of Sodom continued their undying lust for sadistic desecration with the release of their first full-length album, Obsessed by Cruelty, in 1986. And while the band continued on a different path via Teutonic thrash after this release, it’s these initial under produced, dirty, over simplistic, yet rollicking assaults that will be revered atop the black thrones of the underworld forever.

Watch Morbis Infernus, Warmaster, Fornication, and Blackrat perform at the tribute to primitive black metal on Friday, November 8 at Vern’s Pub.

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