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Tom G Warrior performing Hellhammer at Hellfest, Celtic Frost at Roadburn (and in LA even sooner)

Hellhammer

The lineup has been announced for the 2019 edition of France’s Hellfest, and in addition to names like KISS, Tool, Slayer, King Diamond, The Sisters of Mercy, Carcass, Emperor, Tormentor, Cannibal Corpse, Descendents, Refused, Cult of Luna, Envy, Uncle Acid, Kvelertak, Power Trip, and more, and hidden within the lineup is a very cool, very rare surprise. Tom Gabriel Warrior has put together a band called Triumph of Death, who will be performing the music of Warrior’s short-lived early ’80s, pre-Celtic Frost band Hellhammer, whose music he has almost never performed live. Hellfest is Triumph of Death’s first-announced show. Here’s much more info via Tom G Warrior:

Hellhammer existed for a mere two years, from May 1982 to May 1984. During this time, the band wrote material for three demos, one 12″ EP, and the legendary Death Metal compilation album, along with a number of unrecorded songs. In light of Hellhammer’s now mythically iconic status in the global metal scene, it is almost inconceivable that most of this music has never been performed life.

Hellhammer’s successor group, Celtic Frost, formed by ex-Hellhammer members Tom Gabriel Warrior and Martin Eric Ain, initially played two of Hellhammer’s songs but soon abandoned this habit due to the band rapidly developing its own material. Tom Gabriel Warrior’s Triptykon, founded in 2008, have played one or the other rare Hellhammer song during special occasions. The vast body of Hellhammer’s work remains unperformed, however.

Until now.

The resurrection of the music of Hellhammer has been an idea Tom Gabriel Warrior and Martin Eric Ain have discussed for many years, sparked not least by their renewed collaboration in the reformed Celtic Frost in the 2000s and by the years of work on Warrior’s second book Only Death Is Real (2009), which details the history of Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost.

Tom Gabriel Warrior: “Hellhammer will never return and will never be reformed. It is absolutely impossible to reform a band so closely linked to a very specific and unique period in time. I never considered it, no matter how substantial the offers that were pitched to me over the years. But Hellhammer’s music exists, and it is an extremely important part of my life’s path. And I would like to play it onstage before my demise.”

The first step towards the realization of Triumph Of Death, named after Hellhammer’s most infamous song and intended to be a very respectful and authentic tribute to Hellhammer, were taken years ago. Triumph Of Death consists of some of Warrior’s closest friends; individuals who not only love this music but truly understand it. The line-up emulates Hellhammer’s final incarnation of April/May 1984, when the group had added an additional guitarist.

Triumph Of Death will commence playing Hellhammer’s music onstage in 2019. It is a project with an open end. Apart from wage considerations to perhaps release an occasional live EP, Triumph Of Death will not record any new music but is solely dedicated to performing both well-know and obscure Hellhammer songs. The project is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Triumph of Death will perform live at the Hellfest Open Air Festival on June 21st, 2019.

Triumph Of Death:
Tom Gabriel Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Triptykon) – voice/guitars
Mia Wallace (Niryth, The True Endless, Kirlian Camera) – bass
Michael Zech (Secrets Of The Moon, Odem Arcarum) – guitar/vocals
Alessandro Commerio (Forgotten Tomb, Hiems) – drums

Fingers crossed that Triumph of Death will play the US too. Check out the full Hellfest lineup on the poster below.

Martin Eric Ain passed away in 2017.

Meanwhile, Tom G Warrior’s band Triptykon are performing the music of Celtic Frost this weekend at the LA edition of Decibel Metal & Beer Fest, alongside Testament (playing The Gathering and The New Order), Godflesh, YOB, Power Trip, Pig Destroyer, Khemmis, Necrot, and more (tickets). They also recently announced that they’ll do a Celtic Frost set at Roadburn 2019 as well, alongside sets from Sleep, At the Gates, Have A Nice Life, Sumac, Young Widows (playing Old Wounds), Emma Ruth Rundle, Birds In Row, Anna Von Hausswolff, Daughters, Marissa Nadler, Myrkur, MONO and the Jo Quail Quartet, Old Man Gloom, Svalbard, Thou, and more (tickets).

Triptykon’s Roadburn set will be a little different than their Decibel set, though. They’re performing with Metropole Orkest, and they’ll “complete” Celtic Frost’s unfinished Requiem at the festival. Here’s more in Tom G Warrior’s own words:

In autumn of 1986, when I was 22 years old, I began writing what would become the first part of an intended three-part Requiem (missa pro defunctis; i.e., mass for the dead). The finished piece was released on Celtic Frost’s Into The Pandemonium album, in June of 1987, bearing the title Rex Irae.

As we were rehearsing and recording the first part of the Requiem, we couldn’t have foreseen that exactly such non-traditional, experimental work would lead to significant differences of opinion between the group and the label who had signed us at the time. We were still an underground band and at a pronounced disadvantage, as our industry power and resources were very limited.

We had initially intended to finish the two missing parts of the Requiem after touring the album, and to release all three sections of the Requiem on a dedicated EP as early as 1988. The aforementioned conflict with the label spiralled out of control, however, leading to the termination of the original group at the end of 1987.

When Martin Eric Ain and me resurrected Celtic Frost in 2001, finishing the Requiem was among the earliest topics discussed. In 2002, at age 38 and sixteen years after I first worked on the initial part, I began writing the third part on the basis of demos I had recorded in 2001. The finished third part was released on Celtic Frost’s Monotheist album in 2006, under the title of Winter.

What was left now was to complete the missing second part of the composition. I had quite a detailed idea in my mind of what it would entail musically, but there was no hurry attached to it; we had reformed Celtic Frost to record far more than just one album. Alas, perhaps predictably Celtic Frost disintegrated again after a few years, and the Requiem was left unfinished once more.

Nonetheless, the intention to finish the full Requiem remained with me. I was going to do it one distant day with Triptykon, the group I formed to continue to pursue the path I began in Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. It was 2018, yet again 16 years after I last worked on the Requiem, when Walter Hoeijmakers, founder of the legendary Roadburn Festival and one of my most beloved friends, contacted me to propose Roadburn as the venue to perform, at long last, the finished Requiem.

Walter and his team very kindly provided for the resources necessary for such a substantial undertaking, and so, at 54 by now, I found myself commencing work on the second and thus final part of the Requiem this year.

The three parts of the Requiem will therefore be performed by Triptykon at Roadburn 2019, with full classical orchestration, congregated specifically for this occasion by Florian Magnus Maier, who is our esteemed classical collaborator and arranger in this project, and whose patience with me appears to be limitless. We feel very proud and deeply honoured to be joined in this endeavour by the renowned Dutch Metropole Orkest (orchestra).

Moreover, this project has been made possible due to the generous support of the City of Tilburg and
Brabant C.

Listen to Hellhammer’s 1983 album Satanic Rites and part of Celtic Frost’s Requiem below.

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