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Hellhammer served up Brazilian style - 88%

Byrgan, August 24th, 2008

Apocalyptic Raids, known with a "c" at this point, are a group of Brazilian guys who took what Hellhammer would have done if their supreme evil never expired. As if Thomas Gabriel Warrior himself found some old and missing tapes and decided to re-release them. Although, blatantly taking this doomsday name from their early Swiss counterpart, Apocalyptic Raids boasts a very heavy repertoire: brazenly tailored in black-death style that's confident enough to walk the runway with tattered, non-glimmering and exclusive wardrobes. And, of course, are alarming enough to make spectators run for their worthless lives.

The ingredients to an album like "Only Death is Real" would be severely lacking without a few '80's extreme metal charms to back it up. As if you took away garlic, olive oil or even red-sauce from Italian-American food and tried to pass it off without notice. Mamma mia! It would likewise be unveiled as cold injustice. This album covers itself with such dirtiness, like two mud-wrestling women—preparing themselves for head-on vicious contact—surrounded by ravenous and blood-thirsty fans screaming for more. The template for the guitar tone sounds like it was peeled from the original masters of, well, HH's very own "Apocalyptic Raids." The drummer picks and choices correctly with that distinct double bass gallop as well, though including his own devastating and simplistic fills, such as frequently manipulating an open and closed hi-hat. The vocals are overall slightly different than an imagined exact replica to the mentioned. It sounds like he has a triple combo of reverb, delay and distortion added, while including his own updated and medium toned growls as well. Although, he doesn't miss out on an occasional gut-punching upstart to make the next moment even more heinous than the original technique.

The band knows simplicity at the heart of the word, as well as they know the back of their hairy, barbarian-like hands. A.R. set out to beat their chests for attention in heaviness rather than technicalness. The guitars, for instance, might not exceed inward from the head stock region of the fret board and only touch higher strings with a noisy, bent this way and that, Tom G-like solo. The bass guitar is either buried or is so saturated with distortion effect it is hard to tell. It works in unison like a pot belly from beer. The belly is compliments from the beer, but, then again, the belly is also rewarded with beer. Nah, scratch that, I guess that's a little selfish in reasoning. Though in one way the example stands, as you should be starting to catch on that they might just be real life Neanderthals.

This Rio based band is no stranger to showing their influences, with previous band members in early Nocturnal Worshipper, which had Hellhammer/mid-'80's Celtic Frost and early '90's black metal ideas written all over it. Though "Only Death is Real" is quite a blatant example, and shows us a band that delivers a narrow brand of music, but delivers it rightfully so by capitalizing on a primitive, disgusting and dirty mentality. I should tell you to take a shower after listening to this, but if you are going to listen to this, you'd probably be completely oblivious to the idea. I mean even if you were to catch yourself after instinctively saying "Yeaaah" to the part on the 9th self-titled track where the cow bell starts up the next sleazy riff, by that time you'd be out of help's reaching fingers by stepping farther and farther back, with a callous laugh and slick aversion to out maneuver it at every possible, helpful, cleansing attempt.

The initial music took a little time to come to a release. The booklet states the music and lyrics were written in '98 and '99, with a "First Version" on a few songs ranging from '85 to '88. The music was also recorded in 2000 and then released in 2001. So this album has some history before even coming out in 2001, with a few songs that were tangled with in the '80s, to what degree, who knows? An interesting lyrical idea on the song "Forgotten Tales" talks about quite a number of bands. Probably the other, here-and-there, general influences scattered throughout the album where it's less obvious. Listening to this song, due to the disguised vocals, it could be perceived as being just another track about raping and pillaging. However, he uses a strange set-up to where he references extreme metal bands from the '80s by using tie-in verses to connect each group as single entities in a possible very loose storyline. Realizing this later on, I found it a little "fun" mixed in with an atmosphere that is mostly evil and brutal. This song would be redone on the third full length as well with the name "Never Forget What You Are" instead. Also, the last track proved to be a cool little change-up and is quite different than the other mostly quicker paced songs as it plays in a dead-slow doom tempo with inhumanlike, stretched, dying wails in place of his over-the-top growls.

Although, their debut is green-eyed and accurate to the point of using a previous founding band's album title, lyrical phrase from the song "Messiah" as their album title and an envy of this band's font and similar art work to use as their own. I'm sure a lot can be said bad about that if someone holds their view of originality as supremely sacred, never to be reached or touched by anyone else. But picking up a recording that is so blunt in doing so you have to know what you're getting into. They do have their own brand—with quite different vocals, and not every hit is hit-for-hit—although in a way it is overshadowed by their parent company. When I originally took a few stabs and pokes at the music (Or is it the other way around?), I actually found it quite entertaining. More in an actual moment-for-moment, non-stop headbanging and heavy sense, rather than in a nostalgic kind of way that's disposable after a few uses because it's too easy or jestful. Apocalyptic Raids isn't going for the gold here with a modern sound, updated production or complex delivery. Although, as a listener you can definitely achieve a feeling of satiety from them opening up their weathered and beaten Swiss cookbooks, tearing out pages in possessive lust and making a very accurate and close serving of crude metal: burnt black and deathly delicious.