First thing’s first: Forget a second about labels like “metal,” “punk,” “thrash,” and “hardcore,” because this release has a lot of things in common with all of them.
There really is a continuum of bands, from “Overkill”-era MOTORHEAD, to pre-1986 DISCHARGE, to AMEBIX, on through VENOM [1st two albums], Finland’s BASTARDS and RIISTETYT, and maybe even including the first MINOR THREAT 7″ EP, that this release could easily fit into. It’s simple, raw, primitive, buzzsaw guitar thrash. Anyone who likes any of the bands I just mentioned would like this.
Having said that, HELLHAMER’s “Apocalyptic Raids” is squarely more on the VENOM, MAYHEM, and NWOBHM side of the fence than anywhere else [if only because that's where they themselves chose to be!]. Though sonically I find a lot in common with hardcore punk a la DISCHARGE, lyrically and atmospherically there’s some evil Satanic stuff going on here, lending it a “dark Satanic” feel [again, like earliest VENOM] instead of a “society is f—–” sort of darkness embodied by DISCHARGE-ian d-beat bands.
Folks into modern crustcore and d-beat — you know, bands like [early] NEUROSIS, RORSCHACH, MISERY, WARCRY, INEPSY, SEVERED HEAD OF STATE — would surely like this. In fact, there is a vibe on this release that reminds me more of that sort of thing than of modern death metal, which has grown extremely technical and nowadays incorporates vocal styles that are a bit different from what HELLHAMMER have to offer here. Yet HELLHAMMER are still one of the granddads of death metal, its members having gone on to CELTIC FROST.
Some reviews have remarked that the songs are horrible, the guitar playing is bad, and that sort of thing. Compared to what, though? Compared to any of the bands I mentioned above [VENOM's 1st album, early DISCHARGE], the musicianship is right on par: crunchy bar chords sliding up and down the fret board, few if any solos, no intricate noodling — sheer, blunt impact. The songs are simple, but in my book that’s a bonus. It’s hard-charged, over the top rock and roll. There’s not any slick over-production; in that sense, it’s a lot like early BLACK FLAG or early DC hardcore like DEADLINE. One lone guitar turned all the way up, with a really mean and dirty sound, galloping along to a rapid-fire drum pattern, with gruff VENOM-esque vocals. I like it!
Songs like “Horus/Agressor” and “Messiah” are some of the best 80’s thrash songs around.