Apokalyptic Raids - Only Death is Real... - (8/10)
Published on February 27, 2014
In the world of music there are two types of imitators: those who mimic their idols and try to sell it as something wholly original and those who are unabashedly and admittedly doing nothing but emulating and worshiping their favorite bands. It shouldn’t be very difficult to figure out which group the Brazilian metal merchants Apokalyptic Raids falls into. Their name, album title and most song titles are taken straight from the catalog of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Known as Apocalyptic Raids (notice spelling) until 2001, the band switched the spelling of their name soon after the release of their seminal work Only Death is Real… At the time of this release, Apokalyptic Raids consisted of Necromaniac on vocals and guitars, Sub Umbra on bass and Adrameleck on drums. Everything about this band screams Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost worship, but that’s not always a bad thing, is it?
With the demise of Celtic Frost in 1993 and the fact that Hellhammer was a giant from the distant past, Apokalyptic Raids formed in 1998 with the intention of spreading the primitive metal gospel to their South American brethren. I’ve actually heard rumors that some of the songs were worked during the eighties, but I’ve never gotten confirmation on the truth of that statement. Sure, there was also Sarcófago melding the black, death and thrash genres into one at the time, but Apokalyptic Raids spurned creating their own sound in favor of continuing down the primitive, overgrown trail first blazed by Tom G. Warrior and company. I’ll be the first to admit that that little known footpath in the jungles of South America has now turned into a fully functional eight lane freeway, as there are bands popping up left and right attempting that old school melding of black, thrash and death metal, but there aren’t many bands that pull it off with the ease and sincerity of Apokalyptic Raids.
Everything that I love about Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost is here: pummeling and galloping drum lines; thick, ballsy riffing; and a general rabid, primal attitude. This is the same solid, pummeling, fist-pumping metal that we all know and (should) love; thrashing riffs, pounding drums with minimalistic fills and bass lines that you can’t even hear. The amazing thing about Only Death is Real… is that while it does invoke a tad of nostalgia, it stands on its own more than just an imitation of the real thing. This album is a nonstop hellride of primal, headbanging anthems with a crusty, primitive guitar tone that is to die for. The vocals mostly consist of gruff, mid-ranged shouts and dirty snarls. Yes, yes, there’s a few of Tom G. Warrior’s famous grunts strewn through the mix as well.
Recently reissued (in January 2014) by Hells Headbangers Records as a 2LP gatefold, available on black or red vinyl, this album should feel at home in a collection sporting the likes of Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Sarcófago or any South American upstarts following the same path that Apokalyptic Raids helped open up. It’s fitting that Hells Headbangers reissued this, because the label is home to a lot of those emulators. While this is an homage to the greats, Apokalytic Raids make the sounds of Hellhammer their own. Only Death is Real… Hellhammer worship done right.