Hymn to Abramelin / Extreme Cold Weather
(Massacre Records)
61:47min / 79:23min

These are the releases I’ve been waiting for! I never enjoyed the Nuclear Blast compilation-version which was released several years ago. No live-songs, no intros, a thin sound and a very cheap layout. I must confess I did buy the CD when I heard it was out on the market, but when I got it, I was that much disappointed, I gave it to a good friend of mine. This will not be the case with the versions of Massacre Records. I heard the rumors of this re-issues a long time ago, but I was still surprised when I saw the adds in Holland’s Aardschok. Through a trustworthy friend of mine I was able to lay my hands on both CD’s and yes, you are reading this correct. Both "Hymn To Abramelin" and "Extreme Cold Weather" have been released on separate CD’s. I must say this was a very wise decision. But let’s go not too fast and talk a bit about one of my all-time faves of the 80s. For those who aren’t familiar with MESSIAH or maybe only know their later albums, their style was a raw and uncompromising mixture of Death, Thrash, Heavy and Doom Metal. Add to this the very extreme vocals and the gifted guitar-playing, they created an sound of their own. The songs were pretty simple, yet very effective arranged. The songs have many rhythm-changes from slow to fast and for that time, ultra-fast parts (‘Messiah’). Another trademark of the band were the acoustic intro- and outro’s, which were used with skill and added a very typical MESSIAH atmosphere to the songs. From blasting speed to depressive doom, MESSIAH had it all. At that time, the band had a big status in the underground. They played many shows in all kind of countries (Germany, Belgium, Holland, etc…) and where definitely one of the most extreme bands of their time. Though only a trio, they certainly knew how to create a "wall of sound" on stage. Fortunately, their first album "Hymn To Abramelin" (released in 1986 through the Swiss Chainsaw Murder Records, by former CELTIC FROST-roadie Marco "Dinosaur" Suremann) has been featured with all the spoken intros the LP had too. Strange enough, some of the acoustic parts and solos have been erased. I don’t know what the reason for this decision was, but I would like to have them heard here as well. For the rest there’s very little to complain. The sound is almost identical to the LP. So not too "heavy", but quite clear and maybe a bit too polished, but the power and aggression of the song-material definitely remains. The songs still kicks ass! This album holds cult-songs like ‘Messiah’, ‘The Dentist’, ‘Space Invaders’, etc. Oh well, all the songs are classics in my point of view! This issue features an (at least to me…) unknown unofficial demo from 1984. It shows a premature version of the Messiah-sound we got to know a bit later on. The first track (‘Wytchcyrcle’) actually reminds me a lot of the old NECROPHAGIA demos. A "bit" chaotic, especially the fast parts are almost identical to Killjoy’s early insanity. Just like if the musicians ask themselves "Which part comes now?" It adds a lot of underground-charm to such a recording. The rest of the songs (‘Speed Fight’, ‘Mortal Bells’ and ‘(Never Provide) The Key Of Hell’) feature the more know MESSIAH -elements too. The insane screaming vocals of Tschösi (still the one of the best Death Metal-vocalists ever!), the typical sound and playing of Bröggi and not to forget the "Go-ahead!" drums of Jazzi. The sound of this demo is very raw, just like many tapes from this era. This recording really made me feel very nostalgic about the good old times… As an extra bonus you get some very cool photos, featuring the band in their rehearsal-room with war- / corpsepaint, somewhere between MERCYFUL FATE and HELLHAMMER. Very nice! Ah, at least we’ve got "Extreme Cold Weather" with the live-songs now. Without these songs, the album just isn’t complete. But lets not forget there’s a studio-side too. The sound is a bit more muddy here, but meant in a positive way. Not that "sterile" anymore as on "Hymn…". The songwriting hasn’t changed that much. There are still the typical MESSIAH-elements like the acoustic parts and the very typical guitar-sound. The vocals are a bit more extreme here. Whereas Tschösi used his more deep vocals on "Hymn…" quite often, he’s screaming like hell on this one. The title-track and ‘Nero’ are an exception to the rule, where he’s using both styles. This album also features a track in the vein of CELTIC FROST’s ‘Danse Macabre’ or ‘Tears In A Prophet’s Dream’, called ‘Mother Theresa’. Not the most interesting tune in my ears, but I’m glad they included the track here, for it was a part of the original recording and this way, you get it all. All? Well, not exactly. Again some intro’s are missing. The "Dear Deathrashing people…" intro before ‘Enjoy Yourself’ is not included here. Just as some other stuff. I must say I miss them here too, but it doesn’t make the album worse or give it a "torn apart"-feeling. This album features some other great songs like the already mentioned ‘Enjoy Yourself’, ‘Hyper Borea’, ‘Johannes Paul Der Letzte’ and the title-track. The songs still hit hard like they did in 1987/ 1988, when this LP was released. The live-side features 4 songs of "Hymn…" and 4 other songs, which didn’t make it on the before-mentioned album. The sound is very different. Some songs are sounding good, while others are acceptable. At least, they are all live without any overdubs. This release features some extra material too. This is the case with both official MESSIAH-demos "Powertrash" and "The Infernal Thrashing". Both of them were released before the first album came out. Again the sound is very unpolished and the songs are "Hardcore-Metal" to the bone. The "Powertrash" demo consists of 3 songs, ‘Powertrash’, ‘Satan’s Resurrection’ (later called simple named ‘Resurrection’) and ‘Antichrist’ (it is unfortunately featured incomplete on here as it originally had eight songs on offer – Frank). My favorite one, "The Infernal Thrashing" demo features ‘Hymn To Abramelin’, the crushing version of ‘Messiah’, ‘Infernal Forces’ and the extremely heavy versions of both ‘Future Aggressor’ and ‘Total Maniac’. The original demo features ‘Thrashing Madness’ too (which was re-recorded for "Hymn…"), but this one isn’t I guess it’s because the playing-time would become too long to be pressed on CD. As far as lyrics concerned, I hoped I would get to see the ones for "Hymn…", but it seems this was asked too much. For "Extreme…" this is not the case. Printed in the same way as on the lyric-sheet for the original LP, you can try to sing(?) along with the quite strange and unusual lyrical outputs. Furthermore, both CD’s feature the original artwork, thanks-lists and credits as the LPs did, plus the demo-covers and lots of extra photos. I don’t quite see the value of the comment made by Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann, because it doesn’t add anything extra to these releases. I would have preferred to see some notes written by an original bandmember. After the release of the 2nd album and some gigs the classic line-up broke up, because of the typical musical differences. Tschösi wanted to become more faster, while Bröggi ambitioned a more technical sound. It took some time before the band split up and got active in the scene again. The result was some albums with the new line-up (only Brögi continued with the band) of which their first full-length album "Choir Of Horrors" isn’t that different from what they did before and is definitely recommendable, but it didn’t seem to work out for very long either as the band split up. In any case, this is value for money! Put these CDs on your shelves somewhere between NECROPHAGIA, DEATH, SLAUGHTER, CELTIC FROST, PENTAGRAM and many more. This is the music, which made my brain go insane, back in the 80s. Forgive me…I have to bang my head!!!!!!!!!!!

Wannes Gubbels

Wannes Gubbels

Related reviews / interviews:
MESSIAH - Fatal Grotesque Symbols - Darken... (Jaime Pérez)
MESSIAH - Fracmont (Rick Peart)
MESSIAH - Hymn To Abramelin (Thomas Meyer)
MESSIAH - Extreme Cold Weather (Ricardo Campos)
MESSIAH - Powertrash / The Infernal Thrashing (Frank Stöver)

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