Angelcorpse was a blackened death metal band formed after the demise of Pete Helmkamp’s previous band, Order from Chaos (Order from Chaos was an extreme metal band formed in 1987 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States by Pete Helmkamp, Chuck Keller and Mike Miller. They are recognised as being an extremely influential group in the early US black metal scene, and served as a launching pad for its band members that went on to form besides Angelcorpse, groups such as Ares Kingdom, Revenge, Vulpecula, and Kerasphorus), originally from Kansas City, Missouri, and relocated to Tampa, Florida. Regarding the band’s name, their vocalist Pete Helmkamp stated in an interview; “We put it as two words on the demo, so Osmose learned it that way. But that was just a mistake at the printers…it was one of those flukes. But it is just a single word…it just seems to look more visually pleasing as a single word. It fits with the phonetics: we say ‘Angelcorpse’, not ‘Angel Corpse’.”
They formed in 1995, with a line-up of Helmkamp, guitarist Gene Palubicki, and drummer John Longstreth, and recorded a demo, Goats to Azazael, which led to a contract with Osmose Productions. The band’s debut album, Hammer of Gods, was recorded in July 26 – August 5, 1996 at Chapman Studios, produced by the band & Ken Paulakovich, engineered by Ken Paulakovich while the excellent cover artwork is a loan from the famous painting “The Triumph of Death” (1562-1563) by Peter Bruegel.
Angelcorpse delivered top notch speed/thrash/black heavily influenced by Impaled Nazarene and early Vital Remains while there’s an excess of Death Metal blood running through their veins worshipping Morbid Angel and Trey Trey Azagthoth’s chaotic guitars. Their sound is a hybrid of heavily repeated sounds, John Longstreth’s high speed drumming, Gene Palubicki’s insane leads, Pete Helmkamp’s angry vocals, Bill Taylor steady rhythm section work, characteristic long riff structures, many solos (a mix of fast, shredded and plenty of with wah-wah distortion) and more guts and balls that technical adequacy. Screaming guitars remind of early Slayer and Morbid Angel fit like a glove with the frenetic rhythms and the brutal war-like growls of Helmkamp.
Production is totally raw. Song structure seems predictable with a common motif of verse, bridge with blast beats, chorus, solo and repeat, being present in all songs, but the final result is so primitive, so cold and twisted that no one cares about innovation or expertise skills, that Angelcorpse in their subsequent works developed and turned it into their advantage. Their following LP entitled “Exterminate” had many changes as they evolved their sound, reaching so high that could look in the eyes masterpieces of the (sub)genre, but their debut has this charming naivety (and definitely not innocence!), the defying of fear and the unrefined, crude of early Sodom mixed with the “Altar of Madness” wrath; almost primitive black/thrash fury.
Highlights: “Consecration” that is a hell of an opener, “Black Solstice”, that is too old too cold (as later Darkthorne would sing), “Soulflayer” whick is catchy in its primeval way, “Perversion Enthroned” which is the most epic moment here and “Lord of the Funeral Pyre” that is the archetype Angelcorpse song of the album and probably my favorite and the thrashy closer “Sodomy Curse”.