Label: Redefining Darkness Records (N.America) | Dying Victims Productions (Europe)
Release date: 29-11-2019
Matterhorn is a famous mountain peak part of the Swiss alps. Some call it “great mountain” or the literal German translation “peak of meadows”. But let’s agree among ourselves that this is quite a metal sounding band name. So it’s unsurprising that three metalheads from Switzerland decided to adopt this name and make it their own. I first heard of Matterhorn about two months ago when I learnt that there was a tour with DHG, Bölzer, Blaze of Perdition and Matterhorn were opening for them. In my books, the other three, (more established) bands made for a solid lineup and so that piqued my curiosity for Matterhorn.
Crass Cleansing is the band’s debut which was originally released in 2018. However, the special edition released in 2019 contains two bonus songs, Bydying and Clarity, which are live recordings. To me, since I’m relatively new to the band, Crass Cleansing makes for a fresh listen. The base sound of Matterhorn is that of thrash metal but it also has a strong leaning towards punk. The sound is raucous, the riffs are simplistic and often played fast. In essence, Matterhorn do their best to pay tribute to Hellhammer. Even the vocals are not too dissimilar from Tom Warrior’s when he was in Hellhammer. I’d say that Morbid, the Matterhorn vocalist, also makes the vocals more deathly and gurgly.
The question I’ve asked myself though is – does Matterhorn pay homage to bands like Hellhammer or are they just a rehash clone, something similar to the rethrash movement of the 2010s? After careful consideration, I’d say it’s the former. To be honest, I barely found anything starkly original in Crass Cleansing. But in terms of paying tribute, from the music to the album cover aesthetics, to the band members’ names, it’s got Hellhammer plastered all over it. Have I exceeded the number of times I can say Hellhammer in this review? I’ve only begun! Matterhorn are definitely heavier and it may seem that they are more musically proficient too. I recall Tom G Warrior (ex-Celtic Frost, ex-Hellhammer) saying in an interview that Hellhammer at that time could barely play their instruments and they did their best with whatever little skills they had. In that sense, Matterhorn are a few notches ahead on that curve.
Tracks like Violent Success, Teenage Emperors and the Hornhead are riff heavy and they drive the songs forward. The vocals seem a bit disjointed though and there are too many stop-start moments in the music’s tempo. But that’s just Matterhorn’s shtick. The guitar solos would definitely make Kerry King proud, as in they’re unstructured and very noodly. Noch Noch Nichts has a strong punk vibe and you’d probably imagine this bodes well with the crowds in the circle-pit. I quite enjoy the bonus tracks which in my opinion add a dash of variety to the Hellhammer-esque sound. Even though the tracks are live recordings, they are mixed well. The guitar tone in Bydying screams of first-wave black metal. Clarity is more of a mid-tempo thrash song and sways into more experimental territory.
To sum up, if you’re looking for a groundbreaking band challenging genre definitions, then Matterhorn is definitely not for you. If you like old school thrash or 80s crossover then there may be something for you here. Like I mentioned earlier, there is little originality in Crass Cleansing but if you’re interested in how Hellhammer might’ve sounded in 2019, then Matterhorn is the band for you.
- Nekroking – Bass, Vocals (backing)
- Tim Tot – Drums
- Morbid – Vocals (lead), Guitars
1 – Diptyque
2 – Violent Success
3 – Noch Nicht Nichts
4 – Teenage Emperors
5 – Parabol Dreams
6 – The Hornhead
7 – Tongues of Babel
8 – Of All I Was
9 – Bydying
10 – Clarity