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Articles Home » Music Talk » Triumph of an Outcast: Interview with Tom Gabriel Warrior of Celtic Frost/Hellhammer/Triptykon By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
Triumph of an Outcast: Interview with Tom Gabriel Warrior of Celtic Frost/Hellhammer/Triptykon By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Triumph of an Outcast:

Interview with Tom Gabriel Warrior


Celtic Frost/Hellhammer/Triptykon

By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Boston Rock Radio


Many artists have pushed the boundaries in their respective medium at a moment in time whether it was ballets by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky or in cinema by the American Stanley Kubrick.  Swiss musician Tom Gabriel Warrior is considered a legend in underground metal circles and has pushed the boundaries for sure.  He is best known for his work with Celtic Frost, Hellhammer and currently with Triptykon, Niryth and Triumph of Death.  During the mid-1980's when the metal mainstream of Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. were considered to be dangerous by parental advisory groups such as the PMRC, Celtic Frost were on an entirely different level as this was a group that fans of extreme metal admired beyond what was airing on MTV at that time.  Tom G. Warrior mixed his early influences of Venom and NWOBHM with classical opera, electronic and for a brief moment sleaze rock but with intelligent multifaceted lyrics.  Please check the links below for his latest musical endeavors.  Thank you Tom for granting Boston Rock Radio this exclusive interview.


The history of your childhood, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost are an important part of Dayal Patterson's book Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult.   I was moved by your story on many levels and the music truly was your saviour in the metaphysical sense.  Historically speaking many of the misunderstood artists share this story creating works that are not recognized for sometimes 25 years after creation.  There are many young people who are discovering this time of your output which whether or not you are comfortable with the label is LEGENDARY. You must feel vindicated for sticking to your vision when so many reviewers and labels were unkind?  Not arrogantly or I told you so of course!

TGW: Of course there prevails a sense of vindication, but that is only an insignificant component of my existence. It would be a feeble proposition to constantly dwell on this. Moreover, the events in question took place a very long time ago. But the main lesson in this is of course crucially important; namely that it takes an immense amount of work, patience, stamina, and determination to pursue a serious career in music. These qualities are perhaps more important than musical talent itself.


Your love for the surrealist H.R. Giger went beyond his artwork.  What did you learn from this creative force that has found its way into your music? 

TGW: Well, from being a mentor and then a collaborator, Giger went on to eventually becoming a friend. I felt very deeply honoured by this, and I tried to repay him by being there whenever he was in need of any support.  The relationship between Giger and me was not about learning at all. It was about inspiration and appreciation between two people who dedicated their lives to living outside of the norm.


You are the co-director at his museum in Switzerland and it was so wonderful to see you in the Dark Star: H.R.Giger's World documentary.  What an honor for you I would imagine?

TGW: That Giger and his wife Carmen decided to involve me in their universe, and that his wife asked me to become the co-director of the Museum HR Giger after Giger's death is indeed an immense honour to me, and something I would never take for granted. I am trying to replay such trust by doing my best to by Carmen's side whenever she needs me.


 It is unfortunate that you have not appeared in many guitar magazines as you have a unique rhythm style that I feel goes overlooked.  Your go to instrument has been the Ibanez Iceman.  Can you please tell us about how you became acquainted with the Iceman and your relationship with Ibanez today?

TGW: I have no place in guitar magazines. I am at best a mediocre guitarist, and I consider myself first and foremost a songwriter. There have been a number of guitar magazines who have bestowed me with some very kind terms or featured me in top positions in guitarist polls, but I honestly don't think I deserve any of this. I even once called a guitar magazine that featured me in a ridiculously high position in a list of guitarists and asked them to remove me because I did not think I had any right to be in there. I have loved the shape of the Ibanez Iceman ever since seeing Paul Stanley playing it in the late 1970s and on the back of an early 1980s metal album. In June of 1984, immediately after the formation of Celtic Frost, one of the band's roadies gave me my first Ibanez Iceman as a gift and good omen for the band. This guitar turned out to be phenomenal. I have been deeply hooked ever since, and many years later, Ibanez offered me an endorsement deal after noticing my brand loyalty. My relationship with the company is very good, we have been affiliated for 12 years now.


It also states that you use Orange Amps now.  Do remember what you were using in the early days when you acquired some proper gear to record and tour?

TGW: Orange is endorsing me as a bassist, which is my position in Niryth, a side project that has become very important to me. I play bass and sing lead vocals in this group, and Orange have very kindly offered to support me with their fantastic bass amplification gear.  As a guitarist, I have been playing Marshall JCM 800 100 watt amps ever since the Hellhammer days in 1983. I use them both on tour and in the studio. And even though I was occasionally asked to try other amps, it never worked for me. I don't think I will ever change away from Marshalls anymore.

Image result for celtic frost


Is there a new Triptykon recording in the works and if so what stage is it at?  

TGW: There are actually two Triptykon records in gestation right now. One is the live recording of the Celtic Frost "Requiem" as finished and performed by Triptykon at the Roadburn Festival in April 2019. This album is scheduled for release in April of 2020. And we are working on Triptykon's next proper studio album, which will hopefully be finished sometime in 2020. It seems to grow into a very dark but unusual album right now, a monumental slab of moody and atmospheric metal. 


Will you explore the Triumph of Death lineup with possibly new music beyond the scheduled festival dates and forthcoming demo cassette reissues of the Hellhammer music?

TGW: We have discussed the possibility of creating our own music in the Hellhammer vein many times within Triumph Of Death, mainly because this band is comprised of friends and the bond between us and the joy of playing together are very pronounced. But we have not yet made a final decision. At any rate, Triumph Of Death will continue to exist and perform way past the festivals of 2019. We have already been invited to play more concerts throughout 2020, and we will do so for as long as people will have us.  The Hellhammer demo cassette reissue is a project entirely disconnected from me. Due to the dismal contracts we signed as very young and inexperienced musicians in the mid-1980s, Martin Eric Ain and I did not own the rights to our early music, and that situation remains unchanged. The rights have changed hands many times since then.


Are you pretty hands behind the scenes with your Prowling Death Records label?

TGW: Prowling Death Records is run jointly by me and Triptykon's manager, Antje Lange, who took over Martin Eric Ain's position when I left Celtic Frost in April of 2008. It is very much an active label, and it currently serves as the platform to release Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Triptykon material, as well as forthcoming recordings by Triumph Of Death and my other, significant side project Niryth.  Antje and I are also looking to possibly expand Prowling Death Records in the future to release other artists not directly affiliated with me or my own projects.


Your music has always been considered extreme in the world of heavy metal.  Elements of classical, jazz and electronic have found its way into your music.  Who are a few classical composers and or jazz musicians that you appreciate on a higher level?

TGW: In jazz, I deeply appreciate artists such as Herbie Mann, Dave Brubeck, or Jan Garbarek, for example, or the late 1960s/early 1970s work of Quincy Jones. In classical music, I have long been partial to Antonín Dvořák, for example, or Franz Liszt, Bedřich Smetana, and Richard Strauss.



Boston Rock Radio Guest Contributor Thomas Amoriello is a heavy metal guitarist, educator, recording artist and children's picture book author who resides in Lambertville, New Jersey. You can learn more about Tom at: https://thomasamoriello.com

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