“The sands of time will never run
For an immortal dead man”
Celtic Frost – “Visions Of Mortality”
Hellbound mourns the sudden passing of Martin Eric Ain, legendary bass player for the genre-birthing Swiss bands Hellhammer and Celtic Frost.
Born Martin Stricker, Ain, would form his first band Shizo out of the same small Swiss towns that birthed Hellhammer – the band he would eventually join at the behest of Tom Warrior. The two would become forever linked, outcast teens against the world in the fledgling days of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost in the very early 1980s. At the time, they suffered tormentous slings and arrows from both the music press and fellow metal musicians alike. And, though they may have suffered tremendous verbal abuse from contemporaries, time would have the last laugh. To a new generation of metal fans, the unrelenting barrage of filthy, atavistic death metal Hellhammer and Frost purveyed would launch a thousand blackened ships. While the record companies and some heavy metal contemporaries may not have understood what they were putting forth, a whole generation of metalheads pricked up their ears and listened, including a contingent from Norway, who took their stage names from Hellhammer/Frost lyrics, and ran with the primitive-metal ball, birthing the squalling bastard child known as black metal.
Martin’s role in guiding the path of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost cannot be understated, and his contributions, in both songwriting and aesthetics, to the albums Apocalyptic Raids, Morbid Tales, To Mega Therion, Into the Pandemonium, Vanity/Nemesis are many and valued. Having been born in the US, it was Martin who improved the band’s English lyrics in the early days. With a mind thirsty for arcane religious knowledge, his own personal studies of religion and occult topics would also greatly inform the songwriting of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. This arcane knowledge Martin possessed would also factor strongly into driving the aesthetic that death and black metal would come to be known for, from his band Shizo’s earliest photo session, and their use of corpsepaint. Ain would act as foil to Tom Warrior, often offering encouragement in the studio for his partner to take his vocals further, to become even more ferocious and unrelenting. Their vision would not be compromised.
Ain was also instrumental in Celtic Frosts’s reformation in 2001, which eventually resulted in the monumental “comeback” album, Monotheist, released 2006 – and contributed lead vocals to the gargantuan track “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh” on that album.
Martin took on an entrepreneurial lifestyle after the initial breakup of Celtic Frost, and parlayed his fortunes into a successful DVD shop and bar in Zurich called Acapulco. He was also a co-owner of Zurich club Mascotte, well-known for hosting upcoming international bands. And since 2004, he had hosted the “Karaoke from Hell” show at Mascotte.
Martin Ain died of a heart attack October 21, 2017 at the age of fifty. His visionary contributions helped shape and mould extreme metal from its earliest stages, and he will be missed. All hail.