Guest reviewers: Ramy “The Ram” Swelim and Adam Barnett of Witch Hammer.
Well where do we start… today we are writing a review of the old gods of blackened and experimental extreme music – Celtic Frost.
We will take you into the mindset of the band’s sound and soul on to a new level for a review of all 4 classic re-issued albums, from Morbid Tales through to Vanity / Nemesis.
Morbid Tales (1984)
At the start, a central core of concentrated, crunching, agonising feedback loop, as if something is there constantly stuck in your mind. Reaching that play button after the show has stopped, this is an instant hit and enjoyable to listen again and again and again.
Ironic though, that there are rehearsals tracks on there, re-mastered to the extent that they sound a hell of a lot better with their production and you can hear almost everything with their endless turning point for an arrangement of guitars, dusting out an old shelf and car horns will never be the same. It doesn’t disappoint and is finding an experimental way of creating music, it’s my kind of thing.
Favourite track: Visions of Mortality
Picture yourself in a blood encrusted dungeon, with zombies screaming and tearing off chunks of your flesh in gleeful frenzy. This album is as enjoyable as that, with primitive thrash riffs steeped in the grimmest of guitar tones giving life to tracks like ‘Into the Crypts of Rays’ and ‘Dethroned Emperor’. Things get Sabbathian on the swamp groove of ‘Procreation (Of the Wicked)’, before there is a sudden mass outbreak of ghouls, goblins and winged terrors on the sinister ‘Danse Macabre’. A great party album.
Favourite track: ‘Procreation (Of the Wicked)’
To Mega Therion (1985)
As the smoke drifts across an ancient battlefield, and the sun becomes obscured by a dark presence, the eerie sound of a horn suddenly comes to your attention, seeming to summon the apocalypse. And thus it begins. The opening salvo of ‘The Usurper’ crashes into your consciousness, and Tom G. Warrior’s troll-like grunt calls you to stand with him upon the scorched, hallowed ground that is To Mega Therion, the Frost’s crowning glory.
This album was ground-breaking on several levels. There had surely never before been an extreme metal work that displayed such a grandiose, unified vision. The epic artwork by H.R. Giger, the bombastic horns and Gothic female vocals, and the unrelenting bludgeoning of the riff and drum assault combine to form an experience that feels somehow closer to a Shostakovich symphony than the work of an underground metal band. From the blistering ‘Jewel Throne’, through the classic ‘Circle of the Tyrants’ and the bruising ‘Fainted Eyes’, there is no let up until the goblins descend for the instrumental ‘Tears in a Prophet’s Dream’.
All in all, this album has remained heavy to this day, and is a masterpiece that foretold the move into avant-garde territory that lay ahead.
And reasons why they’re still blasting this incredible breakthrough album to this date.
Wow, what an experience it is just to be listening in a room that I would normally be doing my dish washing, being pulled back into my thoughts, I never considered before the shear darkness filled my lungs as I felt clam, a pulsing sensation had me wishing I was there at the recording studio and saying “f**k yes”.
Our favourite track is: Jewel Throne
Into The Pandemonium (1987)
Very unique mastering the sound of chaos, darkness and a plague of dissected bodies of a Viking battle. Hell has now opened its gates to the listener, treating them to a sound guaranteed to make your ears bleed. This is truly something special and I’m still trying to find an answer for my preferred song, as I am implied simply to listen and soak it all in.
Favourite track: I Won’t Dance
The title of this album signalled Celtic Frost’s ambition to continue to introduce more new sounds and visions into the metal pantheon, an experiment that mostly works in their favour – just beware some of the bizarre moaning and groaning vocals. After a strange but enjoyable cover of a new wave track, ‘Mexican Radio’, the Frost show they haven’t lost their touch with the crushing ‘Inner Sanctum’. The experiment then continues with the haunting violins of ‘Tristesses de la Lune’, a setting of a poem by the French Symbolist poet Baudelaire. This album is infested with demons of many kinds, several of whom inhabit the twisted reality of ’Caress Into Oblivion’. However, the furthest limits of the experiment happen on ‘Rex Irae (Requiem)’, a grand symphony of gothic metal and classical music.
Favourite track: ‘Rex Irae (Requiem)’
Vanity / Nemesis (1990)
As an awesome comeback album, although back in the day I was still listing to Michael Jackson and obeying my mother’s wishes to not head-bang to this music in the old living room. I was 12 when this album came out and by this time there were more elements within their repertoire, with a revised line-up their old sound was back, with a very good cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ in their grinding metal style combining a Gothic tone with Thrash. An album that refused to succumb to the 90s grunge music movement that was already in its early stages by this point. Elements of Celtic Frost’s work have influenced and can be attributed to bands like Paradise Lost, Neurosis, Nirvana the list goes on.
At the time of release, the band were trying to cope with the backlash of their previous release ‘Cold Lake’ and they almost broke up after receiving negative reactions from fans and Tom Warrior himself looking back and hating that album. But Tom had balls to stand up and let the band just go for it, being quoted as saying (ref. Cold Lake) “screw that album”.
After the musical holiday to Hollywood of the last album, it was only a short trip down the road to find the next location for the Frost sound: the Bay Area. Coming blazing out of the gates from the first track ‘The Heart Beneath’, the band clearly wanted to restore some metal cred with this one, giving it a sound reminiscent of Ride The Lightning-era Metallica. It wouldn’t be a Celtic Frost album without a curve-ball though, and the Bryan Ferry cover comes out of nowhere and takes away the momentum. It picks up again after that, with the second half of the album getting even more furious.
Favourite Track: ‘Nemesis’
Round-up with The Ram and Adam
“If there was a god on his throne and he had the chance to rule the world with an iron fist and an extreme metal band, this band should be it. I know they might come back, but without a doubt, Tom G and his fellow band mates need to follow the silver lining and make one more album just for the shear fun of it, especially for a band that has so evidently paved the way for many bands, a band that did what they wanted to do and a band for whom stuck to their word though thick and thin, regardless of the pressures placed on them, This is the band that we like to listen to every day and hold in our hearts and minds forever.
Release Date: Out Now
Label: BMG / Noise Records
Band Website: celticfrost.com