Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return (Noise) 1984/1985
1. "Human" (:30)
Several versions of this exist. The best one, however, is the 1999 Noise remaster. Not only does it return the original song order and mixes but unlike past versions, the band had a hand in the remastering and the new liner notes so there are no mistakes. According to the notes, the band asked to have these released on cd in the 1985 but their record company felt there wasn't a market. Once they figured out that Celtic Frost was gaining acceptance and that there was a buck to be made, they released "Morbid Tales" and a remixed version of the "Emporer's Return" ep. Apparently Thomas Warrior was not happy with this and insisted on another re-issue. Not until '99 did this happen. Tracks 10-12 on this version appear in the unreleased original mixes. Gotta say, this has nice packaging with tons of photos, lyrics, and excellent liner notes. Contrary to popular opinion, I think Frost improved with time, so this is NOT my favorite disc in their catalogue. In black metal circles I suppose I just committed blasphemy. For more blasphemy, read my reviews of "Cold Lake" and "Vanity/Nemesis." Yes, I am one of the few who LIKE these albums! (-:
Celtic Frost’s second full length studio release is a killer experi-METAL album. The album cover is a depiction of hell, giving an indication of the dark, ominous sound the album is built upon. Each song is as heavy as the next, packed full of dark imagery and menacing tones to convey their message of doom. The CD opens with a fantastic and utterly heavy version of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio". As with past albums, the song is brought to life by crunchy guitar tones and Tom G. Warrior's gritty vocals. "Tristesses de la Lune" is an eerie orchestral interlude with female vocals. I believe the song is French for "Sorrows of the Moon". "Mesmerized" and "Babylon Falls” are a full on metal-thrashing-mad Frost classics. "One With their Pride" is one of the more experimental numbers on the album and brings in an almost techno feel. Metal blasphemy? Absolutely, but Frost wouldn't have it any other way. Like it or not, the song gets stuck in your head like glue..."Return safely to earth, return safely to earth". "I Won't Dance" was my theme song for many years as I hate dancing! The song, however, was as about as commercial as the band had been to this point and was an indication of the direction they would take, though most didn't recognize it at the time. Still, it's a heavy song with a great melody and an undeniable, indelible hook. Tom's vocals throughout are raspy and laced with pure agony. Of course the occasional grunt, UHG!, is one of his trademarks. Overall, the album is pretty experimental in nature and has it's avant-garde moments but it still rooted in traditional heavy metal and sounds like a natural progression from "To Mega Therion".
OK, no Celtic Frost fan alive in 1988 would admit they liked this obvious attempt at glam, pop metal. I mean what was up with the puffy Poison hair cuts, the pink lighting, the "check out my hairless chest" outfits? Curtis Victor Bryant and Oliver Amber looked like modeling school rejects. Was this the death of one of the original dark, gothic metal bands? This wasn't what the band had promised as their next studio effort. Well, to tell the truth, while everybody, including myself, was mocking this album, I was secretly rocking it in my car at maximum levels. Perhaps it was not the Celtic Frost that we all loved, nor was it what we were hoping for, but it was still a decent melodic metal disc. (Oh wait, did I admit that out loud?)
Celtic Frost - Vanity/Nemesis (Noise) 1990
"Vanity/Nemesis" was Celtic Frost attempting to redeem themselves from the pop metal travesty of "Cold Lake". While the album is more of a speed metal album, there are still hints of the last album as well. The band manages to mix an aggressive metal sound while retaining melody and some great hook. I absolutely love this album, and despite popular opinion, it is my favorite Celtic Frost album. "The Heart Beneath" is an incredibly heavy song. "Wings of Solitude" is another standout track. "Heroes" is a David Bowie cover.
Celtic Frost - 1984-1992: Parched with Thirst and I Am Dying (Noise) 1992
"Parched" is collection of remixed tracks and rare/unreleased songs. The remixed and re-recorded version of the "Cold Lake" songs are better, and far heavier, than the originals.
Celtic Frost - Monotheist (Century Media) 2006
Celtic Frost has been absent from the metal world since 1992 and "Monotheist" is the band's hailed reunion disc after over 13 years. Returning this time around is band leader Tom Gabriel "Warrior" Fischer and bassist Martin Ain, along with drummer Franco Sesa. I held off picking this one up for a couple months after it's release but finally picked up the limited edition deluxe digipack after the band's tour took them through my neck of the woods. I then held off reviewing the album for a while as it became immediately apparent that "Monotheist" was a grower and not one of those albums that will bowl you over on the first listen. Reviews have been mostly favorable, with words like "masterpiece" and "awesome" as the headlights. One review I read on Amazon.com even stated, "one of the best metal albums ever made! " However, despite all of the glowing reviews and hype leading up to Celtic Frost's comeback and their first album in 13 years, "Monotheist" is not all that it is hyped up to be. It's certainly not a bad album, but it's not nearly as good as the hype either. The album is chock full of slow, heavy and down-tuned guitar riffs. Personally, I found the muddy, ultra-down-tuned, modern guitar sound a bit disappointing. I would describe the songs mostly as doom metal with some chuggy, memorable guitar riffs, with a bunch of ambient, industrial, gothic and experimental elements scattered throughout. It's almost as if Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus traded in their keyboards, cranked up the guitar amps and started playing doom metal. Celtic Frost have never been afraid of experimenting. Most certainly, this is the darkest and most menacing Frost release yet. Not unlike past releases, the use of female gothic vocals are used in "Drown in Ashes" quite well. This is actually one of the more immediately likable tracks on the disc, as is the heavy opener "Progeny". "Progeny" even reminds me a bit of Hellhammer. "Os Abysmi Vel Daath" translated into English means Only Death Is Real and is a continuation of the Hellhammer references throughout the album. "Totengott" is the first part of a trilogy that ends the album. The dark vocals remind me of something you might hear from Dimmu Borgir. "Synagoga Satanae" is a 14-minute doom metal piece that is decent, but gets a bit boring at times. "Winter" is a melancholy, orchestral instrumental that ends the disc. As might be expected from CF, the anti-Christian themes run deep here. While the lyrics are poetic and well written, the theme of the day here seems to be the same old anti-religion theme. Overall, I did find much to like about "Monotheist", but I also don't think it ranks at the top of the Frost catalog. Personally, I like "Vanity/Nemesis" better and most other fans seem to dislike that album.
Also see: Hellhammer