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Well, well, well...Celtic Frost's worst album, the rocker "Cold Lake". This album is Celtic Frost's worst experiment, but is it as bad as everyone says it is? Well...This album should not have been released by the mighty Celtic Frost. It should have been made as a side project, because this album really does not deserve to brand the Celtic Frost name. The band is not even thrilled with this album, which is why it is no longer in print or available to fans for purchase, unless you're willing to shell out one hundred dollars on eBay. Oh, the 1980's were both a fantastic time for metal, as well as a terrible time for metal. While CF's albums prior to this one showcase the excellence of the 80's metal scene, this one showcases the tragic aspect of it. Thrash and early death/black metal plagued the band's previous albums, making them all classics. This album, however, took a turn down the glam metal/hard rock sound and definitely steered the band in the wrong direction. Now, is this album all bad? No, actually.
This album, as mentioned previously, should not have branded the Celtic Frost name. Because it does, however, it had standards to live up to. "Morbid Tales", "To Mega Therion", and the experimental yet very interesting "Into the Pandemonium" are classic albums, all necessary listens for anyone who is trying to, or already does, listen to extreme metal. They all influenced the then-burgeoning first-wave black and early death metal scenes, but are also considered classics in the underground thrash metal scene. This album came out only one year after "Into the Pandemonium", so I imagine Celtic Frost fans were very excited about new CF music...until they popped the disk into their walkmans. They were treated to some type of radio-friendly metal that sounded like a more musically capable version of Twisted Sister or White Lion, but with more bite and slightly more aggression. I can just imagine the look on some of their faces...too bad I wasn't born until 1994, otherwise, I would have been right there with them. It takes a few listens to even appreciate this album as a decent hard rock album, because if this was released by some other less extreme band, it would probably have been highly regarded as one of the few albums in the glam genre that doesn't totally suck.
The guitar work on this album is actually pretty fun at times. There are plenty of good solos to go around, and this is one thing Celtic Frost has pretty much been good at their entire career. It doesn't really matter which album you listen to, with Celtic Frost, you're going to get amazing guitar work at best, and listenable guitar work at worst. This is their worst, so it's listenable most of the times, and also good at times. Take the guitar solos in "Seduce Me Tonight" (which is otherwise a very stupid song), "Petty Obsession", "Cherry Orchards", "Little Velvet", and "Dance Sleazy" (also a very stupid song otherwise). Those solos kick a ton of ass, and are easily the best moments on the entire album. The guitar work in "(Once) They Were Eagles" should be noted, too, as it is very groovy, especially in the intro. It is probably the most thrashy song on the album. This song does have a pretty cool solo in it as well. The guitar work is the best part of the album, and is usually not what Celtic Frost fans generally complain about when talking (or ranting, rather) about this album. "Downtown Hanoi" features some more good riffage, although it sounds like it could be on the radio, easily, which is one of my problems with this album. While the guitar work is actually cool most of the time, the sound overall is very commercial. What happened to the rawness of "Morbid Tales" and the experimental complexity of "Into the Pandemonium"?! Well...they wanted to be cool. So, they decided to be cool? Oh well, the guitar work is definitely somewhat of a highlight of the album, if not the only real highlight.
The drums are just generic. In fact, it seems like Stephen Priestly, who only played on two full-lengths with Celtic Frost, one being this one and the other being "Vanity/Nemesis" released in 1990, just played the same drumline throughout most of the album's duration. He is not playing the thrashy drums that Reed St. Mark played when he was in the band. Instead, he plays in a style that 1990's Metallica would use: simplistic drumming with no double bass or blast beats. Now, for what the style of music this album has, this style of drumming does its justice. Blast beats on a glam metal albums would sound like shit. They would be out of place and messy. So, if you came to this album for spectacular drumming, look away. If you wanted blast beats, double bass, d-beat, or any other style of drumming that comes with thrash metal, you won't find it here. The drumming is so simple, I am actually capable of playing it. And I don't consider myself a drummer, at all. The bass is not even audible so it's not worth talking about.
Now....here we get to the worst part of the whole fucking album: the vocals. Or the "singing" or whatever the heck you want to call it. It's pretty bad, though. I don't know what Mr. Tom G. Warrior was thinking. Well...he obviously wasn't thinking clearly, because he let this album be released, but in all seriousness, this is his worst vocal job in the band's entire career. I'll be honest, I love Celtic Frost, always have and always will, but Warrior was never my favourite vocalist. Sure, he's good at what he does (except for this album) but there are definitely better vocalists out there. The vocals on this album sound very whiny at times, with the songs "Little Velvet" and "Dance Sleazy" in particular. However no matter how whiny the vocal performance on those songs are, "Downtown Hanoi" is his worst on the album. Just the way he says "Downtown Hanoi" irritates me. It's awkward and cheesy. If it weren't for the decent guitars on this album, the vocals would overshadow the guitars more than they do already and the album would be a lot worse. The lyrics are also downright stupid. See "Seduce Me Tonight" for example. I mean...really? The entire album's lyrical content is similar to that of Motley Crue's.
So basically, what we have here is something different from Celtic Frost, and while there is a silver lining in the form of guitar work, the albums is overall listenable at best, generic, average, nothing special at all...etc. If you want to get into Celtic Frost, check out their "Morbid Tales" album first.
Guitar work, particularly solos
The drums work for the style of music
Vocals aren't that good
While the drums work fine, they are generic
It takes too much influence from glam metal
Too much of a drastic change from their evil thrash sound of old
Not enough variation