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Ahh, yesss, Celtic Frost! One of my very favorite bands from "back in the day", and this album reigns supreme like few others do. With its unique and disturbing vibe, this is Tom G. and friends at their heaviest and most uncompromisingly "kvlt". Before that term even came into play, even.
First of all, this is THE most evil, ugly, saturated wall of guitar noise EVAR. Few have even come close to even *trying* to clone it, the only person I kow of successfully doing so 100% being Trevor Peres (Obituary), and Sammy Duet of Goatwhore comes mighty close, too. It is what I model my personal guitar sound after when I play guitar, second only to "RIB"-era Slayer. It is Death personified, and the riffage that Tom spews out from start to finish is simply godhead, from the first charging riff of "Into The Crypts of Rays" to the last proto-speed metal riff in the title track.
His vocals are at their most guttural and distorted on this album, too--this is long before he got it into his head he could sing (he can't; sorry, Tom, but you just can't hang). Creepy occult lyrics left and right only add to the mysterious and sinister aura surrounding this album--it's like a template for Bathory, but with far better English and a slightly more artsy slant to the proceedings to set it apart from the average bands of that era.
Bassist Martin Ain (who actually wrote much of the lyrics due to his superior command of the language, if memory serves correctly) has a thick, bottomy tone that underpins that guitar onslaught perfectly, and Stephen Priestly is a master drummer, playing the right parts at the right times with impeccable timing and precision. The drums are a bit muffled for my taste, however, in the mix, but what else do you expect for 1984?
This album features some of the most overcovered tunes in metal history; "Into The Crypts of Rays", "Procreation Of The Wicked" (gotta love Tom's accent and how he makes that last word sound like "Pro-creation uv de WICK-ETT!"), and of course "Dethroned Emperor". It's not Tom's fault that those songs feature some of his most amazing riffing, whether it be "Crypts" and its merciless speedroar, "Procreation" with its groaning Sabbathy verse parts, or "Dethroned Emperor" and its fairly obvious ripoff of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?". The rest of the album holds up and how as well, with the likes of "Morbid Tales" (proto-speed metal, as previously mentioned) and "Visions of Mortality", which builds from a doomy beginning to a thrash extravaganza that devastates all in its path.
If you don't own this classic album in some form, you just are not metal. There, I said it.