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If Morbid Tales was Celtic Frost cementing their place in the post-Hellhammer world as a legitimate outfit with a deathly splattering of depraved thrashing extremity, To Mega Therion was the moment they really threw down the gauntlet to every other band who had the audacity to call themselves “heavy”. Go to your collection of 1980s thrash classics, and pick out all the ones that start with a monolithic doom riff backed by timpani and horns. Not many, is it? If the metal world hadn’t quite got it into its collective brain yet that Celtic Frost were a force of unnatural strength (which they should have considering what had come before), they were about to.
Aforementioned timpani and horn doom intro Innocence and Wrath opens up with a level of grandiose malevolence quite unlike anything else, the listener aurally tumbling into a deep chasm, a pit impossibly vast and impenetrably black. It’s bombastic and pompous but doesn’t come across as contrived or pretentious; instead it’s a portal to somewhere bleak. Then The Usurper clatters into view and the pit explodes into fire. To Mega Therion, Celtic Frost’s debut full-length (or sophomore depending on how you view the confusing state of Morbid Tales), is arguably the heaviest of the great iconic thrash albums, being overtaken by Reign In Blood and plenty of others in terms of sheer speed and face-melting intensity but ruling high and proud over those in otherworldly horror and diabolical depth. Throughout the fourty minute run-time, it’s scary, ball-crushingly heavy, and constantly brilliant.
Celtic Frost had always been unique from the rest of the thrash scene to the point where to pigeonhole them into that movement, fantastic as it was, seemed to be selling them short a bit and something of an injustice. All kinds of reasons bubble forth from within their music to show why but one clear one is the Black Sabbath influence and their position as thrash’s purveyors of doom. Slayer would slice through skin like it was nothing with their frantic assault and hyperactive songs; Celtic Frost would peel it off slowly and painfully through Tom G. Warrior’s nefarious riffs, prolonging the agony before switching into a more fast-paced punch to the gut to spice up the torment. The instrumentation may be simple but boy is it effective, sounding more twisted and dripping with wickedness than pretty much anything else.
The production was a big step-up from previous material, playing no small part in this record’s malevolent feel. Great as they are, Hellhammer’s demos and Morbid Tales sound like a bunch of guys in a room making some evil music. With To Mega Therion though, the evil music becomes them, transcending their mere humanity. The production remains raw, the guitar tone oozing malicious intent, but instead of thin it sounds massive and expansive. Riffs echo and squeeze every last drop of essence from themselves, Warrior evolves his bark into that of a vicious tyrant lording over proceedings as well as perfecting his trademark “UNGH”, and the addition of those horns and timpani goes to make the sound that much bigger. Vicious anthems like The Usurper and Circle of the Tyrants batter and engrave their mark on the listener making it clear that Frost could be as metal and hard-hitting as anyone else, while other moments showed just how creatively vital they could be. Taking a leaf out of the Morbid Tales book, To Mega Therion features another ambient instrumental which this time goes for a more subtle horror approach than the outright terror of the previous release’s Danse Macabre, and this leads directly into the supreme closer Necromantical Screams, complete with chilling and alarming female operatic vocals behind Warrior’s snarl.
Celtic Frost immediately stopped being just “Venom meets Sabbath”. Their combination of metallic fury and overwhelming atmosphere on To Mega Therion saw them become the absolute masters of the void within music. It’s fitting that this was the first of a number of Tom G. Warrior-spearheaded albums to receive a HR Giger cover; it was the first to truly transcend, go somewhere dark and master it. An essential thrash classic while altogether something totally separate, To Mega Therion is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Originally written for soundandmotionmag.com
If Celtic Frost's early EPs represented a dark dungeon of forsaken pleasures, then To Mega Therion must be the opulent obsidian stronghold which covers it; the bastion of utter darkness from which its perverse overlord metes his reign upon the surrounding realms. Heavier, more consistent and more riff laden than either of its terse predecessors, it's essentially the pinnacle of creation for one of the most innovative metal acts of the 90s, ushering in an entirely new domain of exotic atmospheres and hinting at myriad possibilities for further exploration. We know in retrospect that several of its future fluctuations would succeed more than others, but To Mega Therion added a fresh, coherent sheen of midnight to not only the band's own morbid legacy, but to extreme metal in general. An opaque veil that has yet to be lifted.
Beyond this, To Mega Therion is an album I also hold dear due to its influence upon my own development on my second (and later primary) instrument, the guitar. Officially, I was studying under an instructor who thankfully customized his lessons towards my taste through a lot of hard rock tunes (Dokken, Scorpions etc), and a brief conceit to teach me "Jump in the Fire"; but in the company of my 13 year old thoughts, with an old Peavey amp in the basement and a mutant Kramer Striker, I was plugging away to the inspiration of Celtic Frost, among a few others. The slower chugging and expressive but simple power chord patterns used in Tom G. Warrior's composition provided the perfect initiation to novice thrashing. Simple to ascertain and execute with standard tuning, and heavier than most terrestrial planets, To Mega Therion was an infallible seduction to a darker musical sphere, and I can't be alone in thinking this: countless thrash, heavy, doom, black and death metal bands over the course of decades would use its content as an aesthetic blueprint for their varied careers.
Stylistically, the lion's share of the material written for the full-length does not deviate greatly from Morbid Tales and Emperor's Return. Or for that matter, Hellhammer. The focus is far greater on slower, crushing numbers in the vein of "Procreation (of the Wicked)", "Return to the Eve" and such than the hardcore-infused punk riffing prevalent on several of the EP tracks, but you can still clearly here the roots from which the Swiss legends sprung, and many of the chord patterns found on cuts like "Jewel Throne", "Eternal Summer" and "Dawn of Megiddo" clearly reflect the same balance of punctilious, primal composition with eloquent lyrical despair. Celtic Frost was always been a band aware of its technical boundaries, as far as musical ability. They weren't forcing the borders of the genre so much as their German and Bay Area contemporaries, but they took what they had and made it work, conjuring aggression through the atmosphere that the thick picking implied, to compensate for this general lack of speed...
What this album might lack in machine gun drumming and complex string wizardry, it more than makes up for in its several brilliant decisions to incorporate orchestration via the use of a French horn (Wolf Bender), shrill operatic female vocals (Claudia-Maria Mokri) and Reed St. Mark banging on a timpani in addition to his normal kit. The intro piece, "Innocence and Wrath" feels like a European answer to the classic Godzilla theme, and it's no accident: the piece instantly sets a mood for the remainder of the track list, and when the general motif returns in "Dawn of Megiddo", or culminates in the operatic chorus to "Necromantical Screams", the whole of To Mega Therion is bound together in a pervasive, drowning and depressive atmosphere that to its day was incredibly novel and immediately unforgettable. I can't say that I love all of the sparse female shrieks throughout the album. They often grate a fraction more than intended. But how many Gothic, doom and black metal bands today rely so heavily this technique in their 'beauty and the beast' interplay?
Despite its deathly demeanor, which arguably peaks in the doomed gait of "Dawn of Megiddo", To Mega Therion is not an album lacking in puerile, rampant energy. Tracks like "Jewel Throne" and "Fainted Eyes" are rife with primordial, thrashing energy and intense grooves anchored by St. Mark's muscular throughput. I'm not trying to advocate for the jock mosh sect, which has transformed through the decades from an innocent and mutual release of testosterone to alpha male preening, but if you can't sway your fists (or at least your head) to the riff set of "Jewel Throne", it's likely you just hate thrash metal. Walk away, man. Just walk away. To boot, this is one of the tracks which accelerates itself, culminating in some of the punk pacing of their earlier releases. "Circle of the Tyrants" was also drafted to this album from the Emperor's Return EP, and while I have maintained a slight preference towards the original, the brighter, raw treatment here fits well into its neighbors. Another example of how the album can shelf its weighty Gothic atmosphere to flex some brute strength at the audience. Yet another: Dominic Steiner's loud bass chords during "Necromantical Screams".
Tom's vocals are superb here, and arguably the best they've ever felt on any of the full-lengths. Dark, tense, and cumbersome, his accent and timbre barking out the dark prose like the noblest of savages. An exception might be the bonus studio jam "Return of the Eve", on which the vocals are so heavily effected that they can feel as silly as they are charming, but this was not a core component of the original album and thus easily brushed off. What's more, the lyrics retain the serious nature of the earlier works. Slayer was singing about Satan and psycho killers, Venom about Satan and cocaine, Destruction about Satan and the meat packing industry, but there was something so ominous, grandiose and mature about Celtic Frost's paeans to avarice, pride, and the lessons inherent in the occult and mythology. The sequential, conceptual bindings of "The Usurper", "Jewel Throne" are also interesting. Once again, a huge source of inspiration, this time for tens of thousands of black metal bands to follow (notably Emperor and the earlier Darkthrone canon).
All this aside, I must admit that I have never found The Mega Therion to be the most flawless of jewels. A huge part of this is that I don't really care for the instrumental "Tears in a Prophet's Dream", an electro/ritual/ambient track which feels even less coherent than "Danse Macabre" on the Morbid Tales EP. It's not that I don't appreciate Celtic Frost's desire to experiment, but the random bass chortling, percussion and goofy wails here have always conspired to take me straight out of the experience. It seems like they threw it together and placed it on the album just because 'they could' rather than to pursue an honest artistic abstraction from the metal surroundings. Thankfully, the track that follows "Necromantical Screams" is so damned good, or "Tears..." would seem even more of a souring anticlimax. Otherwise, a few of the shrill vocals and the fact that "Circle of the Tyrants" feels mildly redundant being here would be the only nitpicks I could launch against this timeless behemoth, and for the latter...I will begrudgingly admit that, as one of their best songs, it belonged on a full-length so more could hear it.
Coverage of this staggering monstrosity could never be complete without a nod to the choice in cover art. Though Geiger's Satan I had been originally conceived in the 70s, it was the perfect match for Frost's ungodly lyrical explorations. The cynical, sacrilege of its imagery would prove iconic to generations of metal fans, atheists, occultists, and it was also nice of Warrior to 'keep it in the family' (aka country) by collaborating with the Swiss surrealist. What's more, it to me represents that Celtic Frost wanted to hint at a wider range of classicism and art beyond the metal spectrum, almost as if they were prompting the audience to smarten up, expand ourselves and look further into other fields of depth and vision (a tactic they'd repeat with the use of the Hieronymous Bosch painting for Into the Pandemonium). I'm sure for many of us, it worked. By extension, so does the album. As grim an enlightenment as nearly anything that came out of this formative, important period in aural extremes, and in my opinion, one of the best Swiss works in the entire genre (excepting only Coroner's 1988-89 masterworks and Samael's underrated Passage, all of which are of course either related to or directly inspired by this very band).
Celtic Frost's second album is nothing short of a masterpiece considering it was their first full-length LP if you don't count the fact that "Morbid Tales" was only an E.P. that was re-issued with the classic "Emperor's Return" E.P. in order to make it seem like a full-length LP. In fact it's nothing short of brilliant; the musical equivalent of Conan the Barbarian. An ancient warrior in a distant land taking everything with might, power, and projecting fear and respect to all whom cross it's path. Basically this is Celtic Frost at their finest. Yeah this may be argumented amongst other metal fans but it's almost like saying which of the first 3 Venom or Bathory albums are the best? Celtic Frost were one of those bands that gave birth to a genre and their first few burnt offerings to it's bestial summoning were nothing short of a combination of energy, youth, testosterone, and the mischievous dabblings with the dark side.
First off: the artwork. Celtic Frost always had an eye for something that would stand-out and make their records matter in the eyes of metal heads. Regardless of what you might think of the music in it's brutal simplicity....they knew what artwork meant. I mean; heptagrams, H.R. Giger, Hieronymus Bosch, demons, skulls. "Le childish satanic musings. You do not know art young child. Come and listen to more sophisticated modern-day music for 20-something year olds who have ironic French mustaches and smoke cheap cigarettes that your grandfather even found appalling back in the day." Fuck off. Go listen to Owl City or some shit like that. I say give me more heptagrams, H.R. Giger, etc.etc. A nasty looking rusted green and white demon with skull-faced snakes and black crosses surrounded it while holding the figure of Jesus in a mocking and ironic way like a slingshot? The great beast it just might not be, but the audio essence of youth gone wild and still rebelling for all it's worth. Brilliant.
Sound wise this is more more clearer than "Morbid Tales" and almost rawer than that as well. Again, there's a reason why I pick this over "Morbid Tales" as far as the DEFINITE Celtic Frost album to own in your music collection. Even with a clearer sound, Celtic frost have retained that rawness of their unique mid-paced Sabbath/blackened-thrashing-doom guitar tone from fucking hell, and made it much more razor sharp on "To Mega Therion." For 1985, this is fucking extreme. It still IS extreme, but I'm talking specifically for that year. Yes 1985 also had "Seven Churches", and "Infernal Overkill," but those were more based on speed. Celtic frost, again, were more about the blow behind the punch. And the blow pretty much blew every all the metal out of their fan's heads that year.....still to this day.
Then there are the songs themselves. They have them. Lots of 'em. The intro "Innocence & Wrath" is exactly what I was saying about youth, energy, testosterone and Connan The Barbarian? Yeah, that's the epic-like intro intoducing the gladiators before they step into the ring, or announcing the Hunns coming out of the cave. You have glorious tales such as "Jewel Throne" wtih that main chugging downtuned riff from hell, the always classic and seizure-inducing "Circle of The Tyrants" which calls to the likes of Genghis Khan, and the chilling/freezing "Necromantical Screams." Then there are others songs which is what made Celtic Frost such an entity in the Metal universe which what mades these songs come to life; songs like "Eternal Summer", "Dawn of Meggido", "(Beyond) the North Winds" where these are basic extensions and more colors to the pallet that gave their creations such a life of their own. Even though by the time their next album their music would start to reminiscent of the album artwork they put on their LP sleeves, for now this is simply one of the best examples of an album taking you out of your everyday situation and letting your mind drift to a world where it's pure dungeons and dragons in the best of ways. Even the other instrumental "Tears In A Prophet's Eyes" were not only what I just mentioned but also an excellent example of a band not backing down from the hunt and will to conquer uncharted territory. Even the lyrics to some of these songs are nothing short of inspiring:
"On days of northern wind, (past) illusions surround my dreams
Drops of mute oceans breath in the palm of my hand
The sound of silent waves still caresses all my thoughts
Where warm, mystic floods dominated the upper hemisphere" - "(Beyond) the Northern Winds"
or this little diddy:
"Once prayed to my gods, searching for the whistled memories
Empty eyes are staring now, to my feet a land of sorrow
I'm the king, sitting in the dark hiding from the shadows of the wind
Wafts of might, wine of fire, I was called to taste" - Jewel Throne
Tom G. Warrior and company weren't fucking around when it came to trying to give his fans something just to listen to, but to read into and again expanding their imaginations.
Much like the great Mongolian conqueror Genghis Khan, Celtic Frost's greatest good fortune came from chasing their enemy of mediocrity and anything that did not deliver heaviness. They seized Metal's slaves and possessed their minds with tales of victory and defeat, and they also left their followers weeping and wailing in the end..."To Mega Therion" is still to this day is like an everlasting shadow in the Metal universe.
There are some things I don't understand in the metal world and one of those things is the popularity and the high ratings of this record. Let's say that the debut album of the Swiss metal legend is not bad at all. It has its own style but the record is far from being a legendary milestone as there are too many similar filler tracks on the record. Celtic Frost play some technically well done blackened thrash here. Even though the artwork is great, the lyrics are intriguing and the sound quality is very underground, the band fails to establish a gripping atmosphere. In the black metal scene, the first works of "Bathory", "Emperor" or "Moonspell" sounded way more addicting, the death metal scene had some great potential with the first releases of "Death", "Therion" or "Amorphis" and the world of thrash has seen the great debut records of "Metallica", "Voivod" and "Overkill". Every of the mentioned records has more style and charm than the first steps of Celtic Frost no matter if those records came before or after this one. There is still a lot of potential in this record that is worth your time, patience and attention. I might underline that this is a very good and interesting album and surely an influential piece of metal music. But it is no masterpiece or milestone because it has too many mediocre parts next to the pure genius that can also be found in here.
With the great instrumental "Tears In A Prophet 's Dream" and the closing album highlight "Necromential Screams", the band proves us that they had the potential to create an atmospheric and gripping milestone. The songs are filled with great sound effects and a lot of black atmosphere. They have surely influenced some of the bands mentioned above without a doubt but they copied the pioneers in a more consistent way.
The problems don't start in the beginnings of the record though but can rather be found in the middle of the album. "Innocence And Wrath" is a great instrumental introductions that leads to a great straight opener called "The Usurper" that has a lot of diversity and energy at the same time.
But "Jewel Throne" has almost the same style as this song and may be a solid banger but nothing truly addicting and outstanding. The problem is that there are at least three or four other songs of that kind on the record that somewhat destroy the efforts of the more elaborated and atmospheric tracks. I may even include the overrated and well known "Circle Of The Tyrants" to that same mediocre category. They are great live tracks, have a lot of energy and some riff variation plus good though not excellent guitar solos. On the other hand, they don't nearly have the same of majesty as the opening and closing tracks as well as "Dawn of Meggido" and remain rather one-dimensional bangers with lots of rather ridicolous signature "Hey!" and "Uh!" shouts in most of those songs. One or two of them may be acceptable but there are a too much of them on this short album. Especially as they are almost all in one row and not placed between the more epic tracks to give us a break. Their is really a heavy downfall of quality in the middle of this album.
One of the hidden highlights on this record is the following "Dawn of Meggido" which is an atmospheric doom metal track that adds a lot of heart and soul to the album again and is easily one of my favourite tracks in here. The orchestral middle part is innovating and reminds me of brilliant horror movie scores. That's an element that would have fit to more songs on this record and would have add something special to the album.
That's why this album seems in the end quite schizophrenic to me. It is divided into atmospheric, majestic and innovating tracks one side and straight filler songs to bang your head to on the other side in quite equal parts. I really adore the first face of the band whiel the second one is not all bad but simply not as outstanding and engaging as many fans claim. In the end, this record is still an important album for three different metal genres and the innovating parts are truly inspiring and innovating. But as this level can't be kept on the length of the entire album, I would not call this record a masterpiece as it lacks of coherence in the end and I only truly enjoy about twenty of the fourty minutes in here. That's why I think the album is slightly overrated.
Within the maelstrom beyond the edge of the universe described within its lyrics, a blackened cosmic tryst between Uranus the sky god and a dark mattered succubus resulted in this illegitimate monster that no one would claim but the mighty but broken homed child Tom Warrior and his compatriots many eons later. Some even say that these two beings might be one in the same; the son without a father becomes his own father! And like the final Olympian grandchild of Uranus, they sought revenge against their ghost fathers for their sins. The beast, forced to bring itself up upon the frozen depths of starless space, eventually found its way to earth. It watched humanity devour itself and drew near the kindred darkness within our cursed hearts. Learning of what lay beyond death; it crystallized into this reminder, not unlike the golden record that sits within Voyager I and II, as something that summarizes our condemnation to the depths.
The words of Therion/Warrior speak of truly dark things, for they could know no other but such a truth. Towers fall to dust and man falls into flame. Nostalgia is erased as the deep sorrow and frailness of the old takes its place. The protagonists and antagonists both rot and tremble within their halls upon darkthrones. Even in their desire to know the unknowable and escape the endless curse of death and rebirth, they cannot resist the swiping pendulum that levels both monuments and solar bodies. Their dark armies pale and falter as the nightmares of prophets and the sorrow of dying elders reveal only approaching catastrophe. As the monster warns with staggering eloquence “for no one who knows tries to reappear” and seek to take part in the horror that they left behind.
The howls of despair and anger of the forsaken sons strike with hurricane force while human allies Reed St. Mark and Dominic Steiner channel such light-bereft doom into colossal and dusty rhythms. Warrior brings the potential of the electric guitar to fruition as purely blunt rhythmic weapon of war; battering and crashing down the gates of that which came before. Like mighty hammers crashing down upon dirty helmets in its slowest and most monolithic moments, it grinds the earth and stars beneath skeleton tank treads. At times we hear the sounds of battle that echo from deep within history, drums many times the size of any modern beast are beaten upon by dark stone giants. Huge battle horns bellow, reversing the flow of the wind. When the Usurper charges all hell breaks loose and we hear every stamping footstep and galloping hoof beating musical fury unheard of before those hallowed times. Like then thousand typhoons they crash against the grain of your mind.
When the cacophony subsides for a time to open the nightmares of aforementioned prophet, we see that under the ceaseless destruction the empathy and tears shed for the coming end. Sounds coaxed from the modern electronics gives us an idea of the horrors that drive such men to madness. The Original Child Bomb blasts while shocks of bass driven psychosis shred the minds of the survivors. Laughing human devils exceed their mythical counterparts with effortless glee. Chants of newly formed death cults bring forth hell’s inhabitants. Cries of pain and ecstasy mingle until they become inseparable from one another. How can one not share tears with this poor soul? And then the finale arrives, bringing another of life’s many shivers up your spine.
Many young people who came across the newly fossilized remains of the creature 25 years ago tried with varying levels of success to replicate it and pay blood tribute. They tried to build upon the crumbled suits of armor and tattered flags of memory; memories before the birth of all beings who came before. All in this upstart genre of human rejects and lost children. Countless worship the sounds of this record and the other works of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost and heeded the warnings. Some sought orthodoxy while others refined and pushed the remnants of the dark spawn further and further. Those who succeeded are in turn worshiped by the new heirs to the sound.
Following my forbearers, I, another acolyte in search of such texts and swarms of sound came to partake in its still fountain 20 years after its fossilization. It was far beyond anything my teenage ears had listened to until that time, even its precursor and herald Morbid Tales, in terms of extremity. Like those who seek out darker and deeper relics of the time before birth, I wanted to belong to something beyond what was expected of listeners of music. There would be no turning back after this point. The tides of steel are pulled by works like this one, along with the other great masters of the time. I feel moments of great joy when I hear the traces of this record in newer monuments to the sad monster and his human form, the chugging of crying battle engines and grunts of load bearing souls. True and intelligent poetry is to be found here. If you do not know, then you must.
I'll admit right away I've yet to see the film Citizen Kane, but every way in which I've heard it described, praised and criticized - as well as it's historic significance - correlates perfectly to C.F.'s masterpiece full length. Long, boring, monotonous, excessive, innovative, original, unique, genre-defining, classic. These are all adjectives that come to mind when discussing either work. The only real difference lies in the scope of each piece's influence. But is influencing the entire extreme metal world really that far from influencing the entire world of film? I like to think not.
With this album Tom G. and friends really refined the Celtic Frost sound. With these guys every album is like a new band, and I believe that's how Tom wanted it. While Morbid Tales (which I consider more an album than an ep) showed more avant-garde tendencies and thrashing than their previous work in Hellhammer, the raw, youthful and evil energy remained. All that happened was their songs were intricately structured and their musicianship was greatly honed. On "To Mega Therion" they left their youthful energetics behind and concentrated on furthering their art, and hence that of every extreme metal band to follow.
The crisp, clear production on this record gives the music a cold and crushing effect. In the intro you instantly hear that every instrument has piles of reverb on it. The guitar tone is less dirty than on "Tales" but much thicker and damn sludgy.
The opening instrumental feels like a great weight being dropped on you, that of all the world's pain and suffering. Once you've accepted this weight "The Usurper" knocks you flat on your back and begins dragging you on a tour through mankind's downfalls.
"Jewel Throne" shows the sorrow that comes with decadence and the rapid road to destruction it leads us on. The "Dawn of Meggido" is the apocalypse and with heavy fucking doom riffs and atmosphere the Frost paints the barren landscape for our obliteration. Flawless. "Eternal Summer" reminds us of buried kingdoms, one of which we've become. Top notch thrashing is had in the after-world and Tom's solo evokes the burning clouds he speaks of in the lyrics.
"Circle of Tyrants" kicks off side two by re-iterating that all is lost (in case the first five songs didn't give you that message). However, humans go on, in total ignorance of the past and rape of the earth and each other. This song makes you wonder if this album wasn't just Tom having a "heavy-ass song" writing competition with himself. "(Beyond) the North Winds" is a personal fave for that sweet opening riff and the, perhaps, more sublime lyrical content, with just enough nihilism on top. Did Tom even know what he was saying when he wrote "Fainted Eyes" ("the waters grow dumb"!)? It's a good thing this song is heavy as fuck too.
"Tears in a Prophet's Dream" keeps with the great tradition of freaky avant-garde ambient track right before the last song on the album. And what a song. I don't know about everyone else but the one thing that excited me most about getting this album was hearing "Necromantical Screams". I knew this had to contain riffs from "Buried and Forgotten", that crazy Hellhammer song. And this one so out does it! This was surely one of the heaviest. darkest, doom-i-est songs of '85. And just like everywhere else on the album, the use of female operatic vocals is wonderfully enhancing.
C.F. really took a more unique and direct tone on this album, dropping all occult imagery for their overwhelmingly bleak apocalyptic visions. Few albums have since captured these sentiments as poetically, if any.
The true beauty of Celtic Frost lay in their other-worldliness. It's very hard to believe that this stuff wasn't written/played by some grimacing sentient beings, like Lovecraft's "Older Ones". Or maybe just Lovecraft himself, although I highly doubt he could touch any riff Tom G. Warrior wrote.
Don't come to this looking for "Morbid Tales II", but DO NOT ignore this album. Thomas Gabriel Warrior was arguably the most important guitarist to extreme metal in his reign and this was his masterstroke. I'm certain that the Celts only got their Frost back on "Monotheist" from listening to their old records, this in particular. This album managed to write the rules for all black, death and doom metal to come without following any of them. Warrior saw heaviness as a momentous force in modern music and he never followed any trends because of this.
BUY OR DIE! and give "Into the Pandemonium" and "Vanity/Nemesis" a chance too.
"THE FROST, IT BITES! YOUR INNER HEART."
To Mega Therion, the first full length by Celtic Frost, a band whose influence and significance in the extreme metal scene no one can question or deny. Alongside bands like Slayer and Venom, their contribution to the genre is the most notable and cardinal.
It’s just amazing how anyone can come up with such acrimonious and apoplectic music and still not look dry or repetitive. Thomas Gabriel is a riff machine; he comes up with such demonic stuff and gives new tunes out like he’s running a shop. Another reason why this is not like those monotonous thrash albums is the frequent tempo fluctuations and alternations which help in capturing the essence and feel of this album. Not only has this pioneered thrash, death and black, its doomy sections are worth a mention as well.
The one minute opener is like a chilly warning for the storm of madness which follows it. It gives a glimpse of the dark and gloomy nature of this release. The sheer ferocity of their relentlessly violent yet artistic music manifests and exhibits their talent & competence. Every single song following the one minute “mood setter” is evidence of their skills and expertise. But the last track, Necromantical Screams, is the evilest of them all. You find yourself caught in the nefarious atmosphere, possessed by its power, obeying its orders, for it is a force so divine, you are worthless in front of it. All you can do, and all you should do, is follow it.
The words To Mega Therion translate from Greek to the great beast, which fits this kind of music perfectly as it has a huge, dark, and ominous sound, which became one of the most important albums in the history of metal, inspiring some of the best artists each of those genre’s most important artists like Nile, S.O.D, Dimmu Borgir, Sepultura, Emperor, Obituary, Gorgoroth and even Nirvana, to name but a few.
The sound created by the three band members of Celtic Frost is epic, showcasing some of the best musicianship in extreme metal. The drumming of Reed St Mark is especially impressive, a thundering blend of precision, strength which creates an immense, cavernous sound that really strengthens the effects of the vocals and guitar of Thomas Gabriel Warrior, who was the creative force behind Celtic Frost right from the beginning, and created some of the darkest, most original guitar riffs in metal. The bass of Dominic Steiner, who, although he only contributed bass on this album, was no doubt a big part of creating the monster sound of the three-piece. Altogether the three band members create a maelstrom of sound, blending slow, dark, doom metal riffs and fast thrash riffs to create one of the most incredible and instantly recognisable sounds in metal.
This album is a masterpiece of extreme metal and one that all fans of extreme metal should own.
With the revival of the Classic Goth/Thrash metal band Celtic Frost, we here at Heavy Metal Reviews thought it would be fitting to review their finest platter of music, To Mega Therion. Here you go!
To Mega Therion is a CLASSIC album if there ever was one. Casual thrash fans might find this album repetative, but those are the shallow/shit metal fans. This album delivers on crushing Slayer-esque blows and riffs that leave you wetting yourself again and again.
Tom Warrior's vocals are absolutely outstanding. They're the same type you'd expect from any Slayer album, but he sounds nothing like Tom Araya, if you can make that connection.
The album is heavy on gothic overtones aswell. Plenty of heavy, and I mean HEAVY thundering drums that seem to ring out into eternity. A couple Sabbath-esque riffs and Sab speed songs also keep you interested. The guitar sound is the exact same on all of the songs, but that just adds to Frost's signature sound.
Hard to believe this 3-piece band could put out such killer shit! (Then again, look at Motorhead, they're no slouches either!)
This truely is a classic and if you don't pick it up, you'll be missing out on one of the greatest thrash metal albums of the 80s. It ranks right up there with Master of Puppets (Metallica), The Legacy (Testament), Fabulous Disaster (Exodus), Peace Sells (Megadeth), and Reign in Blood (Slayer).
"To Mega Therion" remains one of the better doom-black styled albums of it's kind, though in many ways it is highly overrated. Celtic Frost never really captured the exciting nature of Hellhammer again, and while the "Morbid Tales" release did much to recreate their sound into a smoldering couldron of iron...something started to erode away with each album that Tom. G. Warrior and company started to release. Makes for a fun listen, but the idea begins to pile on with slight decay again and again. Celtic Frost were amazing when they were Hellhammer, they were good when they were Hellhammer light...and were simply OK once the typical "grunt-groan" style of CF turned into the somewhat-cliche that it is known by today.
The obvious highlights on the record are the classic "Circle of the Tyrants" (though it must be noted that this is a much older track redone), the slow-burn "Eternal Summer" and the slamming "Dawn of Megiddo". Most of the material is as good as this from afar, if not slightly less distinctive. While good for what it is, this hardly matches the rage and mood of the earlier material and one wonders if Tommy-boy has slipped into some kind of depressed haze that is casting a sense of disinterest into the actual performance/production of the songs. One can note, that this unique "sadness" dripping from the music may fuel it in some ways...but I am not really that in need of hearing a once-powerful band slowly lilt away. The songwriting here keeps the band afloat and doing what they did best...but I have to makr this down for the obvious signs of decay in the Celtic Frost concept.
Tom G. Warrior never found the balls he had in his earlier career and this was unfortunate. While this is a far from a failure and far from the terrible work that would be "Cold Lake"...but in the end it's a sign of an G's inspiration starting to wane. Good - but not great.
I say buy it...but be careful of each and every release that comes after it as the concept Celtic Frost was to decay with a somewhat disturbing speed. Tom G. Warrior slides this one out despite his seemingly subdued nature...and the overall effect