Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Morbid - 75%

Felix 1666, March 22nd, 2018

I don't exactly know why, but to me it always seemed as if "Emperor's Return" was doomed to live a tough life in the shadow of "Morbid Tales". Maybe the shock effect of the first EP could not be created again. Okay, already Hellhammer had attacked with uttermost ugliness, but only after the change of name, Tom G. Warrior and his partners in crime (rest in peace, Martin E. Ain) received bigger attention. Moreover, the ridiculous artwork was not helpful in order to promote the EP. Anyway, "Emperor's Return" marks a very solid work. In hindsight, it can be understood as the logical link between "Morbid Tales" and "To Mega Therion", because it combines elements of both outputs. It's not as raw as "Morbid Tales" and it does not possess the opulence of tracks such as "Necromantical Screams" from their first full-length. Nevertheless, five regular tracks form a compact unit and the listener is not confronted with weird experiments like "Danse Macabre" or "Tear in a Prophet's Dream".

The most popular track is certainly "Circle of the Tyrants" due to its brutal yet catchy main riff and additionally in view of the fact that this roughshod anthem was also part of the following album. Here we have the slightly weaker version with some dubious voice effects, but there can be no question that exactly songs like this one are the reason why Hellhammer / Celtic Frost became such an influential formation for later generations of metal musicians. It connects bitterness with desperation and darkness while its musical frame finds the balance between accessibility and excitement. However, I admit that I prefer "Morbid Tales" (the track), because its dynamic and almost smooth up-tempo parts impress me. The screams of Warrior prove evidence that he can say more than just "Ugh" and he asks the mother of all questions: "Are you morbid?" Well, guess I have to add a "yes" here.

But the band itself is definitely more morbid. The ironclad, heavyweight guitars deliver some very degenerated tones and it comes as no surprise that thousands of death and black metal standard-bearers refer to the Swiss trio when it comes to their inspiration. Celtic Frost's early works satisfy the needs of both sides. Of course, don't expect filigree contours. It's a very rumbling approach that they offer, but exactly the non-perfect production lends the EP an authentic touch. The cold lake was still light years away and even the avant-garde sounds of "Into the Pandemonium" did not yet play a role. Celtic Frost were raw, honest and headstrong. In particular the stubborn solos mirrored the very individual demeanor of the three dudes. In my humble opinion, it was to their advantage that they had grown up in a very isolated surrounding where external influences were rare. No doubt, albeit "Emperor's Return" does not mark a milestone in the history of the band, it reflects the innovative strength and the originality of the legend very well.