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A classic all its own. - 93%

reignmaster, August 21st, 2009

It is a very sad fact that when certain non-informed metal fans are asked about Celtic Frost's second EP "Emperor's Return", the collective response is a very loud and infuriating "What?"
While that response may cause true metallers to tear their hair out in frustration, cooler heads will find it quite understandable. After all, "Emperor's Return" was often released in tandem with "Morbid Tales", therefore fusing them into one album. However, it should be noted that this second EP by itself is a standout contender. While it may not have the instant classic status of "Morbid Tales", "Emperor's Return" is still able to capture its fair share of attention.

The music itself is done in the traditional early Celtic Frost style, which means a plethora of crushingly heavy riffs mixed with faster guitar work. Opener "Dethroned Emperor" is about as heavy as Celtic Frost ever got. From the opening riff to the guitar solo to Tom Warrior's sinister vocals, this song encapsulates Celtic Frost like few others do. "Circle of the Tyrants" provides a bit more variety but is ultimately eclipsed by its slightly longer (and better) version on "To Mega Therion". Still a good example of how songs evolve over time.

It is strange to see the song "Morbid Tales" on "Emperor's Return", especially when that song was not on the original pressing of the "Morbid Tales" EP. Despite this anomaly, the song rages, and includes that classic line (Are you morbid?) "Suicidal Winds" and "Visual Aggression" also follow the same blueprint of downtuned thrash with catchy riffs.

"Emperor's Return" is essential Celtic Frost despite its obscurity when compared to titans like "Morbid Tales" and "To Mega Therion". The music is first-rate and a must have for any CF fan, whether die-hard or casual.