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Tragedy - 55%

Felix 1666, April 1st, 2017
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

The history of Celtic Frost (one of the most impressive band names of all times) is full of tragedies and "Cold Lake" is only the most obvious one. "Into the Pandemonium" stands as a synonym for a battle that the band could not win. Right from the beginning, Tom G. Warrior and his sidekicks were doomed to failure, because the concept of the album brought the band to its knees. This was no wonder in view of the circumstances of the recording session, because Noise Records had the phenomenal idea to interrupt the creative process in order to send the band on a tour with the multi-coloured nutcases called Anthrax. Furthermore, Noise owner Walterbach hated the new songs, Tom hated Walterbach, the band had asked in vain for another producer and everyone was against everyone. Only a well-oiled machine, a firm unit, could have mastered the challenging concept in view of these difficulties, but Celtic Frost were fighting on several fronts at the same time. "Damn the Machine - the Story of Noise Records", written by an American author, tells the whole story about the complicated relationship between the band and the record label from Berlin.

"To Mega Therion", the mighty predecessor of "Into the Pandemonium" had some fantastic innovative elements, but the here presented work goes many steps too far. Where is the mystic darkness, where is the occult heaviness, where is the overwhelming desolation? "Into the Pandemonium" meanders through different styles, from the airy "Mexican Radio" over the more or less commercial "I Won't Dance" to the senseless industrial / disco bastard "One in Their Pride" with its sterile and completely worthless hammering. Isn't this enormous variety wonderful? No, it isn't. It's just bullshit, although "I Won't Dance" has a certain flair because of its unusual combination of sad lyrics with a soft melody line. Yet it has nothing in common with the musical statements of "To Mega Therion", "Morbid Tales" or "Emperor's Return" and it dwells more than thousand miles away from the core and the values of Celtic Frost. I believe that Tom Warrior has put heart and soul into these pretty well produced songs, nevertheless, I don't like them and many other fans also did not enjoy the album. A tragedy, as mentioned above.

And that's not all. The songs which do not scream for individuality at any cost do not convince as well. Just listen to the foppish singing style of Tom during "Mesmerized", is this an early form of gothic rock? Even the pieces that build a connection to the band's former releases, for example the more or less evil and doubtlessly heavy "Inner Sanctum", pale beside their classics, because the riffs are just too weak and the songs do not offer these majestic yet horrifying vibes that lent "Necromantical Screams" or "The Usurper" their colossal size. "Babylon Fell" marks another example of a pretty solid and ultra-heavy track that unfortunately lacks of compelling lines and exciting elements. By contrast, "Caress into Oblivion" marks my first personal climax of the album. It presents a nice mixture of a lament and a mid-paced neckbreaker. The accusing voice of Tom fits the musical approach very well and the memorable chorus crowns the song. My second favourite track emphasises the bombastic side of the band. "Rex Irae (Requiem)" has this morbid touch that sends shivers down my spine. The duet of Tom and opera singer Claudia-Maria Mokri , the partly orchestral instrumentation and the sawing guitars form a majestic yet moribund masterpiece. Finally, the following outro marks a positive finish of a disappointing album. Indeed, the fantastic design of the gatefold cannot conceal the truth: "Into the Pandemonium" is an overambitious work. The courage of the band deserves respect, but the experiment itself has gone wrong.

Martin Eric Ain says in the Celtic Frost documentary "A Dying God" that it was his biggest mistake to be not involved in the recording of "To Mega Therion". To add insult to injury, he could also have mentioned the other side of the coin, his involvement in the recording of the here presented flop. Tragedies as far as the eye can see.