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Ages like milk - 32%

TrooperEd, March 7th, 2019

I gotta level with you party people, for someone who claims he's been abused and an outsider, Tom G Warrior sure lost perspective of what type of sound appealed to that person very quickly. I'm guessing he thought going into a thrash sound in 1987 would have felt like following the trend, particularly since Sodom, Destruction, and even Kreator started out as something bleaker and darker before falling in line with that specific sound. Not to mention Coroner took the Morbid Tales/To Mega Therion sound, put it through the Slayer fliter and answered the "what if Celtic Frost went thrash" question more admirably than Tom ever could. So why not experiment? Add some progressive elements? It worked for Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, it should work for Frost too, right? Right?

The best way to answer this question is to take a long, hard look at Tom's new "clean" vocals, where he chooses to channel bands like The Cure and the Sisters of Mercy. Except the problem with the execution of these new vocals is that they, for lack of a better term, are, well, there's no easy way to put this: Mr. Garrison, this is what we call.....gay. Really, really gay. I heard one reviewer considerably more elitist and conservative than I am refer to these as "homosexual mating calls" and while that's a little much, I'm afraid they aren't far from the truth. Most new wave and post punk sensibilities just don't add anything to the previously established Celtic Frost sound, they subtract. The sad thing is, there are ideas that should work here. Rex Irae is the perfect example of unrealized potential: The dynamics, the orchestra, the female opera vocals. Hell, this thing is practically Nightwish a good ten years before hand. Unfortunately, those terrible vocals come in, and it becomes apparent that this is not going to be Pharoah Sails To Orion or Crownless Nightwish. I would say it would be Elan or Wish I Had An Angel Nightwish just to be a dick, but a more apt comparison are some of the moments on Angels Fall First where Tuomas thought he could sing. Caress Into Oblivion? With it's brilliant Indian sensibilities at the beginning? Also ruined by these new vocals. I Won't Dance? Fucking LETHAL opening thrash riff that almost provides the pure metal the listener desperately craves, and the verse riffs show promise as well but then Robert Smith comes in at 0:26 and Roshambos you, and he doesn't even have the common courtesy to look like Mothra.

Then there are the interludes, which make me think Tom got a hold of the cocaine that Black Sabbath was on when they thought FX was a good idea. One In Their Pride is the most criticized of these, and for good reason. Look folks, old school rap kicks ass. Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions are all fine aural adventures into the hood, but the problem is when you go straight from the gay part of hell to a basketball court in Staten Island in the summertime, you are going to get tonal whiplash.

Those two words fit this album perfectly, tonal whiplash. Black metal (extreme metal in general) needs to be dark, and have elements of perniciousness permeate its albums. On the one hand the Wall of Voodoo cover at the very beginning lets the listener know that this is going to be quite the wacky journey, but said listener could ironically interpret this onset as the haunted house warning the listener to get out. The only songs from this album bearing any resemblance to the old Tom we used to know are Babylon Fell and Inner Sanctum. Both of which feature damn fine drumming from Reed St. Mark. Well ok, Reed St. Mark is great all over the album, but drums can only so much with mediocre songwriting. Just look at Danny Carrey!

So much for Emperor Ain's return. I understand the passion and drive behind the idea of looking for records that broke unconventional boundaries in metal, but Into The Pandemonium should not be seen as a landmark in this regard. In fact, it should have been seen as the warning sign for the shitshow to come....