Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

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

Privacy Policy

Procreation of the Weakened - 61%

bayern, February 27th, 2017

I wasn’t going to write this review, but a friend of mine challenged me saying that I couldn’t pen down something less positive being a most avid metal fan. Well, I have chosen to “sing” odes to my favourite bands and albums here (well, not exactly) leaving the negative reviews for my site, and I see nothing bad in that. There’s certainly a fair number of albums that I genuinely dislike, to put it mildly, but it took me awhile before I settled down on one.

The main reason why I chose the Frosts’ “pioneering” work was that a few weeks back I was sitting down, listening to the Hellhammer demos, pondering over the gigantic metamorphosis this band had experienced in the span of mere five years… the fastest road down to complete fiasco in the annals of metal. One could have seen them riding the top of the death metal, or the gothic/doom wave in the-90's, but nothing like this "sleazy hollow" that we, the fans, have been staring at for over 30 years now...

I juxtaposed other bands’ trajectories from the beginning to the flop: it took Metallica 13 years (“Kill’em All”/”Load”), Kreator 13 years (“Endless Pain”/”Endorama”), Destruction 10 years (“Sentence of Death”/”Destruction”), Anthrax 12 years (“Fistful of Metal”/“Stomp 442”), Megadeth 14 years (“Killing is My Business…”/”Risk”), Helloween 10 years (“Helloween”/”Chameleon”), Overkill 8 years (“Feel the Fire”/”I Hear Black”), Exodus 7 years (“Bonded by Blood”/”Force of habit”), Bulldozer 7 years (“The Day of Wrath"/the horrible ”Dance Got Sick!”)… Yes, Celtic Frost were pioneers indeed; they provided the shortcut to the total career disaster, before anyone else had ever thought about such "infinite possibilities". Thumbs up.

I was never the band’s biggest fan, but I admired their aggressive adventurous spirit reflected in the Hellhammer “atrocities” and the first steps they made under the new moniker (“Morbid Tales”), the first EP’s I listened to from this new/old camp some time in the late-80’s. Then the next thing I remember is my poor self exposed to the sounds from “Cold Lake”; this guy who gave it to me put the utmost effort to convince me that those were the same guys who were parading a few years back as Hellhammer, and were horrifying the world with their unbridled brutalities. This was the first time when I felt uneasy seeing how my favourite music could actually be subjected to such awkward transformations. “What the fuck happened?!”, I wondered, and logically decided to track down the previous efforts, between “Morbid Tales” and this… There had to be a seed planted earlier somewhere for this travesty to fully bloom... cause, man, was it blooming with all the colours of the rainbow!

I liked “To Mega Therion” quite a bit, I have to admit; and I still listen to it on regular bases. This is where the actual innovative arrangements and additives had been exhibited for the first time. After I heard the album reviewed here I was sure that it was the “trash can” of its predecessor where the band had thrown away the needless material. It’s a big mess out here, no organization, no order, exactly the way one would feel rummaging through a recycle bin. On the positive side, you’d be able to realise all your fantasies, anything you desire, from “Oriental masquerades” to “Mexican radios” (no Thai massage though), all within an arm’s stretch. A mish-mash of the highest disorder, I tell you… with a twist.

So our revered Swiss masters decide to open this most earth-shattering of albums with a cover; now that’s a novelty by all means, of course; but what’s more interesting is that they have chosen the hit of one of the most obscure entities known to the metal world in order to make the five metal heads who have heard the original cry their hearts out with nostalgic crocodile tears, with the fond childhood memories from the good old days when they were barely 3-4 years old… A poignant, really poignant moment from metal history, and I can’t help but take a short break and wipe those tears of mine although I’ve never ever listened to the original; so please, make your own conclusions about the timeless significance of this “Mexican Radio” with which I instantly replaced the "Chinese Radio" I bought from some London Boys around the same time.

Ground-breaking stuff so far, and we’ve only been through one song; I guess we leave the rest for another day cause this is really too much to take at one go. All right, fine; we soldier on: if the Wall of Voodoo cover has failed to mesmerize you with its voodoo dolls… sorry, spells, then “Mesmerized” should do the trick, a relaxed gothic cut with Tom G. Warrior wailing throughout like someone whose first-time girlfriend has just dumped him. It’s interesting to hear him trying something entirely different vocal-wise, but it’s intimidating at the same time to envisage how far down the “pandemonium” this album can reach. It’s also worth of note that the motifs heard on this “mesmerizing” number are a precursor to the gothic/doom elegies of Paradise Lost; and this is where I start to like this effort a bit which follows with “Inner Sanctum”, a pleasing heavy cut which even captures some of the refined aggression of “To Mega Therion” the Warrior’s vocal bravado brought back with full force. A sigh of relief for sure, but “Sorrows of the Moon” will bring more “sorrow”, including all the way to the first astronauts on the Moon, being another impotent exercise in atmosphere, providing another template for the future gothic/doom metal hordes not without the help of Warrior’s tear-jerking performance again; but this doesn’t sound as interesting anymore provided that there has already been a very similar track served earlier.

“Babylon Fell”, but not our Swiss friends who persevere with this not bad at all piece where even the good old thrash shows its head courageously to “scold” these new elements that have been “staining” its reputation here. One may wish the remaining cuts to be “Babylon…” copies, but unfortunately it’s not Christmas time yet for those wishes to come true, and Santa Claus doesn’t come from Switzerland, but from Sweden. Regardless, no hope is lost on “Caress into Oblivion” which aptly captures the galloping vigour of the preceding song Warrior mixing it in the vocal department, creating full-blown gothic drama in the process, to these ears for the better. Two in a row; now that’s a feat to be remembered, and I can’t wait to hear the next cut. “Third time’s a charm”, as they say, but this “charm” here comes drumming in a scary dancey manner, and I bet quite a few fans out there in the good old days had bet on whether this would be a disco, or a rap anthem: yes, the disillusionment would have reached such proportions towards the end. It’s none of the above, and the bank has to collect all the money; good luck next time as this piece remains a drum-driven extravaganza with voice samples scattered around, setting the scene for the ultimate dance floor sweeper, “I Won’t Dance”. "You won't dance" my ass; I'd like to see you sitting still on your chair with these playful rhythms bouncing all around you... It should come as no surprise that Sabrina and Sandra terminated their careers after the release of the album reviewed here (CC Catch survived the threat, though; what an amazing woman!); not surprisingly a female vocalist assists Warrior in creating the definitive “beauty vs. the beast” duet only that “the beast” in this case has already been tamed, and at times can even be mistaken for “the beauty”.

Few would be those to stay with the album after this hit, rushing to the nearest clubs to dance the night away; which would be a real shame since the closing “Rex Irae (Requiem)” is an assured doom/gothic metal masterpiece with an outstanding female soprano hovering over Warrior’s tortured wails/moans; one would have no chance, but to adjust his/her senses to an extent to the band’s new face, and if the adjustment has been successful then this “requiem” won’t be such a shock; there were bigger shocks aplenty provided earlier…

Yes, I found the source for the “cold lake”, but this didn’t make me happy back then; in fact, it made me quite depressed. I tried to imagine apocalyptic future in which many other thrash, black and death metal acts have followed in the steps of these Swiss pioneers… Scary picture by all means. I was especially horrified about Coroner, my favourite act, since they grew under Celtic Frost’s wing. To my utter delight, these nightmares never came to pass, at least not instantaneously; the scene wasn’t swept away by a transformational “avalanche” coming from the highest mounts of the Swiss Alps. The former Hellhammers’ ideas didn’t prove contagious, at least not tangibly. They may have influenced Paradise Lost again although this can be disputable as the annals point at other Swiss “lecturers”, Messiah, who provided a much more compelling, and more aggressive “textbook” on gothic drama with the excellent “Extreme Cold Weather” (1988).

So was this album a pioneering work, after all? Again, that’s debatable; a ground-breaking piece of art should also be judged according to what impact it had on the creators themselves, how it influenced their future endeavours provided that they carried on after it, and didn’t split up. Where did it take them next, is a good question to ask? For example, Beethoven’s 8th Symphony led him to the 9th Symphony, both equally as grandiose musical phenomena (now if this isn’t the most relevant example ever!). Where did this “pandemonium” take Celtic Frost? To the “cold lake” where they drowned, never to be recovered. How much credit can one give to a work of art that ultimately paves the way for the artists’ inevitable “suicide”… Not much, I guess. No wonder “Cold Lake” has the lowest score among the works of the top 100 metal bands on the archives here excluding Destruction’s mid-90’s period (but that’s already been denounced, so…).

It beats me why the band never developed these gothic/doom ideas more fully… The tendency was already started with “To Mega Therion”, and those hints that were made here could have become “Gothic Lake” on the next instalment, and the guys would have been the flagmen of one of the most massive movements of the 90’s. If this had happened then I was definitely going to give the album reviewed here a higher score. Instead, they gave Paradise Lost the opportunity to bathe in fortune and glory, condemning themselves to oblivion with their choice to join Motley Crue and Cinderella on the other side of the Atlantic by providing the more aggressive analogue to the thriving glam metal “sisterhood”.

I believe quite a few Celtic Frost fans must have tried to force themselves into liking this album. They must have struggled self-hypnotizing themselves into tolerating it; they had worshipped at the altar of the Swiss for wholesome 4/5 years, so why denounce all this for the sake of several gothic and dancey motifs? At some stage they had to face the reality, that there were not two acts named Celtic Frost on this planet, and that this new offering was a fact, and that they had to live with it. I wonder whether they had tried a similar “therapy” for “Cold Lake”, too? Nah, self-hypnosis wasn’t going to do the trick there; with that opus one would need a serious expert; a very serious one to help him/her develop even a distant liking to it.

I also felt sorry for “Vanity/Nemesis”, a really good album with which the guys tried to restore some dignity posthumously. Alas, very few were those who were still interested in anything coming out of their camp. At least they did release it showing to the listless fanbase that they still had it in them… “Monotheist” (2006), the comeback saga, was another pretty strong recording although it had very few ties to the band’s older works; at least the dark doomy references were nicely extended and turned into a standalone style; finally. Carving a new path to be walked on… Well, the Warrior has to walk it alone without his colleagues, and under a new name (Triptykon), and judging by the several steps he’s already made, it seems as though he won’t “dance” any time soon… and this is the rightful option, Tom.

Wow, I finished the longest review I’ve ever written for the archives, and yet this is the lowest score I’ve given here so far; paradoxes, paradoxes… pandemoniums, and then again paradoxes. There’s no logic in this metal world of ours, and the album/band dissected here was one of the earliest proofs of that. I can’t go any lower than that in my evaluation, though; after all, this is Celtic Frost, for crying out loud; not some lunatics full of sorrow from the fucking Moon. And, as I think of it, there were some moments that caught my ears the other day when I was listening to it in order to prepare for the review. It’s not a complete waste after all, so why not give it another go… but I promise I won’t dance; I won’t fall into the voodoo traps; and I won’t call the Mexican radio DJ’s to give them tips for their playlists. Over and out.