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Senile - 76%

gasmask_colostomy, November 8th, 2016

Having picked on it's younger, uglier, stupider brother, I've decided that Morbid Tales slightly edges out over Emperor's Return, because it tries a little more and gets away with the act better too. It might help that the guitar tone on this one is not quite as sludgy as the other EP and that the songs break their concentration less regularly, yet I still have the same kind of problems with Tom G Warrior's death grunts, which are mostly amusing, not heavy.

The difficult thing for an EP is usually giving the songs a sense of cohesion and maintaining any kind of atmosphere throughout the release. Here, 'Human' (that's the name of the intro to 'Into the Crypts of Rays' on my version) does a very good job of sucking the listener in quickly with something quite unexpected but completely appropriate, those long distorted yells giving the impression of madness or torture, which compliments the lyrics about Gilles de Rais that follow. Then there are the grim bends that are put into lots of the slow riffs - for example at the beginning of 'Procreation (of the Wicked)' - which mean that the doomy passages aren't too plain and also contain something slightly unexpected. 'Danse Macabre' was probably conceived with the same sort of intention as 'Human', but it feels forced and is too long, stretching a few creepy ideas out to absurd lengths. Plus, anyone claiming for Celtic Frost's cool cult status should really listen again to Warrior doing the "la la la la" bits in 'Danse Macabre'.

However, the most part of this EP is made up of mid-paced dirty metal riffs that sound a bit like Motorhead morphing into a NWOBHM group and then continuing past the point of Angel Witch and Saxon without even looking back, spicing things up with a bit of thrash as they get bored. It's a soup of styles and has a distinct primordial flavour, which is one reason why it tastes a bit off, even if those given a ladelful have taken an immense influence from the Swiss group. The riffs are great on 'Nocturnal Fear' and 'Into the Crypts of Rays', with a much more buoyancy than that sludgy sound on Emperor's Return, as well as a slightly more upbeat pace. Guitar, drums, and bass are all busy, mostly playing riffs and cooperating for some surprisingly slick changes of pace, though there are only a couple of guitar solos. Warrior blurs a lot of his vocals and mispronounces a few words, though since he isn't snarling that heavily it might be for the best, otherwise he would sound too nice for the dirty guitar tone. The death grunts still seem to me like Warrior stubbing his toe in the recording studio, even if he gets one right at the end of 'Nocturnal Fear' - but whatever.

All in all, Morbid Tales is a decidedly important EP along with its successor, though not hugely enjoyable to listen to all that often. This one sounds more fun and lively than most other Celtic Frost releases, so it gets modest rotation. In 2016, half a thumb up from me.