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The Tom G Warrior archives: volume one. - 90%

sparklewhooves1, May 28th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Noise Records (Reissue, Remastered)

The metal media at the time of the mid 1980s were about as intelligent as Courtney Love in a judicial setting. As far as they were concerned, a formula was set. Anyone outside the realms of either Yngwie level virtuosity or Warrant level marketability were trashed to the side of a maelstrom of overpopulation in a metal scene that was two steps away from being totally catatonic. What laid in the way of upcoming and innovative metal bands, was a level of closed mindedness thicker than the layers of fat on the managers denouncing them.

I think I need to set up a few prerequisites. I'm not reviewing the Hellhammer stuff, FOR NOW. If I'm gonna review the Hellhammer releases, it will be at a later time in a more set black metal series. I want to focus strictly on the Celtic Frost/Triptykon works for the time being. I feel that this will leave room for me to include Hellhammer in a series that I could dedicate to first and second wave black metal releases. Also, one more thing. I'm going to also review the "Emperor's Return" EP in this review too. For two reasons. One, to make this more like an album review and less like a simple EP. And two, because my re release of Morbid Tales came with the other EP.

Celtic Frost however, now that's a group of youngsters who bow to no label. The placement of Celtic Frost in the time period they were in was quite unfortunate. Hellhammer themselves were denounced and shredded by holier-than-thou record producers and promoters, who saw the band as nothing more than a poor excuse of a Venom clone. They gave Hellhammer even LESS credit than they gave to Venom, who at the time, were already seen as an emaciated punk band trying to play heavy metal. Tom and Martin, seeing this as a bad omen, decided to restart. Taking a year to hone their craft and form their style, they came back in 1984 with a dirty dungeon of disastrous dissonance. And that's the best landscape to view this album as, a dungeon. It's full of hidden paths and dark corridors, some which you might even miss your first time through. Before this, metal seemed to be laid out very blatantly to the listener. For as heavy and noisy and Sabbath and Purple were, you could understand exactly what kind of riffs they were presenting (usually) the first time around. Celtic Frost's appreciation for the then sprouting gothic rock and death rock scenes brought a whole new layer of musical complexity. Where they lacked technicality, the gained in creating a mental picture of their music.

One influence people like to forget about Celtic Frost, is the hardcore. The very first track (after a chilling intro) "Into The Crypt Of Rays" holds a strong influence from British D-beat stranglehold band Discharge. But with this layer of metallic riffing that overpowers the mix and crushes out the high end. There's this wobbly and dissonant flow to these riffs. Even at the mid point, where the entire song slows to a doom metal style dirge. These are some of the most well positioned tempo changes I've heard in metal. Switching between this simple punk aggression to this sabbathian groove. I think this track (along with the Emperor's Return material) shows off Tom's vocals the best. The one way to describe them would be a "proto death growl". They have that same grit and dirt of Lemmy's voice mixed with the howling bark of Cronos. They speak like a crusty and black oracle of ancient lore. They throw the normal first wave black metal cheesiness out the window. And instead pull favors from the more grotesque and throaty vocals that Tom's accent nearly forces.

This fact is not only emphasized, but exemplified by my favorite track from this EP, "Procreation of the Wicked". The slow, sludgy, and disconnected riff, placed so firmly between the grip of the rhythm section's steel grasp, makes for a twisted and warped experience. It steamrolls nearly every other track on "Morbid Tales", maybe minus the title track. It was a perfect overture to a career by a band who would go on to exemplify "avant-garde metal".

This EP mixes pallet with push. The experimentation of the intro track "Human" and the pseudo-industrial "Danse Macabre". mixed with the somewhat more accessible tracks like "Morbid Tales" make this a great extreme metal gateway record. The more prevalent bass production and some of the earliest use of d-beats in metal, makes this record not only fantastic, but also innovative. But these few tracks are only a fraction of how fantastic the next EP was destined to be.

Emperor's Return, now we're cooking with crisco. Almost a concept record of sorts, it was the band truly finding their tone. Across it's 4 original tacks (and 1 re-recording) you will see what Frost was truly becoming. It opens with what could be the most recognizable track In CF history, Circle Of The Tyrants. From it's minor-toned dissonant opening riff, to it's thrashy verse riffs, the song was attacking from all sides and angles. Tom's signature "UH!" giving it a sprinkle of flavor. And just when you think it's monotonous thrashing throughout, it hits you with a sticky and crushing main riff that will carry the song to the back of your subconscious for the next few weeks. Not to mention the near-plagiarism of Diamond Head in the opening riff of "Dethroned Emperor" (which would weirdly be plagiarized AGAIN on the first Napalm Death LP). But if you ask me, it whips Diamond Head's riff left right and front-center. It's fuzzy, busting, and full of bloody surprises. Not to mention Tom pretty much gaining a full on death metal growl on this track. This EP is far more leaning on the low-fi edge of the spectrum. While nothing is muddy, it's hazy and misty. But much like the bands lyrics, it works in the favor of building a stronger foundation for the music.

You'll find that much like the band's debut LP "To Mega Therion" the tracks on Emperor's Return are well formed and innovative to nearly every genre of extreme metal. From it's thrashy chugging, to the low-fi black metal styled crackling, to Tom's blatant death metal styled growl, this entire record is filled with stylized and bludgeoning tracks that will leave you begging for more.

In conclusion, both EP's are essential to any lover of extreme metal. But If I had to choose the superior, I'm going to go with the opus of "Emperors Return" for both it's fantastic songwriting and crushing heaviness.

FINAL RATING:

Morbid Tales: 8/10

Emperor's Return: 9/10