Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales review
01. Into The Crypts Of Rays
02. Visions Of Mortality
03. Procreation (Of The Wicked)
04. Return To The Eve
05. Danse Macabre
06. Nocturnal Fear
Out of all the black metal pioneers of the 80s, I'd say that Celtic Frost's schtick has aged better than anyone else's. They weren't interested in the role of Satan's cheerleaders like, oh, say Venom, Bathory, Sodom and even Tom G. Warrior's previous group, Hellhammer. Those guys seemed more intent on coming off as evil as possible without much subtly, providing a good amount of unintentionally amusing moments. While Celtic Frost's lyrical content and image were pretty unique, mixing ideas from different ancient religions and forms of paganism. Not that it put them on any pedestal for maturity, but gave them an aura of mystery and mystique.
After the jump ship from Hellhammer, Martin Eric Ain and Warrior along with session drummer Stephen Priestly recorded the landmark debut in about a week. Keeping the energy and enthusiasm from iApocalyptic Raids, and showing they have new found maturity while evolving. The songs have variety within themselves. For example, "Dethroned Emperor" starts off as a sombre number with Black Sabbath influences. Then after a punkish breakdown, the song turns into a thrashy, Motörhead-like territory. While pretty raw in terms of production, you can hear the bass fairly often, and there's a pretty heavy and crushing sound present for the era. Songs like "Into the Crypts of Rays", "Morbid Tales", and "Nocturnal Fear" are, boisterous, fast paced headbangers done with plenty of vigour. Showing off their interest in building atmosphere and being theatrical in the form of "Dance Macabre" is a nice touch. Although somewhat juvenile, Morbid Tales avoids pretentiousness and boredom by simultaneously being dark and having a sense of fun. Tom's occasional trademark grunts of "ooh" and asking us "Are You Morbid?" on the title track makes the charismatic bastard pretty endearing.
While no one ever mistook Celtic Frost for Rush in terms of musical ability, their lasting influence is a testament to their vision and drive to be innovating. Other albums by other bands may have just as big a stake in shaping and creating extreme metal, but Morbid Tales was the first sign of true credibility.
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| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
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