Review Summary: A classic in every sense of the Word, To Mega Therion not only helps in the creation of a genre on its baby steps, it also foresees its future, managing to stay forever relevant.
Black Metal. Just think of the term: Guys with a lot of corpse paint, inverted crosses, shrieking vocals, lots of spikes (and flamboyant shots in the most amazingly ridiculous photos) are without doubt the first thing to come in mind. But what about the music? It’s all about the image?
Celtic Frost, were a band from Switzerland that arose from the ashes of Hellhammer
, an early extreme metal band, with only two of its members crossing over. Regarded as a “first wave” and “pioneering” black metal band, thanks to their first EP, Morbid Tales
, it wasn’t until the sophomore release, To Mega Therion
where the band truly found their niche.
Powered by slower chugging and more expressive but simpler power chord patterns than before, it’s Tom Fischer (guitars, vocals) delivery that really makes the album so IMPRESSIVE, even by today standards – his vocals are simply so charming, evil, and ambitious (by the time), that even nowadays you can’t help but to be just attracted to them. It might sound like a thrash/ heavy metal vocalist with some grunts in between (the infamous HEY! And UH! That are so prominent in the album), but where Fischer really outshines himself is in the lyrics.
Just pick a random song, and I dare you to find anything unimaginative about the mostly occult lyrics, that seems pulled straight from the best esoteric books. Cuts like Silver horses brought us here, to the edge of the universe / We left the falling walls as the stars' collapse began
(From Jewel Throne
) and Humiliated in human form/We have to die to be reborn /Awaiting the final judgment/The dawn now lifts
(Dawn of Megiddo
), are inevitable going to make your mind drift away to battles between good and evil, fallen kings and angels, desolated wastelands, and all the lore from the past. Coupled with GREAT female backing vocals (not overused, as today black metal abuses) really make some tracks just go further on the illusionary scale (Necromantical Screams
being the prime example).
The rest of the instrumentation while not as prominent, are no slouch either: Dominic Steiner bass doesn’t get that much spotlight, due to its nature to follow Fischer lines, but provides one hell (literally) of a backbone to the music, coupled with Reed St. Mark drumming; that is not really that diverse, but keeps the pace really nicely, like a walkway to the depths of abyss, slow but secure (Circle of the Tyrants, Return to the Eve
). Overall they end up making the album feel in the vicinity of evilness, especially after adding the French horn effect that pops up so unexpectedly, always managing to get a chill or chuckle, truly a sign of great songwriting.
Relating more to thrash metal than the subgenre they (unknowingly) where creating, Celtic Frost
manage to make an hell of an album that introduces many of the clichés so well known in today’s Black Metal library – Instrumentations, sound effects, backing female vocals, occult and mystical lyrics -, but those elements are delivered in such and honest and precise package, that makes it really easy to forget some of its minor flaws: some riffs tend to repeat themselves for a tad longer than necessary, an instrumental that doesn’t add that much to the album (Tears in a prophet´s dream), and musical delivery most aligned with heavy / thrash metal than what anyone would expect from black metal (a trait with all the first wave bands), most noted in Fischer’s random grunts.
If someone was to ask me what I thought about Black Metal and its imagery, I would answer pointing towards To Mega Therion
, as a great album that doesn’t depend on the gimmicks it creates, managing on the same page to use them to stay as the relevant classic it is.
Dawn of Megiddo
Circle of the Tyrants