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CELTIC FROST
CELTIC FROST
To Mega Therion
(Noise Records / BMG)
65:43min

When it comes to the point what and when Death Metal really started, a lot of people mention October of the year 1985. In that month, the Metal world was shocked by two releases that were finally too much for most traditional Metal heads and even some Thrashers were stretched thin by the sheer brutal force and heaviness of these albums. Of course I'm talking about “Seven Churches” from POSSESSED and “To Mega Therion” by CELTIC FROST. Both bands already had their name in the underground, POSSESSED released some demo tapes that circulated among tape traders, while CELTIC FROST earned their reputation as the follow up of HELLHAMMER. They already had two vinyl releases in their discography, the EPs “Morbid Tales” (that was even released as a full album in North America) and “Emperor's Return”. But as fantastic as these releases already were, as overwhelming was their first real full length album “To Mega Therion”. Yet, the premise for this album was not too good. Bass player Martin Eric Ain, who developed the whole concept of CELTIC FROST together with Thomas Gabriel Fischer (a.k.a. Tom Warrior), left the band shortly before the recordings and was replaced by Dominic Steiner. With Tom as the only original member left, he was the one to keep the band together, taking care for the final result. He did a great job, since “To Mega Therion” was not just a monumental masterpiece in terms of music, but also sounded absolutely brilliant, tight, heavy and orchestral. This album influenced legions of Metal bands and had a great part in the evolution of what became known as Death Metal since 1989 / 1990. CELTIC FROST just were ahead of their time and delivered music no one heard before. And still every second of “To Mega Therion” is absolutely epic. From the monumental instrumental introduction 'Innocence And Wrath' until the final 'Necromantical Screams' that already hinted on the grand deeds of the follow-up “Into The Pandemonium”, this album has not one weak note or a feeble second. After it was not officially available outside Japan for quite a few years, their recently resurrected label Noise Records makes the masterpiece available again, along with all the other albums CELTIC FROST did for them. Only the controversial (or simply said: shitty) “Cold Lake” was consequently omitted, for good reasons. As with all the recent re-releases, the songs were carefully remastered, which means that all time classics like 'The Usurper', 'Jewel Throne' or 'Circle Of The Tyrants' sound as mighty as before, but even an inch better. Of course this release is spiced with bonus tracks as well. They start with three songs from the EP “Emperor's Return” that was released earlier in 1985. But it's not the entire EP that was included here, since two of the five tracks were part of the LP version of “Morbid Tales” and therefore, they can be found on that re-release. So, it's just the three exclusive tracks of the EP, an early version of 'Circle Of The Tyrants', that sounds rougher than the album version, and the otherwise unavailable 'Visual Aggression' and 'Suicidal Winds'. By the way, this is the same version than the Canadian version of the EP on Banzai. In addition, we find another song from the recording sessions of “Emperor's Return”. 'Journey Into Fear' was not included on the EP and saw its first release in 1992 on the (nearly) final CELTIC FROST compilation “Parched With Thirst Am I... And Dying”. Listening to that song again in its original context, I can't understand why it was left off “Emperor's Return”, since it's as much a must for every Death Metal lunatic as the other three songs of that session. Alongside these tracks, we find an up to now unreleased remix of 'Visual Aggression' from 1988, that's a little more stressed on the guitars. Interesting indeed, but not essential. The sixth and final bonus track was originally released on the EP “Tragic Serenades” a year later. It's the band's classic 'Return To The Eve' (from “Morbid Tales”), recorded in 1985 or 1986 as a studio jam. Originally called “Re-recorded version / Party Mix”, this recording is rather crude, since it features the only vocal delivery of Reed St.Mark, who was the drummer of CELTIC FROST back then. And his vocal abilities are, to be friendly, not really good. But as a joke, this version will do for sure. Back then, “Tragic Serenades” featured two more tracks as well, 'The Usurper' and 'Jewel Throne' from “To Mega Therion” with re-recorded bass tracks by Martin Eric Ain, who returned to CELTIC FROST a few months after the release of that album. These versions, who don't noticeable differ from the original versions, were used for any re-release of “To Mega Therion” since the remastering in 1999, the same goes for this one too. The new 2017 release has a slightly changed artwork, that, in combination with the HR Giger-artwork, makes the album look like a TRIPTYKON album, and like all of them, it has liner notes by Thomas Gabriel Fischer. Yet these liner notes aren't new, since the ones he originally wrote were too honest and collided with the image of the record company, since they didn't only have kind words for Noise. But that's a different story. Anyway, if you still haven't got your copy of “To Mega Therion”, get one of the most important Metal albums ever right now! Or get it for the second time, like I will do! It's worth any cent, since the bonus material is worthy as much! To check the band: www.celticfrost.com, and the label: www.noiserecords.net

Thomas Meyer

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