Saturday, April 18, 2015

Celtic Frost - "Morbid Tales" (LP Review)

Enough of the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore, etc. -- today we're going back to high school and Celtic Frost.  I remember Scott Kinkade getting their debut EP, "Morbid Tales" as an import in 1984.  Although I was a fan, I was never the biggest CF fan at the time (their goth-viking visual imagery was especially silly), so it with some surprise that when I revisit it now I realize that the music has held up so well after 30+ years.  The debt they owe to Black Sabbath is more apparent to me now, although they extend that sound with the speed and punk-like attitude (for lack of a better term) of Motorhead.  The production is mid-80s awful, but again that's part of the charm (cf. Blacktask).  This stuff is ferocious in a way that more polished & produced metal just can't touch. 

Also, in retrospect, their lyrics were much better than most of their contemporaries.  Certainly they were into the whole doom/black metal thing, but their lyrics borrow more from the Conan / Weird Tales milieu instead of, say, Venom's comically satanic imagery.  With songs like "Into Crypts of Rays" (about Gilles de Rais) , they get points for realizing history provides more sources for "morbid tales" than fantasy ever could. 

Standout songs: "Into the Crypts of Rays", "Visions of Mortality", "Procreation (Of the Wicked)", "Return to the Eve", "Danse Macabre",  "Nocturnal Fear"  (that's all six from the original European import; later versions had additional songs -- full EP on Youtube)

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 8/10.  And not just from nostalgia or irony, but neither is it focusing on its significant influence on later bands.  Even out of its historical context, this is just really good, heavy music. 

Take my soul away into the dark, dreaming 1000 morbid dreams, no tomorrow when the wind caresses my mind, could I ever return, it would be my doom.
--"Return to the Eve"

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