Celtic Frost - "To MegaTherion"
So finally, our review of Celtic Frost's legendary "MegaTherion" Album.
Inspired by the paintings of Swiss artist H.R. Giger and the poetry of Aleister Crowley, "To MegaTherion" (meaning the great beast in Greek), is a very important heavy metal recording.
Influential on both death metal and thrash metal, "To MegaTherion" is only superseded by Kreator's; Pleasure to Kill, Possessed's; Seven Churches, Megadeth's; Killing is My Business, Metallica's; Kill 'em All, and Slayer's; Reign in Blood. I'll leave out Venom's debut since "Black Metal" is indeed what that album definitively is.
As far as thrash and death goes, Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion" helped create the sub-genre we today call thrash metal.
Released in 1985 it is a classic in every sense of the word. To "MegaTherion" not only helped in the creation of a new metal genre but it also foresaw the future of the genre and manages to stay forever relevant. It is a seminal document in the thrash and death metal canon.
Celtic Frost is a band from Switzerland that arose from the ashes of Hellhammer, an early hardcore metal band, with two of its members crossing over to form Celtic Frost.
Regarded initially as a Venom-influenced “pioneering” black metal band, thanks to their first EP, Morbid Tales, it wasn’t until their sophomore release, "To MegaTherion" that the band truly found their niche.
Powered by more expressive but simpler power chord patterns than their debut, it’s Tom Fischer's (guitars, vocals) delivery that really makes their second album so IMPRESSIVE.
Even by today standards – Tom (now known as: 'Tom G. Warrior') relishes in lucid vocals that are so charmingly evil, you can’t help but become attracted to them.
It might sound like indecipherable grunts in between the well placed; "HEY!" and "UH!", but where Tom Warrior really outshines himself is in the lyric sheets.
I dare you to pull up the lyrics for the songs on this album and find anything unimaginative about the occult. Tom G. Warrior culled his references straight from reading the best esoteric books.
Verses 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!"
(From: Dawn of Megiddo).
The lyric images that Tom Warrior paints with his vocal performances are inevitably going to make your mind drift away to battles between good and evil, fallen kings and fallen angels, desolated wastelands, and Celtic/Viking lore from the pagan past.
Coupled with female backing vocals (not overused, but on a few songs), some tracks go even further up on the visionary scale when the female and male voices come together. (Necromantical Screams being the prime example).
The instrumentation is no slouch either; Dominic Steiner's bass provides one hell of a rough ride and lends a gritty backbone to the music.
Reed St. Mark's drumming is not really that diverse, but he keeps the pace really nicely, like a steady walkway ladder leading you down to the depths of an abyss. (Circle of the Tyrants, Return to the Eve, for examples).
Overall, they end up making the album feel genuinely evil, by always managing to get a chilling performance from all involved in the recordings.
The album has the sign of great musicianship and songwriting all over it.
Relating more to thrash and death metal than the sub-genre they were first known for; black metal, Celtic Frost manage to make one hell of an album.
By blending their initial black metal influence into a thrashing death metal sound they introduced many of the clichés well known in today’s hardcore metal scene.
Instrumentation, sound effects, backing female vocals, occult and mystical lyrics - all are delivered in such an honest and precise package that it is really easy to forget some of the minor flaws.
Some riffs tend to repeat themselves for a tad longer than necessary, and become monotonous. There is an instrumental that doesn’t add that much to the album (Tears in a Prophet´s Dream).
And just the way they threw their fans into a tizzy with a musical approach more aligned with thrash metal than what anyone would expect after the sludge of black metal they featured on their debut.
But these are all minor complaints. If someone was to ask me what I thought 80's Black Metal and its epitome was, I would answer by pointing towards Venom's "Black Metal" and Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion".
It is a great album that doesn’t depend on Black Metal gimmicks. It creates a new vision for the genre by forging a Black Metal essence with the emerging relevance of death metal and thrash metal. This was pretty radical for 1985,
when Black Metal bands and Thrash, Speed, and Death metal bands were solidly entrenched in different camps.
''To MegaTherion'' manages to use all these period influences masterfully, and in turn created an album as relevant today as the classic it was then.
Dawn of Megiddo
Circle of the Tyrants
This album and "Morbid Tales" (their debut EP) are beyond essential for your hardcore metal collection.
- By Geadom edited by James Clark
(The original cover artwork is featured below, from a painting by the renown H.R. Giger entitled "Satan I")