Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Celtic Frost-Into the pandemonium, 1987

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By this point Switzerland's Celtic Frost had already released two lp's and two ep's between 1984 and 1986. Their popularity had risen during that time and this was a fairly highly anticipated release as far as underground metal goes. They had taken off the ghoul make-up and there were some definite musical changes.
Initial Reaction-
I was big into this band when this time came out. When I first heard it I thought that parts of it were odd. It probably took me almost six months to really get it, but I did.
1. Mexican Radio-This is cover of a song that was originally done by Wall of voodoo. What a cover it is, it remains faithful enough to the original yet it adds the unmistakable Celtic Frost sound as well.
2. Mesmerized-This track has the old Frost heaviness, yet it's thicker and slower. There is way more of a doom feel to it and it just pounds away. The vocals are way different though as they are meant to sound kind of eerie and distant.

3. Inner Sanctum-More heavy pounding not totally removed from some material from their debut "Morbid Tales". Although it's a little different because the guitar has the sound like it's pulling back while plunging forward. That may not make any sense, but that's how it sounds to me. It's like a sort fast riff that has a thick, sludge feel mixed in with it.
4. Tristesses De La Lune- This song has an orchestral arrangement with female vocals. Very different to be on a metal album. It will make more sense later on in the album.
5. Babylon Fell (Jade Serpent)-The first of a two parter and it's somewhat similar to some material from their 1986 album "To Mega Therion". It has a huge monster riff that plows along.
6. Caress Into Oblivion (Jade Serpent II)-Fairly slow, it picks up and it's heavy through and through. I love the drum sound here.
7. One In Their Pride-This is like a drum machine with sampling of a rock launch. It's real dated and very repetitive. If it had been mixed in with some heavy music maybe it could have been something.
8. I Won't Dance (The Elders' Orient)-This is like hook oriented doom metal with female backing vocals and an eerie wall of drifting music. I don't remember anything like this before 1987. Immensely thick sound that's spoton with some sharp drumming from Reed St. Mark. Also love that hum on the guitar right before the chorus. Awesome song.
9. Sorrows Of The Moon-This song rips on and then slows down and has some odd vocals. Then it kind of goes back and forth and they actually do a lot here even though it's barely over three minutes long. The real kicker about this song is that it's really the same song as number four only done as a metal song instead of with an orchestra.
10. Rex Irae (Requiem)-This is a bit different as it has an orchestral arrangement mixed in with heavy guitars and drums. There are three voices here as one is female, one is a character who is supposed to be dying and then you have some grunts from Tom G. Warrior. It's a bit chaotic and you really have to try to stick with it.
11. Oriental Masquerade-This is a short orchestral piece with drums and guitar mixed in. Some people think it's a second part of the story from track ten.

Verdict-It's not every one's cup of tea and it wasn't twenty years ago as some reviewers loved it and some thought the band had lost their minds. Prior to this album Celtic Frost were normally lumped in with speed metal bands like Slayer, Exodus, Destruction and the like. Yet almost half of this album may not appeal to people who just liked straight-up metal. I can't pretend that every track works or that this is a perfect albums. I think the band had done as much as they could with their old sound once they finished "To Mega Therion" so they needed to progress. I think this was a start as some songs are very much like their earlier material, some are similar but show a greater doom influence and other tracks are way different from anything any metal bands were doing. I think it's very good, but it's certainly not for everyone. I think Celtic Frost had more influences that just metal and they themselves influenced different genres of metal. This probably isn't the CD you will be cranking in your car when you get out of work on a Friday. It's one that requires more attention and maybe more time. I think if they had followed the natural progression then the next album would have been incredible. Instead they choose to go a direction that almost killed their career. Fortunately their 2006 comeback "Monotheist" is in someways the album I think a natural follow-up to this album should have been.

***The 20 year old album review for July will be Def Leppard's Hysteria.


Blogger dschalek said...

This really is a great album that has not only influenced "millions" of black/ avant-garde bands, but also holds up well today (it could benefit from a more powerful production, though).

However, the diaster of "Cold Lake" caused my friends and myself to scream in absolute horror!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

dschalek-Cold Lake is probably the most unexpectedly bad metal album of all time.

4:00 AM  
Blogger captain corky said...

Sweet! I'm looking forward to the Hysteria review.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I remember being put off by this album's weirdness back in the eighties but I think it's one of their best now. Amazing album. At least Tom is holding himself accountable for Cold Lake these days! A must-see live these days as well!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Therion256 said...

Great review...it acknowledges that the album is not universally though of as perfect or consistent (I usually skip "One in Their Pride"), and that it takes time and attention to really get into it. I'm not sure you can merely "like" this album, you either love it or hate it. Most Frost fans seem to love it.

Speaking of "most" Frost fans, I must be one of the oddball Celtic Frost fans who actually really liked Cold Lake, being the first Celtic Frost I had ever heard ("Cherry Orchards" was pretty heavy I thought at the time.) But once I got Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion, then Into the Pandemonium, I came to know the real Frost sound.

I still listen to Into the Pandemonium pretty frequently. "Mesmerized" is my favorite track, and the one which led me to buy the album.

Monotheist kills most anything else out there today and is an awesome comeback for the Frost. Indeed, the more times I listen to Monotheist, the more references to Into the Pandemonium I catch (and not just because of the final "Winter" track either.) It's too bad that Celtic Frost didn't include "Incantation Against You" in the US release version...do try to get this track if you can (I think it's on the Japanese release and vinyl)...it is something very daring and different and could have been on Into the Pandemonium...when you imagine and play it alongside the other Monotheist tracks, the Into the Pandemonium references are complete...

It's a gem...perhaps a "diamond in the rough."

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Fred Charles said...

One in their Pride may sound dated now, but no other hard rock or heavy metal band had ever attempted or even had the nerve to put a track like this on their album. That's what make ITP so great, the level of experimentation was very high for a metal band in the 80s.

4:11 PM  

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