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Class 6(66)

Celtic Frost: Cold lake

28/05/10  ||  Smalley

Introduction

Ahh, time for another round of classic crap; this time around, we have an infamous cock rock cock-up from Celtic Frost, who started out as one of the meanest, darkest, heaviest bands of the 1980’s, and also had a major influence on the development of black metal, as well as other metal genres. However, their 1987 tour to support “Into the pandemonium” went poorly, and factor in financial difficulties, internal tension between members, and a dysfunctional relationship with Noise Records, and Frost just decided to call it a career.

…but wait, the story (unfortunately) doesn’t end there! In ’88, Tom Warrior was convinced by Oliver Amberg to resurrect the band with an almost completely new lineup, but unfortunately, Warrior didn’t give much of a fuck about retaining creative control, unlike with all the previous albums, so the new members pretty much did whatever the hell they wanted to, and this glammed-up, hair metal abomination (complete with a credited wardrobe/styling artist!) was born. It’s now time to get into all the nitty-gritty shitty details of this absolute farce of an album, so abandon all hope, ye who read on…

Songwriting

4. You can tell that the new members of Frost payed little attention to the previous albums’ songwriting right from the opening intro “Human II”, which is just an awful sequel to the dark, twisted original, with its cheesy bass work, absolute shit vocals, and horribly-dated, awkward attempts at rapping.

Besides that, the other tracks here get rid of the thrash metal speeds, dark, avant-garde flourishes, and wild unpredictability that had characterized Frost’s songwriting up to this point, and put poppier, easier-going tempos, much more straightforward, formulaic song structures, and a bunch of “catchy”, hair metal-y, “let’s all sing along now!” choruses in their places instead. Did this work out in the end? Judge for yourself , but as for my take, it’s all annoying, boring, and pure sell-outatry, one of the worst examples in all of metal history, and worse, there’s still a slight undertone of the old Celtic Frostbite here, which just makes the overall lameness that much more painful to hear.

Production

5.5. A bit of that classic CF guitar snarl is still here, but for the most part, it’s been dulled and dumbed-down into a generic, 80’s MTV-metal sound. Not awful, but still, not good. The snare hits here are lacking a bit of needed sharpness, but again, nothing awful, and I actually kind of like how the bass sounds, and how well you can hear it. As for the lead guitar, it’s definitely too high-pitched, not that that matters much with the way the actual performance is, but that’s a story for the next section.

Guitars

4. None of those old thrash-y, doom-y, or sludgy riffs that were so awesome are here, just boring, uninspired, cock rock pap. Worse, some of ‘em have that sleazeball hair metal sound that I hate (like on “Cherry orchards”), and what’s even worse than that , the solos fucken suck on this album; not only did Tom Warrior fuck up in relenting creative control, but also with relenting guitar solo-duty, since Oliver Amberg’s solos are fucken shrill, amateur, and incredibly sloppy. Seriously, everyone who’s ever bothered to complain about Kerry King’s solo-playing needs to listen to the solos here, and then shut the hell up, since King’s skills are at least adequate- Amberg’s playing is just downright BAD . At least they don’t last too long whenever they happen to pop up…

Vocals

3. This is easily the worse aspect of “lake”, since Tom Warrior took the cool, snarling grunt he used on the previous albums, and changed it to what can only be described as whiny, prissy, “my asshole hurts!” vocals, like he just got through taking a real bad shit. It just sounds ridiculous, and while he still does the occasional old-school grunt here and there, it isn’t enough to make up for how shitty his vocals are overall, and the occasional samples of guest-slut vocals only brings this aspect of the album down even more.

Bass

6.5. Like I said before, the bass on “lake” actually sounds kind of good, but as for the performance, it mostly just mimics the rhythm guitar lines, so it’s okay in the end. Still probably the best aspect of this piece of shit, though.

Drums

4. Very uninteresting, standard, extremely flat performance from Steve Priestly, and since I can hear the snare quite well but can barely hear his cymbal hits, I’m going to guess that he probably just wasn’t hitting ‘em hard enough. Moving on.

Lyrics

3. Off “Juices like wine”: “We are drowning in purple wine/Standing as one, as one we line/Gold and light did stop their dance/A fever obscene, a wicked romance.” That’s basically how all the lyrics are here, miraculously combining the “poetic” pretentiousness of the previous Frost lyrics (but leaving out their darkness) with the pathetic sleaziness of your standard hair metal band. No wonder most of ‘em haven’t even published yet!

Cover art

4. A lame purple background and what looks like a gothic font “C” fucking a gothic “F” in the ass, which, if it’s supposed to be a visual metaphor for how Frost fucked themselves over royally with this record, it works wonderfully.

Logo

5. Completely generic, but at least it manages to be average, and doesn’t suck. Thank goodness for small blessings, eh?

Booklet

N/A. I’ve never owned “Cold lake”, and hopefully, I never will.

Overall and ending rant

Oliver Amberg was fired after the release of “Cold lake”, and former bassist Martin Ain returned to help record 1990’s “Vanity/nemesis”, but the damage had already been fucken done by that point. I don’t know what the critics said about “lake” back in the day, but I do know that CF’s fanbase fucken hated this, and rightfully so, and the band’s prestige in the metal world never fully recovered. This is one of the worst “comeback records” in metal history, possibly the worst, and there’s a good fucken reason why it never got re-issued (which, thanks to the magic of the Internet, doesn’t really matter, and its shitiness can live on as a warning to future generations).

If Frost had just stayed broken-up the first fucken time, their legacy basically would’ve been flawless, since “Morbid tales”, “To mega therion”, and “Into the pandemonium” would all grow some serious hair on yer chest, while “Cold lake” will only make your sack shrivel down to the size of a couple of raisins (naturally). Listen to this one only if you wanna see how far the mighty can fall (and also if you want a good laugh), and only watch that “Cherry orchards” vid if you wanna see what Kelsey Grammer would look like glammed-up.

4

  • Information
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: Noise Records
  • Website: Celtic Frost MySpace
  • Band
  • Tom Warrior: vocals
  • Curt Bryant: bass
  • Oliver Amberg: guitar
  • Steve Priestly: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Human II
  • 02. Seduce Me Tonight
  • 03. Petty Obsession
  • 04. (Once) They Were Eagles
  • 05. Cherry Orchard
  • 06. Juices Like Wine
  • 07. Little Velvet
  • 08. Blood On Kisses
  • 09. Downtown Hanoi
  • 10. Dance Sleazy
  • 11. Roses Without Thorns
  • 12. Tease Me
  • 13. Mexican Radio [live]