Celtic Frost – Danse Macabre (5CD Box) Review

CELTIC FROST Danse Macabre (5CD Box) BMG

Please watch the video above for the unboxing review

Extreme metal band Celtic Frost, lead by guitarist Thomas Gabriel Fisher (aka Thomas G Warrior), were formed in the early 80s from the ashes of Hellhammer. Originally a mix of thrash and black metal, later material would mix other more experimental threads (gothic, for example).

Here, BMG do a fine job on their early material, and well packaged it is too.
Their first two albums, To Mega Therion and Into The Pandemonium, are widely considered classics of the period and genre, and have proven very influential. Third album Cold Lake took a different direction and although I quite like it, it if oft considered too different and one that the band’s record labels now overlook the existence of.

This box is really an early years compilation, with 5 CDs each in gatefold card sleeves (some with an insert too), thick booklet and poster and more. And on first feel, it is solid, a wonderful package.

First up is the 1984 Morbid Tales, an EP or mini LP depending on which edition you got at the time. The release here has most (but I don’t think all) of the various edition tracks, and the intro is damn scary (think horror film) before the trash comes in. It is intense, blistering, but as you’d expect from such a debut it’s still a little rough’n’ready in places. Warrior’s presentation a mix of rough, solid, power and attitude a good blend that suits the music perfectly. Visions Of Mortality features a pace change or two in the song, Dethroned Emperor features touches of Sabbath-esque doom and chunky thrash, a very enjoyable song.

The second disc is the Emperor’s Return EP/mini album and another solid release. Seven tracks (including a bonus), there’s a hint of Venom (only more cohesive). Lots to enjoy here,

Third disc is the debut full album proper, To Mega Therion, and both at the time and retrospectively, considered a black metal landmark. Suitably dark and aggressive. The band here consist of bassist Dominic Steiner and drummer Reed St Mark, alongside Warrior. Bombastic at every level. Black and Death metal with occasional hints of doom and ambient and strong lyrics too, an intelligent and professional touch that put Celtic Frost above many at the time. From the debut EP, the band were definitely growing.

1987’s Into The Pandemonium is a branch out for the band, more Avant Garde, taking in classic rock, symphonic metal and lyrics from classical sources (Bronte poems and Apollo samples, for example).
What made this album, and at the time Celtic Frost too, was Warrior’s ability to think outside the box, making many of their contemporaries look one dimensional.

The last disc, Grave Hill Bunker Rehearsals, features 4 tracks recorded in 1984, demos that show work in progress. Essential for the fan. It take in the band’s first two albums, 2 EPs, plenty of bonus tracks and a 5th disc of demos, well annotated.

The package is excellent, with the card sleeves being gatefold, the odd insert or two. The booklet is very comprehensive and well worth a read. There may well be a track or two missing, but this box is very good and far more complete than some boxes I’ve seen. And a very tidy reminder of just how good this period of Celtic Frost was. Lovely.

Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

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