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Melana Chasmata - for the truly morbid,
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This review is from: Melana Chasmata (Audio CD)
I am 46 years old and have been a fan of the mighty Frost since the time of the ‘Tragic Serenades’ EP. I am also one of those rare hybrids who were a fan of punk/ deathrock and gothic music as well as the emerging 80’s black metal scene. Basically any band with a horror/ vampire, occult theme I was into. Many of the early 80’s bands such as Bauhaus, the Banshees, Christian Death, 45 Grave, Misfits, Killing Joke and Alien Sex Fiend had a hard punky edge to their live sound and shows and were certainly not the dreary shoegazers hiding behind dry ice and 70s rock pretensions that many later 80’s Goth incarnations (especially those who followed in the steps of the Sisters of Mercy) became renowned for.
I only got to see the Frost once when they came to Scotland in 1989 on the infamous ‘Cold Lake’ tour. Everybody pans that album but the one song I liked off it was ‘Little Velvet’ which had a good riff. The gig at Edinburgh Playhouse was forgettable due to the poor new material, useless fanny of a guitarist Oliver Amberg and was even less fun due to the bouncers insisting you remain seated. It was a real disappointment for real fans like myself who especially loved the ‘Into the Pandemonium’ material and older stuff but didn’t get to see the band on the previous tour. However, the day before the gig, my girlfriend and I met the band in Glasgow at a record signing and spoke with Tom and Michelle. Although Michelle was very nice, it seemed like what happened to Celtic Frost was just like the scene out of Spinal Tap where the singer’s girlfriend got involved in the band. All Tom’s morbid HR Giger style was thrown out the window when his (ugly) new band were all dollied up by ‘stylist’ Michelle to be glamsters.
I had to wait a long time to see the real Celtic Frost again in Glasgow in 2006. The new band was great and the drummer had obviously spent the time practising to do Reed St Mark justice. My only criticism was that they played a few of the old numbers a bit slow in an attempt to be even more crunching and heavy. It was also good to see Martin Ain coming into his own as a performer and vocalist with his mad monk Rasputin persona and dress. It was such a shame this band split up.
Melana Chasmata follows on nicely from Triptykon’s debut album and is along the same lines both musically and stylistically. It is very dark and personal and an album that needs some serious listening as it affects you on several different levels at once. The packaging of the media book is immaculate and worth it just for the Giger art alone.
The opening song’s drum pattern and feedback guitar sounds so much like early 80’s Bauhaus. Then the riff comes in and it speeds up much like ‘Goethia’ from the debut Triptykon album. Tom’s singing definitely shows more confidence and is recorded higher in the mix than before and he shares vocals with V. Santura in some parts, giving the song an extra depth. This works well as it did when Martin took more of the vocals on ‘Monotheist’. Later in the song are some classic Tom G. Warrior rhythm guitar riffs but then some unexpected weird clean jazzy phrases that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ozric Tentacles track. The ‘avant garde’ is certainly not forgotten in this mix.
The chorus of ‘Boleskine House’ works well with the female vocals and this section is similar to ‘Obscured’ on the first album, and adds a new dimension to the Frost sound. I like the gothic sound as you know.
‘Alter of Deceit’ has a strong, slow and morbid hookline and resembles early Celtic Frost material like ‘Dethroned Emperor’. The chorus then changes the feel of the song to the new ‘Triptykon’ sound and the song goes in a different direction.
I think Triptykon should definitely re-record some old Celtic Frost material while they are fresh to play. With the benefit of modern production, they would certainly make them sound awesome.
‘Breathing’ has a slow Black Sabbath type intro riff with layered feedback but then rages ahead at the verse. In the middle is a great mid paced section resembling ‘Inner Sanctum’ in nature that really gets the head banging and should be a good one live.
‘Aurorae’ starts with the drums, with the bassy guitars creeping in and then a clean guitar on top leading the track onwards. It reminds me of ‘The Rain Will Come Again’ by Rahowa and Tom’s ‘a spirit wasting away’ vocals are very much in the vein of Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters of Mercy.
‘Demon Pact’ starts experimentally with percussion and samples before building up power in the beat. It is in a style like ‘Synagoga Satana’ from Monotheist, but with more space and ambience between the heavy sections. There is a bit with flanged bass and drums where Tom’s semi spoken vocals are well morbid. He has really worked on his singing for this album.
‘In the Sleep of Death’ sounds like a more twisted ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ by Slayer before it quietens down to a clean guitar. This song about Emily Bronte then moves into an eerie section with high ghostly guitar notes and Tom’s ‘Mesmerised’ vocals.
‘Black Snow’ is the album’s longest track and has guest vocals from the industrial singer of Throbbing Gristle. Has a good death grunt in its slow heavy intro before getting crunchier in a ‘Monotheist’ style during the verse. It is mainly a slow epic.
‘Waiting’ is the catchiest song on the album due to its easier structure with fewer changes and also has the addition of female vocals. It has its ambient moments too.
Any Frost fan who appreciates that old Tom is still with us (and even more morbid than before) will like this album . It is mega heavy, morbid and avant garde with a few extra touches too. What more could you want from this evolved version of a classic band.
If you read this, Tom, don’t forget to come to Glasgow on your next tour!