I never thought I would see the day when the avant-garde Swiss metal band Celtic Frost would actually play my city. The Frost came to my attention as the new band created from the ashes of Hellhammer, who was established in 1982 and was one of the pioneers of extreme metal. Hellhammer's front man, Tom Gabriel Fischer (aka Tom G. Warrior) and their second bass player, Martin Eric Ain, along with drummer Stephen Priestly, formed Celtic Frost in 1984 and released the album Morbid Tales.
I became more of a fan when I heard their second album, To Mega Therion, which featured a startling (and tasteless) cover painting by artist H. R. Giger, known as the creative force behind the Alien sets and the album cover Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. They were not just a thrash band, but seemed to have some style behind their music, including gothic and symphonic influences, which made them stand out from the rush of Metallica and Slayer impersonators that sprung up at the time. According to their website, their lyrics were influenced by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Aleister Crowley, and Charles Baudelaire
After their third album, 1987's Into The Pandemonium, Celtic Frost took an ill-advised chance to increase their popularity by going... glam, if you can believe it. No one bought Cold Lake and it disillusioned long time fans. They recorded Vanity/Nemisis in 1990 but their career was in free-fall. Parched With Thirst I Am and Dying was the compilation album they released in 1992.
In the mid-90s', Gabriel founded the band Apollyon Sun and released two recordings of this experimental metal before penning a book, Are You Morbid? in 2000. I haven't read it but I would love to track it down.
In 2001, Celtic Frost reformed to begin recording a self-funded album, which turned out to be 2006's Monotheist, which is aimed more at the early fans. The album has received mixed reviews and Celtic Frost has a lot more competition today, including many bands that they have influenced. They are now on a 47-city tour of North America and appeared on MTV's Headbanger's Ball Saturday, September 30 (which was recorded during their NYC appearance.)
Opening the show was Norway's Shag, who was loud but not terribly interesting. There was nothing of note in their presentation, unfortunately. Another Norweigan band followed, 1349, who was extremely heavy in sound and appearance. They wore tons of make up which either made them look like zombie corpses or clowns, depending on your perspective and sense of humour. There was no distinguishing the songs from one another and the vocals of Ravn, if you can call them that, were all but indecipherable.