Album Review: Mesmerized – A Tribute to Celtic Frost

Album Review: Mesmerized - A Tribute to Celtic Frost
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Even before Triptykon reminded us all of their genius, Celtic Frost stood colossus over the genre of extreme metal music and rubbed shoulders with legends like Mercyful Fate and Venom; together, this disparate trio all-but created the genre we know today as Black Metal.

Italian label, Time to Kill Records, have assembled half-a-dozen of their roster to dip into the Frost catalogue with a selection of acknowledged classics and perhaps lesser-known tunes.

First up is Barbarian, a three-piece from Tuscany, whose day-job sees them sailing close to Venom;s sound, attempting Vanity/ Nemesis’ A Kiss or a Whisper with a version stripped of the polish of the album, giving it the sound of one of Frost’s earlier records. The solo sounds a little out of place, but the intense barrage and assault of the tune make one wonder what could have been back in the day.

Out of Messina, Bunker 66’s blackened thrash seems tailor made for a Frost cover. So it’s to the band’s credit that rather than opting for a Circle of the Tyrants or Into the Crypt of Rays, they’ve plumped for the much-maligned Cold Lake’s Juices Like Wine. The machine-gun riffing and frantic bass kicks add a ferocity and the drawn-out vocal removes the issues with the recorded version, again, pulling it back into a more classic Celtic Frost sound.

One-man project, Camera Obscura Two, or CO2, out of Catania, is ex Schizo Alberto Penzin’s baby, and combines grinding with thrashcore. Here taking on the most avant-garde of the Frost discography, Into the Pandemonium’s I Won’t Dance. Where the original supplemented Tom G’s vocal with a female voice, adding a haunting quality to the tune, CO2 take a more direct approach and reimagine this one as a balls-out rager; the female voice being replaced by a mechanical, robotic one. Like Type O Negative did with Paranoid, so CO2 has with I Won’t Dance, deconstructing and rebuilding in the band’s own style.

Album Review: Mesmerized - A Tribute to Celtic Frost

Unsurprisingly, things take a turn for the slow and doom-laden with the aptly monikered Doomraiser’s take on Morbid Tale’s Procreation (of the Wicked). The band’s Candlemass and Cathedral credentials slide easily into this one, with the chorus being custom-build for such an act, though the verse is heard to take on something of an Ian Astbury style at times. But, when a band revels in its own heaviness and tackles one of the greatest stomping riffs of all extreme music, it can only be a winner.

Old school blackened death crew from Monfalcone, Kryptonomicon feel totally at home with taking on Morbid Tales. Citing the influence of both Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, theirs is a rollocking faithful rendition of this classic Frost tune, possibly even adding to the fury of the original.

Let’s face it, Necrodeath is the only band on this compilation who can be considered contemporaries of Celtic Frost and their ilk. Formed in 1984, the Italians were forming at the same time as the likes of Slayer, Possessed and Sodom, channelling the blackened thrash into twisted and evil forms along with the rest of them.

Their version of Necromantical Screams is faithful because that style is in the band’s DNA. The inclusion of a violin gives it an added gothic quality and will have you popping on To Mega Therion to compare and contrast.

Such is the influence of Celtic Frost, across seven record releases, that a compilation like this is important in introducing previously unheard-of artists. All six acts here are worthy of your consideration in their own right but, bringing them together under the guise of Frost covers is, frankly, genius.

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