CELTIC FROST (1984–96, 2002–PRESENT). Tom Warrior (vocals/guitar), Oliver Amberg (guitar), Martin Eric Ain (bass, replaced by Dominic Steiner, Curt Bryant, Ain again), Reed St. Mark (drums, replaced by Stephen Priestly).
Celtic Frost are a classic Swiss black metal band with symphonic touches, and among the most important bands in modern metal. The band started out as the influential Hellhammer, which grew to prominence on demo tapes and word of mouth before slowing down the pace and changing its name to the more mysterious Celtic Frost. Since inception the band has been led by Tom Warrior (Thomas Fischer), who has a unique vision and blend of Norse mythology and Satanism.
The best of Celtic Frost is both majestic and frightening, such as classic records To Mega Therion and Into the Pandemonium, but the band was increasingly unstable and after a new lineup, the band made the awful Cold Lake record. They then dissolved in shame when the comeback record Vanity/Nemesis was not enough to bring back the faithful (even with Ain back in the fold) who felt
betrayed by the pop and glam of Cold Lake. The band reformed in 2006 to release the utterly brutal, beautiful, evocative, and scary Monotheist, which demonstrated to fans that Fischer, along with Ain, could still deliver the goods.
Despite their relatively limited output (not counting the Hellhammer work), Celtic Frost have been an enormously influential band on the black metal scene as well as to any new bands that try for a combination of the macabre and the heavy. Few bands have gone to the places that Celtic Frost have gone to and survived, and most likely very few bands should even try. Avoid Cold Lake like the plague, though; it is the quintessential “sellout” record with little input from Warrior and a disastrous attempt at mainstream recognition. The rest of the catalog is indispensable.
Discography: Morbid Tales (Metal Blade, 1984); To Mega Therion (Noise, 1985); Into the Pandemonium (Noise, 1987); Cold Lake (Noise, 1988); Vanity/Nemesis (RCA, 1989); Tragic Serenades [EP] (Combat, 1990); Morbid Tales/Emperor’s Return (Noise, 1997); Monotheist (Century Media, 2006).