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Vanity / Nemesis
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MP3 Music, August 8, 2013
Audio CD, June 30, 2017
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Released in 1990, not only does this feature a twisted cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, but it saw the band going in a much more thrash oriented direction. The restless energy percolated throughout, as Celtic Frost continued to leave fans aghast at their soundscapes and adventurous perceptions. This release includes tracks from the ‘Wine In My Hand 12” EP’, and the concept and art direction of the release was done by the man behind Celtic Frost, Tom G. Warrior. It almost seems churlish to regard Celtic Frost as one of the great extreme metal bands, because they were so much more than that. It’s better to hail them as among the finest extreme and experimental bands of the 1980s. Refusing ever to do what was expected or demanded, the band constantly changed musical direction, always brought in surprising influences, and kept people guessing as to where they might venture next. Their catalogue of albums is formidable and unmatched. Each is not only unique, but part of an entire tapestry that only now can be appreciated for being a remarkable part of music history. Despite, or maybe because of, constant turmoil on so many fronts, Celtic Frost achieved an artistic level few others would even have dared to dream of aspiring towards. They climbed high because they were never afraid to fall. Which is why the band are now rightly regarded as icons, and iconoclasts.
Top Customer Reviews
Tom G. Warrior’s vocals are still a bit whiny on some cuts, such as Wine, but he gets darker and more growly again and the music reverts to the more familiar territory. There is a bit of experimentation, which is a good thing. The worse part though is the poofy hair, as evidenced by the band photo on the back. At least Ain and Priestly kept a rein on their hairdos.
I played this album quite a bit and it is a far cry from Cold Lake. It doesn’t quite live up to the earlier albums but it is still quite good and it deserves every one of the four stars. Highly recommended.
And there in lies the problem. It probably looked too far ahead for the time, leaving many an old school Thrasher scratching his mullet and thinking "what the ???"
Tom G. Warrior had gone back to his God-given Fischer, which might well have been a clue, and had finally let his Rock roots loose. Devouring big bites of the 60s and 70s, there are big Beatles-influenced melodies, nods to the old-style Glam Rock sounds (and image) of David Bowie, and stripped back, basic Metal/Rock. Warrior/Fischer had let his legendary voice ripen a little, sounding more like a gravel throated Blues shouter than a blood curdling Death growler. Unfortunately, Fischer struggles to hold a tune, and some of the songs, "Wings Of Solitude" in particular, really suffer.
The music throbs in a slightly subdued manner. For a band which once produced total Death/Thrash blurs, the controlled aggression of songs like "The Heart Beneath" and "Wine In My Hand (Third From The Sun)" would have been unimaginable five years earlier. It's all pretty solid, and grabs the attention, but doesn't hold it, like past masterpieces such as "Into The Crypts Of Rays" or "Circle Of The Tyrants". The whole album plays more as background music than a lead piece. Still, it's quite a good hangover album.
The newfound maturity was perhaps a bridge too far for Celtic Frost. Fischer seemed to lose interest in the genres of Metal he'd been so influential on, and from the apathetic reception this album received on release, it seemed his audience had lost interest in him.
Vanity/Nemesis is front-loaded, starting off with possibly the four strongest tracks on the record. On "The Heart Beneath" and "Wine In My Hand", Warrior's familiar raspy growl is back, the guitars are fast and heavy, and the underappreciated Stephen Priestly shows off some of the drum chops that were missing from Cold Lake. In fact, I think this is the closest Frost ever came to thrash metal. "Wings Of Solitude" slows things down and introduces acoustic guitars and female vocals, elements that are used tastefully throughout the record. "This Island Earth", a Bryan Ferry cover, is a weak track that sounds very out of place and should not have been included on the album.
"The Restless Seas", "Phallic Tantrum", and "A Kiss Or A Whisper" are fast and thrashy, full of great riffs and distorted guitar solos. "Vanity" is unremarkable but "Nemesis" is the highlight of the second half of the record, beginning with some beautiful guitar work and followed by a crunchy riff and a soaring, melodic solo. Although Warrior has since disassociated himself from him, Ron Marks plays most of the leads on this record and his solos truly help to define much of the record. Things should have stopped here but instead we end with "Heroes", another cover and another clunker that should have been omitted. It is a straightforward, uninspired thrash interpretation of the original and is the least interesting song on the record. It also exposes Warrior's limitations as a singer as his vocals lack any of the emotion or depth of Bowie's version.
I would have given Vanity/Nemesis 5 stars if not for the two cover songs. It is full of great riffs and hooks, the songs are very well paced, and the use of acoustic guitars and melody really embellish the music and help to distinguish this from Celtic Frost's other work. This is a must have for any serious Celtic Frost fan but even the casual fan or neophyte will find this to be their most accessible record and a good listen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Now for the heart of the album.Read more