Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Tom Gabriel Fischer - Are You Morbid? Into The Pandemonium Of Celtic Frost
(Sanctuary Publishing)

The full stilted title of this book reveals one nagging yet endearing and not all that bothersome fault of this tell-all bio from Celtic Frost's Tom Warrior, the fact that it is a true leave-me-to-it autobiography from the pen of a man for which English is a second language. You read along and you can hear his accent as he regales us in only very slightly awkward English, his story of an often hapless and happenstance band, signed to a small wobbly label that survives and thrives despite itself, given the unstoppable metal tide rolling over the world in 1984. And as is turns out, as goes the plight of Noise, so go the Frosties, Gabriel without fear and with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour, demonstrating how art, luck and accident can do a dance and kick out highly regarded creative works, records that really, I don't remember as all that well-received at the time, which have now, been rightly heralded as first instances for a number of now accepted metal characteristics, including black metal tendencies, abstract lyrics, samples, female vocals, orchestration, doom, death and dirge. It's a weird read, foreign for a number of reasons, one being that it isn't too often a band this underground gets a bio, and another being that Celtic Frost were (mostly) European, quite extreme, and not all that popular during their actual run of the place. For these reasons, Gabriel gives us an interesting glimpse into the day-to-day grind of a band that has chosen to make music that is commercially viable only somewhere along the pleasure-is-pain principle that all heavy metal has to accept to some degree. Really, not too much incredibly exciting happens to these regular guys, other than life itself. But the chosen uphill profession alone makes for an interesting if somewhat disconcerting and depressing set of hour by hour experiences. Indeed, it is a primer warning dumb-ass rock kids what not to do as much as prodding them to pursue those heavy metal dreams. For that reason, Are You Morbid? reads as a bit of a downer, although like any car crash footage, it makes you feel better about your selfish self.
Rating 7

Various Artists - Chamber Metal: Neo-Classical Metal Guitar
(Dwell)

Well here's a weird one for you, Dwell assembling a bunch of Czech and Slovakian guitar wankers who turn in a wide variety of instrumental tracks, not really all that classical, more like Satriani to Schenker, over to Yngwie to the occasional full classical dip, all ushering in a new era of Prague metal. The ideas of course sidle up into impressive through the backdoor: writers from a cultural backwash use their isolation to stay fresh, filtering the few influences they have through the melodies of their home cultures. Nearly all the album is recorded in the Czech Republic and in total, it really reinforces the fact that competition levels are extremely high nowadays, even if the nu-metal brigade has foregone this kind of shredmanship for whatever weird textural artforms they're on about. Final impressions before I bolt: a lot of Yngwie influence and an odd predilection for scratchy fuzzy effects.
Rating 6.5

Hard Reviews Page 3