Song Of The Day - 28 Sep 2008: Circle of the Tyrants

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Set 29 2008, 4:04

Celtic Frost / Circle of the tyrants / To Mega Therion (6) / Oct 1985

As autumn is upon us, and we finish September and head into October, 'tis the witching season for me: my personal peak season for the heaviest of metal! All this week, I'll be highlighting a few of the most defining tracks from , and more recent offshoots of and !

During the golden era of , the roots of black metal began bearing wicked fruit in Britain (Venom), Sweden (Bathory), and - far removed from any real music scene, not to mention any kind of metal environment - in Switzerland, with Hellhammer.

The eccentric brainchild of Thomas Gabriel Fischer a/k/a Tom G. Warrior, Hellhammer released one EP, Apocalyptic Raids, which had less-than-stellar production and "emerging" songcraft. This version of Fischer's group split up only three months later, but forging ahead with bassist Martin Eric Ain, they formed Celtic Frost, releasing Morbid Tales the same year.

It was a big improvement over the Hellhammer sound, but they hit their masterpiece with To Mega Therion ("The Great Beast", see Revelation 13:1). It was completely different than anything else that was coming out at the time. Being both unique and very dark in subject matter (H.P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, the by-now usual subjects but mostly alien at the time...), even Satanic-themed artwork by H.R. Giger, it had a deep and lasting effect on the development of and especially black metal. This album was even a vast improvement over the debut album, with a more complex and theatrical sound, even with orchestral accompaniment and deep Wagnerian brass elements.

Today's selection is both the highlight of the album and quite possibly the band's single greatest recording. It's progressive thrash metal (sometimes ridiculously fast) with a neoclassical influence (dirgelike slow), and features strange dissonant guitar solos, implying some sort of sonic mindscape representing madness induced from evil horrors to maddening for the mind to comprehend. Basically, it does far more in the typical 4-5 minutes than most all of the other bands could possibly do at the time.

Even if black metal is not your typical favored sound, you must give this classic track a listen.

Also of interest: Opeth covered this, and their version can be found on the 2000 reissue of My Arms, Your Hearse.

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/
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Heavy Metal

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  • GrantRS

    Do we have a month of growls ahead of us then? Found a live version on youtube quite easily. Can't say it's my typical favoured sound at all. Some ok riffs, an interesting solo. I think I understood two lines of lyrics in the whole song. I was wondering for some of it whether it was even in English, and to be honest I'm still not sure. Eh, I didn't hate it, despite expecting to, don't think it's ever really going to be my type of thing though.

    Set 29 2008, 9:55
  • sablespecter

    <evil laugh> No...I'll break up the growls...with screeches! Kidding...actually, [i]we[/i] don't have a month of subjugation to the black, just [i]me[/i]. But you're both right, it definitely can be audibly taxing to listen to much of that kind of vocal style for a long stretch, particularly the screeching style, so I won't subject everyone else to a month's worth of music selections within these genres. Just this week, plus a week of doom metal during Halloween week, which is definitely not growls or screeches. However, I think that even this week you'll find some interesting differences. There's really only a couple of selections with that style of vocals. I've tried to cover a variety of subgenres, styles, and even geography. There really is a lot to explore here once you listen to a few different artists. I'm willing to bet you might both really enjoy the last two selections of the week in particular - definitely not growling or screeching.

    Ott 1 2008, 2:37
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