celtic_frost_cold_lakeEvery once in a while the metal scene collectively pisses on a band or record and someone needs to step up and defend why they like it. We normally don’t spend a lot of time defending shitty records, but sometimes genuinely interesting or good records get lampooned by an overly conservative heavy metal scene and that calls for a professional contrarian to defend it! If ever there were professional contrarians, it would be the staff of AMG. So here we are to re-hash a record from our past that (some of us) love that everyone else seems to have soured on (or never liked in the first place).

Well, you see…the thing is… ah, fuck it! Sorry, I tried, but nobody can defend this. Feel free to try it yourself, but first, watch this.

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  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    I got this on cassette when it came out. I haven’t heard it in many years but I remember liking it then. Maybe even as much as Into the Pandemonium.

    …I guess I was just not “metal” enough then either haha. I listened to hair metal right along side Metallica, Testament, and Slayer. There was a year or two shortly after that where I went through my own narrow “too metal for everything” phase…Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” came out and I’ve been an open-minded multi-genre-listening non-elitest-douchebag ever since ;)

    • Alan Smithee

      ♫You want it all, but you can’t have it… Yeah, yeah, yeah…♫

    • Finn

      You don’t need to be an elitist douchebag to recognise that this sucks balls.

      • Jay Alan Goodwin

        A matter of opinion. To me most of Machine Head’s output “sucks balls.”

        Though you need not be around during its release it sort of helps to hear it in its historical context IMO.

    • Jorge Antonio San Martin Piña

      nice the concept of open minded… i like with the same passion warrant and poison and hypocrisy and napalm death

    • CaptainTomatoSauce

      I think the problem is not with the music that Celtic Frost made on this album, but the “also-ran” hair metal cliche the album was. Any other pop-metal or hair-metal band would’ve gotten kudos out the wazoo for this record, but because it was Celtic Frost, none of their original fanbase could accept it.

      It’s not a terrible album. I thought it was quite a departure from songs like “Circle of the Tyrants”, but I’ve always been inclined to enjoy the heavier music (or faster, in some cases) than the more hard rock fare. I think most people viewed that album (that came out in 1988) as a way to cash in on the meteoric success of the Motley Crue/Poison/Warrant bandwagon. It was becoming increasingly clear that the “mainstreaming” of metal music was creating a watered-down version of the stuff that used to scare your parents. :)

      I liked my Quiet Riot and Dokken too, but most of the time I was spinning my Candlemass LPs, which I still love… I only listen to Quiet Riot or Dokken if they come on VH1 classic or the radio. Their music didn’t “stick” with me like Candlemass, Testament, or Overkill did.

      As for evolving tastes:

      Around the time “Cold Lake” came out, I was also starting to enjoy Power Metal from Europe (as it would be known in the future)… Helloween, Blind Guardian, and the like (I didn’t find Gamma Ray until later…) Back then it was hard to get their music domestically (thank Jeebus for the Internet!) and I was relegated to labels like “Noise” and “Roadrunner” who had perpetually small space in the crowded bins of Camelot or Coconut’s Records. :)

      If it weren’t for Wag’s Record Hound in Jacksonville Florida, I wouldn’t have found half the metal I love today.

      • Jay Alan Goodwin

        Great post.

        My only point of differing views is on the “music that scared our parents” thing: metal has always been or strived to be mainstream (it’s not hardcore punk or Fugazi; who turned down ten million dollars in the early-nineties to sign with a major) and the bands who caused the most controversy were all multi-platinum artists who had airplay…

        Alice Cooper, (Shout at the Devil-era) Crüe, Twisted Sister, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc. Most of the few “extreme” bands in those days were barely on anyone’s radar enough to be offensive to society in general.

        Quiet Riot and Testament both equally mean as much to me today as they did when I first got Condition Critical and The New Order on cassette :)

  • Hah…. fair enough. It did have a weird aspect to the entire record of a band unsure of how to play that particular style of rock/metal giving it a go. I didn’t think it was a complete disaster…. “Dance Sleazy” however might be the worst song in metal history (song title too). That being said…. I always loved the album title and cover art —- if I were into tattoos and unreasonably into Celtic Frost I’d get that logo done.

    The follow up Vanity/Nemesis (another killer album title) was fantastic though, “Wings of Solitude” is such a great song.

    • Yeah, it was a shockingly good bounce back from the awfulness of this thing. I was shocked twice, back to back.

      • Jay Alan Goodwin

        Honestly in retrospect I think Cold Lake was a pretty strange attempt at selling out and nut-riding the popularity of poofy-haired bands. I completely understand why it pissed a lot of people off. I just didn’t care as most I guess.

        • I felt like my best friend stabbed me in the back! They were the Mighty Frost!

          • Jay Alan Goodwin

            My brother refused to listen to the second side of the cassette. He’s never heard the entire album. (He was a huge CF fan like you and went way heavier than me taste-wise at the time.)

          • I saw the video for Cherry Orchards one night and just sat there in shock thinking it was some kind of joke. I bought the album, played it a few times and threw it out the window of my car.

          • Óðhinn

            That was the appropriate reaction. Tom G. Warrior even does a weird-ass hand movement at the end of the video to let you know it’s a joke.

  • RU63

    Steel Druhm – I see what you did. Thanks for the laugh.

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    I did not expect to be Rick-Rolled on an average Tuesday night by AMG… Another thing one just has to experience I guess. Thanks! ;)

  • Rui Miguel Silva

    For a minute there you got me going “What the F***?!!!!”

  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    Possible TL;DR Counterpoint:

    I just listened to this album again for about the first time since 1989 or ’90. Sometimes I revisit old crap I liked when I was a kid and go “WTF was wrong with me then?!” (Stryper’s “To Hell With the Devil” immediately comes to mind.)

    Admittedly I had to acquire this album through less-than-legal means (IDGAF; it’s out-of-print and ridiculously-priced when it can be found used.)

    Cold Lake, in my opinion, still sounded very much like a CF record…just another weird chapter in an already strange catalogue. It’s not even hair metal in spite of the poofed-up hair. (Remember the band Dead On? More than a few bands teased their hair that weren’t “glam”—it was the eighties.)

    A quick overview of my impressions after all this time: Most of these songs sound pretty much the same…droningly so. “Downtown Hanoi” begins with somewhat of a hair metal riff but quickly gets back to a pretty non-commercial CF-like monotony with a really cool outro. “Dance Sleazy” isn’t even that bad IMO (chorus is admittedly a bit annoying.) It neither pretended to be nor aspired to be a hair metal radio hit.“Tease Me” really sucks and so does the “Human” intro but, for the most part, I still enjoyed hearing this album after all these years…even if not as much as I think I did then. I know I was about the only one.

    I still don’t think this album is really bad for what it is. (It wasn’t especially great either.) I honestly believe the only reason Thomas G. “Warrior” Fischer denounces and disowns it now is because it wasn’t successful and brought him heaps of scorn. Some of that scorn, as I recall, was from the same people who couldn’t take the avant-garde tendencies of “Into the Pandemonium” and its cover of a Wall of Voodoo hit.

    You know how many people called themselves CF fans back then and how many claim them as an influence up to Cold Lake? Yet nearly nobody went to their shows and they basically paid-to-play until they went completely broke*, broke up, and were resurrected with a bit of a glam-tinge (which was already hinted at when they covered “Mexican Radio” on their previous album. They tried to make a half-assed living the “true metal way” and by being experimental, but were scorned by the same idiots who did nothing to support their “most-influential and innovative real metal band” up to that point.

    This really is an early-example of the rampant crybaby-bullshit and “I Identify with the Art of Another-“elitism going on with metalheads today: so many people feel entitled to the albums they want to hear, and when a band fails to personally deliver them they take to the ‘net and the bands’ social media to cry and pee about it for years after the change has occurred (Trivium and In Flames are great modern examples.) It would be great if lifeless dorks could just accept that artists can and will change as they wish, that their art does not represent them personally, and (most importantly) move the hell on to tons of other artists that do please them. In my experience it’s almost only “metal people” who act like this. I never hear fans of other art forms piss and moan endlessly about the art they don’t like. (Maybe just Bieber and Nickelback haters.)

    *I don’t have “a source” for this other than my memory of magazine interviews with Fischer from that period.

  • ABSOLute Metalhead

    seriously I hate this album not because of Celtic Frost selling out, but for it just being genuinely abysmal

  • I bought this on vinyl the day it was released and the most shocking thing was the way they looked on the back of the album. A mere four years earlier they scared the hell outta me on the back on the legendary Morbid Tales.

    The record isn’t great but it isn’t as bad as people claim. (Once) They Were Eagles, Seduce Me Tonight and Cherry Orchards are pretty good. The biggest issue is the records that came before it are untouchable. Tales, Therion, Pandemonium and Emperor’s Return are some of the best music ever released. Vanity/Nemesis was a solid rebound too but mostly gets unfairly ripped on.

    Hilarious article Steel!

  • De2013

    Amazing, these guys also recorded ‘Circle of the Tyrants’. What a difference!

  • Óðhinn

    “Cold Lake is the absolute lower limit of whatever can come from my mind. So there it is, at least one positive thing that can come from it. It’s probably the worst album ever created in heavy music. I’m not saying that to be cynical. This is my honest opinion. I have to live with this. But I was the only guy from Celtic Frost, so I bear full responsibility, regardless of the facts behind it. And I’m accepting that responsibility. I’m not a coward. It is an utter piece of shit, and that’s not crass enough to describe it.” – Tom G. Warrior