Kurt’s favorites is a series where Alternative Nation takes a look back at some of Kurt Cobain’s favorite albums. This will give a better understanding of what helped shape Nirvana and Grunge’s sound. For this fourth entry we are looking at the most acclaimed album by a metal band Kurt loved. This album is called To Mega Therion. If you missed previous parts: here is Part 1 (The Worst Album of All Time), Part 2 (Kurt’s favorite hip hop album), and Part 3 (Kurt’s favorite punk albums). Article edited by Brett Buchanan.
Formed from the ashes of Hellhammer, and lead by vocalist/bassist Tom G Warrior, Celtic Frost is one of the most influential metal bands of all time. Their early work, along with Tom’s material in Hellhammer, served as a prototype for black, death and thrash metal. Their subsequent release would see the band (and genre as a whole) move in a new direction.
Depending on where you live, To Mega Therion is either the band’s first or second album. In Europe, this counts as the debut, but in America it counts as the 2nd album as the first EP, Morbid Tales was released as an album there. The album has a very clear, crisp sound, and feels equally as cold and crushing.
The record starts out with an opening instrumental,”Innocence and Wrath,” which effectively feels like a huge weight being dropped from above.
Next up we have “The Usurper,” which is where the album’s sludgy guitar tone kicks in. This song definitely packs a punch, and is a great riff fest that transitions perfectly from the opening instrumental. This is also the first track on the album to have operatic backing vocals from guest singer Claudia Morki. The next two songs, “Jewel Throne” and “Dawn of Meggido,” are layered with atmospheric doom metal riffs. “Eternal Summer” is full of some of Tom’s best lyrics, as well as hard in-your-face thrash riffing.
Side two starts off with the band’s most well known track, “Circle of Tyrants.” Many bands have covered this track, and the indelible riff is one of their most famous. Claudia also returns to do backing vocals on it. We are then greeted with the monumentally heavy tracks, “(Beyond) the North Winds” and “Fainted Eyes,” before going into the album’s weirdest track, “Tears in a Prophet’s Dreams.” This song is full of experimentation and ambiance, allowing us a sneak peak at the style of the follow up album, Into the Pandemonium. Finally, we come to the epic and evil sounding closer, “Necromantical Dream,” featuring Claudia’s vocals at their best as well as some nice french horn all mixed in with Tom’s sinister vocals, and the band’s characteristic sludgy riffs.
Celtic Frost would continue to be known as a band that never released the same album twice. Into The Pandemonium would expand upon their experimental side, Cold Lake would see Celtic Frost playing glam metal with Vanity/Nemesis being a mix of glam and experimental. After a long hiatus the band would release their final album, Monotheist, which displayed a very dark, brooding, and gothic sounding style of doom which Tom would expand upon in his post-Celtic Frost band, Tryptikon.
Many metal greats have cited Tom G. Warrior and friends as a major influence, including: Goatwhore, Obituary, Anthrax, Eyehategod, Brutal Truth, Gorgoroth, Asphyx, and Napalm Death. While no Celtic Frost albums appear on Kurt Cobain’s top 50 albums list, him and the rest of Nirvana have all mentioned being big fans. Due to Kurt’s open minded taste and distinct writing style, it only makes sense that Celtic Frost would be one of his favorite metal bands.