Back in the mists of time when I was a young lad I had a friend at School who had been on a trip to London where he went to shades record shop and returned clutching an album by a band called Hellhammer, Remember this is pre-internet, no google, no Discogs, no amazon, no super internet it was a flick through Sounds, Melody Maker, NME or Kerrang for your fix of what’s hot or not and even then for us kids in the sticks it was a process of saving up and take a chance. That ‘Apocalyptic Raids’ was a gateway into a sound that was perfect for us kids who loved a bit of punk and also the allure of a bit of metal, it was dark, dangerous and fascinating, throw in some dark occult imagery into the mix and our parents would hate it so it was always a winner.

I read recently an interview with Tom G Warrior where he described their sound as musical anarchy (even though Warfare were metal anarchy) he wasn’t far off the mark the music was indeed extreme and mixing up the punk of UK82 hardcore and metal it was perfect. We already loved Venom and Motorhead and what was going on over the pond on the West coast was taking hold it was exciting to trade tapes and get to hear what was coming out of Europe.

Hellhammer became Celtic Frost and the rest is history alongside VoiVods ‘War And Pain’ a few of the Venom albums Celtic Frost was really pushing the boundaries and doing it better than most. For a few short years, Celtic Frost were the bees knees and released some seminal albums that became harder to find than hen’s teeth so ‘Danse Macabre’ is a much-anticipated release and when opening the box the package that’s been put together is of the highest order and right up there with the complete Venom boxset which is the absolute pinnacle of how to do a boxset this isn’t far behind.

Released as a plush five-CD set including all the albums from the period a smart pin badge, a patch double-sided poster and a really interesting book. Noise deserves some credit for delivering such a good set. ‘Danse Macabre’ vinyl set captures the raw excitment and new age dawning in extreme metal and the ambitious direction these Swiss and American band were taking their music. ‘Morbid Tales‘, ‘To Mega Therion’ and ‘Into The Pandemonium‘, the marble color vinyl box set also includes the ‘Emperor’s Return’‘Tragic Serenades’ and ‘I Won’t Dance’ EPs, along with ‘The Collectors Celtic Frost’ compilation, a 7″ of ‘Visual Aggression’ and a cassette of rehearsals recorded at the band’s Grave Hill Bunker. A 12″ x 12″, 40-page book, brings together photography — some previously unseen — from the era and brand new interviews with Tom Gabriel Warrior and Reed St Mark. A Heptagram USB drive contains MP3 audio of all the albums, including bonus tracks…and breath.

How’s that for a comprehensive round-up? Always pushing the envelope, it’s mad to think the band was still just snotty-nosed kids when Hellhammer was a thing then through ‘Morbid Tales’ and then the classic ‘To Mega Theron’ and ‘Emperors Return’ it was a blink of the eye and they were gone. Some of these haven’t been pressed on vinyl for the thick end of forty years (37 to be exact) so it’s a veritable feast for fans old and new the CD version are gatefold with vinyl-like mini inserts but people of a certain age-who will be on the end of the hook might need some reading glasses to appreciate fully the detail. that aside this set is an absolute no-brainer The omission of the third album might be an elephant in the room but had ‘Cold Lake’ been included it would have been complete, regardless – Go buy one – Now!

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Author: Dom Daley