And this is where the mighty kingdom/legacy that the mighty CELTIC FROST helped create started to change. "Into the Pandemonium" is an album which came after two EPs and one full length album that were nothing short of genius. Well guess what happens on LP number two? They threw the fucking rule book out the window and literally gave birth to more genres: most specifically Goth Metal and Avant-garde Metal while still being extremely influential to all of the other extreme Metal genres at the time in the 80's...which blew every Metalhead's mind away and became a problem.
Nobody expected this radical progression/change after the monumental "To Mega Therion" album, and it still has people scratching their heads. CELTIC FROST again goes into uncharted territories here where they start incorporating other forms of musical influences. This was right before their career suicide with "Cold Lake," but for 1987, "Into the Pandemonium", which was not really their absolute apex of their career which would go to their final album "Monotheist", this was definitely painting with more hues of gloom and doom in the kingdom of CELTIC FROST before it went into a watery descent.
CELTIC FROST has always had a high priority of incorporating the right artwork for the albums. "Morbid Tales" had the evil heptagram signaling the beginning of its evil incantation. "To Mega Therion" saw that noisy bastard child grow into a great beast of a man and "Into the Pandemonium" is a glimpse into its lair of darkness. Much like Cocytus in Dante's Inferno, we see and hear the river of wailing where the emperor drinks from. The painting is by none other than the great Hieronymus Bosch and is actually a tiny portion from a triptych painting called "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Listening to the album, it perfectly suites the artwork where the gates to CELTIC FROST's domain are opened and we see what are behind those cold walls of solid stone. And yes it's shocking to say the least.
Production-wise "Into the Pandemonium" sees CELTIC FROST at their most professional, because everything is just clear. Most of the songs sound like they are presented in a very theatrical type way where the listener is left to shock and awe. There is a new bounce/sound to this album and it's capturing that bottom-end heaviness of the reverberation of the guitars. Not that CELTIC FROST's sound productions prior did not capture them, but this album is giving off just a heavy echo; a loud echo that is bouncing off the stone walls much like shown in the album cover's artwork.
"Into The Pandemonium" starts off with....a WALL OF VOODOO cover? That's a pretty huge risk for a band like CELTIC FROST. I am sure this confused the shit out of people back in the day, but may be they had to have something that would raise an ironic chuckle out of Metalheads because after the up-beat 80's one hit wonder cover, it gets fucking depressing. It's not fast or Thrashing but way more Doomier and way more Goth/Electronic-influenced. Even the vocals are so damn morose and self-loathing you wonder if these guys were simply playing along to the likes of CHRISTIAN DEATH and THE SISTERS OF MERCY.
Oh the riffs are still there. If that is one thing you can rely upon from CELTIC FROST is that they had riffs. Heavier than a sack of donkey balls. But here we see a lot of the songs slowed-down to a SABBATH Doom chugging rarely getting anywhere near the previous material from these Swiss Gods. "Mesmerized" is exactly what I am referring to. There are a couple of songs where it is more old-school flavored such as "Inner Sanctum" and "Babylon Fell" which I could have seen easily as part of "To Mega Therion" or even leftovers from the "Tragic Serenades" EP, but everything else is: weird. Female vocals and classical instruments "Tristesses de la lune", to mini-like sonnets "Rex Irae (Requiem: Overture)" with what sounds like Tom G. Warrior sounding like a Rozz Williams strung out on heroin. Lyrically speaking, this goes beyond anything that Tom G. Warrior has written:
We stood before the portals of Babylon
And saw it's petrified fall
... Have seen your decline's symbols
But carried another life
We tasted the wine of Persepolis,
As mute as our era's breath
Death was never a fragment of
Exalting fantasy ...
[REMEMBRANCE III :]
This last region - Last of fire
Orgasmic cries - Tears and words
Wrath and strenght - Oh, gods! For you!
Before the throne ... - Death" - "Rex Irae (Requiem: Overture)"
Or another prime example:
"This evening the moon dreams more lazily
As some fair woman, lost in cushions deep
With gentle hand caresses listlessly
The contour of her breasts before she sleeps
On velvet backs of avalanches soft
She often lies enraptured as she dies
And gazes on white visions aloft
Which like a blossoming to heaven rise" - "Tristesses de la Lune"
Then there is the one song that people cannot seem to get straight and I will defend this song because it's good: "One In Their Pride". This is NOT a fucking Hip-Hop song. Just because something had drum machine, samples, and loops does not merit it to anything dealing with Rap or Hip-Hop. This is nothing short of what would be found on MINISTRY's "Twitch" when Al Jourgensen was making the switch from new romantic to drugged-out rivothead. There are two versions of this song and the only difference is that one isn't as multi-layered and again sounds like early MINISTRY. I love this song because I love 80's Industrial and that cold mechanical feel of the music from that era and for CELTIC FROST to have incorporated something like that into an album, this is why I love CELTIC FROST so much. They were not afraid to try different things. The best song on here is "I Won't Dance" with its infectious Jazz-like drumming and its poppy chorus. It's excellent in the riff department and simply sums up everything about the album: experimental, multi-layered with lyrics and themes that make you scratch your head.
"Into The Pandemonium" is an album that signaled the end of the classic era of CELTIC FROST, what happened extremely shortly afterwards is pure tragedy. Very ironic when considering this album is very much steeped into the whole theatrical sense of tragedy and the descent into sorrow afterwards. Again, with everything else up to this and "Monotheist" is pretty much essential to a Metalhead's music library because of what those albums meant at the time. And what this album represented at the time was the warrior's trip into the pandemonium...and yes I will say it.....never to be seen again.
(Online July 19, 2012)