CELTIC FROST — Vanity/Nemesis

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CELTIC FROST - Vanity/Nemesis cover
3.30 | 23 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1990

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. The Heart Beneath (3:49)
2. Wine in My Hand (Third From the Sun) (3:28)
3. Wings of Solitude (4:36)
4. The Name of My Bride (4:32)
5. This Island Earth (5:50)
6. The Restless Seas (4:40)
7. Phallic Tantrum (3:29)
8. A Kiss or a Whisper (3:05)
9. Vanity (4:25)
10. Nemesis (7:48)
11. Heroes (3:46)*
12. A Descend to Babylon (Babylon Asleep) (4:26) **
Total Time: 49:32


- Tom Gabriel Fischer / guitars, vocals
- Martin Eric Ain / bass
- Curt Victor Bryant / bass, guitars
- Stephen Priestly / drums

Session musician:
- Ron Marks / additional guitars

About this release

The original CD version contains one track (*) which is not included on the vinyl version, while the 1999 rerelease contains an additional bonus track (**)

Ron Marks performed as a session musician. Martin Ain assisted in the songwriting and rejoined halfway through the recording (he also featured in the photoshoot).

Thanks to Time Signature, Unitron, Vim Fuego for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
Despite being a huge influence on the more extreme end of the metal spectrum, Celtic Frost was always a band to do the unexpected. A majority of the band’s audience had been alienated by the ill-advised glam stylings of ‘Cold Lake’, which the band realised was a mistake. The next release was an opportunity to win back fans and rebuild their musical integrity. What the metal world got was ‘Vanity/Nemesis’.

While this is no ‘To Mega Therion’, it’s no ‘Cold Lake’ either. The old, old school death metal sound may have mellowed a little, but ‘Vanity/Nemesis’ is full of sharp ideas, combining metal and rock in a forward looking combination.

And therein lies the problem. Instead of going back to Celtic Frost’s roots, it looked too far ahead in time, leaving many an old school thrasher scratching his mullet and thinking “what the fuck?”

Tom G. Warrior had gone back to his God-given Fischer, which might well have been a clue, and had finally let his rock roots loose. Devouring big bites of the 60s and 70s, there are big Beatles-influenced melodies, nods to the old-style glam rock sounds (and image) of David Bowie, and stripped back, basic metal/rock. Warrior/Fischer had let his legendary voice ripen a little, sounding more like a gravel throated blues shouter than a blood curdling death growler. Unfortunately, Fischer struggles to hold a tune, and some of the songs, “Wings Of Solitude” in particular, really suffer.

The music throbs in a slightly subdued manner. For a band which once produced total death/thrash blurs, the controlled aggression of songs like “The Heart Beneath” and “Wine In My Hand (Third From The Sun)” would have been unimaginable five years earlier. It’s all pretty fucking solid, and grabs the attention, but doesn’t hold it, like past masterpieces such as “Procreation (Of The Wicked)” or “Circle Of The Tyrants”. The whole album plays more as background music than a lead piece. Still, it’s quite a good hangover album.

The newfound maturity was perhaps a bridge too far for Celtic Frost. Fischer seemed to lose interest in the genres of metal he’d been so influential on, and from the apathetic reception this album received on release, it seemed his audience had lost interest in him.
Whereas Cold Lake experimented with glam-tinged thrash metal, Vanity/Nemesis won metal purists over with a more purely thrash metal approach, with only Tom Warrior's gutteral vocal approach and a lyrical mention of Apocalyptic Raids harking back to the band's extreme metal past. Though it is in no way the most groundbreaking or original release the band did, it's a better stab at thrash metal than Cold Lake ever was and is as reasonable a way as any to put the first incarnation of the band to rest. It's not perfect, but none of Celtic Frost's albums ever were in my opinion.
Time Signature
The heart beneath...

Genre: thrash metal

To those who hated "Cold Lake" (which means about 99,9999% of the population of the earth), "Vanity/Nemesis" was, if not a glorious return, then at least a decent return to form, as the style is more thrashy than on the aforementioned album. Certainly, it was my favorite Celtic Frost album while their previous releases were still sinking in into my head.

The style is mostly a midtempo type of thrashy metal with only very few avant-garde elements ("Wings of Solitude" may be the only kind of avant-ish track with its overlaid acoustic guitars and semi-whispered female vocals). "A Kiss or a Whisper" and "Wine in my Hand (Third from the Sun)" contain some fast parts. Production-wise, the album has a very crisp and polished sound, compared to all of the previous releases - including "Cold Lake", whose production is actually quite sloppy.

I think that fans of the slower 90s style of thrash metal (before Pantera injected the groove into it) might like this album.

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