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Fischer, Tom
Are You Morbid? Into The Pandemonium Of Celtic Frost (Book Review)
November 2011
Released: 2000, Sanctuary Publishing
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

When I bought ONLY DEATH IS REAL earlier this year I decided to revisit Warriors first book, his autobiography, and write a review of ARE YOU MORBID? for The Library Of Loudness as kind of a companion review, since essentially the books are a pair. Don’t forget to read my review of ONLY DEATH IS REAL this month as well.

This is one of the earliest autobiographies of someone in the extreme Metal realm and was published at the time by the now seemingly defunct Sanctuary Publishing, because they had some tie-in with Noise Records, who of course handled most of the Celtic Frost stuff. It’s a good looking book, pretty streamlined, not much in the way of extras, just Tom and his story spread across 343 pages. There are tons of black and white photos, about 180 of them with descriptions on each which helps identify the time and place.

The script is not really all that linear, it starts at 1987 and the making of ‘INTO THE PANDEMONIUM’ and then skips back to some early childhood stuff and then glosses by Hellhammer. That’s a key point. In hindsight, there was much more to tell about the story of Hellhammer, which is where ONLY DEATH IS REAL comes in. However, ARE YOU MORBID? bounces about but mainly focuses on 1984-1992, what I suppose some would consider the glory years, international tours, labels, videos, journalists, airports, buses, parties and so on. There are lots of great tales about playing the World War Three Fest in Canada, a near riot in Florida at a gig with Exodus and Anthrax, interviews with MTV, touring with Running Wild and Voi-Vod…the list goes on!

He discusses the breakup of Celtic Frost in 1992, which ends the story, but he does touch on the 1999 reissues and the PARCHED WITH THIRST AM I, AND DYING compilation as well. It’s always somewhat somber to see how personalities and conflicts lead the dissolution of a band of friends, who initially struggled through the hard times in the beginning.

Tom is a pretty intriguing guy. He is a deep thinker and he doesn’t pull any punches and says what’s on his mind, without being rude or belittling to people, places or times. If something was crap, he says it was crap. He wears his heart on his sleeve both the good and the bad. He talks about life, love, girls, booze, drugs, fights, lawyers, accidents, friends, record companies; it’s all laid bare with sincerity. It’s quite refreshing and not pretentious in the least. It seems at times that the band was a bit naïve and got sucked up by ‘the machine’ however, the band is smart enough to know better but also young enough and dumb enough and having too much fun to care. There is a mild sense of resignation in Tom’s writing about perhaps what could have been, but he is brave enough to not want to rewrite his past.

It’s been over a decade since this book was published and with the success of his new Hellhammer book I can imagine there might be one final book from Tom discussing his life, his art and music from 1993 to the reformation and eventually dissolution of Celtic Frost in September of 2008. The final chapter of the story has yet to be told.

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