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There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Celtic Frost – Cold Lake

(Noise International, 1988)
Reviewed by, Jimmy “Explosive Diarrhea” B.
In 1988, I stood around with a group of young men listening to a cassette tape of Celtic Frost’s newest album, Cold Lake. The music blared from poorly wired Mustang, or was it Kraco, speakers from the back seat of a rust-colored wannabe muscle car, held together by duct tape, wire and love. We were appalled by what we were hearing. Celtic Frost sold out! They went from an underground band with sweet (by sweet, I mean nasty and grungy) songs like “Crypts of Rays” to getting MTV airtime with “Cherry Orchards.” Like many idealistic young men, we demanded our music be as rebellious, free, and hard as we were. I absorbed barbs and questions about my manhood from my friends for purchasing such a disgustingly mainstream cassette. We loaded up our gear and headed off for a night of sucking sawdust and inhaling forklift exhaust fumes in a sawmill where we pulled boards off the green chain for $4.00 per hour. For you city folk and residents of the plains, a green chain is a set of long chains running parallel to each other, about three feet apart, with hooks set in them; they deliver boards from the drop saws that cut them to length to the workers who separate them and stack them in bins.
Actually, I had been promoted off the green chain a month earlier. Now, I had the prestigious job of tallyman. I bound the lumber for transport, kept track of the total number of board feet produced, and decided where in the yard the lumber was stored. I also helped measure the uncut logs to determine how little the loggers would be paid for their labor. I accepted the bump because I believed it would be easier than stacking boards. It wasn’t. This was the job that made me decide to go to college.
A typical night on the job was split between several duties. First, and most important, I had to watch for signals from the guys on the green chain. You couldn’t hear shit in the mill, except the zip, zip of the drop saw, the squeak of the chain, and the continuous roar of the planer. Each board stacker was responsible for filling two bins, so when one was full it had to be emptied immediately – a board stacker with two full bins would get hopelessly behind, and might have to work through his break to get caught up. The stackers waved, jumped up and down, and sometimes threw wood at me to get me to come over and push the bin out to the middle of the mill floor, and bind it with metal strapping so the forklift could take it out to the yard. This was my least favorite duty. The bins with the fourteen foot boards were fucking heavy, and I had to use every bit of strength I had to move them. Second, I jotted down on a clipboard the invoice number I had just stapled to the lumber, and record in a ledger the length of the boards. Then, I had to run - there was seldom time to walk - outside and stack the dunnage (small three foot long slats used to separate the lumber being run through the planer). But every few minutes I stuck my head back in the mill to see if any bins needed to be emptied.
The fucking green chain determined my every movement. I wanted to go take a piss, but the green chained whispered, “not yet, not yet” in its squeaky metallic voice. I wanted to drink, but just as I reached for my cooler, a board end would land nearby thrown by one of my asshole friends alerting me to a full bin. The green chain not only controlled my working life, it also took over my non-working hours. When I got off work, I was exhausted. I spent all week looking forward to the weekend, and all weekend dreading going to work. Life had to be crammed into a forty-eight hour period at the end of each week.
My life belonged to the green chain. My bodily movements were directed by machinery and management. Neither I nor my comrades determined which type, or how much lumber would be produced. I contributed to the production of a product that didn’t belong to me, but I very much belonged to it. Rebellious young men my arse, we, like the green chain itself, were tools of the fat cats’ quest for profit. Luckily, we could turn to our heavy metal heroes for support, and an easing of our alienation.
In the late 80s Celtic Frost was gaining in popularity; they had a global fan base, drew big crowds, and were perhaps one album away from signing with a major label. But, like 99 percent of bands they were fucked financially. Things got so bad that their road crew, tired of not getting paid, held the bands equipment hostage until they received paychecks. Added to the financial difficulty, the band members were feuding. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Thomas Gabriel Fischer, a.k.a Thomas Warrior was locked in a legal battle with Frost’s label, Noise Records. In 1987, sick of the struggle, the band called it quits.
In short order, Warrior, at the urging of Coroner guitarist, Oliver Amberg, and producer, Tony Platt, re-formed the band with all new members. Platt, by the way, might be known to you Iron Maiden fans for pissing off Steve Harris, for pushing the band to record their one sell out song, “Women in Uniform.”
Warrior, sick of the struggle to earn a living, surrendered, and left control of the Cold Lake material in the hands of, Amberg and Platt. He believed the inclusion of Platt, would push the band out of the metal underground. Platt, a high-dollar producer, was so expensive that the album had to be commercial to get greater U.S. album sales to pay for his services.
Cold Lake was very much an album recorded under the pressure and necessity of earning a profit. To do this, creativity was shoved aside. Celtic Frost took up its position on the green chain to be prodded and maneuvered toward a bin full of glam metal shit. Warrior has the following to say about the Cold Lake record (click on the hyperlink to read the entire interview):
As a nineteen year old in 1988, I had a small view of the world, a view I am now battling. I expected my heroes to be not only bigger than life, but be above the drudgeries of life so many of us experience. How fucking naïve. Why should we expect that rock-and-roll figures are totally independent in their artistic endeavors? These men and women are shackled to the capitalist green chain just like the rest of us.
So how is the record? It’s not nearly as bad as I remember.