"... the title 'Synagoga Satanae' was basically inspired by the 'Revelation' of St. John the Devine.
"I am of course familiar with Stanislaw Prybyszewski, one of the most fascinating figures in modern day satanism. Or better put in modern day anti-christian religious philosophy. Although he is sometimes regarded as a Crowley acolyte, I think of him more as a libertine spirit and a burgeoise revolutionary, just like many of his contemporarys, Strindberg and Munch being the obvious ones in this case. I was aware of 'Synagoga Szatana', but i did not think of it in the context of the song, since i was more familiar with this collection of Prybyszewskis analytical and polemic writings on "evil" in form of the german release title 'Die Gnosis des Bösen'.
"As far as Joris Karl Huysmans is concerned, also a contemporary of Prybyszewski, i would have to state him as an early influence in my research on the themes of the occult. His novel 'La-bas', especially the Black Mass described in it have had a profound effect on me in the 'Apocalyptic Raids' / 'Morbid Tales' days. Although he seemed to be a little bit too much of a newborn catholic to me. If you only want to read his most accomplished novel, i would suggest "A Rebour". It was considered quite radical in its time." - Martin Eric Ain
"As so often before, the ('Monotheist') artwork was created along with the music. Inspiring the music & vice versa." - Martin Eric Ain
"The (new Celtic Frost) Heptagram depicts the Azazel-Goat!
"Here some information on what it was that inspired me to create this new Heptagram in the first place.
"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"'Azazel (Arabic: Azazil) is an enigmatic name from the Hebrew scriptures, possibly referring to a fallen angel or Satan. The word's first appearances are in Leviticus 16, when in the ritual for Yom Kippur the scapegoat is to be taken to Azazel and cast into the wilderness, but this text by itself is unclear as to the actual identity of Azazel.
"'The Talmud (Yoma 67b) and later commentators maintain Azazel was the name of the precipitous cliff where the goat met its end. This version is cited by Biblical commentator Rashi and it is considered the plain meaning by the Jewish commentators.
"'According to the Book of Enoch, Azazel was a leader of the grigori, also known as 'watchers', a group of fallen angels who mated with mortal women, giving rise to a race of hybrids known as the Nephilim. Azazel is particularly noteworthy among the grigori because it was he who taught men how to make weapons of war as well as teaching women how to make and wear cosmetics. Eventually, Azazel's teachings created such iniquity that God decided to destroy all life on Earth with a great flood, sparing only Noah, Noah's family, and seven pairs of each species of 'clean' animals, and one pair of each 'unclean' species, all of whom escaped destruction by living for forty days and forty nights on an ark that God instructed Noah to build.'
"So there you have it.
"This is the 'Scapegoat', the one that 'shall be left standing alive before the Lord, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness to Azazel' (Lev. 16:10). The ambiguous "Symbol" to our theodicy.
"Btw. The first Heptagram I created was on the cover of the Hellhammer, "Satanic Rites" Demo. The seven-pointed star we now use, has evolved from a acute Pentagram/Heptagram hybrid into its more obtuse form.
"In regard of the three sevens. 777 is the supposed 'Number of God'. These are the first lines from Crowley's LIBER 777:
"'THE FOLLOWING is an attempt to systematize alike the data of mysticism and the results of comparative religion.
"'The skeptic will applaud our labours, for that the very catholicity of the symbols denies them any objective validity, since, in so many contradictions, something must be false; while the mystic will rejoice equally that the self-same catholicity all-embracing proves that very validity, since after all something must be true.'" - Martin Eric Ain
"...for the composition in question, 'Winter (Requiem, Chapter III)', we utilized ten musicians and then overdubbed almost all of them to a total of 19." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"The expectations (for 'Monotheist') are indeed high and, more significantly, radically diverse. The very nature of the band's past varied body of work serves to polarize to the extreme. It seems that every single member of our audience has his or her own opinion of what our new album should be. What one member of our audience loves, another might hate with a passion. Not to forget our own opinion... I play in a group whose work is volatile. Better than one whose output is repetitive and predictable. Art, to me, is about exploration and not about spinelessness and copying." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"For better or for worse, our image has always been one with our music and particular state of mind. Our image is not something we adopt like costumes for a theater play, it is never disjointed from our musical work and our sometimes wild urge for exploration. It is much rather a reinforced and explicit expression of who we are and how we feel at a given time." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"In the early days (Hellhammer / Celtic Frost - 'Morbid Tales' / 'To Mega Therion'), Tom brought in all the riffs and the basic arrangements. The band then worked out the final song structure. As far as ideology, lyrics and imagery are concerned, Tom and me have always been equal in our contributions.
"With 'Into The Pandemonium', I took on a more active role in the songwriting process. I wrote entire songs on my own, 'Mesmerized' or 'Tristesse De La Lune', and started to contribute in the heavy riff section, although Tom still remained the Lord Master of Riffing. This is most likely the reason why I wrote more Goth Metal oriented songs and shied away from pure CF 'metal' songs.
"With our renewed collaboration, things have changed quite a bit. Of course Tom still is the Master of the Riff and to me he will always be so. But I started to bring in more heavy riffs, entire songs, heavy and more adventurous. The collaboration between me and Tom has reached a level that would in my opinion not have been possible in the past.
"I think that we have deepened our musical understanding of each other in the past 1 1/2 years and therefore our friendship. And we have reached new highs of musical companionship.
"Actually, the entire band has been very active in contributing music to this labour of passion. Erol, in my opinion, has contributed some major songs and Franco has been quite instrumental especially in regard of the more radical material. Radical in this case meaning a return to the musical ethics of the days of Hellhammer.
"As you can imagine, this has not always been easy.
"To me at least Celtic Frost now sounds just like the Celtic Frost I wanted to hear during the early days. And then some." - Martin Eric Ain
"Stephen Priestly was never in consideration for performing with the group again. None of us are in contact with Stephen, and it has been like that ever since Apollyon Sun and him parted ways in 1995, after the recording sessions for 'Babylon Fell'. All of us have occasionally seen Stephen around town, but it is an extremely rare occurence. When it happens, we do get along very well, however.
"I don't even know whether Stephen still plays drums. He was a drummer of amazing talent, but - and that is simply my opinion from having worked with him for many years - he got sidetracked too often by private affairs, which interfered significantly with his abilities. I have always revered his original playing, but we all felt that his dedication was increasingly far from sufficient to ever even consider him for the new Celtic Frost album.
"It's a shame - I do still have strong feelings of friendship and respect for Stephen, and I know that Martin and I would have never had a career without his playing on 'Morbid Tales'. - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"... although I would say that our work was directly inspired or influenced by the presence of the cold war and obvious nuclear threat, the notion of an apocalypse was very much part of our thinking, perhaps even longing, in those earlier years.
"I believe all of this is still part of our conscience now, although it has been replaced as a main image propelling the group by our own and very personal demons and the 'apocalypse' these have caused in our individual minds, so to speak... I suppose this is due to our getting older and due to the fact that all of us, to varying degrees, have led lives which more often than not have involuntarily deviated south of what is the common norm." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"We would never dare touch any original and therefore historic Celtic Frost mixes nor authorize any remix by a third party. These songs stand, with all their highpoints and flaws, and they will remain this way. The re-issue CDs of 1999/2000 were not remixes. The music on these CDs was remastered, which is a completely different process that leaves the song and the sounds and levels etc. exactly as they are. The mastering simply cleans up the audio side of things and brings the sonic impact of the music closer to the actual experience of hearing the band or being there as the band is recording. Each and every CD of any band is mastered before release, and such mastering takes place after the mixing and after the sound of the songs has been set.
"... it is more of an eq process of the finished, mixed product.
"So what you hear on the Celtic Frost re-issue CDs is exactly the same music and sound as you heard when they were first released. But the audio impact has been enhanced tremendeously, and some of the tape hiss and drop-outs (often results of the limits of 1980s technology and extremely low-budget recording sessions) were cleaned up. I personally produced all of the remasters, and I can vouch that the remastered music actually sounds much closer to the way the band sounded in the 1980s during the recording sessions for these albums. It was uncanny, as if standing in these studios with the original Celtic Frost again." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"As the person whose duty should have been to be in charge at the time of the recording sessions for 'Cold Lake', I consider this 'album' (and it doesn't even deserve this term) my life's most significant failure. No explanations nor any personal opinions will ever be able to remove that stain from reputation and conscience.
"It is - and will always remain - an abomination, thousands of miles removed from the albums that define Celtic Frost." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"There was absolutely no disagreement from the side of Noise Records about the non-re-release of "Cold Lake". I had already stated in my very first detailed re-issue proposal that none of us viewed 'Cold Lake' as a true CF album, and Noise Records went with our decision from that point on.
"Working with Noise Records, the company's staff, and Noise's chief executive Antje Lange, was very professional and a personally very pleasant experience. It went a long way towards making up some of the damage an earlier incarnation of the same company had done in the 1980s." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"There were a number of death grunts in rock and funk music in the 1970s (and I believe even earlier), but Paul DiAnno (circa) 1980/81 is indeed the reason why we in Hellhammer began to do the death grunt. Why it became so famous with us, out of all the bands who used/use it, I don't know. The press just loved Celtic Frost doing it and publicized it accordingly." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"It is my explicit opinion that no amount of remixing, re-recording, re-writing or covering can ever improve the material from 'Cold Lake'. While it might perhaps be somewhat unfair to comment about the contributions of the other band members involved in the sessions for this 'album', I am certainly entitled to rate my own contributions and compare them to my work for all other Frost releases. And in doing so, I find my writing (both music and lyrics) to be utterly below even the most meager acceptable standards we usually apply to our music. It is downright pathetic.
"While a preference either for Celtic Frost's more heavy material or for our more experimental excesses is, of course, purely a matter of personal taste for each individual fan, the glaring lack of quality and depth within the 'music' on 'Cold Lake' is simply an undeniable fact which transcends the different tastes and cannot and should not be excused. That ‘album’ doesn't only lack heaviness per se, it lacks heaviness in its overall expression as well. It is a dismal, miserable and embarrassing failure in every respect." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"'Sorrows of the Moon' and 'Tristesses de la Lune' are indeed based on the same composition. It was a deliberate experiment conducted by Celtic Frost in accordance with an idea by Martin Eric Ain.
"Nothing about these two songs constitutes an 'afterthought' nor was anything done to 'to fill out' the songs. Every detail was intended.
"The original poem was written in French, and we intended to interpret it as a classical piece with female vocals, with minimal playing by the group. We also used a canonical translation of the poem into English and wrote our interpretation of it as a metal/wave (i.e., today referred to as 'gothic') song. This version was to be played by Celtic Frost. The melody for both versions was to be identical, the difference was to be entirely in language and instrumentation.
"Both versions thus used the same basic tracks, hence the similarities and the possibility to play them side by side. It was, to us, an extremely intersting and satisfying experiment, and one we might repeat in some form or another in the future.
"We currently play the English gothic version of the song ('Sorrows of the Moon') in our set. We have often thought about also bringing the fully classical French version to the stage and might actually do that at some point in the future, now that the group is together again." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"The art featured on the cover of 'Into the Pandemonium' is the top section of Hieronymus Bosch's painting 'Hell', which itself is one of three sections (the right wing) of Bosch's painting popularly known by the title 'Garden of Delights'." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"'Dawn (of Meggido)' is definitely one of the major reference points when it comes to Frost's music, for us as much as for those who find 'To Mega Therion' our best work so far. We play parts of 'Dawn...' quite often during rehearsals. Still, I don't think right now that we would ever dare touching this song for a modern remake. It's hard to describe... maybe "Dawn..." was a major step for us at the time, and that is why it's one of those songs which are like a 'holy grail" to us and in our history." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"...those songs from 'To Mega Therion' which we partially re-recorded after Martin rejoined the band in late 1985 sound much superior to those in which Dominic (Steiner) plays bass. Dominic was a fill-in bassist for some two months, and even in that he was a disappointment to us. He was a very capable bass player but his actual recordings for Celtic Frost don't reflect his technical capabilities whatsoever. It was a classic mismatch of goals, ideology, discipline and attitude, and that's why we became a million times stronger again when Martin rejoined us.
"Also, it should not be forgotten that many of the songs from 'To Mega Therion' were written or at least contrived together with Martin, and I don't think anybody else can interpret such compositions the way only he can.
"But we'll never re-record any basslines for the music from 'To Mega Therion' anymore. These songs are now classic Celtic Frost material and should not be tampered with. The orginal re-recordings, as featured on the 'Tragic Serenades' 12" EP and now on the re-issue version of 'To Mega Therion', were done solely because the material was still current then and because we had been so unhappy about Dominic's contribution." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"I recorded all rhythm guitars for 'To Mega Therion' using my then standard rhythm guitar, a black Ibanez Iceman 50BK, the most simple and spartan version of the Iceman series but to me by far the best sounding of all Icemans for this kind of music. My leads were recorded using an Ibanez RR250 sharkfin.
"I mainly used the RR250 because it had a tremolo unit and the Iceman didn't. Other than that, I found the RR250's sound too thin for rhythm guitar recordings and thus never used it again after these sessions (in fact, I sold it).
"All pick-ups and accessories were standard factory issue.
"As far as amplification is concerned, I have used Marshall JCM800 stacks ever since the second half of Hellhammer's existence, and even though I have tried (and recorded) countless other amps over the years, I find the JCM800 to be superior to anything else when it comes to sheer brutality. I still used a JCM800 stack and an Iceman for almost all rhythm parts for the new album.
"For distortion I use an Ibanez tube screamer and the Marshall's distortion." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"'Hear The Ballad Of The Swords' was also the title of the second fantasy novel I wrote in the early 1980s. At the time, I intended to write a cycle of ten novels which were all to be interconnected, but I only finished two before Hellhammer and then Celtic Frost began to occupy more and more of my time. But some of the themes of these novels found their way into the lyrics of a handful of songs at the time.
"...I don't think these novels will ever be published. I actually don't think they still exist. They were put in storage with some other possessions of mine some 15 years ago, and I don't believe that any of these boxes of stuff still survive." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"The so called '1985 Demo' constituted the first songs recorded with Reed St. Mark on drums, they were released by the record company in 1985: this was the "Emperor's Return" EP. And even the original mixes of this EP were released, they were included on the re-issue CDs in 2000.
"There existed no other CF demo tracks, not from before (a planned first CF demo was cancelled by the record company in favour of going straight for the 'Morbid Tales' album) nor from later, as the next proper CF demo tracks were only recorded by the band in mid-1988." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"We, the band, have attempted a transcript of (the 'Journey Into Fear') lyrics, utilizing the original studio tapes while restoring them for the 1999/2000 re-issue CDs, but we were unable to put together a complete set of lyrics." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"I don't have any rehearsal tapes from '84/'85 in my possession, I never had any to begin with, and if I actually owned any, I would never dream of making them into CDs to sell them to our fans. Believe it or not, we don't feel we need to wring every last little penny from our fans by selling every last little note we ever played, unlike many bootleggers.
"Those old rehearsal tapes were recorded by some of our friends and by members of our then roadcrew, for their own personal enjoyment. Of course, some of them eventually decided it was necessary to make petty money out of these tapes. Unfortunately, this was a decision nobody asked us to be involved in." - Tom Gabriel Fischer
"Some of (our) songs, ideas, and lyrics eventually evolved into different songs and were thus ultimately released.
"The fact is, however, that there are quite a substantial number of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost songs which were never recorded, not for a demo nor as a rehearsal. There are also plenty of songs which were recorded during rehearsals and later erased - this is actually a very common occurrence in Celtic Frost.
"During the making of the new album, for example, there were dozens of songs in various stages of development, some pretty much finished, which we abandoned. The rehearsal recordings (on ADAT tapes or on our Logic system on the computer) of such songs are eventually overwritten or erased. It has always been like that.
"For example, there were three versions of 'Rex Irae (Requiem, Part I)' before we went to record 'Into the Pandemonium'. None of them survive. There were nine versions of 'Winter (Requiem, Part III)' before we went to record the final version for the new album.
"There were numerous Hellhammer songs before the 'Triumph of Death' demo, of which no rehearsal recordings exist anymore.
"The very first song written by Celtic Frost (as opposed to 'Visions of Mortality', which was actually still written in Hellhammer) was recorded during the very first CF rehearsal, the only rehearsal with original drummer Isaac Darso. The cassette and song got lost somewhere or accidentally erased during the weeks we were talking to Stephen Priestly about joining CF, which is why the song didn't appear on 'Morbid Tales'. I only remember that it was a slow and heavy song, much like 'Dethroned Emperor'.
"And speaking of 'Visions of Mortality', there also existed a Hellhammer rehearsal recording of the then brand new 'Visions...'. This recording was of a very good sound quality and featured the short-lived four piece Hellhammer line-up which followed the recording sessions for 'Apocalyptic Raids': Denial Fiend (drums), Slayed Necros (bass), Dei Infernal (guitar) and Satanic Slaughter (vox/guitar). This recording was actually what convinced Stephen Priestly to join Celtic Frost, as we told him that this song was an indication of the quality and direction of the new CF project. The original version of 'Visions...' had different lyrics, but that cassette, too, has been lost. Which is a shame.
"'Demon Entrails' is one of many songs that did exist and was played numerous times for friends during late Hellhammer rehearsals with Steve Warrior (a.k.a. Savage Damage). But I don't know of any surviving recording. I believe it's the same for one of the earliest Hellhammer songs, 'Panzer'. There are countless more.
"One could fill several CDs with songs that were lost or canned by Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. But that's ok, I don't think every single scrap of sound we ever made needs to be public. We failed often enough with the material we deemed worthy." - Tom Gabriel Fischer