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I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Friday, October 12, 2007

Decibel Hall of Fame: Celtic Frost, Morbid Tales

Ah, the death grunts. The makeup. The HP Lovecraft fascination. The self-obssessed and overly detailed but somehow captivating autobiography by Tom G. Warrior, Are You Morbid?.

What's not to love about Celtic Frost?

Much like Decibel inducting Until Your Heart Stops over Jupiter, I have to say that Into the Pandemonium is my favorite Frost album. That's the one from which you can draw a distinct line to My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, two of my favorite bands. It's moody, dark, experimental (a cover of "Mexican Radio"?!) and brilliant.

How many other bands can lay claim to starting as many different movements within the genre? And who would have thought the primal raw stupidity of Hellhammer would evolve into something so fantastic? Morbid Tales rules, obviously.

I remember walking to a record store in Beech Grove, Indiana with my friend Byron Holton to purchase the followup to Pandemonium. We were SO excited. And of course... That album turned out to be Cold Lake, a record so stupefyingly horrid that it would go on to define career-about-face/sellout in the metal community for years to come. Vanity/ Nemesis would redeem them, but for many fans, it was too little too late at that point.

And here's another funny little tidbit about my history with Celtic Frost. In middle school, there was this gigantic kid (like 300 plus lbs.) who had flunked the 6th grade three times. He had long hair, wore a denim jacket, listened to metal, and smelled like hot sauce. When I got into metal in 7th grade I started talking to him as he was the only other "true" metal kid at my school. It turned out he had two friends who were in 8th grade who were also "true" metal guys. They talked to me about Celtic Frost and I bought the Emperor's Return EP on cassette shortly thereafter (the EP was later packaged with Morbid Tales when the catalog was reissued).

They all thought it was so funny that a "little kid" was into thrash, even though they were all barely any older than me. Here's what's funny about them... The three of them considered themselves a "gang" called The Bashers. Their modus operendi? Breaking into vacant apartments in their apartment complexes and "bashing" them to bits.

In later years (i.e. high school), the big fat kid (I'm leaving names out of this blog!) became a NAZI SKINHEAD. Fast forward to 1992, the year I graduated high school. I was walking to the drug store near my house early one morning and I saw this kid and the leader of the local Nazi skins sitting in a car in the parking lot. They called over to me. I was scared but I went over.

They were like "do you know ____ who lives across the street?" They were stalking an anti-racist skinhead that I knew in my neighborhood. (This was a guy whose dad was supposed to have his leg amputated in Vietnam, refused, but somehow it went into his medical records that he had, and therefore he collected government checks for it; I remember going over there once and the house was dark in the afternoon, beer cans everywhere, and my friend Keith Steele said, "How's it going?" to our skinhead friend's dad and he said, "IT'S GONE." I still remember that... I met the kid after he put up flyers for his group, "F.I.S.T." - which stood for something about skinheads being against racism - which was actually him and two random guys).

Anyway, back to the parking lot.

This turned into a conversation about white power/ Norse mythology versus the vegan revolution I was fond of espousing at that point. I said something about having similar politics as Public Enemy. I remember them saying if I went to a Public Enemy concert "they" (i.e. the audience) would do this to me, and "they" would do that. So I asked them how a Public Enemy fan would be treated at a Skrewdriver concert. They just grinned. Then they started on about Norse mythology. I told them I loved Marvel Comics but I never really read Thor. Angrily, they told me that Thor "isn't some faggot in a cape, he's a warrior with fur on his boots" (I still remember that exact quote). They also told me if they got out and stood on my arms, they'd break, because I wasn't getting enough calcium. It's crazy because I talked mad shit to them and somehow they didn't kill me. They were promising me that the white revolution was going to happen shortly. I was promising them the vegan/ HL revolution was going to happen at some point soon, instead (I had just come back from the second "HL Gathering" in Memphis, TN).

Last time I checked, neither has popped off just yet.

Celtic Frost. "OOOH!"

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