CELTIC FROST leader Thomas Gabriel Fischer has denounced BMG‘s recently announced plans to reissue the band’s seminal Noise Records catalog on June 30. The reissues include four out of five of the band’s Noise-era studio albums: “Morbid Tales”, “To Mega Therion”, “Into The Pandemonium” and “Vanity/Nemesis”. The albums will be reissued on deluxe hardback CD and 180-gram double album sets, complete with posters and 10-inch spine bound book. All tracks have been fully remastered and releases contain previously unreleased and rare tracks.
In a recent blog post, Fischer explained the circumstances that led him to withdraw his endorsement of the project, particularly BMG‘s insistence on editing his album liner notes out of fear of a potential lawsuit from Noise Records‘ 1980s management.
Select excerpts from Fischer‘s blog post are as follows:
“Next to remastering, design, archive materials, and art direction, my contributions also included a number of detailed personal texts specially drafted for this new 2017 edition of the booklets of the individual albums. And this is where the past is once again catching up with CELTIC FROST. It was particularly the album ‘Into The Pandemonium’ which, in 1987, was created under dramatically detrimental conditions due to the increasingly pronounced disagreements between group and label. But our other albums with Noise Records were affected to some degree as well.
“It is obvious that such decisive occurrences would be part of the narrative of my liner notes, and it is equally obvious that such liner notes would inevitably reflect my very personal view as somebody who was, at the time, a member of the band, wrote the songs, co-designed the visual aspects of each album, and performed and produced in the studio. And it is exactly because of these facts that the powers that be at BMG Rights management objected.
“As part of what was, at all times, an exceptionally friendly and professional correspondence with the legal counsel BMG assigned to assess any potential legal problems, I received from London shortened versions of my liner notes, for review and approval. These were adoringly called ‘redlined versions.’ In this particular case, however, ‘shortened’ really amounts to ‘grossly censored.’ To name but one example, driven by a persistently obvious concern with regard to a potential lawsuit by one of the parties involved in the original 1980s releases, BMG censored and thus slashed my ‘Into The Pandemonium’ liner notes to approximately a third of their original volume. What remains of my texts is utterly mutilated and thus no longer amounts to a coherent narrative that makes any sense. These pathetic text fragments now fail to convey the full history of the individual albums.
“It is exactly because of the events CELTIC FROST endured during the 1980s that I am a radical opponent of any meddling or censorship by a record company, and that my present-day career is one hundred percent self-determined. Regardless of where one stood on the issue, the conflicts with Noise Records affected most of CELTIC FROST‘s activities significantly.
“One could be excused for being prompted to ponder that by executing such ‘redlined’ intrusions, BMG are, to a certain extent, seamlessly reenacting the modus operandi of the label they purchased, Noise Records. As for me, I am of course not inclined whatsoever to agree to have my texts censored. I thus informed BMG that I would rather withdraw my liner notes than to see them published in disfigured guise (a variety of censored drafts had been proposed to me), particularly since the events described therein have been public knowledge for many years and have also been experienced and corroborated by other Noise Records groups.
“And that’s exactly what has taken place in the meantime; in early February of 2017, I withdrew all of my dedicated liner notes for the four albums reissued by BMG: ‘Morbid Tales’, ‘To Mega Therion’, ‘Into The Pandemonium’ and ‘Vanity/Nemesis’, and concluded my cooperation with BMG Rights. I was thus no longer involved when the reissue project arrived at the final review and approval stage.
“Throughout all of these developments regarding the reissues, the co-founder and former bassist of CELTIC FROST, Martin Eric Ain, was constantly kept in the loop with regard to all of these developments.
“Given this state of affairs, I no longer feel that I can endorse and support these reissues, as they no longer reflect the wishes, intentions, and identity of the band.
“It had been our intention for many, many years to finally see these albums reissued in fully complete — and thus ultimate — editions. There had even been (unsuccessful) efforts during the past decade to initiate a collaboration to that effect between our own label, Prowling Death Records, and the current holders of the rights. Unfortunately, due to the failure of this reissue project, it now seems exceedingly unlikely that such ultimate and fully band-endorsed reissues will see the light of the day during my lifetime.”
CELTIC FROST‘s catalog (minus 1988’s controversial, hair metal-inspired “Cold Lake”) was previously reissued in 1999 by Noise with full involvement from Fischer.
CELTIC FROST reformed in 2001 and released their comeback album “Monotheist” via Century Media/Prowling Death in 2006. The band broke up in 2008, with Fischer going on to form TRIPTYKON.