ounded in 1984 by Thomas Fischer (a.k.a. Tom Warrior; vocals), Martin Eric Ain (bass; who had replaced original member "Steve Warrior") and Stephen Priestly (drums; who had replaced Bruce Day - real name: Jörg Neubart), all of whom previously were of the Satanic thrash metal outfit Hellhammer who had released the mini LP Apocolyptic Raids 1990 A.D. (1983), an album that met with critical disdain with most believing it was an amateurish affair. They had all left with Fischer from the former act when he decided that band had come to its creative limit. Signed to the German 'Noise' label, they launched the proto death metal set Morbid Tales (1984) later that year.
Morbid Tales was a landmark of sorts featuring guttural vocals with a grim and dark musical backdrop. To Mega Therion (1985; "the great beast" in Greek) saw Ain not present but temporarily replaced with Dominic Steiner. The album gained cult status, the cover artwork featuring a painting by H.R. Giger entitled Satan I. The album proved to be a major influence on the then-developing death metal and black metal genres, all the same, it still fell short of their full potential. Before the follow-up of Emperor's Return (1986), Reed St. Mark took over as drummer.
Their next effort, Into The Pandemonium (1987) received critical acclaim for its flirt with avant-garde featuring female backing vocals and classical instrumentation; it was their most experimental album. They were now on their way to mainstream stardom in the metal world. It also saw the return of Ain, as well as a second guitarist Ron Marks. After the follow-up tour, financial trouble, personal tension between the band members and an ill-fated relationship with their record label led to a momentary dissolution of the band.
Six months later, Warrior reformed the band. At this time, Gabriel decided to do a massive about-face; keeping Ain, he brought back Pristly and added Olive Amberg (guitar) and Curt Victor Bryant (bass), and dismissed the remainder of the band from their duties for the goth/thrash album, Cold Lake (1988). Cold Lake saw their music take a sharp change featuring, a move, which saw fans walk away as fast as they could as the band had now been saddled with that avant-garde reputation. Not surprising they had to take a step back. They signed to 'EMI' and regained some of their lost ground with the Vanity/Nemisis (1990) release.
St. Mark would rejoin briefly from Mind Funk. There were rumors of new music but it ended off not to be when Fischer left to form Apollyon Sun. Parched With Thirst I Am Dying, a "best of..." compilation completed in 1992 would be their last recording. The compilation's title was inspired by a Roman prayer. It featured unreleased material, re-recorded versions of older songs and some studio session versions.
Last recording for the band maybe, but not the last for Fischer who returned with Errol Unala (guitar), Dany Zingg (bass), Marky Edelman (drums) and Roger Muller (synth.) as Apollyon Sun to release their debut EP, the self-financed God Leaves (And Dies) in 1998 with their full length album, Sub (2000) following two years later, with Muller being replaced by Donovan Szypura there-after.
The rumors of Celtic Frost's revival came true when, in late 2001, Fischer and Ain began to write music together again, along with Unala on guitar and, from late 2002, Swiss drummer Franco Sesa (a.k.a. Inverted Cross) to develop and record a new, very dark and heavy album. Due to the DIY nature of the project and the project's financing, the completion of the project took far longer than anticipated but finally resulted, in late 2005, in what Fischer and Ain described as "perhaps the darkest album Celtic Frost have ever recorded". The concept was to go back to the beginning days of To Mega Therion and Into the Pandemonium.
The next Celtic Frost album was financed by the group itself through their own label, 'Prowling Death Records', and publishing imprint, 'Diktatur des Kapitals'. 'Prowling Death Records' originally was the self-founded underground label which released the Hellhammer demos and managed Hellhammer's career in 1983 and 1984. That album, Monotheist, was released on May 30, 2006.
On May 29, 2006, Celtic Frost embarked on the most extensive tour of their career, the Monotheist Tour, initially headlining festivals like Wacken Open Air and other's across Europe, USA and Canada in 2006. The tour also saw the group's first ever shows in Japan early the next year.
After the tour, and as the act was preparing for a new album, the following announcement appeared on the band's web page, "Celtic Frost singer and guitarist Tom Gabriel Fischer has left Celtic Frost due to the [irresolvable], severe erosion of the personal basis so urgently required to collaborate within a band so unique, volatile, and ambitious." In other words: Fischer quit! Although the remaining members claimed to want to keep the band alive when speaking to media, it thus far, has not happened.
Footnote: In 2016, both 'Century Media' and 'Prowling Death Records' jointly released an unreleased 7" vinyl single the band originally recorded in 1983 titled Blood Insanity. Oh, and BTW: As Hellhammer the final membership used the names Satanic Slaughter (guitar/lead vocals (1981-1984)), Slayed Necros (bass/backing vocals (1983-1984)) and Denial Fiend (drums (1981-1984)). Also, 'Noise Records' would re-release a large portion of the band's catalog in 1999.