Final Six: Tom versus Tom!
Chris Krovatin is the author of three young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You, Venomous, and Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk. He is a contributing writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone’s collective ass. This column represents his opinions–and probably only his opinions.
Within extreme metal, there is a tradition of accenting one’s music with a sharp, guttural grunt—in layman’s terms, an “UNGH!” While I’m sure some music snobs would argue about the origin of this vocal utterance, its widespread use can be accredited to Thomas Gabriel Fischer, A.K.A. Tom G. Warrior of the seminal blackened thrash act Celtic Frost. His forceful, throaty “UNGH!” has inspired generations of death and black metal vocalists to “UNGH!” over drum accents like an army of people who have just tasted some cold, nasty coffee.
There are few comparable vocalizations—one might say Hetfield’s “YE-HAI!” is similar in status—but undoubtedly the hoarse, commanding “GO!” of At the Gates/Nightrage/Lock Up/The Great Deceiver/The Crown vocalist Tomas Lindberg is one of them. Where Warrior’s intestinal grunt is an expression of uncontrollable distaste, Lindberg’s battle cry is the official call to arms of melodic-death-metal fans the world over, a seemingly simple instruction that is in fact the sound of a barrier breaking between the scum and the filth, leading to an utterly insane mosh pit of the truly depraved and unholy.
Therefore, to honor these two great metal frontmen and their signature sounds, I present the Six Best “UNGH”s of Tom G. Warrior and the Six Best “GO!”s of Tomas Lindberg. Whose phrase wins? Tell us in the comments section!
The Six Best “UNGH”s of Tom G. Warrior
1. Celtic Frost, “Procreation of the Wicked”
Arguably the original. This slow, stomping tune begins with a squeal of feedback, followed by a solid, almost clean-voiced “UNGH” that opens up the floodgates to a deluge of obsidian riffery. Hell yes.
2. Triptykon, “Goetia”
On the opening track of Warrior’s long-awaited Triptykon debut, the seasoned grunter culminates the song’s creeping intro with a spirited “UNGH.” It also helps that the first word of the song is, “SATAN.”
3. Celtic Frost, “The Usurper”
The ultimate “UNGH” resides in this rager off of Celtic Frost’s greatest album, coupled with Warrior’s other signature phrases, “HEY!” and “I SAID”—” Full-bodied, throaty, powerful—the great “UNGH” of our time.
4. Celtic Frost, “Progeny”
Off of the opening track from Frost’s comeback album Monotheist, Warrior’s “UNGH” is both a guttural grunt and a reintroduction to his fans. This “UNGH” reminds us that Celtic Frost are back and more evil than ever.
5. Triptykon, “A Thousand Lies”
This song doubles your pleasure with two “UNGH”s, one just as it kicks in and a second soon after. Both are necessary—this furious maelstrom of darkness requires all the nasal grunting it can muster to keep it from exploding like some sort of chthonic bomb.
6. Celtic Frost, “Nocturnal Fear”
This is a rare Frost track, where the “UNGH” doesn’t cue in the song. For a while, you’re raging along, and then, when you think it’s not coming, Warrior “UNGH”s all over your eardrums. Brilliance, truly.
The Six Best “GO!”s of Tomas Lindberg
1. At The Gates, “Slaughter of the Soul”
This is the “GO!” that launched a thousand pits. While the album which bear’s this song’s name opens with the wicked “Blinded By Fear,” it’s not until Lindberg utters this “GO!” that the record truly begins.
2. The Crown, “Devil Gate Ride”
This song comes from Deathrace King, when Tomas was simply a guest star and not yet fronting The Crown. One wonders if his “GO!” here got him the gig and lead to him taking over on vocals for Crowned in Terror.
3. Lock Up, “Detestation”
The “GO!” present on this classic track by Lindberg’s grindcore outfit is somewhat longer than his earlier ones, which is strange given the brevity of a given Lock Up song. That said, its placement and cadence is brilliant.
4. At The Gates, “World of Lies”
The groovy ass-shaker of a riff that opens this song (I’ve always wanted to see someone pole dance to it) is completed when Lindberg lets loose with a firm, decisive “GO!” that brings in the drums and completes this giant-sized death-metal anthem.
5. The Great Deceiver, “Today (Is The Tomorrow You Were Promised Yesterday)”
Though Lindberg’s industrial-hardcore band always remained a little under the radar, their 2004 album Terra Incognito is an odd but satisfying hunk of mid-2000s metal experimentation. The “GO!” here is much like the song—succinct, unfamiliar, but very cool.
6. Lock Up, “Brethren of the Pentagram”
To be fair, this last “GO!” is questionable—while it kicks off the song in classic Lindberg fashion, Tomas might just be saying “ARRR!” Still, this introductory growl is so awesome, I officially deem it “GO!”-worthy. Got a problem with that? “GO!” fuck yourself.