After the massive artistic success of Into the Pandemonium, Celtic Frost leader Thomas Gabriel Warrior was abandoned by his other bandmates and left to re-create the band. On top of that, Celtic Frost's fanbase had expanded into a literate bunch who desired the avant-garde tendencies of the group and waited for yet another landmark album. So when Warrior appeared with teased hair and a traditional metal sound, the backlash was legendary. History has painted Cold Lake as a pop-metal disaster, often branding Tom Warrior's new lineup and image as a calculated plan for financial success. But anyone with even a passing knowledge of what made for successful '80s radio should know that this record doesn't contain one track that could have broke into the mainstream. Often recalling the classic work of Iron Maiden with a touch of Megadeth's technical wizardry thrown in, it does sound like a different band. But these songs are actually lively and energetic, filled with some of the most memorable riffs and catchy songs in the Celtic Frost catalog. Sadly, Warrior's tendency to write cliché-ridden lyrics isn't hidden by the usual Celtic Frost weirdness, and his mean-spirited attitude toward women makes songs like "Dance Sleazy" hard to take. But if these detriments can be forgiven, there is some really interesting stuff here. A fascinating tribute to Marilyn Monroe ("Cherry Orchards") offers a unique viewpoint of her life, while "Roses Without Thorns" is a curious metal anthem that contains some killer dual-guitar interplay. Still containing Celtic Frost trademarks like eerie female vocals and unanticipated tempo changes, only a few tracks disappoint musically. Looking past the vacuous groupie tracks, there is some vibrant heavy metal here that is longing to be rediscovered by fans who can appreciate how good this is considering Warrior's unenviable situation. It's still the worst Celtic Frost album, but the truth is that Cold Lake really isn't that bad.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano