Celtic Frost - Monotheist

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8282-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:21:00

My first encounter with Celtic Frost occurred in 1986 when, based on good press, I picked up To Mega Therion, their second album. Man, what a mind-boggler that was! The music was intense, heavy with dread and doom, and downright scary in spots. And it wasn't just guitars; there were horns, strings, and what sounded like an opera singer (an opera singer???), and damned if the vocalist didn't need serious throat surgery. Hell, that surely couldn't be singing, could it?? Go figure, To Mega Therion became one of my favorite albums that year, up there with Reign In Blood and Rage For Order, and one of the most influential albums of my life. I wouldn't hear music, especially heavy metal, the way I had before; To Mega Therion had changed me, forever.

Flash forward 20 years, and Celtic Frost has re-captured me, only this time the circumstances are damned near miraculous. 16 years after their last original release, the Frost have resurrected themselves and delivered what has to be this year's metal masterpiece, Monotheist.

Now, that's tough talk, I know. But Monotheist is a masterpiece, maybe the best thing that Celtic Frost has ever done, outclassing To Mega Therion and even Into The Pandemonium, hailed by many as the Frost's finest work. Diehards may groan (or worse) and unbelievers - well, who cares what they're saying? Because here's the good news: 16 years may have passed, but it's like Celtic Frost never left. Monotheist picks right up where its forebears left off, with a good, old-fashioned Frostian ass-pummeling.

And what a pummeling it is, downright BRUTAL, in fact. The sound is massive; guitars and basses drone and thud, scraping the ears like glaciers ripping away earth, while Franco Sesa's drums are the pace, thrashing ("Progeny," "Ground," "Temple Of Depression"), funereal ("Os Abysmi Vel Daath," "Synagoga Satanae") or anywhere in between. Thomas Gabriel Fischer's vocals have never been meaner or more in charge; ferocious snarls, growls, and those signature death grunts abound, but when Fischer commands "In darkness thou shalt worship Me!" ("Synagoga Satanae"), you know the man means business.

But Monotheist is chock-full of surprises, proving that Celtic Frost is much more than just bludgeon and grind. "Drown In Ashes" (sparking memories of This Mortal Coil) and "Obscured" (one the Bauhaus would be proud to call their own) are pure gothic, richly dark and atmospheric, featuring gorgeous female voices and eerily melodic vocals from Fischer. And "Triptych," the ambitious three-part suite, is a progressive metal delight built from Celtic Frost's singular epic vision. The overture, "Tottengott," drifts along on bass, drums, synthesizers and Martin Eric Ain's spooky treated vocals. "Synagoga Satanae," the intensely dark and doom-laden centerpiece, stretches across 14 minutes and lets Celtic Frost turn loose their secret Sabbath. "Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)," Fischer's orchestral dirge closes "Triptych" - and Monotheist - on an appropriately somber note, a welcome release from the vicious onslaught, and perhaps a warning that worse is yet to come....

With Monotheist, Celtic Frost has crafted a triumphant return and set a lofty standard of excellence in heavy metal and progressive rock, too. There aren't many who can muster this kind of effort, and even Celtic Frost may be hard pressed to exceed this level of performance in the future. I personally hope that we won't have to wait another 16 years for the next Celtic Frost album. On the other hand, if it turns out as great as Monotheist, the wait will definitely be worth it! Superb.

(Now, if Pavlov's Dog would just get back into the studio....)

Progeny (5:01) / Ground (3:55) / A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh (5:39) / Drown In Ashes (4:23) / Os Abysmis Vel Daath (6:40) / Temple Of Depression (4:59) / Obscured (7:04) / Domain Of Decay (4:38) / Ain Elohim (7:33) / Triptych: Totengott (4:27) / Synagoga Satanae (14:24) / Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale) (4:32)

Martin Eric Ain - vocals, basses
Tom Gabriel Fischer - vocals, guitars, programming
Franco Sesa - drums, percussion
Erol Unala - guitars, programming

Additional musicians:

Lisa Middlehauve - vocals (4)
Cornelia Bruggman - operatic voice
Michael Sopunov - French horn
Christoph Littman - classical & choir arrangements, conductor
Ravn - backing vocals
Simone Vollenweider - backing vocals
Carla Grundmeier - choir (soprano)
Sibylle Hauf - choir (alto)
Viola hauf - choir (alto)
Florian Lohmann - choir (tenor)
Sebastian Naglatzki - choir (bass)
Satyr - vocals
Peter Tagtgren - death grunt
Keno Weber - choir (baritone)

Morbid Tales (1984/1999*)
Emperor's Return EP (1985)
To Mega Therion (1985/1999*)
Tragic Serenades EP (1986)
Into The Pandemonium (1987/1999*)
Cold Lake (1988)
Vanity/Nemesis (1989/1999*)
Parched With Thirst Am I And Dying (1992/1999*)
Monotheist (2006)


Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin CH

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website: www.celticfrost.com
Hits: 1610
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]