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Having been disbanded for over ten years, Swiss metal innovators Celtic Frost returned in 2006 with new album 'Monotheist', with long-term members Martin Ain and Tom G Warrior joined by a new guitarist and a new drummer. The album is the result of four years of work, and it shows- every aspect of the album is clearly a labour of love, from the music to the lyrics to the album sleeve design, the special edition consisting of a gatefold digipack in a slipcase and including a rather excellent high-quality poster of the album cover.
The music itself sounds inventive and unique, filtering loose, sludgy, chugging doom through the band's raw, proto-black-metal sound of old, mixing this with Sisters of Mercy-style gothic rock influences as well. The darkly introspective, occult-tinged lyrics are honest, intelligent and overdramatic, a lot like frontman Tom G Warrior himself, and whilst they sometimes slip into cheesiness with lines like "Tears are my closest friends" the album manages to get away with it, such is the strength of its personality, atmosphere and conviction.
The vocals range from despondent clean utterances (backed on occasion by gothic female backing vocals), to Tom's trademark barks and 'UGH's right through to harsh, gargled, throat-ripping screams at the junctions at which the sludgy riffs give way to ominous passages of dark and cavernous ambience. The prodution is excellent too, offering both delightfully heav, atavistically raw riffs and clean and crisp clean chords and singing at the same time.
There are some truly memorable riffs and the album is consistently engaging and immensely atmospheric- although it may take a few listens for it to fully work its way under your skin- and whilst the standard release is excellent in its own right, the special edition comes with bonus studio material in the form of a 'Tryptich' of songs, merging the dejected/aggressive sound of the rest of the album with eerie and unsettling soundscapes that are as consistently excellent as the material that preceded them. Celtic Frost sadly disbanded once again after the release of Monotheist, leaving the album to stand as their epitaph and as one of the best metal releases of the millennium so far.
1. Progeny 05:02
2. Ground 03:55
3. A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh 05:38
4. Drown in Ashes 04:23
5. Os Abysmi Vel Daath 06:41
6. Obscured 07:05
7. Domain of Decay 04:36
8. Ain Elohim 07:33
9. Triptych: Totengott 04:27
10. Triptych: Synagoga Satanae 14:23
11. Triptych: Winter: Requiem/Chapter Three: Finale 04:34
Total playing time 01:08:17
Over ten years after their break-up, Swiss metal legends Celtic Frost reformed with the high-profile comeback release 'Monotheist,' an album that successfully recaptures much of what made them great in the first place, without feeling like a step backwards for a band that was constantly reinventing itself.
This is a difficult album to approach, even for those inducted into the world of extreme metal. It's predominantly slow, ominous and crushingly heavy, interjected with old-school thrash metal reminiscent of the 'Morbid Tales' and 'To Mega Therion' releases, and it's almost always overlong. The hammering production values make for a loud and excruciating listening experience at times that will greatly please those who enjoy their metal head-crushingly violent, but this also means that it sounds clinical and less atmospheric than those sludgy early releases, even if the riffs are just as talented and enjoyable.
This isn't an album I could listen to very often, as although I admire it, the persistence of the slow tempo and gothic style do become exhausting, and the central section of the album in particular feels like a long wait for something exciting to come along, something that isn't aided by the presence of overlong interludes bookending the fifteen-minute centrepiece of the 'Triptych' suite. Thomas Gabriel Fischer's vocals are better and more varied than ever, and the whole band is on top form, but this isn't necessarily going to please the old-school fans by sounding predictable and accessible. Just as well, otherwise it wouldn't really be a Celtic Frost album.
3. A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh
4. Drown in Ashes
5. Os Abysmi vel Daath
7. Domain of Decay
8. Ain Elohim
9. Triptych: Totengott
10. Triptych: Synagoga Satanae
11. Triptych: Winter
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh
4 Drown In Ashes
5 Os Abysmi Vel Daath
6 Temple Of Depression
8 Domain Of Decay
9 Ain Elohim
11 Synagoga Satanae