Celtic Frost - Monotheist
From the cold hills of Switzerland comes the first new release in 15 years from the black/death metal titans, Celtic Frost. If you like your music whiny and sappy then leave right now because this is brutality my friends at times beautiful yet utterly sad and at other times they crush your soul with the weight of despair that they inject into their music. This is not merely a cheap "come back" album this is an album in which you can almost taste the sweat that went into it and the band wastes no time releasing their pent up aggression, after so many years of silence, with the devastating opener "Progeny", yet "Progeny" is only a pre-cursor of what is to come.
The literally jaw dropping "Ground" is up next clocking in at just under 4 minutes the band packs more into this track than most bands can put into a whole album. With the excellent blackened vocals of Tom Gabriel Fischer the rumbling bass line that could flatten villages and the guitars and drums that sound like a psychotic killer in a frenzy you can feel the sadness and depression in this track. No happy sappy crap here! "A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh" deals with the subject of "failed emotional grandiosity that turns one into a completely self-obsessed egotistical entity." Take whatever you want out of that, but the beginning of this song gives me goose bumps with the sorrow just pouring out of the speakers with a melancholy guitar and vocals that give a picture of someone in complete despair. You can feel the emotion rising throughout the song and before long it peaks and ends with the tortured screaming of the singer.
"Os Abysmi vel Daath" is inspired by the infamous Aleister Crowley and the name of the song is taken from one of his texts. The song itself is very heavy and almost plodding at times, but still has great structure as well as an opera singer of all things who actually, I must admit, does add to the song. While not one of my favorite tracks this is still quite a solid song. "Obscured" slows the pace down a bit with a rather long opener before the dual vocals of the aforementioned Fischer and female vocalist Simone Vollenweider come into play. They do a great job singing together and this is definitely a beautiful song. I would be amiss if I failed to praise "Ain Elohim" which is on par with "Ground". Opening with some furious drumming courtesy of Franco Sesa the band soon starts firing on all cylinders, but do not back away from slowing it down for a few seconds before restarting the ferocity. I cannot say enough about this song so go out and buy the album and listen to it!
Well every album has to have at least one weak song and after the first 9 songs comes the totally unnecessary "Totengott" which is basically a 4 and half minute dark, ambient scream fest... or something along those lines. The second to last song is "Synagoga Satanae" a truly epic track with an almost Opethian feel to it. The song takes awhile to gather speed, but when it hits it hits with the vocalist spitting out angst and fury and a solid wall of guitars that threatens to tear apart any listener not familiar with the extreme metal scene. This song also shows the extreme talent the band has as the song starts out in English and then switches to Latin and then German and then back to English as well as a choir interjected skillfully into the middle of the song.
Well enough about the music. The production is top notch and the artwork is very dark and eerie. I bought the limited edition double gatefold digi pak for $2 more than the jewel case and it was well worth it with different artwork, a poster, liner notes, and the bonus track "Temple of Depression". I am a Christian and I must say that I find absolutely NOTHING offensive on this CD. If your hesitant about buying this because of the name "Synagoga Satanae" don't be, because if you read the liner notes you'll realize he (bassist, Martin Eric Ain) is being tongue in cheek and sarcastic. The song is basically describing Satan and several of the descriptions and probably more you can find in the Bible. You may have noticed the distinct absence of bands that I compared Celtic Frost too and that is because Celtic Frost simply blows away the competition and there is no comparison. So to sum this up this isn't just my nominee for metal album of the year it is also my nominee for the CD of the year... although that award will undoubtedly go to Paris Hilton since album sales and not skill are the obvious factors for that.
Review by: Joel Hemmerling
Label: Century Media
Total Songs: 12
Total Time: 73:15
Tracklisting: 1. Progeny, 2. Ground, 3. A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh, 4. Drown in Ashes, 5. Os Abysmi vel Daath, 6. Temple of Depression, 7. Obscured, 8. Domain of Decay, 9. Ain Elohim, 10. Totengott, 11. Synagoga Satanae, 12. Winter
Best Songs: 2, 4, 7, 9
Band Lineup: Martin Eric Ain: Bass, Backing vocals, Tom Gabriel Fischer: Vocals, Guitars, Programming, Franco Sesa: Drums, Erol Unala: Guitars
Band Website: http://www.celticfrost.com