Celtic Frost - Monotheist (2006)Release ID: 930

Celtic Frost - Monotheist (2006) Cover
Saxy S Saxy S / May 03, 2020 / Comments 1 / 1

In all my years of listening to and reviewing music, I can recall very few instances in which an artist has made a drastic pivot in the way of sound and timbre than that of Celtic Frost and their album Monotheist. I can find even fewer artists who were able to pull it off as brilliantly as Celtic Frost did! I really love how this album creates an atmosphere that is gripping and uncomfortable, and refuses to let go of the listener for the entire sixty-eight minute runtime. All of this considering that it had been over a decade since the last Celtic Frost album.

And part of that is how it diverts the listeners expectations. The album starts pretty pedestrian enough by Celtic Frost standards; "Progeny" is a fairly heavy tune by comparison, but as the tune progresses, you can hear the deliberately slow breakdowns and melodic passages in the guitar. "A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh" is where the album takes a dark turn. This song is slow, brooding, uncomfortable, and aching for some release. We do eventually get it near the end, but the way in which this group were able to build the track from small beginnings to, relatively, hellacious conclusions, it shows how excellent this group was at creating atmosphere, even during their peak thrash metal days during the mid eighties.

When this album does get heavier beyond the first two tracks, it always feels less mosh-like than before. These sections are brooding as well, highlighted by some of the bands most introspective lyricism. Sure, the band always had a knack for speaking of the occult, but their first albums were all about mythology and epic tales. Whereas here? This poetry is nihilistic, pessimistic, lethargic. Quite fitting on an album like this. Where the music is slow, almost to the point of dirges at some points, the anti-religious sentiments hit much harder.

And of course, those lyrical themes would prove meaningless if you couldn't hear them, but rest assured, this album sounds top notch. The guitars and bass are echoing each other throughout a majority of this project, but the bass does have a strong presence in the overall mix. The percussion work is stellar; building at just the right moments, and then slowing down to a snails pace during the doom-y, breakdown sections. And of course, Thomas Gabriel Fischer's vocal work is stunning. He delivers these words exactly the way that were meant to be sung, whether that be slow, monotone dirges, hushed whispers, or confused screams. The screams are probably my favourite part, since they are easily audible.

Then you have "Triptych". It starts off with a piece that, by today's standards, would have no problem fitting into a Lingua Ignota record. The second act is the culmination of this sound that Celtic Frost have displayed throughout the album. And while the track is still pretty decent, I do find it drags a little too long. And the closing moments are soft and warm strings that bring this journey to a peaceful end, whatever end that may have meant. The "Triptych" suite is not really a great piece altogether and it does diminish the quality of the entire album for me.

Perhaps fittingly, after the bands most introspective, nihilistic and thematic on death, Celtic Frost would disband in 2008, with Monotheist being their last major release. Maybe a fitting conclusion that Fischer knew was inevitable during the album's composition process. But I can't think of a much better way to go out. Celtic Frost revitalized their careers, if only for a moment, with not just one of their best records, and not just one of the best doom metal records, but one of the most important (and best) records of the 2000s.

ZeroSymbolic7188 ZeroSymbolic7188 / May 31, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

This is the heaviest album I have ever heard. I've heard a lot of heavy albums. I've heard the most omnious, dysmal, desolate funeral doom. I've heard the most brutal, violent, disgusting death metal. I've heard the most raw, evil, and satanic Black Metal. I've heard grindcore, slam, pornogrind, power violence. I've seen what modern deathcore has to offer. I've heard faster, angrier, more downtuned, more aggressive things than this, but nothing heavier.

I wear a battle vest almost all the time. Including to the high school I work at. I insist on it. When one of the students takes interest and asks me "So Mr. Symbolic, lets cut through all the bullshit, what's the heaviest thing you've heard?" I tell them "The Monotheist Album from Celtic Frost." Without hesitation.  "What does it sound like Mr. Symbolic?"

It sounds like "A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh", and  let's consider how heavy that concept really is. Imagine being a God, a being of unfathomable power, perhaps millenia old. Then something happens that actually kills you, and when you come back from death it's as a weak and pathetic mere mortal, and you feel things like pain, hunger, cold, and fear for the first time. That's the kind of thing we are dealing with here.

It's an hour long with each track building on the prior, it get's increasingly pulverising with each track.

Imagine a small but impenetrable prison, that you are being held captive in. Now imagine that every 5 or ten minutes it's walls reinforce themselves becoming  harder and harder, more and more oppressive. That is what listening to this album feels like. It starts off from the rip in a place that most albums won't even get to, and then it just keeps building on itself. 

Despite this bleak metaphor the album is fun to listen to, but somedays it's just honest to god too much, and I'm a seasoned listener of some pretty intense stuff. For that it deserves your time. Listen to it beginning to end. It's exciting enough that you won't get bored, but you do need the whole hour to fully appreciate how heavy this shit gets. Ask around, I would not say that if it wasnt the absolute truth.

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / December 19, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

Song writing is a fine art form. A skill that only very few excel at. You can admire well-structured and cleverly built songs all you like, however for me the real praise needs to be reserved for those that elevate their song writing to truly deranged levels of morbid grandiosity. That ability to truly detach from the expected, to actively seek to shy away from the conventional is where my eyes go all glossy with adulation. To that end, my discovery of Monotheist today for the first time has been nothing short of a revelation.

To be honest, I rarely listen to Celtic Frost and had most certainly not thought to connect them with doom metal. Of course, now I sit down and acknowledge that this last offering from CF sets the scene perfectly for the very similar sounding Triptykon, it all falls into place nicely. That having been said part of my stunned and slightly quizzical look on my face cannot hide that sense of being caught genuinely off-guard by a record for the first time in absolutely years. Although relevant, comparisons with Tom’s latter day output are not altogether an accurate reflection of just how good Monotheist is.

Which ever release I listen to from Triptykon, it exudes some sense of measure and control. It feels like some of the rampant emotions of Monotheist have been brought to heel in the intervening years that have passed since CF ducked out (on a high). That is not to say that Monotheist is bat shit crazy either, whilst it most certainly lacks some of the dark composure of Triptykon it is still a deviously calculated record to listen to. Whilst it starts off perfectly normal with heavy opener Progeny providing an above average welcome to proceedings, this is a record that slowly unravels and unhinges itself the further you get into it.

As well as Tom’s increasingly demented vocals there is a growing sense of groove and bend to those riffs also. As songs start to crash into feedback-soaked endings it is with a degree of wonder that you must ask yourself if the four years of recording was the route the band should have stuck with for their entire careers, such is the level of accomplishment prevalent over these eleven tracks.

Clear album highlight is the penultimate track (proper), Totengott. Its blend of harsh black metal vocals and noise-like atmospherics are a stunningly macabre glorification of evil music and Tom sounds rabid on his performance on here. The fourteen minutes plus offering, Synagoga Satanae is a wonderful exploration of doom metal, full of big and memorable riffs. For me, they could end the record right there and do away with the instrumental track that closes proceedings but this still acts as a great palette cleanser to end on.

Sonny Sonny / December 26, 2019 / Comments 0 / 0

Celtic Frost certainly had a turbulent existence. Forming after the break-up of seminal act Hellhammer, leading lights Tom G. Warrior and Martin Ian Ain seemed to have an on/off musical relationship, splitting and reforming the band several times. Despite releasing some of the defining records of the European thrash metal scene, particularly their Morbid Tales and Emperor's Return EPs and the brilliant To Mega Therion album, they seemed to be hell-bent on self-destruction. A little over a year after the release of the more experimental but well-received, Into the Pandemonium, Martin Ian Ain and drummer Reed St. Mark had left and the new lineup made a blatant grab for mainstream attention whereby they foresook the darkness that made the band what they were and put out a hair metal album, Cold Lake. This so alienated the existing fans that it looked like it was all over for CF and the band split. They reformed and released another underwhelming album, Vanity / Nemesis, before splitting again. Reforming yet again in '01 they put out a horrendous demo called Prototype that should have finished them off.
However, they stuck it out and in 2006 released Monotheist. At last an album worthy to carry the Celtic Frost name, Monotheist takes the darkness of the early thrash releases, slowing the pace down to a largely doom metal tempo and adds a heavy gothic atmosphere to the proceedings, resulting in their best album for two decades and laying the foundation for Warrior's subsequent band Triptykon. The production is very good, allowing all the instruments room to be heard, the songs are great, the riffs are heavy as hell and Tom's vocals are ominous and threatening.
Personally, I came to Monotheist a bit late, having long before given up on the band, but I guess quality wins out in the end and thankfully, this allowed Celtic Frost to bow out with their heads held high.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 16 | Reviews: 4


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 11 | Reviews: 3


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 6


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 5

The Fallen
Doom Metal

Doom Metal (conventional)

Voted For: 0 | Against: 0

#5 in Tymell Top 20 Releases
#17 in ZeroSymbolic7188 Top 20 Releases
#10 in KosieKat Top 20 Releases