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Celtic Frost: Monotheist

Celtic Frost: Monotheist

Label:Century Media
Release Date:2006
Genre:Hard Rock/Metal

By John Darnielle | Posted 7/12/2006

Celtic Frost hasn’t made an album in more than a decade, and its late-career drop-off in quality is an oh-God-don’t-do-that benchmark. People still speak of Cold Lake, the band’s 1988 sellout move, with a sort of nauseated reverence. So it was weird when the online buzz for this reunion album went from “humming” to “totally bananas.” Could a band that went from rules to sucks almost overnight get its groove back more than 10 years later?

For the most part Monotheist answers yes. The vibe is evil and spectral and ancient sounding, and you can get pretty lost in it. Peter Tägtgren, a big-name metal producer whose musical taste was certainly shaped in part by CF’s ’86 masterpiece Into the Pandemonium, bears down hard on the incidental noises—feedback, pick scrapes, room echo—and boosts the bass like he’s been wanting to do nothing else for years. The result is heavy and dark and huge—by time you reach the end, things have gotten so ominous and spacious and submerged that you start looking around in the murk for sharks. All reunions should break from the gate with this kind of hunger and intensity; the band sounds focused almost to the point of delirium.

Complaints? Celtic Frost isn’t a band of young men anymore, so breakneck riffage has given way to downtempo fugues thick with doom and sludge. People who remember being blown away by the sheer speed of “The Usurper” will have to live with their memories. Tom G. Warrior’s voice doesn’t sound as identifiably human as it once did, and the declamatory style he now favors doesn’t always work. (Also, he now insists on calling himself “Thomas Gabriel Fischer,” which is nowhere near as bad-ass a name.) Still, there are at least three of Warrior’s trademark death-grunts, and between those and the album’s majestic, frozen climax—which really has to be heard to be believed—there’s enough here to satisfy anybody even half-interested in metal.

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