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Celtic Frost - Monotheist
Release Date: May 30, 2006
Label: Century Media Records

Rating:
*****
out of
*****

If you're a real fan of heavy metal, what Celtic Frost mean to you is probably largely dependent on your age. For older fans, Celtic Frost were one of the most brutally original bands to ever emerge from Europe. Albums like Into the Pandemonium and To Mega Therion featured band's unusual blend of death metal-like vocals, brutal guitar work, and hammering percussion with the beauty of orchestral arrangements, digital samples, and opera-inspired backing vocals.

For younger fans, Celtic Frost are an often-referenced source of inspiration for many of today's death, thrash, and black metal bands. Since Celtic Frost disbanded under a confusing cloud of an internal identity crisis, their legacy was being the band that recorded something as brutal as "Into the Crypt of Rays" as well as the glammed-out "Dance Sleazy" from the now-infamous Cold Lake album. In fact, it's probably that album that destroyed them.

After 15 years of being dormant, Celtic Frost has regrouped with ever-present vocalist and guitarist Tom Gabriel Fischer at the helm. Reuniting with original bassist Martin Eric Ain, and bringing drummer Franco Sesa and guitarist Erol Unala along, Fischer and company have crafted Monotheist, an album meant to re-introduce Celtic Frost back to the world as originally intended: a brutal, unrelenting force to be reckoned with. They've succeeded.

Beginning with "Progeny", Celtic Frost unleashes their sound on the modern metal world. This is no nostalgic trip down memory lane. This is Celtic Frost as a modern, relevant metal band with something to prove. On songs like "A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh," "Temple of Depression," and "Domain of Decay", Frost show off their channeled aggression and brutality. One might think, "OK, so this is pretty good, but what makes this band any different than any other metal band?" The answer to that question is found in songs like "Drown in Ashes," a dark dirge that features haunting female vocals coupled with some interesting lead lyrics from Fischer; "Os Abysmi Vel Daath", a lumbering Godzilla of a song, and "Ain Elohim," a skullcrushing diatribe on religion that is probably the defining moment of the album.

Celtic Frost are no longer the groundbreaking band that they were in the 1980s. Using samples, classical instruments, and drum machines to enhance their music isn't anything unusual anymore. What they've done on Monotheist, however, is refined the core elements that made Celtic Frost so unique in the first place to near perfection. As a long time fan, it's very encouraging to see the band return not with a half-assed collection of ideas but a fully-formed, carefully constructed headcrusher of an album.

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