Using elements of black metal, hardcore, and a splash of atmospheric soundscapes; the final album coming from Swedish metal band Celtic Frost seems relevant even 12-years after the first initial release. Monotheistis an aggressive swan-song that orchestrates a head first dive into one of the ugliest glimpses of a dying star.
As the curtain draws to reveal the introductory crunch of the percussion on “Progeny” that begins the hour-long journey, Celtic Frost is predatory. They strike fast on most of Monotheist with an exception to some of the droning, horrid tracks where the band instead becomes layered between sinister patterns. This style throws a refreshing stance on the extremist overlay that creates the initial anger of the opening.
“Progeny” not only uses some grunting and shouting to form a tone of the track, but there is also this sense of hopelessness within the lyrics as well. With Thomas Gabriel Fischer on the vocals, programming, and guitars, he is able to lead the vocal assault on the forefront of rejections. “I bring no god, no afterworld. I am no more than a life, live your life not for you. I am a throne made of dust… If I am you, no life is sacred in my hands. If I am you, no love will prosper in this world, if I am you, I am the faith to end all faith. If I am you, you shall not live to save yourselves” Fischer says through clenched-teeth and a blood-curdling stance.
With one of the longer tracks that starts to show the droning nature of Celtic Frost, “Os Abysmi Vel Daath” also features some clean vocalization and operatic shrills in the backing. Celtic Frost open up the battlefield for their sound as the harsh, low-tuned guitars are a staple on Monotheist.It is a record that hurts the listener as the consistent onslaught of vocalization, the harsh instrumentation, and the darkness that allures to oblivion. Monotheist takes every solid aspect of metal music and creates this barrier that wraps other genres and movements in it as well.
The instrumentation that is led by Fischer, Martin Eric Ain, Erol Uenala, and Franco Sesa is a powerhouse that shows little to no mercy throughout the entire process. Celtic Frost holds this standard with their ability that still reverberates even after the record is finished. The memorable riffs and progressions are such vital pieces of Monotheist and their overarching noise takes a stance on the unholy. The record is a stage-diving, crowd surfing, mad-dash to the finish in some aspects, but there are also moments where Celtic Frost can cause a reprieve.
The punishment in question comes in form through “Domain of Decay” where the constant resonation elements take the guitar solos, the pulverizing drums, and the screams into the eventual black death. The final half of Monotheist is just as relentless as the opening as “Ain Elohim” starts to flood the frame with blast beats and the snap of bone from the airwaves. The offering that Celtic Frost beckons is just outstanding however as Monotheist is a perfect send off that ended the band after multiple disbands, name changes, and one of the best works of the band’s career.
With a forceful entry, a wallop of instrumentation, and a generally sinister sound; Celtic Frost makes for one of the best releases after a long hiatus. They maneuver to create a sound that follows no trend, but instead stands well enough on its own to make something truly substantial. Something that is bigger than music, a record that truly hurts and brings a harsh new reality to the forefront of hope.
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