Celtic Frost - _Monotheist_
(Century Media, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
Of all the many bands who have decided to cast their lots together for another go at grabbing heavy metal's centre stage, to me Celtic Frost's reunion always seemed the most unlikely. Where the likes of Death Angel and Exodus had gone their separate ways amidst circumstances that were largely beyond their control, Celtic Front weathered the storms and over the course of six massively influential albums (_Cold Lake_ arguably excepted) had seemingly served their purpose, despite splitting up during the creation of the unreleased _Under Apollyon's Sun_. So for the band to make a comeback, it's almost impossible not to at least consider the possibility of the Swiss trio opting to cash in on their former glory.That could very easily have been the case had _Monotheist_ sounded in the slightest like a throwback to 1990, but thankfully the band have avoided that entirely, as their seventh full-length plays exactly like you'd have expected the them to sound in 2006. "Progeny" breaks the fourteen year silence in suitably thunderous fashion, oscillating effortlessly between rolling, almost thrash-like rhythms and a pummeling doom stomp, with Tom Fisher's familiarly gravel-gargling snarl willing it forward with an almost militant sense of authority. "Ground" continues down a similarly doom-laden path, and it becomes more evident that Peter Tagtgren's appointment as co-producer was an inspired choice indeed.The left turn comes on "A Dying God Into Human Flesh", where the material takes on an almost gothic slant (think Type O Negative on _Slow, Deep & Hard_), that's as dark and atmospheric as anything the band have ever done, but clearly may not sit well with some of their more conservative fanbase. For my money it's on this and songs like "Drown in Ashes" -- replete with a haunting female vocal line -- that Celtic Frost prove that they haven't lost any of the core values that made them such an indispensable part of heavy metal history, and if nothing else makes for an album that's exciting enough to ensure that their legend remains unsullied.
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