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Celtic Frost - Monotheist
Review: Unable to step into the same river twice, Celtic Frost aim ahead of the current and make an album that although awkward in style reveals a great deal of potential. The return of Celtic Frost, Monotheist is both the sound of this band grasping their future firmly for the first time in many years, but tries too hard to be current and relevant such that it separates internally like oil and water into its component styles, which become correspondingly more dramatic to compensate.
This weatherbeaten band, whose work co-founded death metal and black metal, explore industrial and gothic sounds, which are closer to the spirit of metal than the indie and punk hybrids common now. Similar to experiments from Coroner (Grin) and Kreator (Renewal), the need for rigid rhythm limits the emotional range of the band. Trademark Celtic Frost metal has been "updated" with the type of bouncy rhythmic offset riffing that distinguishes both Pantera and Meshuggah, although here more melody and mood are used.
While this gives the creative minds of Celtic Frost new creative texture with which to work, it brings about a fundamental conflict: Celtic Frost was a band built around the grandeur of non-linear presentation, a slow building of emotion, and then a graceful contrast like morning sunlight through thousand-year old ruins. The abrasive style they adopt for about half of their metal content is unfortunately a two-step, and gives them no room to develop; the other half of the metal content is descended directly from atmospheric and doom metal, and clashes with the more immediately tangible material.
Tom G. Warrior unleashes his vocal pipes and is able to slip between a crooning gentle vocal to a thick Gothic nocturne that is reminiscent of Sisters of Mercy or a synthpop bands like Wolfsheim. For a comeback CD, Monotheist achieves phenomenal quality, but the band must find their range first in style and next in songwriting, and that may take another release to get right. The music is good, but the aesthetics need work; it's too symmetrical, obvious, non-magical. Look to the next album for the art to match its concept.