Review Summary: Return of the King
“I liked their old stuff better”. We’ve all heard it. A phrase uttered by dissatisfied fans who watched their beloved band once held to acclaim slowly start to release several lackluster or bad efforts and break hearts. Some of these bands eventually find their way back and make it okay to be a fan again. Comeback albums for bands of this type like Weezer’s “Everything Will Be Alright In The End” and Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” are satisfying enough for older fans, but are still missing some of magic.
After 1987’s “Into the Pandemonium”, Celtic Frost took a huge leap backwards and became a laughing stock of sorts for abandoning their thrash/black metal sound in favor of the bad hair metal album “Cold Lake”, the also disappointing “Vanity/Nemesis”, and the absolutely atrocious nu metal project “Prototype”. Fans were absolutely dumbstruck as to how a band that was once so good could go so wrong. Out of some kind of miracle, there is hope. Not only is “Monotheist” a worthy effort of their early work, it nearly succeeds it despite a different musical direction.
“Monotheist” manages to capture the magic of the band’s first three albums even though it fits more of a doom/goth metal sound. There’s still hints of their thrash/black metal past on certain songs throughout. “Domain of Decay” rips open old memories with it’s flying guitar riffs and Warrior’s signature constipated vocals. The highlight “Ain Elohim” is very “To Mega Therion”-era Celtic Frost. Another nice treat is the return of dueting vocals between Warrior and a female singer with “Drown In Ashes”. Reminding of the style included in several songs on CF’s first three albums, this time even more epic with the sludgy-doom riffs.
While cameos of the band’s past play a big factor into the greatness of this album, some newer sounds are refreshing and enjoyable. As well as the newer overall doom metal direction, some avant-garde elements are explored in several tracks. “Totengott” features mostly a dark ambient style and becomes engrossingly morbid with Warrior’s gutwrenching screams. The beginning part of “Synagoga Satanae” features an interesting drum chant of sorts soaked in guitar feedback. This all building up until those sucker punch doom riffs come and take over.
Overall, this really is a definitive comeback album and serves as a good closing chapter to what will likely be the last Celtic Frost album due to Warrior moving on to Triptykon.