Rose-tinted Rearview: Celtic Frost – “Monotheist”

For this segment I’ll be going back over some albums that I consider to be influential in my evolution to a half-assed scumbag. I’ll give a little background and then see if they still hold up to more jaded ears.

Anyone who has been around heavy music for any length of time knows who Celtic Frost are. The legendary Swiss grandfathers of extreme metal have reached their influential tentacles deep into the minds of thousands of different musicians over their more than 30-year run.

My personal exposure to Celtic Frost came at the end of their run, with the last album to be released before the band finally called it quits. Monotheist was released in 2006 and was their first new album in 16 years. Not only had I never had any experience with Celtic Frost before this album, I hadn’t had any exposure to heavy music at all.

In my early teens, when my tail was bushy and eyes bright, I used to hang around on various message boards, usually hosted on InvisionFree. As a part of being a member on these forums, you got to include a signature on your posts, usually containing a custom-made graphic or banner.

All of the signatures I thought were sick seemed to be coming from one place, the now defunct EGFX II. This was a forum dedicated to making “evil” graphics and forum skins, run by a guy known as EvilNoah. I started hanging around the forum, lurking and learning, eventually obtaining a copy of Photoshop and posting my own messy interpretations of that style.

As you might expect, the themes behind the forum were closely tied to heavy music and I would see conversations or graphics for all kinds of bands that I had never know existed. At this point in my life the heaviest shit I had heard was Rage Against the Machine, so this was a whole different world for me.

Eventually, I reached out to one of the established forum members, KingofMetal, for an introductory list into this new genre. He sent me back a list that I promptly downloaded, plugging myself into the likes of ExodusHypocrisyTestament and Celtic Frost. All these bands were influential in their own way but I’m highlighting Monotheist because quite frankly, that shit blew my mind.

I distinctly remember being physically intimidated by this album. It shocked me, I had never heard something this violent and distorted before. It ended up taking me several tries over a couple of month before I actually listened to whole thing. While Exodus was an extension of the punk and hard rock I’d already been listening too, and Hypocrisy eased the blow with melodramatic melodies, Celtic Frost was a fucking gut punch of noise and hate.

Putting this album back through my ears for the first time in a while, it’s obvious to me how much this music ended up influencing my tastes in years to come. I can blame it for my love of distortion, monolithic riffs and neck-snapping grooves. Tracks like “Ain Elohim” that straddle a thick groove between industrial and sludge, or the epic dirge of “Synagoga Satanae” that pounds at your skull for a crushing 14 minutes. These are songs that sent me whimpering for pop-punk ten years ago but now tickle all the right nerve centers.

If anything, the years that have passed have really given this album to some flesh to take root. This is an album almost entirely composed of devastating riffs, elephant-marching anthems of towering distortion, the kind of shit that really appeals to my lizard brain. All this  is carried out at the perfect methodical tempo for head banging carnage. It’s fucking awesome.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my drivel, I’d been thinking about this post for a while but kept putting it off, maybe look for more like it in the future.

But now, feast your own ears on the unforgiving brutality that tore at my young receptors. From my scarred earholes to yours, here’s Monotheist.


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