CELTIC FROST: Special Report From 'Monotheist' Listening Session In Berlin

Timo Isoaho has filed the following report:

There's a sign outside the old church in Berlin saying "Today: CELTIC FROST listening session." I would call that dark humor, no question about that.

Inside the God's temple, there's whole bunch of European metal journalists waiting to hear the long-awaited new effort by CELTIC FROST. Most of the journalists look excited; it's clear that this isn't "typical" listening session at all. No, it's the new and long-awaited album by Switzerland's finest. I am excited, too, as CELTIC FROST has been one of my favorite groups since the mid-Eighties. Everybody knows that the band evolved from HELLHAMMER's grim black metal to CELTIC FROST's avantgardism ("Into the Pandemonium") and later even hard/glam rock ("Cold Lake"). So, after all these years, what should I expect from the new album "Monotheist"? Well, I have heard the demo track "Ground" but otherwise, I have no clue.

Some minutes later, CELTIC FROST's Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain enter this devoted place of God. With the dark make-up around his eyes, Tom looks calm and mysterious. He decides to stay in the shadows by the side when bearded Martin rises on the shrine and start talking. The next few minutes, he tells us about the process of making the new album and lyrical concept (there's a fascination with death, for sure!). Suddenly, the bass player is gone and the first track "Progeny" starts pounding from the PA after we have been given hymn-book (with CELTIC FROST's new lyrics on the pages of it). Over hour later, the album expires with "Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)".

Well, it's difficult to describe exhaustively, but some things... The sound of the album is absolutely massive but at the same time, very raw. Most black metal bands can only dream of getting a sound like this. Guitars and bass are extremely, and I truly mean extremely, sharp and heavy. Now and then during the album you are able to hear some fateful gothic influences and moody female vocalists and even legendary "UHH!" screams too. Most of the tracks are really slow, menacing doom metal. Or in this case, maybe term "doomed metal" describes the sound even better. However, there's some really fast parts too. And the riffs are just punishing, Tom's vocals vary from magnificent death metal grunts to something utterly beautiful, and the whole atmosphere just takes the listener into the pure darkness. And it's a haunting feeling! This is as close as you can get total death in musical terms...

Some newer bands that could be mentioned in the same sentence as new CELTIC FROST might be TYPE O NEGATIVE (when they are at their heaviest and most atmospheric), MY DYING BRIDE and even NEUROSIS plus SUNNO))). And maybe a group like FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM too. None of those are not like this, not even close, but there's slight similarities here and there.

One thing is for certain: the album is not similar to anything this band has released earlier. As Martin tells me later, "We don't want to look back. When we were creating this album, we didn't listen to the old albums and think like, 'Hey, there's cool riff in 'Procreation (Of The Wicked)', let's use that" or 'Circle Of The Tyrants' is great, let's write another track like that.' No way. This is new CELTIC FROST."

Later that afternoon, it's great to notice that Tom is really satisfied with the new album. Of course, bands are always satisfied with their latest release (or at least they pretend to be) but it's easy to sense that there's no bullshit going on this time. No, he is seriously proud of Monotheist". But he already has new plans.

"It's my goal to make the next record even heavier and gloomier," he points out.

"If that's possible..." is my reply.

"Yes it is," he says assuredly.

What about live shows? What tracks are we going to hear?

"Of course, some new tracks and then older ones from 'Morbid Tales', 'To Mega Therion' and 'Into The Pandemonium'," Tom reveals. "We don't play anything from 'Cold Lake' or 'Vanity/Nemesis' as they are not 'real' CELTIC FROST albums. And maybe it's time to play 'Triumph Of Death' by HELLHAMMER. We will see."

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