Monotheist is the sixth studio album by Swiss metal band Celtic Frost, released in 2006 after the band's reunion in 2002 and the first album by the band since 1990's Vanity/Nemesis. Recorded between 2002 and 2005 during the band's reformation, it's a drastic shift from the death/black metal of the band's prime years to a doom/gothic metal sound with elements of black metal.
Monotheist would also prove to be the band's final studio album as Celtic Frost would permanently disband in 2008.
Writing and RecordingEdit
Preparation and development work for the project had been ongoing since 2000, with the possibility of releasing the album that year under the title "Probe" or "Resurgam" (With a later tentative title being "Dark Matter Mannifest"). The band at this point intended to recruit Ron Marks and Reed St. Mark into the lineup along with founding members Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain. In late 2001, Fischer and Ain began to write music together again, along with Unala on guitar and, from late 2002, experienced Swiss drummer Franco Sesa (Formerly of NunFuckRitual; also known within the group as the Inverted Cross). The first recording sessions for the album started in late October 2002. The band consisted of founding members Martin Eric Ain (bass/vocals) and Tom Gabriel Fischer (voice/guitars/keyboards), along with guitarist/producer Erol Unala, Fischer's songwriting partner in Fischer's industrial/EBM project Apollyon Sun. Unala became an increasingly significant part of Celtic Frost during the songwriting.
The band would release a demo album entitled Prototype in 2002 with some parts of songs on that release being re-worked into songs on Monotheist and Triptykon's debut Eparistera Daimones.
The aim was to develop and record a new, very dark and heavy album. The completion of the project took far longer than anticipated (in part due to the DIY nature of the project and the project's financing done entirely by the band.) but finally resulted, in late 2005, in what Fischer and Ain describe as "perhaps the darkest album Celtic Frost have ever recorded", based on a combination of the musical aura of To Mega Therion and Into the Pandemonium. Celtic Frost's earlier work melded elements of thrash metal and black metal. The sound of Monotheist has been described as difficult to reduce down specifics, as the songs vary from doom metal to "blackened thrash" to gothic metal to symphonic metal. The result is a wide-ranging but very dark heavy metal experience.
The group financed the album itself through its own imprint, Prowling Death Records, and publishing imprint, Diktatur des Kapitals. Prowling Death Records originally was the self-founded underground label which released the Hellhammer demos and managed Hellhammer's career in 1983 and 1984. The band would sign a worldwide licensing deal with Century Media through Prowling Death to maintain complete creative control on the musical aspect. The announcement of signing to the label was on 18 January 2006. On 18 February 2006, Celtic Frost and Erol Unala would part ways in the following official statement:
|“|| “Celtic Frost and Erol Unala have chosen separate paths on the verge of the release of their new album, titled "Monotheist". Unala, a long-time collaborator in Apollyon Sun with Celtic Frost founding member Tom Gabriel Fischer, has been a crucial factor in the renaissance of Swiss avant-garde extreme metal band, Celtic Frost.
The necessity of this sacrifice became evident during the creation of "Monotheist". The obligation to his biological family, the responsibility he took on as a patriarch, has led him to lose sight of this family in spirit. We should not blame him. But we did. We have failed to lead him back to the fold, and this lost son did not find his way home. Proof of his creativity will always remain with us in the form of "Monotheist", though.
The greater the sacrifice, the more the loss will be felt. This responsibility is ours. Although the separation has lit the pyre and the smoke is rising, we all feel bound by the code of honor that our past decrees.
Will our God accept this offering?
Only death is real!
Tom Gabriel Fischer, Martin Eric Ain, Franco Sesa.”
— Celtic Frost, Official Page 
Monotheist would be released on 29 May (Europe) and 30 May (United States). It would also see a vinyl reissue ten years later via Century Media.
The Monotheist Tour, Aftermath and LegacyEdit
Leading up to Monotheist's release the band began to announce tour dates, the first date in question being a headlining slot at Wacken Open Air on 4 August 2006. More dates would be announced with Celtic Frost's first live performance of the Monotheist tour (And first live performances since 1990.) would be on 29 May 2006 at Remise in Wil, Switzerland, the same day as the release of Monotheist. On 15 September 2006, Century Media released a music video for "A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh".
What would follow would be the band's most extensive touring cycle of their entire career, with over 120 shows spanning over the course of two years. Even more notable is the band managing to perform more live shows in these two years than in the entirety of their initial run. Along with the European tour in 2006 including multiple festival dates were tours of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and two days in Mexico, which would prove to be the band's final shows (Though not known at the time). Anders Odden would perform as a live guitarist for the 2006 tour dates while V. Santura (Real name Victor Bullok) would perform as the live guitarist for the 2007 dates. Adrian Winkler and a team of camera crew followed the band on these tours, filming for a documentary entitled Celtic Frost - A Dying God. The documentary aired on Sunday, 16 November 2008 on Swiss national TV station SF1 (After the band's demise.).
Fischer tendered his resignation from Celtic Frost on 9 April 2008, with the following message displayed on the band's official website: "Celtic Frost singer and guitarist Tom Gabriel Fischer has left Celtic Frost due to the irresolvable, severe erosion of the personal basis so urgently required to collaborate within a band so unique, volatile, and ambitious.". While the details behind the breakup aren't entirely known it is public knowledge that Fischer had a major falling out with drummer Franco Sesa. The band had intended to perform at the 2008 edition of Roadburn Festival and according to Fischer on the Triptykon forums, the band had intended to perform all of Morbid Tales (Nocturnal Fear the only song never played from that album) along with classic Celtic Frost songs and "Domain of Decay" for the first time.
Martin Ain, at the time of the announcement, stated that the band was "still alive, albeit in a coma of sorts." He went on further to say that the remainder of the band is "not going to continue recording or touring," saying this "would be preposterous" without Fischer. On 9 Septermber 2008, Celtic Frost members Martin Eric Ain and Tom Gabriel Fischer confirmed on Celtic Frost's official website that the band had "jointly decided to lay Celtic Frost to rest for good".
Fischer went to form a new band called Triptykon, featuring Celtic Frost touring guitarist V Santura, original Celtic Frost drummer Reed St. Mark (although he has since departed and was replaced by Norman Lonhard), as well as bassist Vanja Slajh. Fischer has also said that his new band will sound similar to the direction Celtic Frost took on their 2006 album, Monotheist. Many ideas and song concepts have been worked into Triptykon songs. Along with original compositions, the band also performs classic Celtic Frost and Hellhammer songs.
Martin Eric Ain stopped actively playing music entirely and owns a DVD shop and a bar in Zurich called Acapulco. He is also a co-owner of the music club Mascotte, which has become well known for hosting upcoming international bands. He would later appear with a solo track entitled "Grain Dot" on the Hans Trapp compilation (Le Petit Mignon, 2012). Martin Eric Ain died on 21 October 2017 due to a heart attack.
Franco Sesa also got out of the music business entirely and now works in medicinals. Erol Unala is also no longer making music in any capacity.
Anders Odden would remain active with the bands Cadaver and Order in the Norwegian scene, also organizing the Black Metal Bus tour for tourists to see where the places where the infamous incidents of the 1990s Norwegian Black Metal Scene happened.
V. Santura remained active with Dark Fortress but also founded Triptykon with Tom Gabriel Fischer.
Monotheist was ultimately praised in the metal community and even ranked No. 2 (Only behind Electric Wizard's Dopethrone) as Terrorizer Magazine's Album of the Decade.
NOTE: "Incantation Against You" is a bonus track exclusive to the Japanese CD and all vinyl editions. "Temple of Depression" is a bonus track exclusive to the digipak CD version. The final three tracks are referred to as the "Triptych".
- 1."Progeny" - 5:01 (Lyrics: Fischer; Music: Ain, Fischer, Sesa)
- 2."Ground" - 3:55 (Lyrics: Fischer; Music Fischer, Unala)
- 3."A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh" - 5:39 (Lyrics: Ain; Music: Ain, Fischer, Unala)
- 4."Drown in Ashes" - 4:23 (Fischer)
- 5."Os Abysmi Vel Daath" - 6:41 (Lyrics: Ain, Fischer; Music: Ain, Fischer, Sesa, Unala)
- 6."Temple of Depression" - 4:59 (Lyrics: Fischer, Ain; Music: Fischer, Unala)
- 7."Obscured" - 7:04 (Ain, Fischer, Unala)
- 8."Incantation Against You" - 5:06 (Lyrics: Ain; Music: Ain, Vollenweider)
- 9."Domain of Decay" - 4:38 (Lyrics: Fischer, Ain; Music: Fischer, Unala)
- 10."Ain Elohim" - 7:33 (Lyrics: Ain; Music: Ain, Fischer, Sesa, Unala)
- 11."Totengott" - 4:27 (Lyrics: Ain; Music: Fischer)
- 12."Synagoga Satanae" - 14:24 (Lyrics: Ain; Music: Ain, Fischer, Sesa)
- 13."Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)" - 4:32 (Fischer)
- Tom G. Warrior - Vocals, Guitars, Programming, Arrangements, Producer, Artwork
- Martin Eric Ain - Bass, Vocals (3, 8, 11, 12), Producer, Artwork, Art Direction
- Erol Unala - Guitar, Engineer, Programming (6)
- Franco Sesa - Drums
Guests & ProducersEdit
- Lisa Middelhauve - Guest Vocals (4)
- Ravn - Backing Vocals in final chorus (6)
- Simone Vollenweider - Vocals (6, 7, 8)
- Sigurd Wongraven - Vocals (12)
- Peter Tägtgren - Backing Vocals (12), Engineer, Producer, Mixing
- Christoph Littmann - Conductor, Classical Arrangements (5, 12, 13)
- Sibylle Hauf - Choir, Alto Vocals (12)
- Viola Hauf - Choir, Alto Vocals (12)
- Keno Weber - Choir, Baritone Vocals (8, 12)
- Sebastian Naglacky - Choir, Bass Vocals (8, 12)
- Carla Grundmeier - Choir, Soprano Vocals (12)
- Florian Lohmann - Choir, Tenor Vocals (8, 12)
- Jong Sung Choi - Bass (13)
- Ben Groocock, Dmitry Struchkov, Volker Hormann, Ya-Hee Yoon - Cello (13)
- Katarzyna Bugala, Sandra Rehle - Viola (13)
- Frauke Pohlmann, Laurent Plettner, May-Britt Altendorf - Violin (13)
- Walter Schmid - Engineer, Mixing, Mastering
- Philipp Schweidler - Engineer, Mixing
- Michel Casarramona - Art Direction, Artwork
- Arne Neurandt - Assistant Engineer
- Benjamin Schäfer - Assistant Engineer
- This Schweizer - Assistant Engineer
- Popkredit Der Stadt Zürich - Executive Producer
- Roland Brümmer - Executive Producer
- Artje Lange - Management
- Jozo Palkovits - Photography