Female vocals, long a trademark of Celtic Frost recordings, make their Monotheist debut on Drown In Ashes, courtesy of German singer Lisa Middelauve. Operatic wunder-woman Cornelia Bruggmann takes over on the crushing Os Abysmi Vel Daath, which sees Warrior channeling the work of famed occultist Aleister Crowley over an army of churning guitars.
New guitarist Erol Unala was pivotal in Monotheist’s creation, receiving writing credit on more than half of the album’s eleven songs, plus the digipak bonus track Temple Of Depression. Unala had been working for years with Warrior in Apollyon Sun, the industrial-inflected band the latter had formed in the wake of Celtic Frost’s demise. Most notably, Unala had a hand in the Sisters Of Mercy-esque Obscured (which also features backing vocals from Simone Vollenweider, who would go on to work with Warrior in his post-Frost outfit Triptykon), not to mention the satisfyingly primitive thrusts of Domain Of Decay and Ain Elohim, both of which evoke choice To Mega Therion.
Monotheist producer/ Hypocrisy mastermind Peter Tägtgren and Satyricon frontman Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven step into the vocal fray on the punishing 14-minute reverie Synagoga Satanae before the album closes with the symphonic instrumental Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale). It’s a fitting title for the last song on the last Celtic Frost album.
Released on May 29, 2006, to almost universally rave reviews, Monotheist has since achieved exalted status in the Celtic Frost catalogue. It’s both the comeback album that nobody expected and the return to form that helped many fans forget—or at least overlook—past atrocities, perceived or otherwise. Unsurprisingly, Warrior has gone on record saying that Monotheist is the Celtic Frost album that should have followed Into The Pandemonium.
As of this writing, Monotheist is probably Celtic Frost’s last will and testament. The band officially split up -- again -- in 2008. Warrior went on to form Triptykon, but given his proclivity for quitting and reforming Celtic Frost, the door to yet another reunion always seemed open. When Ain passed away unexpectedly in 2017, that door slammed shut forever. At least they went out with a bang.