Melana Chasmata Triptykon CD | MP3 | Vinyl
Century Media Records/Prowling Death Records
Release date: April 15, 2014
Tom Gabriel Warrior (aka Tom G. Warrior aka Thomas Gabriel Fischer) is apparently not a man to rest on his laurels. No one could blame the man if, at the age of 50, he were to trudge around a “greatest hits” package just to cash in on his legendary status. After all, he was the driving force behind not one, but two of extreme metal’s most seminal bands, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. In fact, Warrior is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of both the black metal and avant-garde metal genres.
But, after an ill-fated Celtic Frost reunion in 2007 failed to heal old wounds between Tom G and his long-time collaborator Martin Ain, he swore off both bands forever — a resolution which was reiterated 7 years later when he turned down an offer of $140,000 for Celtic Frost to play a single, one-hour reunion set as the 2014 headliners of metal’s biggest festival, Wacken Open Air in Germany.
No, Mr. Fischer has no time for a stroll down memory lane, because he is busy working on a trifecta. His latest band, Triptykon, is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most bone-crushingly heavy, black, sludge, doom metal bands in the world.
Back in April, the band released their second full length disc, Melana Chasmata, the title of which is a Greek phrase that translates roughly to “chasms as black as ink.” The cover art is, once again, by famed Swiss surrealist painter, Warrior’s close personal friend and fellow Swiss export H.R. Giger (of Aliens fame), who passed away in May. Both the title and artwork are befitting of the aural assault that lies inside.
The album’s first track, “Tree of Suffocating Souls,” opens with a howl of guitar feedback over a blast-beat and then proceeds to veer between frenetic thrash and down-tuned spoken word doom sections that sound as though Satan himself were proselytizing from your speakers. And all of that is a mere warm up for what is to come. The second track, “Boleskin House,” the title of which is a reference to the castle of the same name on Loch Ness where Aleister Crowley performed his infamous black magic rituals and is now owned by Jimmy Page, may be one of the heaviest slower-tempo songs ever recorded. It features a beautiful, lilting, female vocal counterpoint, a device which Tom G has utilized to great effect over the years. The album continues to gain momentum with the surprisingly catchy, monster riff palettes of “Alter of Deceit” and “Breathing.” Up next is “Aurorae.” This track is an instant classic as it may be the single best thing that Warrior has ever had a hand in. The song builds from a slowly creeping sinister riff to an orgasmic climax as Warrior’s vocals convey the pain of “a spirit wasting away.” “Demon Pact” manages to capture the evil that you would hope for from a song with such a title. “In the Sleep of Death” finds Warrior channeling Edgar Allan Poe through a gothic metal vocal performance pleading for answers from a departed love. At 12 minutes and 25 seconds, “Black Snow” clocks in as the album’s longest track but has a motif interesting enough to keep one’s attention throughout. The album closes out with the avant garde track “Waiting,” where again Warrior’s demonic vocal delivery and Earth-mover-sized riffs are intertwined with the almost angelic female counterpoint assuring each other “we are the same” as though heaven and hell are forging a fragile truce.
When I first heard this album, I found myself harboring the heretical notion that this was the greatest moment of Warrior’s storied career. I expressed as much on my Facebook wall and was met with scoffs and skepticism. However, after my fellow metalheads had a listen for themselves, they almost unanimously agreed with me.
Triptykon’s 2010 debut album Eparistera Daimones was a very good, if uneven offering that hinted that maybe Tom G. Warrior still had some brilliant angst left to vent. Melana Chasmata surpasses any and all expectations, proving that sometimes the third time really IS the charm.
Melana Chasmata is available now worldwide through Century Media/Prowling Death Records.
Album rating: 9.5 out of 10
[Cover art by H. R. Giger]
Triptykon is V. Santura (guitar, vocals), Norman Lonhard (drums, percussion), Vanja Slajh (bass), and Tom Gabriel Warrior (voice, guitars).
Track Listing [67:25 minutes]
1. Tree Of Suffocating Souls
2. Boleskine House
3. Altar Of Deceit
6. Demon Pact
7. In The Sleep Of Death
8. Black Snow
Triptykon “Boleskine House”
A version of this review was originally published on the writer’s personal blog.