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Triptykon, ‘Melana Chasmata’ – Album Review

Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
Century Media Records

The term ‘genius’ is thrown around pretty loosely in music, but in the case of Tom G. Warrior (Thomas Gabriel Fischer), the description is an apt one. From Hellhammer to Celtic Frost and now Triptykon, he has broken new musical ground again and again, and although all his forays haven’t been home runs (‘Cold Lake’ being the most obvious example), Warrior isn’t afraid to take risks.

After the implosion of Celtic Frost, he formed Triptykon, whose debut ‘Eparistera Daimones’ was released in 2010. It was an angry, intense effort that reflected his mindset at the time.

The band’s latest album ‘Melana Chasmata’ is much more somber and introspective, the result of some trying times for Warrior and the band. The album title loosely translated means ‘black, deep depressions/valleys.’ However, there’s no lack of intensity.

That’s reflected in the opening track ‘Tree of Suffocating Souls,’ which has the suffocating moments you’d expect from its title along with anguished vocals from Warrior, but also mellower, doomy parts with more subdued singing. Throughout the album he alternates a measured baritone with throat-shredding screams and ominous spoken word sections.

Triptykon’s lineup on this album is the same as their debut. It includes guitarist V. Santura, who Warrior worked with in Celtic Frost. Those two produced ‘Melana Chasmata.’ They turned up bassist Vanja Slajh nice and loud, giving the doomy songs a rumbling anchor.

One thing that adds to the more overall melancholy vibe of the album is the increased use of female vocals. The ethereal singing mixed with Warrior’s vocals works really well. It’s not overused, but on songs like ‘Boleskine House’ and ‘Waiting’ it adds even more depth and texture.

There are moments on ‘Melana Chasmata’ that are downright catchy, like the chorus of ‘Altar of Deceit,’ and others that are dissonant and oppressive. What makes the album so effective is the arrangements, expertly mixing disparate sounds and intensities into a seamless composition.

In lesser hands, a 12 plus minute song like ‘Black Snow’ could get repetitive and self-indulgent, but Triptykon deftly avoid any pitfalls. At 68 minutes, ‘Melana Chasmata’ is considered a long album, but it doesn’t drag at all.

It’s only April, and there are a lot of albums yet to be released this year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if ‘Melana Chasmata’ ends up on numerous lists as one of the best metal albums of 2014.

 

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