Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (2014)
Review by Jude Felton
Over the past three decades the Swiss genius that is Tom Gabriel Warrior has helped create, shape and influence virtually all facets of extreme metal. From the early days of the once derided Hellhammer, through the years of the avante garde Celtic Frost, up until the present day with his current band, Triptykon. It’s not always been pretty and he is certainly not a man who is afraid to experiment, but above all he is a true pioneer.
Where Triptykon, which is a band and not just Warrior with session musicians, succeed is where so many veteran musicians fail; they push the boundaries of their music forward. There is no stagnation, it is most definitely not boring and it is never safe. Some bands, who shall remain nameless, continue farting out album after album of forgettable material, with fans returning to their early works, just to remind themselves that they were actually good, once. There is no such worry with Triptykon which although a relatively new band, with this being their second full length, there is still that musical legacy of Warrior’s attached.
Now, it may sound as though I am hyping up Melana Chasmata, or more specifically Triptykon and Warrior, but it is for very good reason; this is an outstanding album. With the old school elite, such as Carcass and Behemoth, delivering incredible albums over the past few months, I can honestly say that this surpasses both in terms of quality and sheer scope. That, my filthy friends, is no mean feat as both Surgical Steel and The Satanist are outstanding albums. Melana Chasmata, however, is a truly special beast from start to finish.
There is a wonderful depth to this album that may not be totally apparent on a first listen, especially with the frenetic intro of the opening track Tree of Suffocating Souls, but it soon makes itself clear to the listener. I’m not going to waste time shuffling this album into a safe sub-genre for you; Triptykon IS a sub-genre and Tom Warrior is the ring-leader of this wild circus.
Through the course of nine songs, and almost 70 minutes, there’s aggression, melancholy, music that cascades through your very soul, and yes, there’s a death grunt or two. Above all, it is an incredibly dark and personal album, yet strangely uplifting at the same time. The vocals, both lead and backing, are passionately sung, shouted, growled, and there’s no denying that Melana Chasmata comes from the heart, albeit a dark heart.
Where some bands define their heaviness through speed, both fast and slow, or by how ugly they can sound, Triptykon don’t have to force it; this is naturally an incredibly heavy album, even through its more reflective and mellow moments. And let’s not forget to mention that bass sound. Some musicians manage to obtain a beautifully low sounding resonance to the four-stringed weapon of mass destruction. On this album, however, it literally sounds as though it is digging tunnels; it is that low down and brutal.
As is usually the case with my reviews, I don’t like to focus too much on individual songs or give you a blow-by-blow account of the album; that’s for you to enjoy. I much prefer to absorb an album in its complete form, and this is no exception. There are wonderful songs here, nine to be precise, and Breathing and the 12 minute Black Snow are probably my favorites right now, but I implore you to digest Melana Chasmata in its entire beauty and magnificence. It’s not an album that you should skip to and fro from, not in my opinion anyway.
With Melana Chasmata I believe that Tom Gabriel Warrior, along with V. Santura, Norman Lonhard and Vanja Slajh, have created a musical masterpiece. This is an album of its time AND of the future, and will make just about every year end list if there is any justice. I can tell you now that it’s number one on my list, already, and I cannot see it being dislodged. Yes, it is that damned good.
1. Tree of Suffocating Souls
2. Boleskine House
3. Altar of Deceit
6. Demon Pact
7. In the Sleep of Death
8. Black Snow
Melana Chasmata is released by Century Media on April 15th and will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital.