Thomas G. Fischer is a man that has always had a set vision and direction for every project he’s been involved with, and he has probably divided as many opinions as he has united them. Starting his musical career as one of the founding forefathers of the death metal scene with Hellhammer, there was also the critically acclaimed Celtic Frost, as well as the lesser known Apollyon Sun. And with every band came releases that would vary in how their audience would accept it.
Triptykon’s 2010 debut release – “Eparistera Daimones” – was greeted with calls of “return to form” for the artist and his newly created troupe of doomy death-dealers. And so, this, “Melana Chasmata” sees Vanja Slajh (Bass, Vocals), Norman Lonhard (Drums), & V. Santura (Guitars, Vocals) rejoin Thomas (Vocals, Guitar, Programming) for another epic slice of aural darkness.
“Melana Chasmata” pulls no punches and comes straight out of the blocks, as the wonderfully named “Tree of Suffocating Souls” howls with guitar feedback and a raging rhythm. It was a breath taking moment hearing this as before i spun the disk, i had expectations of a slow, lumbering opener. Adding smothering, deep bass lines to some raw vocal performances only adds to the atmosphere.
“Boleskine House” is served up next and brings forth the lumbering doom that i expected at the start. Its simplicity belies the sheer weight of the riffs and it builds in to a inscrutable beast – something akin to its title’s name, as Boleskine House was of course the home of renowned occultist Alister Crowley, which was later bought by none other than Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and is said to be haunted by a severed head! Vanja’s vocals are also highlighted here, as the soothing tones add to the symphony of heaviness.
The most traditional doom track on the disk comes in the form of “Altar of Deceit”, while “Breathing” starts out like “Altar of Deceit” part 2, until the power and fury returns with drum-triplets and frantic riffing. There’s even a breakout moment that you could mosh to! Don’t panic though dear reader, its more than acceptable and all done in the best possible taste. Elements of the track are not that far removed from Slayer and then at the flick of plectrum – crrrrrraaaawwwwwwllllling! Its a great contrast.
“Aurorae” is slow burning, elegant and has a climactic build up. Its one of those tracks that showcases an album and a band playing to their strengths and influences. There is more than a whiff of early 80’s goth rock to it, and that really isn’t a bad thing at all. The spoken word delivery and echo drenched effects will make you want this song to go on forever.
It doesn’t of course, as “Demon Pact” brings an abrupt end to the calming influence with its ponderous weight and uneasy electronic interference, and it’s left to “In The Sleep of Death” to bring back some of the airy melody – but that couldn’t last as the intro gives way to the crushing heaviness again and with some mournful, anguished crooning.
“Black Snow” (the longest track on offer, coming in over 12 minutes) is of course in no hurry speed-wise, but the drama and tension it creates are palpable. Despite the length of the track, I never once felt it had overstayed its welcome which is so easy to do with funeral-paced doom.
The closing track, “Waiting”, was a lovely surprise. Combining elements of Ulver-style minimal electronic atmosphere with more of Vanja’s vocal hooks, purposeful, sparse drumming and deep resonating chords. There is section that can only be likened to a parting in the clouds that lets that single ray of light through. A beautiful end to an entrancing album.
Of course a special mention has to go to the glorious album art, which is of course designed by the legendary artist H. R. Giger!
Overall, it has to be said, there is a massive amount of variety on offer here and you have an album that (successfully) crosses many different genres. The result is something that is genuinely engaging but has such a difficult sound to categorize: its got the depth and dirt of a classic doom album, the rumble and roar of “old school” death metal, enchanting atmospherics, subtle electronica and yet its all brought together with such passion and confidence. Its a bit early to be talking about albums of the year, but expect to see this near the very top of many a magazine and website’s list come December.