Zurich doom metal heavyweights Triptykon, fronted by the illustrious Thomas Gabriel Fischer, have made their way back onto the music scene with the release of a full-length studio album, the group’s first since 2010 Eparistera Daimones. The new album, Melena Chasmata, is a nine track exodus through the mind and beliefs of Fischer and the rest of the band.
The album kicks off with “Tree of Suffocating Souls,” a song that differs greatly from Fischer’s early work with Hellhammer or Celtic Frost but follows the line set when he broke from Celtic Frost after the release of the bands final album Monotheist. The line being all work coming from Triptykon would be reminiscent of the content on Monotheist.
Back to Triptykon, however.
“Tree of Suffocating Souls” features all the bells and whistles one can enjoy from Fischer and any musical group he’s in. His unique vocals crawling over ultra deep instrumentals engulfs the listener in a cloud of black and mysticism, in all the good ways, but then breaks away into lighter instrumentals all around and features a guitar solo. The squealing solo seems out of place but is executed so well that I buy it and love it. A very solid way to kick off the album, especially since the next track, “Boleskin House,” is a heavy and dark smear of thick guitar and bass riffs with an ominous drum fill crashing away in the background.
With the song’s title being the name of late occultist Aleister Crowley’s estate on Loch Ness in Scotland, the group’s, and Fischer’s, notorious affiliation with Satanism and the occult ring very apparent. But if you’re cool with that kind of stuff, “Boleskin House” is a chilling and powerful homage that leads perfectly into “Altar of Deceit,” the album’s third track.
“Altar of Deceit” is another solid track with all the stuff that makes Triptykon who they are. The song segues into “Breathing,” the album’s heaviest track. Everything on this song is intense and dark. From Fischer’s vocals to the bass, drums and guitar. It’s a mosh-worthy song that exudes energy and literally put an approving scowl on my face. I think this was the desired effect, at least I hope so.
“Breathing” exhales and out comes “Aurorae,” a song that is very much toned down from the thrash-fest that is it’s precursor. The song is, I don’t want to say mellow, but more relaxed than the other songs on the album. It a simple drum and bass part with some simple yet elegant guitar riffage with a low, plodding vocal track from Fischer.
“Aurorae” drifts off and what’s left is “Demon Pact,” a chilling track with stripped down everything aside from an eerie distorted bass line that acts as an intro to a gravitas spoken-word verse by Fischer. “Demon Pact” intensifies as it reaches it’s end and sets the pace for the following track, “In The Sleep Of Death.”
“In The Sleep Of Death” is a mystifying song that fills the listener with an extreme feeling of panic, fear and dread. The crushing vocals paired with the unsettling instrumentation creates this unique yet horrifying listening experience that only true lovers of the genre will enjoy.
Fischer utilizes two separate voices for the vocals. The first is the voice of a man hurt or saddened by “Emily.” This injured voice is offset by a voice defined by growling shouts that heavily distort the lyrics, making them hard to make out at first listen. This adds to the overall confusion and dread created by the track. Both voices speak of “Emily,” giving me the impression that both voices are the same person, just in different times of the story the track is relaying.
When the track ends, a release is felt, as if a weight has been lifted from your chest. The lights seem brighter and your skin tingles. Then the album’s second to last song, “Black Snow,” kicks in with it’s oppressive and plodding guitar and drum tracks. The instrumentation is what I’d imagine a condemned man feels and hears as he walks the steps of the gallows to meet the rope that will end him. This all-encompassing sense of an impending doom is made even more real as Fischer belts out “Black snow! Black snow!” over the ever-ominous and ever-marching instrumentation behind the words.
Throughout all of “Black Snow,” Fischer’s vocals become more and more sinister, as if he’s whispering commands to come to with him to a land unholiness and black.
What makes “Black Snow” an even more impressive and impacting work is it being 12-minutes and 25-seconds long. Half way through, before I realized the song’s full length, I thought the end was near and that some release from this dark and damning world was in sight but I was mistaken, I still had a long way to go.
Around the seven minute mark, the intensity and confusion doubles, making it feel as if you’re falling into some great cold abyss where nothing but black snow and fear exists. The bass and guitar riffs hang heavy on your ears with the drum tracks forever pushing you farther and farther into the blackness and farther and farther away from happiness and light. Minimal vocals add an intense emphasis to the feeling the instrumentation is placing on you.
As the final minute of the song begins to tick away, the song gains a new life, as if you’ve finally reached the end of your journey through the abyss then, all at once, the music drops away and is replaced an angelic whisper that rings pure and good. This whisper marks the first seconds of the album’s final track, ‘Waiting.’
Once the angelic voice drops away, a thick reverberating bass line slowly plods away, one note at a time. Soon, the angelic voice returns but the bass line gives you an very uneasy feeling, as if the same dreadful feeling ‘Black Snow’ gave you is going to be returning. When the drums and guitar kick in along with a devilish whisper and Fischer’s echoing spoken words join in, all hope is again taken away. As a listener, you are not waiting for salvation from the merciless world Triptykon has created in Melana Chasmata” you are waiting for an eternity in suspense and fear.
The sound of “Waiting” breaks slightly to allow a sorrowful interlude but after about a minute, Fischer and the rest of the band return to remind you that your soul is there’s and there is no escaping. All you can do, is wait.
As a whole, this album is fantastic but only for true fans of the genre. If you want to try and break into the dark world of doom metal, Melana Chasmat is not the proper teething ring. Try out a Type O Negative album, not Triptykon. This album leaves you emotional and psychologically exhausted from the terror ride this album takes you on. Although the any song, “Black Snow” especially, can be listened on it’s own for a quick fix of doom and gloom, I strongly suggest you listen to the album in it’s entirety when you first get it. It’s the only way to get the full experience Triptykon is trying to provide.
For more from Triptykon, purchase a CD or buy a concert tickets, here.