Review Summary: A crushing doom metal record that relies as much on earth-shattering guitar tunings as on a shrewd interplay between the ugly and the beautiful.
As Tom G. Warrior has never been associated with consistency, his output has equally thrilled and baffled metal fans for the past two decades of his 30-year career. The crude extreme metal of Hellhammer, and the early days of blackened thrash luminaries Celtic Frost are widely celebrated. However, the latter lost its nerve in time, releasing the perplexing hair metal misfire that was 1988's Cold Lake
. It took over a decade for Celtic Frost to truly reconcile and return to their trail for 2006's Monotheist
, but they fell apart yet again shortly afterwards. Warrior's new outfit Triptykon is essentially an extension of Monotheist
sound. It's crushing doom metal embellished with driving thrash riffs, serene gothic vibes and a hint of death metal brutality. Their 2010 debut Eparistera Daimones
was a commendable mash-up of these elements, but it's the quartet's new disc that represents Warrior's vision of music executed to near perfection.
doesn't really mark any significant alterations in the artist's approach. It's a pulverizing doom metal record that relies as much on earth-shattering guitar tunings as on a shrewd interplay between the ugly and the beautiful. This duality is not only reflected in nuanced music that often mellows out to encapsulate different shades of agony, but also Warrior's signature jagged style of singing is every now and then juxtaposed with soothing female vocals to stunning effect. Triptykon are aware that the darkness needs to be offset by the light in order for both shades to exude with equal force. That's why, their new effort is so multifaceted.
Opener 'Tree of Suffocating Souls' would sound totally like typical latter day Warrior if it weren't for the distinctly Eastern leanings subtly shining through the track's second half. 'Breathing,' which boasts a non-linear structure, seamlessly fuses the quartet's oppressive style with vigorous, hardcore-echoing mosh riffs. 'Aurorae' provides a moment of respite, resorting to a spoken word delivery built against a hypnotic, unsettingly atmospheric arrangement. Meanwhile, 'Demon Pact' splendidly blends gargantuan sludge metal riffs with eerie industrial soundscapes and an instantly memorable chorus, which makes for a genuinely unique number. The funeral lament of 'In the Sleep of Death' also works really well, embracing a more conventional, slow-paced brand of doom metal. When Warrior experiments with longer forms the effects aren't nearly as astonishing, though. 'Black Snow' is weirdly uneventful for a 12-minute suite, struggling to provide enough variation to make a lasting impression. In addition, the sequencing leaves a bit to be desired. The subdued 'Waiting' may be a captivating song which stands out with its decidedly lighter tone, but it doesn't exactly end the record in a satisfying manner.
Aside from these minor issues, the execution of Melana Chasmata
is nothing short of sublime, treading a fine line between the colossal scope and the insidious darkness. In contrast to previous outings, the lyrical direction is more inspired by personal events than the artist's anti-religious views. There's also a newfound penchant for hooks in Triptykon's arsenal as the infectious, fist-pumping refrains of 'Alter Of Deceit' and 'Demon Pact' attest. However, the album hardly ever loses its sharp focus as Warrior is at last audibly delighting in his creative stability. It's undoubtedly his most impressive collection of songs in over two decades.