Tom G. Warrior (of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost fame) and his newer incarnation, Triptykon, will be performing at select festival dates in 2014 and will be embarking on a full European tour with reunited extreme metallers At The Gates in December 2014. The band has a new platter on offer: 2014’s Melana Chasmata.
One thing Warrior did well, right from Celtic Frost’s beginning, was utilize fantastic, grade A+ cover art. H. R. Giger is a king of darkness and horror, and Melana Chasmata does not leave us wanting. Seeing some new Giger is wonderful, and it’s pure killer cover art.
Melana Chasmata, as a whole, does seem to mix industrial, death metal, thrash metal, and dark ambient textures fairly well. Exploratory and experimental, the band shuffles through riffs and production ‘extras’, seemingly searching for that magic formula that’s going to “hit”. The record does offer different tempos, textures, and feels per song, but they don’t seem to have that same end point that those really fantastic genre manipulators tend to get. Meaning, the tunes seem to freely associate between various moods, but the record on the whole doesn’t seem to have a goal: it seems to be self-actualizing.
A listener languishes during hauntingly beautiful vocal duets “Boleskine House”, only to be dragged in to a circle pit during the latter half of “Breathing”. The spoken-word passage over what sounds like a fantastic neck snapping riff during “Tree Of Suffocating Souls” is more distracting then awe-inspiring, unfortunately. There’s also what sounds like an acoustic guitar solo preceding your typical ‘whammy bar abuse’ solo, which adds a dimension to the music, but… to what end? The songs are as long as prog rock epics, but without the prog rock showmanship. The “alternative and college radio” single, “Breathing”, is shortest in duration, at 5:50. “Black Snow” is the longest, at 12:24. With these tunes being as protracted as they are – each one a mini tour de force – they ought to work very well for the band and the label in the “buy singles” climate happening nowadays. Because the songs are so long and tend to ramble or vacillate between ideas and themes, it’s impossible to characterize any one tune as any one style.
Art, this is. Difficult to interpret, this is. Still speaking in prosaic and florid vagueness, Warrior channels various emotions in to his lyrics that astute (and well-acclimated) listeners surely can pick out and relate to. It’s perplexing, well-executed, and peregrinates from theme to theme. But it is not compelling or accessible in the sense that the minute you hear it, you’re not grabbed and wowed. It’s one of those unbalancing albums: you’re thrown a bit off kilter until you get used to it. Perhaps it intends to convey a sort of heavy metal purgatory: not quite heaven, and definitely not hell…
After growing up on Morbid Tales and Hellhammer, this feels like a consolation prize. Sure, it has great moments, but a whole lot of average-ness in between. Hardcore “absolute” fans of Warrior’s musical projects will snap this up as a fantastic offering to them. Warrior claims it’s ‘a sequel to their previous offering, without being a copy’. Warrior’s fans have starved a while, waiting for anything new from him. Great artists can ‘sing the phone book’, and their hardcore fans will pick that up and praise it – such is the mindset and the apparent aim here.
As an interesting related note, physical copy owners rejoice! Melana Chasmata is available as a special box set (limited to 2000 copies) with the following extras: A 32-page booklet and an additional 12-panel fold-out cross-booklet; the paraphernalia comprises a silver Triptykon-“T” necklace, 2 specially manufactured Triptykon candles, a Triptykon tote bag, a poster, and 3 postcards. If you’re in the mood for some quirky, quasi-doomy extreme metal, featuring really long-playing songs by one of the genre’s pillars, pick this disc up.
Tree Of Suffocating Souls
Altar Of Deceit
In The Sleep Of Death
Tom Gabriel Warrior – voice, guitars
V. Santura – guitar, vocals
Vanja Slajh – bass, vocals
Norman Lonhard – drums, percussion
- from 17.99 on vinyl