Once again Tom G. Fischer has outdone himself. The second release from his newest project Triptykon called Melana Chasmata seamlessly blends doom metal, death metal and Gothic metal with smatterings of thrash and avant-garde metal. With all of these components at play, things could easily have gone awry if this was attempted by almost any other metal band. However, this isn’t just any band, this is another excellent project brought to us by the man who founded arguably two of the most well known and influential extreme metal bands, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost.
With his latest band, Triptykon, Fischer takes elements that he created in his past projects and expands on them even more. Much like Celtic Frost, Fischer employs female backing vocals on the tracks “Boleskine House” and “Waiting” creating an interesting dynamic in these two extremely slow paced and heavy songs. There is also a major Hellhammer and To Mega Therion era Celtic Frost death thrash influence on the songs “Tree of Suffocating Souls” and “Breathing”. The great thing about the latter tune is that the band was able to perfectly meld a slow and heavy doom/Gothic metal opening and ending with a much faster main thrash arrangement. To mix such differing paces, while making them work is damn near impossible, but somehow Fischer and his cohorts do it with the greatest of ease.
Having said all of this, the album goes well beyond anything that Fischer has ever created in any of his past bands or albums. Melana Chasmata is something totally new and different that you really have to dive into with your full attention. With the exception of “Tree of Suffocating Souls” and “Breathing”, this is a very heavy and slow paced death/doom and Gothic metal album. Many of the songs go far beyond the most down tuned and sludgy songs that most of us have ever heard. You certainly need to go into this with an open mind. I for one am not a huge fan of doom metal and when I began hearing just how slow the pacing was on these songs, I was concerned. However, I fell in love with the album after the first listen. If a band can sell me on a doom metal album that quickly, they certainly have created something special. On the surface, many of the songs may remind you of Type O’ Negative with more of a death metal drive to them. However, the album is so much more than that. There are so many varying layers and elements in every song that it would literally take you infinite listens to catch everything, especially the well placed and subtle avant-garde aspects.
The front half of the album is certainly on the slightly faster side with the two thrash songs I mentioned above and the very heavy Gothic and death/doom style tracks “Boloeskine House” and “Altar of Deceit”. The latter half of the album is where you really need to start expanding your mind. Things slow down immensely, almost to a crawl on the songs “Aurorae” and “Demon Pact”. Of the two, “Demon Pact” is definitely the stronger offering with a slow bass guitar driven arrangement courtesy of bassist Vanja Slajh, great ominous drumming, atmospheric guitar tones and an excellent mix of clean and death metal vocals. “Aurorae” is good, but is the album’s only full clean vocal track and it just lacks some of the substance and layers that you will find on every other track on the album.
“In The Sleep of Death” continues to slow the pacing even more. Once again there are excellent atmospheric guitar licks from Fischer and V. Santura. The death metal vocals featured on the chorus are amongst Fischer’s best on the album. The clean verses sound a bit strained and whiny at times, but it’s no matter because all the song’s strong elements over shadow this.
“Black Snow” is one of the best and most epic songs on the album. It clocks in at 12 minutes and 25 seconds. This song is Gothic metal through and through with the exception of Fischer’s amazing death metal vocals throughout the entire track. Because of it’s length, this is a song that you can really get lost in, making it easier to find some of the avant-garde elements this album has to offer. The bridge section of “Black Snow” is chock full of all kinds of different sounds.
“Waiting” is truly the only song on the album where Fischer and company totally lost me and it’s unfortunate that it ended things. For the second time, the band makes use of female vocals mixed with whispered singing from Fischer. To me the song just came off way too slow and pretentious. Yes Tom, you are good. You know you’re good and we know you’re good, but there are some things that even you can’t make work and this is one of the few.
All in all, this is an absolutely spectacular and original album. I think one of the biggest positives of the album is certainly the writing and arrangements, but something that might get lost in all of that is the absolutely spectacular drumming of Norman Lonhard. Yes it certainly is tough to drum with lightning fast precision, but I would also argue that being able to drum as slow, deliberate and ominously as Lonhard does is just as difficult. Also the length of the songs and of the entire album is just something you don’t see that much of any more. Songs range in length from 5 minutes 47 seconds to 12 minutes 25 seconds. The whole nine track album clocks in at a whopping 65 minutes making for one great musical odyssey. Those of you who “get” what Fischer is doing will absolutely love this album. Be prepared to totally immerse yourself in the music. If you are not willing to do that, Melana Chasmata will probably not work for you. What we get here is a combination of Fischer’s past musical strengths combined with his penchant for always evolving his music. Triptykon’s latest album is an absolute masterpiece and one of Fischer’s finest works to date. If you are someone who is willing to take risks with the metal that you listen to, make sure you don’t miss this one.