1. Tree of Suffocating Souls 2. Boleskine House 3. Altar of Deceit 4. Breathing 5. Aurorae 6. Demon Pact 7. In the Sleep of Death 8. Black Snow 9. Waiting2014 Century Media Records
Celtic Frost fans felt a harsh sting of disappointment when the band split up in 2008. Monotheist, released in 2006, was a brilliant comeback that reinvented their sound, and they seemed poised to quickly respond to that effort with a comparable follow-up. Their dissolution made that unlikely, but vocalist/guitarist Thomas Gabriel Fischer didn't just fade away after the split. Within a few months, he had a new band, Triptykon, going. From there came the fantastic debut Eparistera Daimones, an obvious progression built upon the musical characteristics of Monotheist. That progression has moved further ahead with Melana Chasmata. The band finds thrills in jumping through genres like it was the most natural thing to do. One song will thrash and rip its way through six minutes, while the next song holds back for atmospheric effect. A shift like this, especially within a short span, could be a detriment to the album, but Triptykon proves to be adept at such transitions. Though there are a few uptempo bursts, much of which are contained in the crushing "Breathing," the band embraces a gothic/doom aura that complements the music with flair. There are no set attributes the band conforms to with its music. It's not like you'll hear one song and go, "Well, that's all I expect for the next hour." "Boleskine House" defies expectations with a melodic intro, female vocals, and a rousing guitar lead in the tune's second half. That is contrasted by the feedback-drenched start to "Tree of Suffocating Souls," forshadowing the biting aggression that the track eventually descends into. This is how the entire album works, and it's a formula the band exploits to their benefit. The only real surprise is the moody closer "Waiting," which comes off as a spiritual successor to last album's "My Pain." Just like that deep cut, the track sneaks up on the listener with its level headed temperament. The intensity is toned down, the female vocals return to prominence, and the guitar work has a soulful feel reminiscent of the lighter moments from Ghost Reveries-era Opeth. After so much anger and heaviness, ending on such a light note is jarring, but rewarding all the same. Running over an hour, Melana Chasmata is better paced than Eparistera Daimones, with only one song (the choking sonic horror of "Black Snow") going over ten minutes. There isn't anything as demanding as "The Prolonging" or a throwaway interlude like "Shrine" on this full-length. The nine tracks here still have their share of elongated moments, as brevity has never been Triptykon's strong suit. However, the lack of any lulls in the music is commendable, and time doesn't feel wasted on any song. Though Fischer has been performing music for three decades now, his output with Triptykon still manages to live up to the standards he set with Celtic Frost. So far, Triptykon has included some of the strongest material he's ever been a part of, and Melana Chasmata is no exception. With a tighter focus, both in song lengths and structure, these songs bristle with life, even when the focus is on death and haunted souls. The band's first album was not some lucky break, but a now-obvious message that this band has the chance for longevity to match Fischer's best-known project. Bottom Line: Triptykon continues to shed any resemblance to Celtic Frost with a sleek, doom-ridden sophomore album.