Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
Century Media
Progressive Doom/Death
9 songs (1:07:24)
Release year: 2014
Official Myspace, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

After the very-well received Eparistera Daimones in 2010, the world was once again Thomas Gabriel Fischer's oyster, and fans have been agog for a follow-up ever since, the splendid gothic tones of the Shatter EP notwithstanding. And Melana Chasmata feels very much like a follow-up release to Triptykon's debut, from the Latin name (here meaning 'Black Chasms') to the H.R. Giger artwork – even before you've heard a note of it. And once you have, you'll hear very little that couldn't have come before; although Melana Chasmata is its own beast, this is very much the Tom G of the past ten years or so. Big, monolithic, gothic-tinged doomy slabs of twisted, tortured metal. Fans will be overjoyed, of course (and I count myself a huge fan of Tom's) but those who didn't see much to celebrate last time won't be impressed here either.

Which is a shame, as they're missing out on one of gothic doom's most heartfelt voices. The same mix of gothic croon and death metal crunch as before is here, but implemented in different ways. Opener Tree of Suffocating Souls begins with guitar feedback atop frantic drums, building to a thrasher that opens the album well. There's even some plucked Eastern-style strings and rather awesome soloing to keep things fresh, the former especially a pleasant surprise and hint that Triptykon are beginning to change things. Boleskin House follows, a Shatter-esque Gothic tune built around familiar tribal drum beats, guitar strums and mournful vocals, building into a snarled doomy pounder – not bad as a tension-builder, but feeling oddly like a b-side. Thankfully, Altar of Deceit ups the quality level, a doomy chugger with plenty of droning guitar riffs that provide a wonderful base for Tom's epic yells. There's a lengthy atmospheric instrumental section that allows the band to really show off with some almost proggy meandering on the guitars before the doom kicks back in; an archetypical Triptykon song.

Breathing is the first single from the album, an odd choice as it fills the 'Thousand Lies' slot as the 'weirdly speedy song that doesn't quite fit in'. It's not bad, approaching Hellhammer-esque levels of rabid energy and having moments of stunning doomy power, but surrounded by gothic droning miserableness it does seem out of place. The following Aurorae only goes to prove this with its slow, almost post-metal guitar melodies and dejected vocals – Tom may have a lot of buried rage, but I much prefer Triptykon as a project when he's expressing sorrow rather than anger. And Aurorae is one of the most moving things I've heard from either Triptykon or the latter days of Celtic Frost, insistent melody and 'spirit wasting away' refrain giving it quite the emotional punch. The following Demon Pact builds on this well by alternating slowly building atmospheric parts and some of the most crushing doom moments on the album, although the spoken section is almost too ridiculous even for Triptykon...

It's Sleep of Death where the album really trips up, ultimately, not because it's a bad track but because the album doesn't end there. An eight-minute track that feels less than half its length, the twists and turns in the vocals are incredible, from broken moans to demonic growls. Superbly backed up by a gothic-drenched doom sludge, it feels like an ending, not least because you've been listening to the album for nearly fifty minutes by then but also due to the fabulous final few moments where the band settles into an almost My Dying Bride-esque groove. It would have been a fine ending to a fine album; instead we get another eighteen minutes of music in the form of Black Snow and Waiting. And they're not bad tracks, just unnecessary ones by that point; where Triptykon held you close to spellbound beforehand, it's on these last tracks that you may be looking at your watch and wishing that the album had been cut down. Neither track does anything new; Black Snow is a doomy chugger stretched out to twelve minutes and Waiting is pretty much an outro with some female vocals added that feels like it's going to become a good song but never quite gets there. And it's largely these that are the reason I can't deny some disappointment with Melana Chasmata. I love Tom at his best, and I love his signature sound that Triptykon has honed so well. Melana Chasmata is a very good album, full of that signature sound with hints of that best that we know and love – sadly, it's stretched thin, too long by a third, and as a result doesn't have the same crashing impact as Eparistera Daimones did, despite ironically being five minutes shorter.

Killing Songs :
Tree of Suffocating Souls, Altar of Deceit, Aurorae, Demon Pact, Sleep of Death
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Triptykon that we have reviewed:
Triptykon - Requiem (live at Roadburn 2019) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Triptykon - Shatter: Eparistera Daimones Accompanied reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones reviewed by Charles and quoted 92 / 100
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