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In Darkness - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, November 24th, 2014

The return of Celtic Frost, though short, was astounding. With “Monotheist” they came and went, proving with that one album alone that the eccentric collaboration between Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Stricker had never lost a drop of its magic. Since “Monotheist” is my favorite Celtic Frost offering, I’m naturally inclined to enjoy “Melana Chasmata.” Triptykon, the post-Frost group led by Fischer, borrows much of the doom-laden darkness that made Celtic Frost’s last record such a compelling experience. “Melana Chasmata” is mostly on par with “Eparistera Daimones,” the first of Triptykon’s children, but more focused and direct. It comes with its pros and cons, of course, yet the truth of Fischer’s utter dominance and knowledge of this wide interpretation of the metal genre remains solid as stone, a stellar truth.

Celtic Frost never stuck to a concrete style during its run. Part of Triptykon’s appeal comes from the continuation of the doom/gothic/black metal blueprint seen exclusively on “Monotheist.” It has a macabre, open-ended grace to it, like a mammoth beast shrouded in shadow. There is ample room for the band to explore the limitless avenues of darkness, yet darkness is a complicated entity, for it comes in many forms. “Melana Chasmata” is likewise chronicled by the minimalist and the complex. The album shows the motifs of “Monotheist” and Triptykon’s first record were inherited straightforwardly into both the song structures and the musical traits, as all walk upon common ground. The world-devouring guitar tone, fuzzy bass lines, explosive drum sound, riffs so heavy Atlas himself would find his knees buckling underneath their weight, Fischer’s intense barks voicing hymns of gloom and despair—familiar themes, them all.

A lot of Triptykon’s musical depth is mapped by the end of the sixty-seven minute voyage. “Melana Chasmata,” in a way, reflects Fischer’s evolution from the dirty decay of Celtic Frost to latter-day experiments within the pool of doom, gothic, and black metal. “Tree of Suffocating Souls,” “Altar of Deceit,” the minimalist bulldozing of the twelve-minute “Black Snow,” and “Breathing” color a familiar replication of old Celtic Frost while dressed under a cloak of contemporary tunings and themes. Their guitar parts are straightforward and candid, pitilessly heavy and sharp. Fisher’s voice is as poisonous as ever, the lyrical venom corrosive like battery acid. “Melana Chasmata” has a fine ability to channel pure emptiness in its nihilistic beatings due to a stellar chemistry among Fisher’s grunts, the savage guitar work, and a poignant rhythm section that supports the expedition brilliantly.

While the heavier songs boasting hateful, crushing riffs are met wonderfully by the natural elements of darkness, the atypical numbers reign supreme. The stellar tradeoff between Fisher’s low voice and female vocals on the atmospheric “Boleskine House” and “Waiting” come off sounding more gothic and creepy than ruthlessly brutal. In the same ballpark is “Aurorae,” a self-loathing tune enriched by despondent melodies and bleak chords, which tops the rest. The whole album is, however, a gripping piece of negativity within its many forms, one that excels wonderfully in remaining true to the despair-ridden gloom of Celtic Frost’s final release. “Melana Chasmata” is profoundly deep and compelling, for darkness itself is mysterious and unpredictable, and if it had a soundtrack, it would look upon Triptykon and look no further.

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