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Triptykon - Melana Chasmata - 92%

cryptopsyftw, May 25th, 2014

Thomas G. Warrior’s legacy is among the most important in extreme metal. Few men (besides perhaps Chronos and Chuck Schuldiner) can boast such an enduring influence upon a genre. However, having been performing metal music for over 30 years now, one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe his fire has burnt out, his metal career having run its course. Certainly, he has nothing to prove to anyone at this point. Therefore, it’s truly wonderful to see him still conjuring up bleak slabs of metallic brilliance like this, reaffirming once again how vital he is to the genre.

Melana Chasmata is a mixture of hauntingly evocative melodies (vocal and otherwise), pulverizing doom, the occasional burst of traumatically brutal speed, and the dismal (in the best possible way) poetry of Thomas G. Warrior himself. It’s an enchanting combination in all its forms – sorrowful harmonies and delicate vocals seem to float atop crippling doom riffs in “Boleskine House” in one place whilst “Breathing” flattens all before it with nihilistic roars and pounding drums. Dense and suffocating in one place, the music opens up and displays beautiful, if mournful, melodies in another. Make no mistake, this isn't feelgood music – the preoccupation with death and darkness is a prevalent as it ever has been anywhere within Thomas’s career (apart from “cold lake”, which truly does make you want to kill yourself). This is a fantastic example of the beauty that can exist within ugly music.

Much as Tom is clearly the most recognizable figure within this band, it would be a huge disservice to downplay the performances of his bandmates. Without exception, the musicianship is exceptional. In fact, credit is due all around – H.R Giger’s unmistakable cover art only adds to the aura of existential despair surrounding this album, and a thick, muscular production makes every instrument thunder forth appropriately. Thematically, it deals with topics ranging from death (no shit) to esteemed literary figure Emily Bronte on “In the Sleep of Death”, which builds and builds to shattering heights, the name “Emily” repeated until it almost comes to be a mantra. This is the state in which “Melana Chasmata” is most rewarding – when it builds up its songs, adding layers of melody and distortion such as on the sublime “Aurorae” – honestly, I forgot the song was over 6 minutes long. It’s such a heavy album, both emotionally and otherwise, that you can get lost in it before you even realize you've done so. The aforementioned “Aurorae” and “Boleskine House” demand repeat listens to absorb all their musical nuances, though on the whole, this is an album best absorbed in its entirety, with your full attention focused upon it.

Melana Chasmata is a phenomenal piece of work. Its 67 minutes sound a lot but they just seem to slide by on top the subterranean lurch of the riffs on display here. The anger and bitterness is palpable with every world weary vocal croak, crunching chug, and eerie melody. A resoundingly successful testament to Tom’s enduring relevance to modern metal, and a clear confirmation of the idea that metal is as much an art form as any other musical genre. Highly recommended, especially to Doom/Gothic metal fans.