Born from pain and steeped in death, Triptykon has roared to life. Triptykon is Tom G “Warrior” Fischer’s new project following the ugly demise of Celtic Frost only one album into their comeback. Monotheist, the comeback album in question, brought them much acclaim (it was Terrorizer's album of the year), but to me it offered little of the raw, elemental riff satisfaction of classic Celtic Frost; only hyper-compressed sound smears and cringe-worthy attempts to out-extreme Celtic Frost’s blackened disciples. I pulled Monotheist out for another listen just before Triptykon’s release date, and it was still a miserable experience.
I checked out some Triptykon material online and read the advance reviews. Buying the thing still felt like a small act of faith...one that was rewarded. With Martin Ain and the drummer purged from the lineup, Triptykon have written actual heavy metal songs rather than trying to scare the bejeezus out of us. Eparistera Daimones is more down to earth, despite that fancy title. Like Monotheist, it’s ridiculously down-tuned, but there are riffs, clearly delineated sections, and quick shifts in tempo—the building blocks of memorable songs. The ill-logic of classic Celtic Frost prevails.
The album’s first 11 minutes whizzes by as “Goetia” unleashes a barrage of colossal riffage. Again on the similarly hefty “Abyss Within My Soul” and “In Shrouds Decayed,” the riffs do most of the work. The song structures will be familiar to anyone raised on heavy metal in the ’80s. Remember when metal songs had “thrash parts” and you’d anticipate the final sprint on songs like “No Remorse” or “At Dawn They Sleep”? That’s what “Descendant” does, and it sure made me smile. For out-and-out thrash, there’s “A Thousand Lies” which should have a Speed Metal logo slapped on it.
The inevitable genre experiments and diversions come late in the album. “Myopic Empire” bogs things down a bit; a B-side quality song with a piano interlude inserted in the middle. Neither element is very compelling. “My Pain” continues the exploration in a Massive Attack or Anathema mode, yet it’s not bad, barring some clunky spoken word passages. The album bows out with “The Prolonging”—a 20 minute mass of deformity pulled from the same agony bag as much of Monotheist; occasionally headbangable, but mainly a thing of ghastly wonder.
The angst-ridden vocals are up front and discernable, to their detriment. I’ll always prefer the cryptic, garbled approach that rendered songs like “Jewel Throne” so mysterious. (My reissue of To Mega Therion has lyrics, but I’ve avoided looking at them.) Warrior has transcribed the frustration of the last few years too literally at times (“You betrayed me to my face,” “As you perish, I shall live,” and so on), resulting in vindictive tirades a far cry from the mystique of old Frost. But stripping away that mystique seems to be Warrior’s mindset these days—see also his often painfully revealing book on the Hellhammer years, Only Death is Real. Anger and revenge inspired Warrior to form Triptykon and release a far better album than Monotheist. I can't argue with the results.