Monday, September 2, 2019

Blind Willie McTell - Statesboro Blues

Just One Song - Triptykon

Altar of Deceit
Melana Chasmata (2014)

Do this. Make a list of bands that have been around for three decades and are still making new music that you might want to listen to. If it's anything like mine, it's probably pretty sparse. Of course, Triptykon is technically not the same band as Celtic Frost, but given that the driving force in each incarnation is frontman Tom Fischer, it works for me. In 2014, thirty years after Celtic Frost debuted with Morbid Tales, Triptykon released their second album, Melana Chasmata. If you allow that there's such a thing as extreme progressive metal or perhaps progressive extreme metal, this is a great example of the form.

Melana Chasmata is heavy, but it's not breakneck, unmitigated heaviness all the way through. There are bits that border on subtle and there's a track I'd nominate as the best Sisters of Mercy song the Sisters of Mercy never wrote or performed. But there's also some seriously heavy stuff on this album. There are two songs that are especially noteworthy, but since this feature is not called Just Two Songs, I narrowed it down to Altar of Deceit.

But a few words about the runner-up - Black Snow. Epic is a popular buzzword that gets tossed around (overused?) a lot these days, but it's a word that could be applied to Black Snow, a song that clocks in at over 12 minutes and includes no padding at all. Celtic Frost did some decent fast songs but for my money their most memorable ones proceeded at a more leisurely pace. Melana Chasmata has one good thrasher (Breathing) and Black Snow kicks it into high gear for a short stretch but for the most part it lumbers along, suffused with an atmosphere that drips with menace and foreboding. Combine this with the excellent production quality - nothing lo-fi or murky here - and the result is twelve minutes of music that hits like a ton of bricks.

It would easily have been the best song on the album if it weren’t for Altar of Deceit. Things get rolling with a plinky guitar that's soon joined by thunderous drums and before long a massive riff hits like a meteorite landing on your head. This gives way to another even more massive riff. It makes great use of the ponderous chugging rhythm that Celtic Frost might not have actually invented, but that they frequently made good use of. On it goes until the break, which gives way to a bunch of noodly, trippy guitar stuff that works well enough, in the context of things. Then come the final section, which takes a seriously heavier turn and features riffs that sound like they're shattering slabs of concrete. Then it's all over. If you're like me you’ll probably go right back to the start and listen again.