Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (Century Media)

Sunday, 6th April 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

Art as a means of embodying reality often results in some very profoundly dark things. In the case of Tom G. Warrior, the man is much like the music he creates, an enormous tower of unparalleled darkness. Melana Chasmata picks up where 2010’s spectacular Eparistera Daimones, channeling the same demons, stoking the same flames. While it shares much in common with its predecessor, it’s written as the best sequels often are, the best components of the original kept and amplified while the less desirable is burned away in a litany of the unpleasant.  Despair, agony, blinding rage – they’re all here and seething from every cavernous note and tom hit, every guttural utterance or melancholic lead.

The suffocating (and as mentioned previously, CAVERNOUS) heaviness of the music that began with Monotheist years ago remains very much intact here. Opener “Tree of Suffocating Souls” is among the faster pieces here, guitar noise giving way to a tandem of screaming and almost thrash-like pace. Melody creeps in and out, especially through the occasional lead or semi-solo, but throughout the song it returns to the tightly wound beginning motif and the subsequent skewering of applicable flesh. Early release staple “Altar of Deceit” is of a different breed, the sound of a collapsing human heart, the foremost palpitations of a dying star. Though it does eventually liven up (kinda) with a dance of toms around a spiraling solo, in the end the main riff returns and so resumes the act of collapse, enormous and final.

“Breathing” is both the shortest (a hair under six minutes) and quickest piece here, a light-speed bludgeon made manifest as it meets searing end after searing end, solos and almost blast beats included. “Boleskin House” and “Aurorae” both touch on the gothic-leanings of the group, featuring guest female vocals, a penchant for melody (the leads in the both are tremendous), and provide a reality that, while still profoundly miserable, is at least a kind of beautiful miserable. The biggest surprise across the board is how varied Melana Chasmata is.

And there it is. Four years in the making and delivering on every front, Melana Chasmata is a monumental piece of work that easily stands with (and often above) the best stuff of an already phenomenal year. It’s unfortunate that, with as long and storied a career as Tom G. Warrior has had, he still has to channel some sort of darkness to create this kind of aural misery, but whatever the cause, it works. Holy shit, it works.

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