Sunday, April 11, 2010

Album of the Decade...

Triptykon Eparistera Daimones… and my memories…

(Century Media Records, Prowling Death Records)

Words fail me. Baroque, beautiful, gigantic in every sense of the word, from the ashes of Celtic Frost comes the debut full-length from Triptykon entitled Eparistera Daimones (an Aleister Crowley reference). Although he certainly does not know it, my listening relationship with the innovative genius of Tom G. Warrior dates back to 1984, and the release of the legendary EP, Apocalyptic Raids, by Hellhammer. Apocalyptic Raids, along with In The Sign of Evil by Sodom and the debut album from Bathory, burst into the collective consciousness of myself, and my circle of friends, at about the same time around 1984. The sublime birth of death and black metal, to some extent, occurred in the conflagration of this triumvirate of releases from the period, and my life was never the same again.

Although easily recognized as sloppy and poorly played, even by my 16 year old mind, the sheer audacity of Hellhammer’s music and the smashing of musical boundaries made an indelible impression upon my life. The subsequent demise of Hellhammer, and rebirth as Celtic Frost, furthered the legendary aspect of Tom G. Warrior’s music in my life experience with Morbid Tales, a repeatedly, and most deservedly so, heralded classic in every sense of the word.

1985 came. My friends and I in Chicago fantasized about driving to Montreal for the imminent debut appearance of Celtic Frost in North America at the World War III Festival. Also appearing on the bill of this fabled show were Voivod, Destruction, and Possessed. Alas, my attendance was not to be, however, due to a personal failure to follow through (OK, I was 17 years old, and driving from Chicago to Montreal was daunting).

At any rate, though, vindication arrived in the early months of 1986 with the arrival of the Celtic Frost/ Voivod show at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago. A monstrous show, I do clearly recall shaking Snake’s hand afterwards, as well as the songs “The Usurper” and “Jewel Throne” being performed by Celtic Frost in support of To Mega Therion.

Into The Pandemonium arrived. Tom G. Warrior cemented his reputation for explorations of the avant-garde. Besides H.R. Giger, Hieronymus Bosch entered metal’s pantheon of exalted artists. Although more miss than hit, and marred by a flat performance in support of Anthrax, of all bands, at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Into The Pandemonium still won me over with excellence found in “Mesmerized,” “Babylon Fell,” and even appreciation in “I Won’t Dance” and “Mexican Radio.” During my time as a student in the Sonoran desert, “Caress Into Oblivion” took on meaning.

Debacle arrived in the form of the universally vilified Cold Lake with only a halfhearted attempt at redemption in Vanity/ Nemesis. However, the damage had been done, and the writing was on the wall. Tom G. Warrior’s disillusionment with the music business, and its crude exploitation of his art, was played out in Are You Morbid? as Celtic Frost fell apart. No more was heard from Celtic Frost besides the odd compilation/ fix up Parched With Thirst Am I And Dying.

After metal’s collective yawn of indifference towards Apollyon Sun, Celtic Frost is reborn and Monotheist drops with great weight. A stylized, almost Gothic assault, Monotheist took some time to be appreciated. A spot in Decibel’s Top 100 albums of the decade is much deserved amongst a veritable sea of pretenders to the throne. After more than 20 years, I finally had a chance to witness Celtic Frost once more at a tremendous show at the HOB Sunset Strip a couple of years back (Warrior performed with a horrendous flu, yet still carried the day).

Although the subsequent breakup of Celtic Frost was acrimonious and, apparently, final, I was oddly unconcerned as the events unfolded. My reasoning was thus: Monotheist is obviously an album meticulously put together with a great deal of thought. Warrior has matured as an artist, and put forth a serious album, elevating black metal to high art, as the best examples of the genre are able to attain. I knew that, as an artist, he would find a way to carry his vision forward.

And now, I finally get to the subject of this posting: a review of Eparistera Daimones. Part of my appreciation for this album comes from Warrior’s blog postings about the development of the album, and his personal muse of antagonism towards humanity’s reliance, and resultant inevitable downfall, upon organized religion. The themes of Triptykon are reinforced by Warrior’s prose, and photography, posted at Delineation II.

Musically, Eparistera Daimones is unbelievably dense and powerful. The huge sound of Monotheist is present once more, but with a bleaker tone. The individual songs draw from Warrior’s past work quite nicely, and weave together different elements into a cohesive arrangement.

The opening minute or so of “Goetia” harkens back to Hellhammer with twisted, howling distortion. The crushing guitar riffs of Morbid Tales are present throughout, but with a great deal of density. “Goetia” also opens the main riff with a patented “Uh!” and the main lyric begins with a plea.

Moaning vocalizations evocative of Into The Pandemonium are present in “Abyss Within My Soul,” a centerpiece song of tortured intensity and an absolutely titanic riff. Like “Goetia,” the song is of great length with subtle time changes. “In Shrouds Decayed,” featuring a quiet intro and vocals from guitarist V. Santura, Warrior, and clean vocals, as well, from Simone Vollenweider. The song segues into “Shrine,” a haunting track of dark ambience similar to “Danse Macabre.”

Crushing, up tempo songs entitled “A Thousand Lies” and “Descendant” occur prior to what is already considered to be the album’s most unusual track; that is, “Myopic Empire.” Featuring vocals from V. Santura that eerily evoke Layne Staley, of all vocalists, the song also features a quiet piano interlude and spoken word from Vollenweider.

The final two tracks of the album couldn’t be more different, yet strangely complement one another. “My Pain,” a nearly ambient track reminiscent of Vangelis, features very quiet keyboards, synthesizer, and hauntingly romantic vocals from Vollenweider. The song leads into the nearly 20 minute finale entitled “The Prolonging,” the song closest to funeral doom that Warrior has ever attempted. He masterfully succeeds as the song ebbs and flows, speeding up as the song proceeds, only to finish with a perfect melodic touch that is quite chilling.

Needless to say, I’m absolutely blown away by Eparistera Daimones. I must also put in a word regarding the very detailed liner notes from Warrior describing his muse for each song, as well as additional artwork detail from Giger’s cover painting (Vlad Tepes, 1978) and portraits from Vincent Castiglia.

I await a live performance of the album in its entirety…


Triptykon Official

Prowling Death Records

Century Media Records


Skull said...

A brilliant review of a masterpiece of an album Dave..

dschalek said...

I must say that I hope that Warrior decides to play the album straight through in a live setting.

Matt Vogt said...

While I appreciate your usual scientific detachment from the material you review, it's nice to see you so immersed for a change :)

dschalek said...

Thanks, Matt. Being in metal for so long, I have a certain feeling of "seen it all, heard it all" a lot of the time. Every now and then comes a release that really resonates, though, and the Triptykon album does so in spades.

Invisible Oranges said...

It may be premature to pronounce an album of the decade four months into that decade, but, yes, this album is a masterpiece.