Saturday, October 30, 2010

Finally... Triptykon... and Shatter...

The day had finally arrived. Without a doubt, Eparistera Daimones will be the number one album of the year for myself, as well as for many other writers and reviewers; therefore, the Los Angeles date of the Weltenbrand Tour, featuring Triptykon as co-headliners, was my number one concert going priority of the autumn concert season. Needless to say, I had made arrangements to attend the concert in a formal capacity, and you can read my review here.

Triptykon’s set was everything that I had hoped it would be; an amazing experience.

Special thanks to Cosmo Lee, Josh Eldridge, Brian Rocha, Chad Bowar, and Pete Robertson.

Relevant Links

Century Media Records

Delineation II

The pictures...

The El Rey Theater (one of my favorite venues)




The t-shirt haul...

The video...

I must admit that I’ll be skipping this Sunday’s Suffocation concert due to outside commitments. Therefore, next up will be…

Triptykon Shatter

(Century Media Records/ Prowling Death Records)

Immediately following last week’s concert, I finally had a chance to sit down and listen to Shatter, the newly released EP from Triptykon. Consisting of five songs, including three original songs taken from the recording sessions of Eparistera Daimones, Shatter is an excellent addendum to the album.

Two songs are arrangements in the vein of the more up tempo tracks of the album, with the title track being enhanced with the clean, beautiful, female vocals from the same vocalist that appeared on the brilliant, haunting, “My Pain.” “I Am the Twilight” follows with a chaotic, mechanistic approach that has a crushing amount of weight. Think “Goetia” twisted into a slightly different form, and that description would be apt. The third original is an ambient track, “Crucifixus,” that is also used as the intro to Triptykon’s live show. Worth considerably more than one would expect, “Crucifixus” has some haunting harmonics that suit the EP’s mood perfectly.

Rounding out the EP are two live tracks recorded at Triptykon’s headlining stint at the Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands on April 16th, 2010. “Circle of the Tyrants” and an absolutely crushing version of “Dethroned Emperor” with none other than Nocturno Culto on vocals simply leaves you thirsting for more.

An EP’s songs are not meant to be classics, probably not in the way that certain songs on Eparistera Daimones have already become. However, Shatter is more than worth your time and money.

I await future releases from Triptykon with baited breath…

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Skull gets there first... Triptykon at the Bottom Lounge

I await...

Skull gets there first, though. Here's his review; mine will follow next week...

Bands: 1349, Triptykon, Yakuza, Hell Bastard

Venue: The Bottom Lounge, Chicago, Illinois.

Date: October 16th, 2010.

By: Skull

"I sit here on a Sunday afternoon a complete mess. I’m disheveled, battered, and bruised with a raging headache. I can barely hold my head up straight due to the fact that my neck muscles are contemplating a complete work stoppage after the abuse that they sustained last night. I’m also still smiling ear to ear while reeling from the epic performances I witnessed last night for the Weltenbrand Tour stop in Chicago!

My lady friend and I arrived at Bottom Lounge at around 6:30pm. We simply couldn’t wait, though, and needed to grab a bite, anyways. The bar was packed with Blackhawks fans getting oiled up before hitting the shuttle bus for the game, and the joint was bustling with activity. After a forgettable meal, we sauntered into the band room to check out the merch tables. Upon entering I noticed that Hell Bastard, from the UK, were preparing for the first set. Apparently, they were just blowing through town and got a call interrupting their dinner offering them the gig at the last minute. I quickly scooped up Triptykon and 1349 shirts, and we dug in for the night.

Hell Bastard fired up shortly after 8:30pm and treated us to a roughly 30 minute set of more than decent crust/ thrash. The growing crowd reacted favorably, and I was impressed as well. After a relatively quick changeover, Yakuza kicked in for the second set of the night. This was my second time seeing them. They filled in at the last minute back when the disintegrated Blackened Fest hit town awhile back, and I really wasn’t that impressed with them. I found the set this time around to be slightly more enjoyable. Yakuza are definitely unique with their incorporation of wind instruments into doom metal, but I found the bulk of the set to be way too slow and boring. My friend Greg encapsulated their set perfectly with the quote of the night when he said, “This is the perfect music to eat a sandwich to,” as he pulled the remains of his Subway dinner out of his pocket for consumption. The crowd did give Yakuza a large round of applause as they wrapped up, though. While leaving the stage, they announced that Triptykon were up next.

At this point, time lost all meaning to me. After grabbing a quick smoke, the three of us got up as close to the stage as we could for the mighty Triptykon. The lights went down and the taped intro began as the band that I have been longing to see since last March came on stage one by one. Warrior came up third to a great reception as he stood silently next to the mic, giving us all the horns.

Triptykon opened up with an agonizingly slow version of Procreation (of the Wicked) that was crushingly heavy, powerful, and brilliant. I was now in my moment. The crowd response was immense and the headbanging was rampant. Moving onto Goetia, Triptykon tightened their hold on the fans and a pit erupted, clobbering my lady and causing a domino effect resulting in a black eye for me and a sacrificed beer to the pit gods. She came out of unscathed, so it was all good. We were all then blasted with the classic Circle of the Tyrants, completing Triptykon’s dominance over the room.

I must admit that I did not get many pictures of this set, and quite frankly, I didn’t even really see much of it because my head almost never stopped moving! The haunting Abyss Within My Soul was next and, at this point, I had hit pure nirvana. This was hands down the highlight of the set. I cheated last week and snuck a peek of the set list from the New York show so I thought I knew their agenda, so imagine my surprise when they dropped Descendant and Babylon Fell in favor of The Usurper! I was completely taken off guard, and thrilled with the trade off! The second half of the set consisted of the two monstrous epics Synagoga Satanae and The Prolonging back to back. Dripping with heaviness, power, and evil, these two closers just fucking demolished the place. Triptykon then left the stage to a roaring ovation. Everyone was floored. I thank you, Mr. Fischer and Triptykon, from the bottom of my heart for one of most moving, if not THE most moving, set I have ever had to fortune to witness. At this point I was completely drained and exhausted, and I still had to face 1349.

The changeover was relatively quick, and 1349 cranked up and destroyed us with the focus and intensity of a nuclear detonation. What can you say about this band? They’re just a blur live! Covering songs such as Riders of the Apocalypse, Nathanica, and Sculptor of Flesh, they stirred the crowd into a frenzy and a pit was active throughout most of the set. This was my third time seeing them, but the very first with Frost behind the kit and I was completely mesmerized by his unnatural and ungodly talents. During I Am Abomination they lost the guitar for quite a while, and Frost basically took the lead and focus while the problem was being resolved. He was just fucking unreal! I was completely rejuvenated and my long dormant, instinctual need for moshing resurfaced and into the pit I went! It was probably my first pit action in about 15 years. They wrapped up with Atomic Chapel, came to front stage to greet and slap hands with the crowd, and left us stunned and wounded while licking our wounds. I felt spent, used, and left for dead. After a wind down drink, my lady friend poured my sorry ass into the car, and home we went. This was a night I will never, ever forget..."

I await. October 24th, 2010, at the El Rey Theater, Los Angeles.

Skull's pictures...



The t-shirt haul...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The reference…VII… the passing of a giant, Atheist, and Voivod…

Benoit Mandelbrot died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14th, 2010, at the age of 85.

Mandelbrot, a French mathematician, is well-known for his mathematical development of seemingly simple, repeating patterns known as fractals. A fractal is a mathematical set of numbers graphically represented by a boundary that repeats under any magnification and, therefore, does not simplify.

Technical details aside, the fractal has become an iconic image for its aesthetic appeal. The famous graph is depicted in the complex plane and the boundary of the set infinitely repeats under any magnification.

Initially a mathematical curiosity, Mandelbrot almost immediately discerned that the set can be used to describe complex structures in nature such as mountain peaks, the structure of trees, coastlines, etc; a realm of nature that was once thought to lie outside the orderly forms of mathematics prior to Mandelbrot’s discovery. Needless to say, the Mandelbrot set led to a whole new branch of mathematical study of nature, and the physics and engineering applications are becoming boundless. I highly recommend NOVA: Hunting the Hidden Dimension for a detailed, qualitative look at the fractal, a term coined by Mandelbrot. You can see the entire episode here.

Fractals are periodically mentioned in metal. Here are two references that I find appealing, and which also provide me an excuse to review the new album from recently reformed technical, progressive death metal wizards Atheist. Fractals are mentioned by Atheist as a blip of an instrumental (that does not simplify), “Fractal Point,” on their classic third full-length album, Elements.

Elements depicts Atheist as they broke up as a band that had largely moved away from their quasi-death metal roots and firmly embracing their fascination with jazz and progressive rock music. As everyone knows by now, Atheist vocalist/ guitarist/ mastermind Kelly Schaeffer has decided to give it another go and reform Atheist with an entirely new lineup consisting of himself and most of the members of Atlanta-based technical death/ thrash outfit Gnostic (Correction: Drummer Steve Flynn also played in Atheist from 1988-91).

Free flowing, jazz-oriented technical death metal has undergone a resurgence of late, for better or worse, with some really good albums being released (A Great Work of Ages by StarGazer), and some that will only appeal to a very niche audience (Traced in Air by Cynic). In short, Atheist have some ground to make up with Jupiter, the new album released on Season of Mist Records.

Immediately, Jupiter is considerably more metallic than where Atheist left off with Elements, and frenetically toes the line between death and thrash metal. Jupiter is filled with technically oriented fast riffs, stellar drumming with lots of free flowing forms and out and out blasts interspersed throughout, a dynamic bass that is not nearly given as much chance to shine in the mix as it should, and Schaeffer’s nasally inflected vocal delivery.

The songwriting is quite good, and even handed. Schaeffer and company revel in their myriad of influences with moments of progressive jazz, stellar musicianship; and so on, yet still remain firmly rooted in metal with an album that seems to blow by all too quickly at a relatively short 33 minutes. Backing it all up is top notch, modern production, but I would have preferred a more prominent bass, as mentioned. Even the cover art with mythological and astronomical references is fantastic.

In short, Jupiter is a great return to form for Kelly Schaeffer and the new incarnation of Atheist. Undoubtedly, many will spend hours arguing whether Jupiter or A Great Work of Ages is the progressive death metal album of the year.

Atheist Official MySpace

Special mention of a fractal reference should be made for “Nuage Fractal” from the criminally underrated Voivod album Angel Rat. Although much derided, I find this album to be an absolute classic and the best of Voivod’s experimental, progressively oriented mid-period albums. This album is much better than the overrated Nothingface. Enjoy.



October Falls A Collapse of Faith

Intronaut Valley of Smoke

Hell Militia Last Station on the Road to Death

Friday, October 08, 2010

Where Physics and Metal Geekery Collide: The Ruben’s Tube

One of my summer time “craft” projects for my “other existence” involved constructing a Ruben’s Tube. A Ruben’s Tube, named after a minor 19th century physicist, is a useful demonstration tool for showing the waveforms associated with sound waves. Initially, sound waves can be a bit difficult to visualize and are, therefore, always targeted for designing and executing visually interesting demonstrations in physics.

Briefly, a sound wave is a longitudinal wave in a gas or liquid that can be pictured, for example, as a sine curve for a discrete frequency (a pure tone). The crests of the sine curve mathematically correspond to compressions; that is, portions of the wave where molecules are bunched together, and the troughs correspond to rarefactions, portions of the wave where the molecules are far apart. For a pure tone, the pattern of compressions/ rarefactions obeys the mathematics of a propagating sine curve.

In musical instruments, a standing wave of a single frequency, or tone, can occur under a whole host of conditions. Without getting into too much detail, a device called a Kundt’s Tube can depict the standing wave in a pipe by using fine sand grains with varying degrees of success (and a decided lack of excitement). I’ve monkeyed around with Kundt’s Tubes in the past, but Ruben’s Tubes really seal the deal for something interesting.

In a Ruben’s Tube, a horizontal pipe is connected to a propane gas source. Both ends of the pipe are closed, with one end sealed only by a thin, flexible diaphragm. Small holes are drilled in a line across the top of the tube. Propane is allowed to fill the tube and is lighted along the top holes. Essentially, a Ruben’s Tube is similar to a propane stove. At any rate, a pure tone is allowed to vibrate the diaphragm, setting up a standing wave inside the tube. Areas of compression show up as a large flame because of high pressure, and rarefactions show up as a small flame because of reduced pressure. Depending on such variables as the length of the tube, the frequency of the pure tone, and so on, the sinusoidal waveform of the standing wave can be seen.

For the tube that I built, I found that low frequency tones produce the most obvious waveforms, such as from a homemade woodwind instrument in my first clip, seen below.

So, naturally, with that in mind, I decided to try a few songs…

Testament Tube

Slayer Tube

Triptykon Tube

The faster songs are obviously more dynamic, and I should’ve primed the tube longer for the “Abyss Within My Soul” clip. Next time around, I’ll give Sunn O))) a go.

If you’re a bit handy and have access to some basic tools, building your own isn’t that difficult (here’s a good resource). Total cost of materials was about $75 and I spent about 4 hours putting it together. Sometime soon, I’ll construct another tube of greater length, lesser width, and with a propane source under higher pressure…

Skull has joined the cast at Live 4 Metal. Here are some of his recent reviews...

Bastard Priest Under The Hammer Of Destruction

Lux Ferre Atrae Materiae Monumentum

Angmar Zurück In Die Unterwelt

Gjenferdsel Varde

...and here's my recent stuff...

Brutal Truth Need To Control Redux

October Tide A Thin Shell

Dusted Angel Earth Sick Mind

Grand Magus Monument re-issue

Black Anvil Triumvirate

The Atlas Moth The One Amongst The Weed Fields

October File Our Souls To You

I await...