Still gloriously innovative at 50, the enigmatic and death-obsessed Thomas Gabriel Fischer returns with his latest and possibly most enigmatic incarnation. The darkly expansive Triptykon’s first album displayed a panoply of musical styles and, remarkably, sophomore suite Melana Chasmata (Century Media Records) sees a deeper mining of that creativity.
Fischer’s dogmatic roar is unmistakable, even during the first of his many spoken sections, whilst a downturned acoustic duels with a ringing lead in the savage close of the steady if unspectacular opener ‘Tree of Suffocating Souls’. The lumbering riff and colossal drums of the ensuing ‘Boleskine House’ introduces a demonic chant from Fischer alongside gorgeous intonations from Simone Vollenweider, and it’s this emotive death / doom ballad which highlights the creative variation at Triptykon’s disposal. The slower pace continues into the more violent yet expertly directed ‘Altar of Deceit’; the monolithic riff at times straining to be set free from its occasionally funereal chain, and the eerie leadwork adding extra resonance to an ominous, leering coda. Norman Lonhard’s powerful ‘When The Levee Breaks’-style drum intro leads unexpectedly into the ponderous, almost post-black emotings of ‘Aurorae’: its delightfully evocative lead and resignedly uttered delivery building into a closing riff and lead duel, in arguably the album’s most affecting and tragic track. There’s an industrial feel to the threatening, pulsating swell of ‘Demon Pact’, which contains the Warrior’s most sinister performance: another spoken delivery giving way to a twisted growl for the album’s most intriguing moment. The feel is echoed in the Sisters of Mercy / Type O-like ‘In the Sleep of Death’, a truly tortured Fischer at times giving an Eldritch intonation over a haunting, Bricheno-esque Goth lead. That roar booms on the epic, hammering death/doom of ‘Black Snow’, switching from spoken to hollered screams effectively over a tolling, ominous doom backtrack which rises to a menacing close.
There’s another appearance from Vollenweider on the hypnotic, crashing trance of closer ‘Waiting’; its surprising yet pleasing sound reaffirming the band’s reluctance to be confined by any musical barrier and confirming the triumphant second coming of Gabriel’s most inventive, diverse and impressive guise.