Tree of Suffocating Souls
Switzerland's Triptykon is a truly avant-garde, extreme rock band. Their sound simultaneously embraces doom, gothic, black, and more recently, symphonic metal.
They were initially intended as a side project of Tom Gabriel Fischer's (aka Tom Gabriel Warrior), the group's singer, guitarist, keyboardist, and principal songwriter, so it makes sense that their sound is steeped in tension and darkness as well as dissonance and experimentation, as evidenced by their 2010 debut offering Eparistera Daimones. Since that time, they haven't exactly been prolific, but are readily visible as a prime mainstay at heavy metal festivals and concert halls. Their second album, 2014's Melana Chasmata, was even more compressed and dynamic than their debut. Warrior is always at work, writing, arranging, and experimenting with recording techniques, but he seldom issues finished records given his standards for perfection.
Triptykon was established in May of 2008 to further develop the musical directions instigated by its predecessor, black/extreme metal pioneers Hellhammer and, in particular, Celtic Frost: both bands were founded or co-founded and led by Warrior. Triptykon was so named to identify it as his third major project. Singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter Warrior assembled the group in order to complete a project begun by Celtic Frost that remained unfinished when they permanently split in 2008. In addition to their founder, the initial lineup included guitarist/vocalist V. Santura (Dark Fortress), bassist Vanja Slajh, and drummer Norman Lonhard (ex-Fear My Thoughts). The band debuted in 2010 with the globally acclaimed album Eparistera Daimones (with cover art by Warrior's close friend H.R. Giger), on Century Media. It was reissued later that year with an added five-track EP entitled Shatter as a box set called Eparistera Daimones: The Complete Sessions. The band took to the road and won over fans across Europe, becoming a top festival draw. While many critics considered their debut a logical conclusion to the experiments Warrior conducted with Celtic Frost, it also showcased his anger with his former bandmates.
After two more long tours, Triptykon -- with co-producer Michael Zech -- issued a second long-player called Melana Chasmata in 2014. More experimental than its predecessor, this work was viewed by critics as a Warrior project and not a Celtic Frost project, though it did include guest spots from vocalist Simone Vollenweider, who had worked with the earlier band. The album's more compressed, grimy sound, coupled with better production techniques (including some clean vocals), won over metalheads in droves and increased Triptykon's touring fortunes. The band's stage appearances were unpredictable and electrifying whether they played in Asia, Europe, or North America. In addition to their own music, they regularly slotted in covers of Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, and Apollyon Sun (another early Warrior band) tunes to their stage shows. After touring and other activities, Warrior formed a Hellhammer covers band called Triumph of Death after an early, ridiculed-at-the-time demo by their forbears; they are now considered black metal pioneers.
In 2016, Lonhard left Triptykon and was not immediately replaced. The following year, Warrior was commissioned by the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg to create and perform material. He'd been struggling with the conclusion of a multi-part Celtic Frost triptych called Requiem for more than three decades. While its first part, "Rex Irae," had appeared on 1987's classic Into the Pandemonium, its seeming conclusion appeared almost 20 years later on the Celtic Frost reunion offering, Monotheist, in 2006. Working with Triptykon and specially curated brass, string, and percussion musicians from the prolific Dutch Metropole Orkest under the direction of conductor Jukka Iisakkila, he completed a 32-minute bridge composition entitled "Eternal." It was premiered, recorded, and filmed at the 2019 Roadburn Festival with veteran drummer Hannes Grossmann (Alkaloid, Eternity's End) as part of the lineup and Tunisian co-lead vocalist Safa Heraghi. The performance of the completed Requiem was widely and glowingly reviewed in the rock press. Century Media released the platter in several packages in May of 2020, with some including Blu-Rays and DVDs of the concert. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi