Dethroned EmperorI started reviewing extreme metal albums in earnest back in the first part of 2010. At that time, Triptykon blew me away. Since 2010, no metal album has been as good as Eparistera Daimones, despite the best efforts of Subrosa, Evoken, Ulcerate, and countless others.
The usurper is Melana Chasmata.
An interesting thing is happening here. Thomas Gabriel Fischer is not so old as Johnny Cash was when he embarked on the American Recordings, but there is an analog there. The man has dug deeply into his roots, the roots of a genre he shaped, and has found a creative peak there late in his career. Fischer strikes me as an artist who has the right blend of self-criticism, drive, expertise, and sense of identity to create nothing but genius at this point. Mistakes, though made, are all in the past.
In essence, it's not much different from its predecessor. These are brutally heavy death/doom records with just the right touches of dissonance and string-bending (check "Altar of Deceit"). They are studies in dynamism. Beautiful and ethereal female vocals offset the stark evil sound of everything else. Frantic pacing ("Breathing") offsets the dread anticipation of the rest. Sparse, moody sections ("Aurorae") contrast with an oppressive wall of sound. Tasteful touches of electronics add yet more texture to an already rich sonic palette ("Demon Pact"), culminating in an album closer that's more Boards of Canada than Celtic Frost.
Age has improved Fischer's gravity without diminishing his power or his astonishing range (in styles if not pitch) as a vocalist. The spoken parts have improved the most, but even his infamous grunts have never been better.
I wouldn't be surprised if, a few years hence, I finally decide this record has been surpassed. By the next Triptykon record.
Long live the Warrior.
The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars