Listening to Triptykon‘s Eparistera Daimones (Century Media/Prowling Death, 2010) is like running a marathon in a tar pit. Try as you might to escape its sludgy abyss, there is no hope. Before you know it, you’re in over your head, gasping for air, praying for the end to come. Listening to it is a grueling, draining experience. Of course I mean this in the best possible way. These are the sorts of feelings good doom metal can and should elicit, and Eparistera Daimones is most certainly a doom album, a blackened, harrowing take on the genre that effortlessly drags the listener down into its cavernous depths.
By now, the ugly dissolution of Celtic Frost has been well documented. But who could have expected guitarist/vocalist/dethroned emperor Tom G. Warrior to rise out of the ashes with such great vengeance and furious anger? Indeed, Eparistera Daimones sounds like Warrior spent not months or years, but eons harnessing his hatred into seething waves of pure sonic destruction, conjured to devastate anything standing in his way. Put the album on and you can almost cut through the rage and contempt coming out of the speakers with a chainsaw. There is an old, familiar cliche that says revenge is a dish best served cold, but Eparistera Daimones burns with real emotion; Warrior doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve, he violently rips it out of his chest and sets it on fire.
It is telling that the album’s lyrics are referred to as epistles in the liner notes. Epistle is a term typically associated with the New Testament, referring to a formal letter addressed to a group of people (i.e. The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, etc.). These letters consist of the writer’s teachings and are often read during a mass. Warrior’s diatribes read like a twisted sermon, recounting his own emotional/musical life, death and resurrection, complete with allusions to the biblical character of Lazarus (“Abyss Within My Soul”). However, it is clear from the opening lines of “Goetia” (“Satan, savior, father, constructor of my world.”) that Warrior’s salvation comes via intervention that is anything but divine. Taken as a whole, the album is a black mass, a curse upon the houses of all those who tried to block Warrior’s artistic quest for the truth.
Sonically speaking, Eparistera Daimones is one of the heaviest albums you’re likely to hear this year. Warrior’s trademark Celtic Frost guitar tone is completely intact, and has grown darker and heavier with age. His vocals are some of the most aggressive he’s ever put to tape, dripping with venom. Second guitarist V. Santura (whom I interviewed here) colors in and around Warrior’s hefty power chords, adding myriad layers of texture and heaviness. Bassist Vanja Slajh and drummer Norman Lonhard lock together to forge the molten rhythmic magma, the heaving backbone over which Warrior and Santura deliver their distorted sorcery. Produced, engineered and mixed/mastered by Warrior and Santura, the album sounds modern but doesn’t suffer from the over-compression and soulless gloss that plague most contemporary metal recordings. Songs and individual instruments are allowed to breathe in spite of its overall density.
Eparistera Daimones is over an hour long and generally sticks to the slower end of the tempo spectrum, yet remains compelling from start to finish, and is best experienced as a whole. As you might have gathered from my review of the recent Dawnbringer album, I’m a fan of recordings that can take you on journey. Whereas Dawnbringer’s Nucleus is a heavy metal fever dream, Eparistera Daimones is a waking nightmare that isn’t your own. It is a full-on experience, not just a piece of music that you can casually throw on the stereo. I take a strange comfort in being immersed in Warrior’s personal hell, in his fury and pathos. Instead of wallowing, Warrior gains inner strength from exorcising these demons, and I think that I gain some from listening.
In today’s metal landscape, it is difficult to find music that can transport you, music that challenges, music that speaks to you on a deeper level. Triptykon has tapped into that rare metallic midnight of the soul with Eparistera Daimones. Only death is real.