Triptykon – Shatter (EP)
If your assignment were to build an entire song around a three-note riff spanning two frets on the guitar, you would probably do worse than Tom G. Warrior did. "Shatter" is amazing, both for its simplicity and its deftness of arrangement. A C#-D-C# riff stabs stubbornly throughout the song. A nu-metal band would have left it at that. But Warrior layers multiple styles of vocals - moaned, whispered, sung - as well as harmonized female vocals and guitar counter-melodies. These build and build, culminating in a juicy, sensuous melody with wide intervals. Rock predecessors for that device: the opening riffs of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Soul Asylum's "Somebody to Shove"; metal contemporaries who use that device: Agalloch and Insomnium. It's a very modern gesture for one of metal's elder statesmen.
The Shatter EP offers a fascinating interaction between Warrior's past and present. It contains two songs from the sessions for Triptykon's Eparistera Daimones; a remixed version of "Crucifixus", the ambient piece that introduced Triptykon to the world last year; and live covers of two Celtic Frost tunes. This EP was probably conceived to be sold on Triptykon's recent US tour (reviewed here). Yet it holds more weight than most bands' actual albums.
It's a testament to the strength of Eparistera Daimones that "Shatter" didn't make its cut. "Shatter" is a proper anthem on par with most of Eparistera Daimones. But maybe it was too prominent, too catchy to fit smoothly in the song sequence. Or maybe omitting it was a tactical move: "Let's build an EP around this to sell on our next tour". Whatever the case, it's a delight to study, to hear, and to see - yes, it's the metal video of the year, too.
"I Am the Twilight" is a beast. A song that begins, "Yield! / I am the twilight / Three! / Three days of darkness" does not mess around. It's eight minutes of ten-ton riffing that would be a triumph for other bands. However, it's similar in feel to "Abyss Within My Soul", the strongest song on Eparistera Daimones. "Abyss" crushes all, even "I Am the Twilight", hence the latter's off-loading to this EP. Call it a small big victory.
"Crucifixus" is likewise, delivering splendidly as the intro to Triptykon's sets this past tour. It's simple - some drones topped by a few echoing synths on top. Again, less is more. Part of me still hears this and thinks that Triptykon are about to start playing.
They do - but here they play Celtic Frost songs, "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Dethroned Emperor". Celtic Frost was a trio then, and Warrior was 25 years younger. Now his band has two guitarists, and his music is more about weight than aggression. With the benefit of downtuning, modern technology, and an approach that engulfs instead of throwing punches, Triptykon sound almost too big for these songs. "Circle of the Tyrants" gets a steroids injection, losing its original punkiness. "Dethroned Emperor" also grows muscles, with guest vocalist Nocturno Culto doing a credible Warrior impression. These live cuts aren't necessary, but they help place in relief how potent Triptykon are today. The new stuff excites me as much as the old stuff. In metal, that means a lot.
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