Q&A: Tom Warrior of Celtic Frost, Triptykon, and Hellhammer

Tom Gabriel Warrior has produced extreme metal since the early 1980s, first with seminal groups Hellhammer and Celtic Frost and now with Triptykon.  In this question-and-answer session, columnist Todd Nief chats with the frontman about authenticity in music, beer cans in thrash metal, and the effect of happiness on extreme-metal composition.

Triptykon: “I am the Twilight”
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[Triptykon’s] Shatter EP and Eparistera Daimones LP are part of the same body of creative work. Can you comment on what you’re trying to accomplish with this, be it an emotional agenda, a political agenda, or any or all of the above?

Probably all of the above, but on this first album, it’s predominantly emotional. Of course, the sessions from the first album reflect some of the turmoil that existed when I left Celtic Frost. There’s no way around it. There’s some social commentary in songs such as “Goetia,” but, by and large, it’s my own feelings about leaving Celtic Frost, leaving my own band, leaving the summary of my life behind in a forced manner.

Nobody’s forced to read the lyrics; nobody’s forced to read the liner notes. We provide very detailed information, but by no means are you required to read all that. Music is music at the end of the day, and with music, you should create your own images in your head. I think it’s perfectly possible to listen to Triptykon without dealing with the lyrics or the liner notes. The music is intense and dark enough.

When I was a teenage fan, I didn’t speak English so well, so I just listened and the music created its own images in my head, and that’s the way it should be. It’s probably better that way.

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The Metal Examiner: Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Agalloch - Marrow of the SpiritAgalloch: Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore, 11/23/10)

Agalloch: “The Watcher’s Monolith”

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Although Agalloch dons its album covers with images of winter and writes songs featuring tremolo-picked minor chords and shrieked vocals, the Portland quartet is best understood as a heavy progressive-rock band rather than a black-metal band.

Since the late 1990s, the group has released purposefully genre-blending music with a somber, melodic bent.  Marrow of the Spirit, just the band’s fourth full-length album, must be compared to the work of black-metal-gone-experimental artists like Ulver and Enslaved, but a better reference point is the work of ’70s prog-rock bands like Comus. Songs are sprawling layers of riffs that meander between different themes and styles, touching on blast beats, acoustic breaks, and atmospheric post-rock passages.

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The Metal Examiner: Atheist’s Jupiter

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Atheist - JupiterAtheist: Jupiter (11/8/2010, Season of Mist)

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Atheist’s first two albums are landmarks of technical death metal. These recordings represented a visionary take on metal composition conceived by injecting jazz-fusion riffing into the more structurally integrated style of death metal. Though under-appreciated during their time, these albums — Piece of Time and Unquestionable Presence — have since become part of the extreme-metal canon.

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The Metal Examiner: Sargeist’s Let the Devil In

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Sargeist: Let the Devil In

Sargeist: Let the Devil In (Moribund, 11/9/2010)

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Finland’s Sargeist became orthodox black-metal torch-bearers with the release of the 2003 album Satanic Black Devotion.  After missing the mark with its last full-length, the band has returned to form with Let the Devil In, another compelling creation of harmonically dense black metal.

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The Metal Examiner: The Rival Mob’s Hardcore for Hardcore

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

The Rival Mob - Hardcore for HardcoreThe Rival Mob: Hardcore for Hardcore 7″ (Six Feet Under Records, 8/6/2010)

The Rival Mob: “Hardcore for Hardcore” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-Hardcore-for-Hardcore.mp3|titles=The Rival Mob – Hardcore for Hardcore]

The Rival Mob has collected all sorts of praise with its approach to the New York hardcore sound of the late ’80s, and it doesn’t hurt that vocalist Brendan Radigan splits time playing drums in niche-loved Mind Eraser. Although everyone knows not to judge an album by its cover, the lush, conflict-laden painting adorning Hardcore for Hardcore, the band’s new six-song seven-inch, primes the listener adequately for what lies within.
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The Metal Examiner: Morbus Chron’s Creepy Creeping Creeps 7″

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Morbus Chron: Creepy Creeping Creeps 7"Morbus Chron: Creepy Creeping Creeps 7″ (Detest / Me Saco Un Ojo, 9/12/2010)

Morbus Chron: “Creepy Creeping Creep”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-Creepy-Creeping-Creep.mp3|titles=01 Creepy Creeping Creep]

In 2010, long-haired Swedish young-adult males are still releasing melody-infused death metal, and they’re still donning denim and puffy sneakers for their graveyard promo shots. In 2010, this music is still engaging, especially when it is executed as cleverly as Morbus Chron‘s debut seven-inch.

Detest Records has made a name for itself by releasing compelling vinyl offerings of death metal that very well could have been conceived in 1989. Morbus Chron does not buck this trend. Earlier this year, the band received a much-coveted shout-out from Fenriz of Darkthrone on his “Band of the Week” blog, and it also graced the pages of the Vice Magazine blog. Although its demo was slightly under-formed, this EP, though short, demonstrates a keen song-writing instinct.
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The Metal Examiner: Triptykon’s Shatter EP

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Triptykon: Shatter: Eparistera Daimones Accompanied (Prowling Death, licensed to Century Media, 10/25/2010)

Triptykon: “Shatter” Official Video

Tom Warrior’s creative output is both extensive and divergent. Since 1983, Warrior has released music as part of Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Apollyon Sun, and now his current project is Triptykon. If one takes inventory of the music created by this man over the last two-plus decades, one finds that none of his albums really sound all that much like any of the others. There are common threads and tendencies that tie everything together, but each release stands on an island of its own.
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The Metal Examiner: Gnaw Their Tongues’ L’Arrivée De La Terne Mort Triomphante

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Gnaw Their Tongues: L’Arrivée de la Terne Mort Triomphante (Crucial Blast, 9/7/2010)

Gnaw Their Tongues: “L’Arrivée de la Terne Mort Triomphante”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Gnaw_Their_Tongues_LArrivée_De_L.mp3|titles=Gnaw Their Tongues: “L’Arrivée de la Terne Mort Triomphante”]

L’Arrivée de la Terne Mort Triomphante is the new five-song full-length under the Graw Their Tongues moniker, the creation of Mories, a man with a history in the Dutch extreme-metal scene dating back to the early ’90s.  From the start, it intends to put listeners on edge by presenting sheer sonic terror — towering, string-infused sheets of noise, riffs, and chaos, with just enough melody lurking beneath it all to make it especially uncomfortable.
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The Metal Examiner: Circle of Animals’ Destroy the Light

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Circle of Animals: Destroy the LightCircle of Animals: Destroy the Light (Relapse, 10/12/2010)

Click here to download Circle of Animals’ “Poison the Lamb”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Circle_of_Animals_Poison_the_Lamb.mp3|titles=Circle of Animals: “Poison the Lamb”]

Producer/multi-instrumentalist Sanford Parker (Minsk, Buried at Sea) and saxophonist Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) have long and assorted ties in and around Chicago, where the two reside and contribute to the city’s vibrant underground.

Parker, in addition to his main gig in Minsk, has produced the likes of Pelican, Rwake, Unearthly Trance, Jai Alai Savant, Lair of the Minotaur, and Nachtmystium, and Lamont, outside of Yakuza, recently finished recording a solo album and regularly plays with other experimental metal and noise outfits (Decayist, Sick Gazelle) as well as improvised-jazz players (Jeff Parker, Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis).

Each man’s résumé is a mile long, and now the two have come together to pay tribute to Chicago’s late-’80s and early-’90s Wax Trax! industrial scene with their new project, Circle of Animals. A diverse and widely recognizable cast of drummers rounds out the lineup on this release, with names like Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste), John Herndon (Tortoise), John Merryman (Cephalic Carnage), and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) lending their talents.
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The Metal Examiner: Autopsy’s The Tomb Within

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Autopsy: The Tomb WithinAutopsy: The Tomb Within (Peaceville, 10/5/2010)

Autopsy: “My Corpse Shall Rise”
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Following his early stint in death-metal progenitors Death, drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert formed pioneering metal act Autopsy. Like other bands in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Autopsy invented its own rules in its quest for extremity, and its blend of doom, punk, and thrash coalesced into a definitive take on the emerging death-metal sound.
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The Metal Examiner: Enslaved’s Axioma Ethica Odini

Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast / Indie Recordings, 9/28/10)

Enslaved: “Ethica Odini”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Enslaved_Ethica_Odini.mp3|titles=Enslaved: “Ethica Odini”]

Enslaved abandoned black metal long ago in favor of expansive rock songs coated in darker aesthetics. This release continues in the tradition of post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd by creating compositions of textures over a few simple rock riffs.
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