Profile: Triptykon

Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010

After disbanding Celtic Frost, Tom Gabriel Fischer is back with a new band and a familiar sound.

Tom Gabriel Fischer didn’t intend to start a new band. After reforming his legendary extreme-metal outfit, Celtic Frost, the singer-guitarist considered himself satisfied with the band’s 2006 reunion effort, Monotheist, and its subsequent world tour. “I loved what we were doing,” Fischer says over the phone from his home in Switzerland. “Celtic Frost was my life, and my life was Celtic Frost.” But less than two years after the release of Monotheist, Fischer announced that he’d quit Celtic Frost and assembled a fresh group called Triptykon.

“The issue was entirely personal,” Fischer explains. “Lots of people look at Celtic Frost as a special band, and of course so do I. Unfortunately, we had to prove we’re human, too, no different from other bands with their ego trips. After five and a half years, I was pushed to the edge.”

The guitarist lays the blame not on bassist Martin Eric Ain, his longtime Celtic Frost cohort, but on drummer Franco Sesa, who joined the lineup in 2002. “He was an unknown drummer in his thirties given the chance to tour the world on the work I had done,” Fischer says. “And it went to his head, and he began acting like he was the reason we had our reputation.” Why not simply fire Sesa? Fischer replies, “The band wasn’t a dictatorship— it was a democracy, and he was an equal member.” Rather than continue to endure rehearsals in which “not a single note would be played because we were just arguing in circles,” Fischer decided to abandon ship. “It was probably the most difficult position I’ve had to take in my life,” he says. “I had to get used to the idea of life without Celtic Frost.”

That process has been eased by Triptykon, which Fischer originally formed as a side project while he waited (unsuccessfully) for Celtic Frost’s chilly relations to thaw. Now that it’s his main gig, the frontman says his aim is to make the band sound as much like Celtic Frost as possible—which is why he bought all of the old group’s gear with his own funds. Backed by guitarist V. Santura, bassist Vanja Slajh and drummer Norman Lonhard, Fischer realizes that goal on Eparistera Daimones, Triptykon’s dark, pummeling debut, which contains such tellingly titled tracks as “A Thousand Lies” and “My Pain.” As with classic Celtic Frost, the brutality here has an eerie emotional pull.

Fischer recognizes that Triptykon is an unknown quantity, even to Celtic Frost fans, and that he’s nearer to square one than he’s been in years. “I know it’ll take a lot of work to get anywhere close to Celtic Frost’s success,” he says. “Maybe we’ll never achieve that. If people don’t like it, I don’t care. I’ve done what I had I to do to look myself in the eye.”

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