Monday, May 19, 2014
Photograph taken at H.R. Giger's home in Zurich, Switzerland, October 2008, by Doralba Picerno.
The greatest surrealist artist of our time, H.R. Giger, died in a tragic accident on Monday, May 12, 2014. In the wake of Giger's death, his closest friends are gathering to comfort his widow, Carmen, and to assist her in organizing Giger's funeral and his memorial service. I am one of those friends.
We are all still attempting to deal with the shock of this unexpected and extremely painful loss.
For 30 years, H.R. Giger has been my mentor. As I wrote in my eulogy, a few days ago: "At a time when almost everybody ridiculed, ignored, or even obstructed the music the then almost completely unknown Swiss underground band Hellhammer was creating, Giger listened to us, talked to us, and gave us a chance." The result was Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion album which, in turn, was the basis for all subsequent collaborations between us.
In all of his work with Celtic Frost and Triptykon, H.R. Giger was immensely generous, in spite of repeated objections of mine and countless attempts to convince him to accept proper compensation for his amazing contributions.
I have also been an assistant to H.R. Giger and his wife for seven years. I have long seen them as very close friends, even as family. We have experienced many challenging events together, and we have repeatedly taken care of each other in every conceivable manner.
I thus simply cannot and do not wish to fail to attend H.R. Giger's private funeral, and to take part in the subsequent public memorial service, to be held in one of Zurich's largest churches. Moreover, I am an integral part of the group of Giger friends who are currently involved in the difficult task of arranging these events. I cannot possibly just be a recipient. In a moment like this, I have to and wish to give as much as I possibly can.
It is an extremely unfortunate coincidence that these unexpected and tragic proceedings collide with Triptykon's planned appearance at Maryland Deathfest on May 22. We are thus regretfully forced to withdraw from the festival. Within Triptykon, we discussed the possibility of playing the concert without me, with a close friend of ours filling in on guitar and vocals. The other members of the band did not see any merit in performing as an incomplete line-up, however.
Withdrawing from Maryland Deathfest was not an easy decision to take by any means. We are disappointing our audience and the promoter of the festival, it contradicts our sense of commitment, and the band's reputation will suffer damage. We were looking forward immensely to Triptykon's return to the US. After a lengthy and expensive petition process, the US authorities granted us the required US work permits last week. Moreover, a US crew had been hired, and flights and hotels for band and crew had already been booked.
In 1985, during Celtic Frost's very first tour, I was forced to cancel three concerts due to overstrained vocals. I vowed to never let such a thing happen again and took the appropriate steps. Ever since then, I have never again been the reason for a cancellation of a concert by either Celtic Frost or Triptykon. There have been instances, in Paris and London for example, when I went onstage with Celtic Frost in spite of flu and substantial fever, in order to avoid letting down the band's fans.
It is thus utterly against my nature and my own professional demands to be the cause for Triptykon's first cancelled show. But these are truly extraordinary circumstances, caused by the death of a truly extraordinary artist and friend. I hope our audience will understand, and I apologize sincerely. And I am extremely grateful for the incredible understanding and goodwill extended to Triptykon by the promoter of Maryland Deathfest.
Tom Gabriel Warrior, Triptykon, May 19, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
H.R. Giger at his house in Zurich, Switzerland, around the time he created Mordor VII, the painting that would one day become the cover of Triptykon's second album, Melana Chasmata. Photographed by Katharina Vonow in autumn of 1976; used with very kind permission by Katharina Vonow and Carmen Giger.
"I fight the impending lure of belated sleep
For fear of waking up and you are gone"
Triptykon, My Pain, 2010
For the first time in 74 years, last night was a night not illuminated by the indescribable light that was H.R. Giger.
H.R. Giger became our mentor, against all odds, when we, somewhat audaciously, first established contact with him some 30 years ago. At a time when almost everybody ridiculed, ignored, or even obstructed the music the then almost completely unknown Swiss underground band Hellhammer was creating, Giger listened to us, talked to us, and gave us a chance. Not least at a time when he was at one of many peaks of his path.
A little more than a year later, his exceptionally stunning art made what might be one of Celtic Frost's most important albums, To Mega Therion, even more significant. Other links to Giger's universe also manifested themselves, almost as if it was predestined.
Eventually, after many more years, the mentorship became a friendship. It was a friendship and a personal connection I valued infinitely, and it also included his wonderful wife, Carmen, and many other remarkable people that were part of his circle.
When Celtic Frost came to an end so acrimoniously in 2008, H.R. Giger and his wife were among those who witnessed my uncontained despair and stood by me. That Giger subsequently agreed to collaborate with my new group, Triptykon, and thus enabled us to release our first album, Eparistera Daimones, with one of his most dramatic paintings on the cover meant the world to me.
It apparently pleased Giger, too. He told me so on several occasions, and he completely stunned me in October 2011 by proposing that we continue the collaboration between him and Triptykon. I would have never asked for such a thing, because I never would have wanted to appear insatiable. He brushed such reservations aside, and it was his mentorship, friendship, and art that enabled us, once again, to release a second album on which music and cover art formed a seamless symbiosis. Only a few weeks ago, he held the result in his hands and loved it.
Regardless of anything I may write about H.R. Giger, however, none of these words will ever be able to truly, accurately describe him as a person and as a friend. It is utterly inconceivable to imagine a world without his wit, his perception, his genius, his horizon, his determination, his humour, his friendship, and his immeasurable kindness. And yet, we are now left in exactly such a world.
Tom Gabriel Warrior for Triptykon, May 13, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Focus im Schweizer Radio SRF 3: Anna Maier spricht mit Triptykon Gitarrist/Sänger Tom Gabriel Warrior
Im Rahmen der renommierten Talk-Sendung "Focus" sendet das Schweizer Radio SFR 3 am Montagabend um 20:03 Uhr ein ausführliches und äusserst offenes Gespräch zwischen der bekannten Schweizer Journalistin Anna Maier und Triptykon Sänger/Gitarrist Tom Gabriel Fischer (a.k.a. Tom Gabriel Warrior). Die darin beleuchteten Themen beinhalten Fischers Jugend, Hellhammer, das Verhältnis zu Martin Eric Ain, Triptykon, und vieles mehr.
Die 60-minütige Sendung wurde am 1. Mai in Zürich aufgezeichnet und wird nach der Ausstrahlung weiterhin als Podcast auf der SRF 3-Website verfügbar sein. Das Gespräch wurde in Fischers Muttersprache, Schweizerdeutsch, geführt.
Der Link zur Sendung, unter einem für solcherlei Medien offenbar unumgänglichen reisserischen Titel.
Focus auf SRF 3
Radio SRF 3 live hören
Monday, March 17, 2014
Triptykon Announce Melana Chasmata Limited Edition Box Set
Triptykon and Century Media Records/Prowling Death Records are proud to announce a special limited edition box set of the band's second album, Melana Chasmata, containing the album's main Mediabook CD edition as well as a selection of unique Triptykon paraphernalia. The Melana Chasmata Mediabook features a 32-page booklet and an additional 12-panel fold-out cross-booklet; the paraphernalia comprises a silver Triptykon-"T" necklace, 2 specially manufactured Triptykon candles, a Triptykon tote bag, a poster, and 3 postcards.
The box set will be limited to 2000 copies worldwide.
Tom Gabriel Warrior: Some time ago, I voiced my personal disapproval regarding the original concept for the planned Triptykon Melana Chasmata box set as scheduled for release by our licensing partner, Century Media Records.
It is to Century Media Records' credit that they listened and subsequently approached me to address my misgivings and create a box set that represents the group's ideas and intentions far more comprehensively. I am grateful for such an open and creative collaboration, and I deeply respect Century Media Records for sparing neither effort nor expenditure to please Triptykon and the band's audience.
I wish record labels would have acted like this in the 1980s.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 07, 2014
Triptykon Announce Melana Chasmata Details
Triptykon's second album, Melana Chasmata (rough translation: "black, deep depressions/valleys") will be released on April 14 (Europe) and April 15 (North America), 2014, through Century Media Records/Prowling Death Records Ltd.
Like its predecessor, Eparistera Daimones, the album was produced by Triptykon's singer/guitarist Tom Gabriel Warrior and guitarist V. Santura and recorded and mixed at V. Santura's own Woodshed Studio in southern Germany as well as at Triptykon's rehearsal facilities in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2013 and 2014. Those who have already heard Melana Chasmata have described it as "atmospheric, dark, diabolical, and dramatic", "diverse, epic, and doomy, but on an entirely different level", "a fierce boulder of abhorrence", or "very heavy and yet very aesthetic at the same time".
Melana Chasmata will feature the following nine songs, at a playing time of around 67 minutes:
1. Tree Of Suffocating Souls
2. Boleskine House
3. Altar Of Deceit
6. Demon Pact
7. In The Sleep Of Death
8. Black Snow
Further new Triptykon music has been recorded, to be released as a future EP or mini album.
Among other formats, the album will be released as a 32-page mediabook (with lyrics and liner notes to every song, and with a special fold out poster), as a gatefold vinyl double album (with posters and booklet), and for digital download. Additionally, Century Media is scheduled to issue a special box set, limited to 2000 copies. The box set will include the album, a Triptykon silver pendant, a poster, postcards, a Triptykon tote bag, and a cap.
To commemorate the unveiling of Melana Chasmata, Century Media will release a collector's gatefold 7" vinyl single, featuring the songs Breathing and Boleskine House. The single will be available on March 17, 2014, and be limited to a pressing 1000 (of which 200 will be in red vinyl). Breathing and Boleskine House will also be available as a digital single (including the option for a digital booklet), and they will be streamed on YouTube and Soundcloud.
Melana Chasmata will be further distinguished by featuring, the second time for Triptykon, the extraordinary art of legendary Swiss surrealist HR Giger. Following Eparistera Daimones, the group began to make arrangements for an entirely different cover for the second album. Completely unexpectedly, HR Giger approached Tom Gabriel Warrior in October of 2011 to express his appreciation of how Triptykon had used his art on the first album and to propose a continuation of the artistic collaboration. This development thus marks the first time any musical artist has worked with HR Giger on three albums (Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, and Triptykon's Eparistera Daimones and Melana Chasmata), and it commemorates a collaboration that has now lasted for 30 years.
Melana Chasmata features Giger's dramatically mysterious Mordor VII (work no. 283, 100 x 70 cm, acrylic on wood, 1975) as a front cover and Giger's Landschaft XVI [Landscape XVI] (work no. 209, 100 x 70 cm, acrylic on paper on wood, 1972) as gatefold art.
After a lengthy hiatus, Triptykon will return to the stage this year to promote Melana Chasmata. Among the concerts so far scheduled are appearances at the celebrated Roadburn Festival, at Rock Hard Festival, and, pending the issuance of the proper visas by US authorities, Triptykon's return to the United States for an exclusive appearance at Maryland Death Fest. For further information on live dates, please refer to Triptykon's presence on the web.
Triptykon consists of V. Santura (guitar, vocals), Norman Lonhard (drums, percussion), Vanja Slajh (bass, vocals), and Tom Gabriel Warrior (voice, guitars).
Century Media online:
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Monday, January 06, 2014
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Even the stars in the night sky appear faint, a year after my demise.
We transferred to V. Santura’s Woodshed Studio near Landshut in southern Germany, a few days ago. It was a protracted and sometimes challenging drive through yet another freezing night obscured by often impenetrable fog, begun in Zurich after midnight and ending at Woodshed at 5:30 in the morning. A journey still rendered immensely pleasant due to the fact that it was Ascension’s Ar who drove, and the two of us shared both serious moments and inane humour during this nocturnal excursion.
We are far into the tracking of guitars for Melana Chasmata by now, and one can sense the music for the album as it increasingly begins to breathe. Ar’s assistance in this production is indispensable, not least due to his expertise, intellect, and understanding.
All that, and my Ibanez Tom Gabriel Warrior custom Iceman guitar has been retrieved from the claws of hell.
Monday, December 09, 2013
These are photos I took on August 3, 2013, almost exactly 30 years after Hellhammer released the Triumph Of Death demo. They depict the remnants of the somewhat fabled Grave Hill bunker, the former rehearsal room of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, in Birchwil, Switzerland.
I had been alerted some time ago that the building housing this bunker was scheduled to be demolished, but I did not know when this was supposed to take place. It was therefore utter coincidence that I arrived at the site exactly at the time it all was happening, during one of my regular mountain biking tours through the area where I grew up and subsequently attempted my earliest musical endeavours. It was difficult to come to terms with this scene, in spite of the advance warning. So many things had taken place here, many of which would much later reveal their significance with regard to the lives of all involved.
I moved into this bunker in early 1982, with my first, utterly deficient band, Grave Hill. From the remnants of Grave Hill, Steve Warrior and I formed what would become Hellhammer, in May 1982. From its very first day to its very last, the new band was based in this putrid, mildewed bunker. Many of the earliest photos of Hellhammer were taken in it, and in June of 1983, we recorded the Death Fiend and Triumph Of Death demos there.
As Hellhammer never played a concert, the only live performances ever witnessed of the band took place at this location, when our small circle of friends would attend some of our many rehearsal sessions and, particularly, when we honoured the arrival of the new year with a full set during the night of December 31, 1982, to January 1, 1983.
In June of 1984, the newly created Celtic Frost played its very first practice session at the Grave Hill bunker, with short-time member Isaac Darso on drums. Only days later, we wrote both the music and lyrics for Procreation (Of The Wicked) there, after Stephen Priestly agreed to be our session drummer so we could complete the Morbid Tales album. Once again, some of the earliest photos of the band were taken within the walls of this concrete tomb. The same was true when drummer Reed St.Mark joined the group as a permanent member in early 1985.
We rehearsed and arranged Celtic Frost’s To Mega Therion and Into The Pandemonium albums there and practiced our music for our first extended tours in numerous endless sessions. Always accompanied by the bunker’s distinctive odour, and with instruments that would literally begin to rot if left there too long.
The bunker also witnessed the band’s miserable dissolution and infinitely disgraceful subsequent downfall as 1988 dawned. But this was also the year Celtic Frost was asked to vacate the location, as the village’s civil defence organization was seeking to refurbish and repurpose the bunker. It couldn’t have been more symbolic.
I visited this landmark of my personal path many times in later years, not least to take images when working on the Only Death Is Real book. I am glad now that I did. As I arrived there this August to be confronted with the scene depicted in the photos shown here, there was nothing left of the aura. Not a trace. The fact alone that all the trees around it had been cut down served to rob the place of any magic, even if one managed to disregard the debris-filled hole in the ground.
The warning signs couldn’t detract me, of course. I climbed across the chunks of concrete and descended down to the damaged bunker. Parts of it had filled with water, but the former rehearsal room itself still remained largely untouched. It was deeply peculiar to see it like that. I stood at the same spot I always used to stand when looking back in to check if everything was in order before locking the door and leaving for home, so many years ago. After taking a few pictures, I gathered a few fragments from the debris to serve as personal reminders and then left.
And every breath I take leaves a black void in my heart.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
In December 1983, during what I then unsurprisingly perceived as an exceptionally dark and cold winter, Bruce Day and I, at the time the sole two members of Hellhammer, descended upon a small studio located in a bunker in an equally small village near the northern border of Switzerland. Surrounded by extended orchards which, at that time of the year, appeared as rigid as stone, bare of leaves, frozen, and covered in snow, we began recording Hellhammer's third and final demo, Satanic Rites.
We were inexperienced but utterly determined and fanatic. It was an extremely significant event for the group, as all our hopes for the future hinged on this demo. It was to provide evidence of a band undergoing a considerable transition. Just how important this document of the band’s musical state would actually be, however, we could have never known at the time. It would change no less than everything.
That change, inconceivably, still reverberates. Triptykon's very inception, and perhaps more poignantly the manner in which said inception occurred, are by necessity still coupled to the events that unfolded during those mythical days. What's more, exactly three decades after the recording session described above, I am writing these words again in a bunker, not too far from Hellhammer's former rehearsal room, while recording Triptykon’s second album, Melana Chasmata.
It is probably impossible to escape such thoughts when walking home from the sessions late at night, as the freezing fog extends down to the very ground, obscuring anything further away than a handful of steps. The roots of the music we are working on, albeit evolved substantially, are as unmistakable as they are inevitable. The darkness of this new album, and the darkness of this nightly scene; how closely do they match scenes I have lived through before.
Top: the author of this blog in Zurich, Switzerland, on December 5, 2013, photographed by Corinne Kühne. Above: Triptykon's bunker during drum recording sessions, November 1, 2013, photographed by TGW.