Requiem For A Requiem
From Celtic Frost to Triptykon: The conclusion of a project over 30 years in the making.
Formed by Celtic Frost vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabriel Warrior in May of 2008 after his departure from that group a month earlier, it was Triptykon's explicit purpose to continue the musical path Warrior had originally embarked upon with his previous band. And never has this goal been more tangible than during last year's conclusion and performance of Celtic Frost's celebrated Requiem trilogy origi-nally begun in 1986.
Celtic Frost recorded the first instalment of what was intended to eventually become a three-part Requiem (missa pro defunctis; i.e., mass for the dead) at Horus Studio in Hanover, Germany, in early 1987. The finished piece, titled Rex Irae, was released on the band's illustrious avant-garde album Into The Pandemonium, in June of the same year. Warrior had begun working on the piece in 1986, but the timeline for further work on the two remaining parts of the Requiem was intentionally left tenta-tive.
The extraordinarily experimental nature of Into The Pandemonium, defined not least by the adven-turous metal/classical crossover nature of Rex Irae itself, caused significant differences of opinion regarding artistic merit between group and label at the time. Celtic Frost were still an underground band and thus at a pronounced disadvantage, but the band's determination regarding its chosen course was fierce.
It had originally been intended to finish the two missing parts of the Requiem at some point in the foreseeable future, and to release all three sections as a complete, extended-duration piece on a dedicated EP. But the conflict with the label spiralled out of control, leading to the disintegration of the original group by the end of 1987.
When Warrior and band co-founder Martin Eric Ain resurrected Celtic Frost in 2001, finishing the Req-uiem was, unsurprisingly, among the earliest topics discussed. In 2002, sixteen years after work on the initial part of the Requiem had commenced, Warrior began writing the third part on the basis of demos he had recorded in 2001. The finished third part was released on Celtic Frost's Monotheist album in 2006, again recorded at Horus Studio in Hanover, under the title of Winter.
What was left to complete now was the missing second part of the composition. Warrior already had a fragmentary idea of what it would entail musically. Alas, perhaps predictably, Celtic Frost disinte-grated a second, final, time on April 2, 2008, and the Requiem was left unfinished once more.
It was 2018, yet again sixteen years after Warrior had last worked on the Requiem, when Walter Hoeijmakers, founder of the distinguished Roadburn Festival contacted Triptykon to offer his sup-port for the completion of the project and propose Roadburn as the venue to perform, at long last, the full, finished Requiem. This was the impetus needed, and Warrior thus began writing the elusive middle part of the Requiem in earnest. It would be called Grave Eternal.
The timing was just right: in spite of the direct Celtic Frost-lineage, Triptykon had very much devel-oped its own, highly regarded identity in the intervening years. Triptykon's first two albums, Eparis-tera Daimones (2010) and Melana Chasmata (2014), released through the band's own Prowling Death Records (also a Celtic Frost-derived operation) in close partnership with Century Media Records, had been granted considerable international acclaim, and Triptykon's selected concerts had long since established the act's uniquely sophisticated heaviness in the contemporary scene.
Moreover, Roadburn's considerable resources provided for an ideal partner for such a substantial undertaking. It was Hoeijmakers who suggested the collaboration with the Dutch Metropole Orkest, an ensemble perfectly suited for such an undertaking. The conductor chosen was Jukka Isakkila, from Finland, and the classical arranger was long-time Triptykon affiliate Florian Magnus Maier, from Germany and the Netherlands.
Whereas the original first part of the Requiem as recorded in 1987 was written in an almost entirely untainted environment where metal/classical collaborations were a highly daring novelty, 1986's Win-ter and particularly 2019's Grave Eternal were born into a world where such collaborations had be-come the de rigueur means to attain artistic credentials for many metal bands. Given such an infla-tionary proliferation of existing metal songs accompanied by classical instrumentation, it is worth noting that the Celtic Frost/Triptykon Requiem was written specifically for band and orchestra from the very beginning.
After a year dominated by songwriting, arranging, meetings, determining the configuration of the orchestra, rehearsals, and demo recordings, the finished three parts of the Requiem were for the first time performed by band and orchestra in two dress rehearsals at Hilversum, Netherlands, on April 10 and 11, 2019. This, quite literally, set the stage for the actual live performance at Roadburn, on April 12, 2019.
The concert marked the first time the Requiem's first and third parts, Rex Irae and Winter, had ever been performed live, and the very first time the public heard the new second part, Grave Eternal. Fully aware that they were therefore attending a historic event, the audience's reaction was frenetic.
Both dress rehearsal and concert were recorded. The splendid result, one year after the event, is this remarkable album, Triptykon's third: Requiem (Live At Roadburn 2019).