Live Review: Bloodstock Festival 2023 – Triptykon Performs Celtic Frost

Live Review: Bloodstock Festival 2023 - Triptykon Performs Celtic Frost
Words: Sam Jones
Photos: Tim Finch

When I first learnt Triptykon would be performing classic Celtic Frost material live, I was in disbelief. I’d finally have an opportunity to hear revered material live for the first time. But who were Celtic Frost and why does it matter? Celtic Frost, formed by Tom Gabriel Fischer (by the stage name of Tom G. Warrior) and longtime bassist and late friend Martin Erich Stricker, before his tragic passing in 2017 by heart attack, began way back in 1984 out of Zurich, Switzerland of all places, following the end of Hellhammer, a watershed moment and band in extreme medal’s earliest, burgeoning days. Hellhammer’s 1984 release, Apocalyptic Raids, is an utterly evil thing when you consider an album of this malignant calibre was unleashed when the thrash movement was still finding its feet. What Tom and Martin were doing at this point in time, in metal’s history, is frankly insane, but by the time Celtic Frost came into being they were quickly refining their sound and before long Morbid Tales came about, followed shortly by To Mega Therion.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Their EP, Emperor’s Return, really highlights the cut off point many regard as Celtic Frost’s classic material. From here on out, Celtic Frost never released the same album twice; as Into The Pandemonium, Cold Lake and Vanity/Nemesis saw fans equally entertained and divided over Celtic Frost’s ongoing trajectory. The band broke up by 1993 however, but saw new life return in 2001 admits promises of a new record. Such oaths were fulfilled when the band released their 2006 Monotheist record, a work of extreme metal that could be dubbed the band’s swan song as this record was far more in line with their earlier releases. But talk about ending your career on a high, for Monotheist was received with universal acclaim and is one of my favourite Celtic Frost releases. But even this couldn’t last for the band finally called it a day in 2008. Not long afterwards, Tom formed Triptykon. The rest is history

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Triptykon. Playing Celtic Frost. Such a combination of names brings to mind a legendary performance and frankly, that’s what it was. Playing extreme metal across Morbid Tales, To Mega Therion and their Emperor’s Return EP, the band assailed us with extreme metal that was utterly groundbreaking for its time, where in 1984 - 1985 Celtic Frost were pulling off heavy metal that was absolutely unheard of in extreme metal, when thrash was yet to reach its zenith and before death metal was even a twinkle in most fans’ eyes. But what made it additionally special in my eyes was how stripped back it was; no unique theatrics, nothing special rolled onto stage, just the band playing classic Celtic Frost material before a hungry audience that only begged for more, even as the last tracks fazed out.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Attired all in black, other than Tom G. Warrior himself adorning Triptykon merch, the band played track after track of perverted guitar tone that was as crushing as it was crunching whether they were playing faster or dishing out more methodical pieces. Enacting guitar and bass battles amongst each other, the chemistry of Triptykon is organically alive as the band naturally move back and forth between band interplay and resuming their positions.

Tom, wielding a guitar embossed with the late H.R. Giger’s bio-mechanical nightmares, is absolutely encapsulating as Triptykon’s immovable frontman. That man, at sixty years old, remains one of extreme metal’s most prominent and influential frontmen and yet maintains his humble humanity especially as the band undergo “Suicidal Winds” whereupon Tom admits he finds that song more difficult as he gets older. You don’t see that vulnerable humanity often in such esteemed musicians.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

That said, it was nice to see that Tom wasn’t the sole spotlight of Triptykon’s performance. Between bassist Vanja Šlajh, who truly understands how to wield a bass guitar just as prominently as any standard six-string, fellow guitarist Victor Bullok, who undertook various soloing and riff responsibilities, and drummer extraordinaire Hannes Grossmann whose work as a solo artist and with Alkaloid and Obscura have turned me into a desirable performer. Triptykon are a band overflowing with talent and each was given their time to shine; it was wonderful to confirm that this isn’t some ego trip Tom has put on. The entire band put in their efforts towards this performance and you felt the inclusion of each member throughout their time on stage.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

The crowd are going wild too, with many a crowdsurfer riding the crest of the barrier one after another as Triptykon dish out one classic after another. No blast beats, nothing special, just a solid set as the band unleash headbanging tunes. An eighty minute set went by like a breeze, only amplified by the setting sun that threw a gloss over the evening, and the smoke machines threw up wisps captured by the wind.

By the end, my voice was gone, my legs were shattered and my energy sapped, yet I wouldn’t change that experience for anything. Meshuggah may have headlined the Saturday’s main stage, but Triptykon were my personal headliner for the day.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Check out our other Bloodstock coverage!

Thursday Review [HERE]
Friday Review [HERE]
Saturday Review [HERE]
Sunday Review [HERE]

Triptykon does Celtic Frost - Special Feature [HERE]

Thursday Photo Gallery [HERE]
Friday Photo Gallery [HERE]
Saturday Photo Gallery [HERE]
Sunday Photo Gallery [HERE]

Band Interviews [HERE]

Photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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