Review Summary: For this writer at least, it's the metal album of the year.
Sometimes an album can give you what you want so perfectly that it makes you feel like the band have access to your brain. I mean, are Thy Catafalque regular readers of my Twitter feed? Obviously I'm joking, but the coincidence is a little creepy; Rengeteg
could not possibly be a better response to my thoughts on the masterful Róka Hasa Rádió
if it tried. I can even use direct quotes that I've posted online in the past to show it.
Criticisms like 'unsurprisingly, the band are at their weakest when they stray too far from metal' are dealt with by simply not straying away from metal. The album doesn't really get weird in any sense until it's almost half an hour into its running time; up until then, it's just straight-up metal, albiet Thy Catafalque's own particular brand of it. If you loved the heavier sections of Róka Hasa Rádió
, you'll love this too, because they've kept all the things that made them so good (like 'folky tunes so completely bathed in Nordic passion that I couldn't even imagine singing along to them without having at least 4 tankards of mead first', or 'never neglect[ing] melody, texture, or rhythm in pursuit of atmosphere or rawness'). The influences they're drawing in from other metal bands is perfectly chosen too; the 14 minute "Vashegyek" echoes Agalloch's Ashes Against the Grain
in its heavier sections, and that's never a bad thing to be compared to.
It does get weird eventually, though. And yet, when it does, it feels a lot more tasteful that the more unusual touches on their last outing. There's no more saxophone, for one thing; instead there's a ballad in "Kő koppan" that mixes the sounds of the post-metal Ulver albums with folky strings (hardly 'weird' in a broader sense, admittedly, but a change at least), and the instrumental "Holdkomp" is a minimal, glitchy slice of IDM that eventually introduces a skittering electronic beat, live drums, and some keyboards that sound like Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds
. "Az eső, az eső, az eső", one of the album's highlights, is built on dark layers of reverb-heavy synth pads and a clipped, echoing guitar part that sounds like early U2. The heaviness is never too far away though, as the breakneck closer "Minden test fű" proves - it's the heaviest song I've heard by them yet.
Literally everything I asked for and more, Rengeteg
is a properly jaw-droppingly brilliant album; metal just doesn't get better than this in 2011, just like it didn't get better than Róka Hasa Rádió
in 2009. They will have to fu
ck up spectacularly
on their next couple of albums if I'm not going to permanently consider them one of my favourite ever metal bands.