Review Summary: Genre morphs Thy Catafalque continue to push at the boundaries of avant garde by working backwards.
Listening to a Thy Catafalque album is often bewildering. On one hand we have an experience tailor made for the weird and wonderful nuance lovers, leaning heavily into the act’s well-documented avant garde sides; from the unmistakable programmed drums, distinct floating and often driving synths and the vintage guitar tones to which Tamás Kátai (the band’s sole permanent member) composes each and every musical amalgamation. Yet, the band itself doesn’t stagnate so much as it teeters on the edge of its musical exploration—efforts such as the more recent Vadak
, which placated some of the group’s more metal tendencies in favour of more simplistic, followable guitar melodies still managed to maintain a firm hold onto the folk whimsy. Touches of violin, saxophone and other elements maintained the fresh explorative feel of Geometria
, while the edge and tone of Vadak
’s instrumental section almost mirrored that of the seminal Naiv
. To truly grasp the musical direction of Thy Catafalque one needs to let go of the expectation of where and what this music should sound like
and instead trust the process, seatbelt fastened tightly.
is entirely its own, taking flourishes from Thy Catafalque’s expanding discography and ultimately continuing to prove again to be the masters of whimsical, experimental nuance disguised as metal. Which coincidentally, is still an apt description when describing Thy Catafalque’s newest album. Alföld
still takes a bombardment of forward-folk influence and interweaves it seamlessly with driving black metal sections and even the clear death metal aesthetic provided by Ahriman frontman (and former Gire bandmate) Lambert Lédeczy (“A csend hegyei”, the title track, and “Csillagot görgető”). Somehow this remarkably creates a more straightforward listen, not entirely devoid of the celtic chants, funk rhythms and all manner of horns and flutes. As such, the nine-minute ascension that is the album’s titular track manages to combine classical, experimentation, avant garde and the seemingly forward death metal aesthetic in a manner that’s undoubtedly palatable for metal and music enthusiasts everywhere. The following, “Folyondár” continues to expand the album’s reaching soundscapes; two flutes' solos and a combination of keyboards and a dichotomy of heavy guitar sections. Clear musical direction is found by following snaking compositional paths and measured left hand turns all in the name of progressing through Tamás Kátai’s musical mind.
It is perhaps prudent to mention that Alföld
is succinct by Thy Catafalque standards. At forty-four minutes, Alföld
isn’t at all intrusive. In fact, it feels
like there should be more. Maybe this has something to do with this record being the shortest full-length of the discography to date or rather how well each of the album’s “parts” come together, but the record’s overall cohesiveness isn’t at all diminished by the overall run-time. Alföld
is the perfect length but could also go longer. A sentiment felt by a lot of its listeners surely? For this Hungarian powerhouse of whimsy and nuance, Alföld
doesn’t help define what “is Thy Catafalque” music, but it does manage to summarise parts of it. Despite the clear influence of the act’s early days, Alföld
is too steeped in its more modern repertoire to truly bring everything together. But that in itself doesn’t make it any less impressive.