Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 11/22/2011
posted on 10/2011 By:
About a year ago I was introduced to the 2009 offering by Hungary’s Thy Catafalque, Róka Hasa Rádió, an outstanding combination of black metal, post-everything-but-Ulver recklessness, prog structures and many of the freakish elements that so-called “avant-garde” metal bands tend to employ. Borknagar, solo Vintersorg and Solefald would be apt comparisons if any of them wrote songs pushing twenty minutes, but even then Thy Catafalque was more apt to explore the full spaces of their sound with deeply entrenched melody, an unabashed appreciation for electronic music, and the constant impression that they’re doing this for themselves and themselves only. In that free-thinking way the album gave a slight nod to albums like Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. It was an immediate yet deeply adventurous listen that piqued my interest in the band, as outwardly original metal that somehow finds a way to still be listenable is an all-too rare commodity.
Rengeteg is album number five from the project, which is really the vision and near total execution of multi-instrumentalist / vocalist / songwriter Tamás Katái. His vision has evolved gradually from its black metal roots into what it is today – an addictive, heavily melodic, and constantly exploratory brand of very heavy metal. Far less blackened in overall tone than Róka Hasa Rádió, Rengeteg loses none of its predecessor’s variation or aural expedition, featuring songs running the full gamut from bludgeoning forcefulness to soft balladry. Never-complex-but-adept guitar work meets wouldn’t-know-it-was-programmed drumming of the same quality, sci-fi sounding keys, gorgeous clean vocals courtesy of Attila Bakos (of the excellent Euro-folk acoustic act Woodland Choir) and most importantly a keen sense of knowing exactly what to place around the next corner.
Case in point, the fastest (coolest) nine minutes of the year: opener “Fekete mezok.” Rhythm guitar lines repeat in cycles as lead work takes on a quality somewhere between black metal tremolo riffs and a Hammond B3, all the while Bakos appears and disappears with his natural Vintersorg-ish vocals. The song – and album – never becomes self-indulgent, instead offering slight variations to simple themes to lead the listener through music that is constantly infectious – infectious, and by the time of the staggering finale, heavy as balls. It isn’t a particularly dynamic track in the soft-to-loud sense of the term, but there is a journey to be heard, and Thy Catafalque brings plenty of light / dark contrast elsewhere.
Following are a couple of what might be considered the more “standard” songs on Rengeteg, those having a simpler format typical for the artists mentioned above, taking many of the elements that make the opener great and applying them to more compact, driving tunes that are accessible enough for radio but never aiming for it. Touches of folk (the Amorphis-like use of keys in “Trilobita”) help to tie these songs to the other side of Thy Catafalque, that which prefers things softer. Enchanting strings in “Ko koppan” and the entirety of “Az eso, az eso, az eso” exemplify this, standing out strongly because their nakedness and vulnerability renders them moments of stark beauty surrounded by monolithic heft. The fact that they’re actual songs – as opposed to just being interludes – makes them and the full album all the stronger. Epic centerpiece “Vashegyek” (epic to the tune of 14 minutes) features all sides of Katái’s songwriting. From the ghostly vocals of Ágnes Tóth through the song’s pulsating doom riffs, it manages to create a massive atmosphere without actually featuring too many outwardly atmospheric elements. And despite not being complex in structure or performance, it somehow maintains its efficiency, even at its enormous length.
It isn’t until the intense closer “Minden test fu” that Katái takes Thy Catafalque back to his black metal roots. By doing so, the album is wisely bookended not only by a couple bitchin’ tracks but also by fitting variety. It ensures that while Rentegeg is certainly a great collection of songs, it is a better album. The pacing and overall structure were meticulously crafted to be heard as one, while the huge production, constantly brilliant vocal performance by Bakos and perfectly chosen keyboard effects really tie a killer sound in with the great compositions, crafting an album that should put this excellent project right on the radar.
Okay, enough “analyze this and analyze that” critical speak. Putting it simply, this album is fine gourmet candy for your sweet-toothed ears. For all of the introspective aura talk, for all of the quirky weirdness and adventurous shifts mentioned, the most important trait about Rengeteg is that it’s a serious blast to listen to. Not a blast in the 24-pack-of-PBR-and-a-basement-Municipal Waste-show sense, but fun as all unholy hell, even the sweet wispy parts. But then again, I think La Masquerade Infernale is a smile-in-a-bottle ready-made for the party height of Headbangers Ball, so maybe I’m just one outburst away from Nurse Ratched’s ward. But in one way or another, aren’t we all?
I want my cigarettes, and my MTV, and my Thy Catafalque.
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