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Thy Catafalque: Vadak

I tend to approach Thy Catafalque with a mixture of respect and caution, a feeling which has as much to do with their sound as it does with when I first heard them. See, I first heard them in 2018, shortly after Geometria, not long after they began experimenting wildly with their sound. I liked Geometria, at least in part, but I did not completely appreciate just how much experimenting Támas Kátai had been doing since his early days playing black metal. Now that I’ve heard more of the band’s music, I think I can see what Kátai means when he calls it avant garde metal. Sure, it’s just a label, but it helps capture a sense of pushing forward, perhaps even of finding a point where music can really go anywhere and do anything. Whether that can really happen, I don’t know, but I find myself enjoying the various attempts Kátai and his guests try to figure it out.

This album has to do with mortality and its inevitable end in death. The title is a Hungarian word for “wildlings” and is meant to capture something of the ways life is both deliberate and random. I listened to this album during a visit to the Grand Canyon and found myself reflecting on the power of nature and the ways human actions connect with it. It was pretty cool listening to something so strange while observing something so vast.

Tamás Kátai provides the vocals and plays the guitars, bass, synths, and programs. He is also joined, on various tracks, by approximately 16 guest musicians, all of whom bring some extra layers of depth to everything. I was especially fond of Martina Veronka Korváth’s vocals on tracks 1, 2, 9, and 10. I also enjoyed Loa Makhoul’s tabla, dumbek, and riq on track 8. Andrei Oltean’s redpipes on track 2 were also pretty great.

There’s no easy way to capture this album with words, but I’ll try to say a few things. Musically, the whole thing comes across as surprising and mellow and compelling and strange. There’s a little bit of black metal lingering in the background, which probably isn’t surprising, given Kátai’s background. But he constantly adds more to it in ways that push against all expectations. Some listeners will certainly find all this variety strange; some may even think it unnecessary. And yet, when it works, it works beautifully. To me, the band sounds best when things are slightly mellower because the various sound textures come through that much more.

If you’re curious about this one, go right to the title track. It’s 12 minutes long, but it has a hard-driving opening that will sound familiar enough to entice you into the more experimental stuff. I’d also recommend the second track because of burst of energy from the redpipes. After that, jump around and see what you think of the guest vocals (especially tracks 9,10) or maybe the saxophone (track 6, among others). If you find yourself enjoying what you hear, keep listening and then listen some more. There are tons of surprises here and the album is ultimately much more convincing than annoying.

Track Listing:
1. Szarvas
2. Köszöntsd a hajnalt
3. Gömböc
4. Az energiamegmaradàs törvénye
5. Móló
6. A kupolaváros titka
7. Kiscsikó (Irénke dala)
8. Piros-sárga
9. Vadak (Az àtvàltozàs rítusai)
10. Zúzmara

Added: September 30th 2021
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Bandcamp Page
Hits: 522
Language: english

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