Monday, 9 September 2013

Avant Garde madness of Thy Catafalque

Thy Catafalque. Ho, boy. Thy Catafalque is a one man project from Hungary, named Tamas Katai (or Katai Tamas, depending on where you live). He does all of the instrumentation and music programming(that I'm aware of anyway), with clean vocals being provided by Attila Bakos on both Rengeteg and Roka Hasa Radio. Janos Juhasz provides a  helping hand on the guitar front. Other stars of the Hungarian scene to guest on his albums, specifically Agnes Toth from The Moon and the Nightspirit. It should be noted that Tamas Katai also published an album under his own name called Erika Szobaja. Which is a brilliant folk-ambient album of extraordinary proportions. When I feel introspective, or slightly emotive or just want to put something light in the background that album is the one I go for. Then there's Gire, a very unusual death metal project where Tamas plays the keyboards and programming. 

The first time I became aware of it was when I was trawling through Metal Reviews, and at that point in my musical life I was very interested in the Avant Garde section of music. So I procured their album Roka Hasa Radio, and oh my was I taken away by it's sheer magnitude. There was a lot going on there, but at the same time it all seemed so simple. What was the most mind-blowing about the whole thing is how well put together it was, shifting and turning in every direction, yet there was always some kind of order to it all. The music is not avant garde for the sake of wanting to be different and sound out of place, it is avant garde because that is the only label that will suffice to describe the music that has been sprouted. Roka Hasa Radio, was probably the most original metal album I had listened to since, I started listening to Iron Maiden all those years ago.

In fact I would argue that Thy Catafalque is the most original metal project going at the moment. Being original is by no means a stamp of quality, because you can be original and still sound like shit. But Thy Catafalque is just pure original quality.

One of the things that I do love about this project is the fact that since Tuno, ido Tarlat the language of choice to sing in has been his native Hungarian. I tend to prefer it when bands sing in their native tongues, it's not a necessity but it adds to the flavour of the music.

Generally, the albums have their basis in Black Metal. But there's also quite a bit of dance element in there, especially in the rhythm section. Yet, in between you get this gorgeous folk in between flurry of black-techno-metal and lush ambience of nature calling (not in the urination sense). The songs tend to be long, very very long, but that's okay as well. Because they never stretch to the point of boring. Best examples of this are the songs Neath Waters from 'Tuno, Ido Tarlat' and Molekuláris gépezetek from 'Roka Hasa Radio'.

The latest album 'Rengeteg', is also just littered with great songs. It starts of with blistering heavy metal with 2011's greatest metal riff:

And from there it only gets better. I mean the whole song pretty much runs on just that one riff and some really really angry barking in the background to begin with. All that catharsis being vented on all fronts, but when he's exhausted the vocals he just drives home that riff like a tractor ripping through a barn when powered by nuclear waste. But that one riff is enough to carry the whole song, and while it shifts and turns like a snake in the background the riff itself just keeps on going and grinding and fascinating.

While there does always seemed to be a theme underlying all of the albums, I have not always been able to decipher those. The only guess I can stab at are that 'Tuno, Ido Tarlat' is aquatic in nature, Roka Hasa Radio seems to be urban and Rengeteg is like running in the forest. And they are all so original, all so fresh that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Yes they do take a bit of time to get used to, but there is something for everyone to enjoy on these albums. And I can't wait for the future releases, especially when Tamas told me that the next album is going to have a lot of Erika Szobaja influenced moments and passages.

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