Friday, 13 September 2013

What is in that goulash in Hungary?

Ever since writing about Thy Catafalque, I've been dipping more into the music scene in Hungary. What I have found is a veritable melody treasure chest. Most of the ones I'll be talking about work in the Metal genre bar one. So I'll get this one out of the way right.

The Moon And The Nightspirit, is a folk project headed by Ágnes Tóth and Mihály Szabó. They play this mystical pagan traditional folk music and since the second album they've sung in Hungarian. The duet have been active since 2003. Up to now they've released 4 albums, 'Of Dreams Forgotten and Fables Untold', 'Regõ Rejtem' ( I conjure Magic), 'Ősforrás'(Ancient Sources) and Mohalepte (Moss). The music is filled with traditional musical instruments, along with all the standard folky ones(flute, drums, violin) and they do manage to create a magical universe (even though I have no idea what they are singing about), and not that fancy pancy universe with unicorns and ever healing nature. But the one that where while some creature are friendly there are also the monsters in the dark, there are songs full of desperation, songs full of joy and songs full of sadness and melancholia. All in all it seems like the songs represent the way nature actually is, an amoral being that doesn't care whether you live or die. The majority of the singing is done by Ágnes Tóth who has featured before on albums by Thy Catafalque, and have to admit that she has become one of my favourite folk singers out there outshining most stars like Candice Night. There's this refreshing and beautiful honesty in the way she carries tunes. Mihály Szabó does provide a nice bass full counter point to Ágnes Tóth fragile soprano vocals as well, by being the manly man in the forest clothed with leather loincloth. With every album they've been able to expand their sound, and have since added two more members to flesh out the sound. I for one can't wait to hear their next offering.

It would seem that every country need their version of Mr. Bungle, and the Hungarian one is Damned Spirits' Dance. First time I came across them was when I was browsing my favourite Music Labels webstore, Code666, and they had this odd band, with a rather stupid name. And their album cover didn't help either. And neither did the  album's name. Weird Constellations. But I got the album, and it nearly blew me away. Wow, as I said before these guys are the Hungarian Mr. Bungle, which is as good a compliment as I can give really. They've only released this one album, and an EP... oh and a demo. These guys started out as rather high brow melodic Black Metal, like so many other bands do. It does seem like to be the standard to start of as either Black Metal or Death Metal(In some rare cases, j-pop) before trying to go Unfortunately according to Metal Archives, these guys are now On Hold. Which is a real shame because I was really looking forward to the follow up, hopefully with slightly less ridiculous cover and album name.

This next band, are as far as I'm aware, the biggest metal band from Hungary (Someone correct me here please, if I'm wrong). At least the on that gets the most mentions. Sear Bliss, they play a form of atmospheric Black Metal, like no other. Which is probably a good thing because what they do include is brass instruments. And when you least expect it they breakdown into playing this big band brass section in their songs. I don't think any other band could actually get away with it, still sound coherent, melodic and atmospheric. They've been around now for 20 years and have been steadily releasing albums since, all with bassist/vocalist András Nagy at the helm. His vocal style does need getting used to, best probably described as Dani Filth with more testosterone. But it definitely fits the mood that he goes for. The other thing that is worthy to mention is his bass playing, which comes directly from Steve Harris school of thought and at times it sounds like he's playing a fretless one at that. In the last album 'Eternal Recurrence' there is a lot of harmonized singing to complement András ,ehemm, singing. What seems to connect the albums together as well is that it seems like their about this doomed Space Pirate Ship... Think Disney's Treasure Planet with more metal.

The other band I was going to write about was Dalriada. But to be honest I haven't listened to them enough to make an opinion, the only reason I know that they exist is because they somehow beat Thy Catafalque's Rengeteg to Best Metal Award in Hungary. So it wouldn't really be fair of me to do a write up until I've had a good listening session.The bits and pieces I have heard have got be me intrigued to say the least. Arkona springs to mind straight away.

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