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Thy Catafalque - Naiv CD (album) cover

NAIV

Thy Catafalque

Experimental/Post Metal


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars THY CATALFALQUE is a project that's been around for quite a while now having formed all the way back in 1998 as a symphonic black metal band and then getting more experimental as time carried on by incorporating more external influences such as electronica and homegrown Hungarian folk music from founder Tamás Kátai's home nation before relocating to Scotland. The band which has essentially been Kátai and his sidekick guitarist Juhász János then released several albums as a duo up until 2011's "Rengeteg" when Kátai went it alone with only selected guest musicians for each album thereafter. The rotating cast of guests has made each THY CATALFALQUE album sound quite unique so it's never predictable as to which elements of music will dominate any particular album.

Early on in 2020, avant-garde metal band THY CATAFALQUE releases its ninth album NAIV. After the interesting changes of the doom metal drenched "Meta" and the overly abundant use of electronica and lack of metal on "Geometria," NAIV returns with a nice mixture of all the disparate elements that makes THY CATAFALQUE so utterly unique even within the vastly populated universe of modern metal. While long ago drifting away from any sort of black metal orthodoxies, this act has nonetheless never strayed too far from its roots by keeping a finger or two on the pulse of the primordial pools from whence it sprang forth. NAIV doesn't necessarily jettison the abundance of electronic effects and noises as heard on the previous album but rather returns some of the metal dominant bombast however any fan of this unique band should know by now, track by track, THY CATAFALQUE delivers the unpredictability of a schizophrenic seance.

Once again eschewing genre labels, NAIV like previous albums creates a unique fusion of the Hungarian folk melodies with black metal riffs, electronic atmosphere and also includes some surprising jazzy touches that remind me of bands like Norway's Shining. Kátai handles the expected vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and other exotic instruments such as the citera and darbuka while a huge cast of characters joins him for this musical treat. In addition to the excepted bass and drums there are also two guest vocalists with the feminine charm of Martina Veronika Horváth (ex-Niburta, SallyAnne, Nulah) finding its way throughout most of the album. There are many classical instruments such as the cello, viola, violin and even classical guitar as well as many ethnic sounds from a quena flute, out and other Eastern European instruments. On the jazz side of things there are occasional outbursts of saxophone and even a trombone.

Starting out with black metal buzzsaw guitar effects, "A bolyongás ideje" launches NAIV straight into the realms of the metal universe unlike the rather tame predecessor "Geometria" which seemed to lounge in the chill electronica section of the music store for far too long. Despite the heavy bombast of the guitar riffs, the sensual female vocals and folk melodies craft a pacifying folk metal vibe with occasional outbursts of proggy keyboard runs that are straight out of the 70s symphonic prog playbook. While sounding a bit like an 80s AC/DC riff at the beginning, "Tsitsushka" actually takes on a cool atmospheric cloud cover while the guitars clammer away more akin to a caffeinated surf rock band than black metal but it gets even more estranged from the opener with the inclusion of a horn section. "Embersólyom" calms things down quite a bit with dark ambient sounds shrouding a mysterious flute emerging and then breaking into an electro-folk-rock groove which takes on a tango type of rhythmic drive.

"Számtalan színek" continues the ethnic flavors only sounds more like it's rooted in Balkan gypsy folk only with blistering black metal guitar accompaniments that when dropped out sounds more like a movie soundtrack. In many ways this style of black folk metal reminds me of Greece's Rotting Christ on some of the newer albums. The violin and viola presence on this one really sets it apart from the other tracks. "A valóság kazamatái" begins with a jittery computer generated sounding keyboard intro before bursting into hefty black metal bombast but it's accompanied by the folk melodies emerging from the keyboards. When the guitar parts are dropped the folk instruments stand out and the percussive drive begins to sound more like a bigbeat techno album. The layered effects are perfectly mixed and the sounds that come and go add the proper contrast at the exact perfect times.

"Kék madár (Négy kép)" takes the ethnic influences to the most extremes as this one sound like a gypsy wedding somewhere deep in Bosnia but then picks up with a bizarrely contrasting flute run that sounds more like 70s Focus than Jethro Tull along with electronica drumming styles and with no metal guitar sounds to be heard sounds like the project went Opeth on us and abandoned the metal altogether, at least temporarily. Actually they abandoned the rock altogether on this one as the track starts to sound like a heartbeat with flute. Luckily "Napút" brings back the metal heft but trades off with a more techno sound. It then gives the mic to Martina who add the ethnic touches. Nice beefy guitar sounds but at this stage of the game it's obvious that the metal guitars play a subordinate role to the ethnic and electronic sounds. However just as i say that "Vető" comes along and delivers the heaviest guitar sounds of all with thrashy palm muted beefcakes pounding away while Martina sings her little heart out. It's a nice contrast between the hyper-masculine and sensual feminine. Beauty and beast of a different name.

"Szélvész" ends the album on a more folk than metal note but the guitar heft does deliver. It's obvious at this stage of THY CATAFALQUE's lengthy career that the metal isn't the most important element of its sound and that it's all about juxtaposing disparate genres with the Hungarian folk elements being the most prominent. The magic of NAIV is in the production values and how well all these melodies are crafted into nice smorgasbord of sounds. While not substantially different than previous albums, this one seems to have catchier hooks, greater contrast between bombast and sensual touches and is just more satisfying than the lopsided feed of "Geometria" as all the elements unfold in an organic manner and nothing seems forced. Overall THY CATAFALQUE creates the perfect recipe where the gritty metal aspects sit well next to the timeless folk melodies and futuristic electronic and ambient sounds. Although this isn't primarily a metal album, the last track adds some of the only raspy black metal vocals to be heard. This is a solid album from beginning to end if you dig this sorta thing.

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Posted Monday, February 3, 2020 | Review Permalink

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