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Every now and then, an album is created which ridicules its particular scene, not by being bad but the exact opposite - by being so utterly superior to almost anything that style is thought to be capable of producing. In black metal, the year 2004 was widely thought to have seen such a release in the form of Enslaved's album "Isa". Myself, I never understood the fuss around it, probably since I usually cannot stand the mere stench of progressive elements. Kataxu got good feedback with their "Roots Thunder" the time it came out, maybe because symphonic BM was quite unique in the Slavonic scene. In 2005 they struck again and literally shook the pillars of my entire music taste.
"Hunger of Elements" is HEAVY on symphonics, far more so than "Roots Thunder" or the obvious influence of Kataxu, Limbonic Art. We are talking about bombastic melodies both on the background and foreground, melodies which have been perfected to an almost unbelievable extent. I've heard this kind of music being called "majestic black metal" and I cannot help but nod my head in awe as I listen to the majesty contained here. If kings and queens listened to metal, Kataxu would be worthy of their highborn ears.
We shouldn't, however, forget the elements of BM, which are there and not weakened a bit. The guitarplay and the drumming are as simplistic and monotonous as those of any other band, and the vocals are some of the most chaotic I've ever heard. Coming to the vocals - their use is intense. The first, third and fifth track (the other three are actually ambient) are all over 10 minutes long and almost entirely covered with singing. You might ask what the lyrics are about. Basically, they represent pagan world-view, future prophecies and the astral world through abstract wording. Pretty strange but original.
Another important element of music (at least for me) is emotion and atmosphere. Kataxu excels, again. Each song has its own world that you can take a brief glimpse at through a window which only lasts that track's duration. Having heard this album countless times by now, I'm still discovering new things. What's important is letting your imagination loose and only by doing that can you get the most out of "Hunger of Elements". The atmospheres vary - depending on the track it can conjure the vastness of space, the majesty of the divine or the wonders of nature. The second ambient track "Nightsky" is wholly on another level, even for this album. A photo of a clear summer sky at night couldn't communicate it to me any better, only a real experience would match up. The vision of star-riddled vastness above, bordered by the dark edge of treetops and reflected by a small lake amidst the woods came very near to being flooded with tears from my eyes. So moving was the experience from a mere six-minute piece of music and so deeply did it touch my most sacred dreams, emotions and memories. What crippled lives we lead, what feelings we never get to know in this bleak world that surrounds us today.
Finally a few words about the physical appearance of this album. The cover art is quite cliché and not so special. Fortunately that cannot be said about the booklet and the picture on the CD, both of which are spectacular. Most if not all of the images are taken by the Hubble space telescope and I cannot think of anything more appropriate considering the theme of "Hunger of Elements". The picture on the disc is especially beautiful, a perfectly circular galaxy. Does it represent the sad truth that even on an astronomical scale the world is inevitably bound in a circular motion, both a curse and a blessing? But Kataxu can briefly relieve you of that eternal wheel of pain by letting your mind fly free. Use this oppurtunity that you have been given. Another chance might just not come.