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Hungarian Thy Catafalque bears somewhat of a cult status on our site. Introduced to many via Tûnõ idõ tárlat review, this creation of Tamas Katai was listened to by many of our readers by now, and the mere reference that “something” may sound like Thy Catafalque sends the faithful scouring for that something, only to come back longing for the real deal. I am somehow in a privileged position, keeping in touch with Tamas, knowing when the next Thy Catafalque installment will hit the sonic waves. With that, rejoice all lovers of avant-garde metal, Róka Hasa Rádió is here to make you squirm, shiver and spew praises.
I have to admit, Róka Hasa Rádió took its time before penetrating my thick cranium, unlike Tûnõ idõ tárlat, which succeeded with a more immediate hold. But once my reservations and guards were breached, Tamas did it again. The album managed to invade my senses ruthlessly and egotistically, occupying them now to the point that I have a need for my daily Thy Catafalque fix, not allowing me enough time for other artists.
It could be that Róka Hasa Rádió is a much more grounded record, while Tûnõ idõ tárlat was cosmic, watery and fleeting. The melodies of Tûnõ idõ tárlat were closer to the surface, there for the taking and imbibing with ease. Róka Hasa Rádió does take more work to comprehend. Or, it could be that Róka Hasa Rádió lacks that monster track which Neath Waters was for Tûnõ idõ tárlat (but what can compare to that masterpiece?!). In truth, Róka Hasa Rádió opens up with a pair of complex compositions, Szervetlen and Molekuláris Gépezetek, before shifting to shorter more focused tracks. With the latter Tamas has shown a tendency to work and develop a singular idea, to take a Western Carpathian Mountains (Gutsul) melody and set it to a harsh techno rhythm (Köd Utánam) or use mesmerizing repeating loops to subdue, corrupt and transfix senses (Piroshátú). In folky castanet percussion filled Kabócák, Bodobácsok Thy Catafalque unveils a mysterious ballet dance borrowing décor from both Pasa Doble and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Róka Hasa Rádió bigger compositions are just as complex as before, and present multiple kaleidoscopic parts, connected by transitions both absolutely logical and smooth as well as abrupt and puzzling. After a spacey airy beginning Molekuláris Gépezetek goes through a series of stubborn chords, which remind me of grass springing back regardless of how hard one plowed the ground. After some folk melody hints, the track shifts to another cosmic moment reminding why Tamas Katai is probably the closest thing to modern day Ekama (Didier Maruani). Then, bam, all that watery melody and violin get crushed by an unexpected harsh finale. Szervetlen, on the other hand, begins with the rising forcefield, oozing from the inside of every fissure, until it can no longer be contained. A perfect wall of noise arises with the muscular programmed pounding, while a frozen worm of a melody, the Thy Catafalque trademark, finds its way into subconsciousness, drilling, eating at the mind. Crushing doom death chords, however, give way to tremolo guitar and some floating keys which show the listener an escape route.
Trying to describe Thy Catafalque music verbally is a futile task, I completely realize that. You have to experience it with your own skin, ears and some sixth sense to become a believer. I underwent two states while listening to Róka Hasa Rádió. When the music was post-black and crushingly heavy, my brain went into isolation, trying to ponder my own relationship with the world. Call it catharsis. Yet, many a times, when Tamas played a piano melody akin to a spring snow meltdown, with clarity rivaling some mountain brook (Molekuláris Gépezetek, Fehér Berek), I felt incredibly refreshed, calm and rested. The female voices, used quite often on Róka Hasa Rádió perpetuate this relaxation feeling. In fact, the album is a lot more vocalized than its predecessor, and it is an absolute shame I do not understand the lyrics. They must be a huge part of the message, providing the narrative to this music tapestry. Alas, those of us who do not speak or understand Hungarian, and I suspect those would be many, will be missing one dimension of Róka Hasa Rádió. Regrettable, this should not be an excuse for you not to delve into this completely the first chance you get.
Killing Songs : Molekuláris Gépezetek, Köd Utánam, Piroshátú, Kabócák, Bodobácsok, Fehér Berek
Originally appeared at metalreviews.com.
It's been a while since something, musically speaking, caught me by surprise in such ways that I felt compelled to announce it in such ways. So here I go, let me try to translate in a few paragraphs the magnificence of this work.
The band's style is defined as "Avant-garde metal" and really, there's no other way to put it. Extreme metal, carefully arranged melodies, electronic/industrial touches, folk-ish passages, all kinds of vocals, all of them of great performance quality, this album has it all, mixed and diluted in ethereal ways to create a certainly corporeal piece of music that's ready to rock the socks off of anyone who's looking to be blown away.
Let's vivisect this work and separate it's parts in a detailed manner.
When you put the album in whatever means you have to reproduce it, you'll find yourself in the face of an ambient intro, which will expand and expand until it explodes into metal, right in your face. The ambiance will remain and take an important place in the whole album albeit interrupted sporadically. Keyboards are half of what makes this such an unique piece, layers and layers of different melodies and tones, some just meant to be a background sound to give certain songs a darker or more mysterious feeling, extraterrestrial at times, other being crucial part of central melodies, the synthetic sounds give this album a futuristic, if not technological feeling once in a while, the rest of the time sounding even shy and melancholic.
The guitars are heavily distorted, something that rarely goes along with such predominant keyboard work (see: most myspace black ambient bands), but this concert of heavy chainsaws blends in perfectly in the mix, being loud enough but not quite occupying the spotlight, even during the most extreme parts. As of the melodies, we've got practically anything, from doom-ish chugs and extended riffs to fast and furious black metal-ish powerchords and tremolos (from time to time this reminds me of Negura Bunget, if that's any encouragement for you). And spreade all across the album you will find clean passages filled of an almost nostalgic nature, highly technical and experimental melodies interlaced in defying ways, folky, even dancey moments and enough dissonance to make any Blut Aus Nord fan become interested.
It is worth mentioning that folk, or rather, folk-like melodies are clearly the inspiration for some of the main melodies in songs like Köd Utánam and Ûrhajók Makón, which I feel gives the whole album a more deep meaning and artistic target, even though the lyrical themes already seem to be quite profound, from what I gather, since they, supposedly, focus in themes like "time and space". Go figure.
Vocals. Now, this element is as special as it gets. First off all songs are sung in their native Hungarian, which, or so I feel, is one of the most intriguing European languages. That makes it a pleasure for me to hear clean male and very beautiful female vocals, all of them very well arranged, very elegant and pleasant. The growling is not particularly unique but does set a great mood and goes along with the music nicely. The pitch reminds me of Garm in Nattens Madrigal, but a bit less guttural.
Drum and bass are, and I don't think many people will be surprised, the least outstanding elements of this piece, nonetheless, they do find their place to shine, and oh man do they shine. Drums especially. While programmed, you can tell the programmer has a lot of talent and he's not just an empty-headed bastbeat-machine like most black metal these days (not to say this is black metal, most of the extreme parts do resemble it a lot). There's a passage in the first song, some time after 7:15, in which the drums take a central part, backed up by keyboards and eerie sounds, it maintains a rather jazzy rhythm for some minute and a half, and that's just some part in the first (and second longest) song in the album. Which, by the way, is an immediate highlight.
Apart from these elements, there's the use of violins and similar instruments in certain key parts, these parts tend to aim for a folkish spirit and melodies. You could also listen to other stuff like flutes and instruments I cannot name. But then again some of those might very well be the result of the clever use of keyboards. The use of samples from dialogues or origin unknown is also a practice that I appreciate when not overdone, and that's what I also found in this album. Just a little mention.
How can I close this review? This album si so vast it's hard to enclose it in a few paragraphs. If you like experimental, avant-garde, unique, fresh and eclectic (that is the key word here, perhaps) metal (or music in general), then you should really consider giving this album a listen or two. But beware, this is one of those albums that will either be idolized or ignored, treated as the new edge of experimental music or just a bunch of guys playing random shit. This is an album that demands more than just one or two spins in order to make his point valid. But really, go listen to this already.
Originally written for the paper version of the Terror Cult Zine