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Expect the unexpected - 90%

kluseba, February 20th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Season of Mist (Limited edition, Mediabook)

There are few artists and bands who still manage to surprise you with an absolutely unique sound when you have been listening to thousands of metal bands for more than a decade and a half. Thy Catafalque is one of these stunning exceptions. The Hungarian one-man project around Tamás Kátai might have some minor extreme metal notes but is overall focused on very atmospheric and immersive folkloristic and symphonic elements.

In its visionary style, it recalls what a band like Therion dared to do when it fusioned metal and classical music two and a half decades ago. Thy Catafalque however rather sounds as if Jean-Michel Jarre, Karl Jenkins and Mike Oldfield had formed a band and discovered metal.

Despite this unusual approach, the record has great flow thanks to its tactful fusions, wonderful melodies and smooth transitions. Even the ambitious epic "Vetö" that clocks in at more than eight minutes never sounds tedious, pretentious or progressive as all its changes seem to come perfectly naturally.

Album closer "Szélvész" still manages to surprise and comes around as the most catchy, melodious and uplifting tune that would have been an excellent teaser or single to intrigue larger audiences than a few adventurous minds that have discovered this underground singer-songwriter classical-folk-metal gem. The fact that such an intellectual approach to music still manages to be immediately appealing underlines the outstanding singwriting skills of mastermind Tamás Kátai. Naiv doesn't do its title justice and finds the perfect balance between accessibility and intellectualism.

More people should discover such unique soundscapes, so stop reading my review, spin this groundbreaking album and spread Thy Catafalque's name.

Thy Catafalque's most approachable and varied effort - 87%

The Clansman 95, February 15th, 2020

I have to say it, reviewing a Thy Catafalque album is absolutely no easy task: originally started in 1998 as a black metal project, Tamás Kátai’s one man band is a unique exercise in musical polymorphism that is hardly describable by words, and that’s probably the reason why it immediately distinguished itself in the underground metal scene. Thanks to the extremely unconventional approach of its compositions and the later incorporation of the most disparate musical influences, the Hungarian mastermind behind Thy Catafalque gained a loyal legion of dedicated fans, not to mention a long and productive deed with the French label Season of Mist.

The core of Thy Catafalque’s music resides in a blend of innumerable genres: ambient, synthwave, folk, electronic, industrial, any incarnation of metal, from black metal to djent, post rock, progressive rock, jazz, hard rock, and the list could go on and on. What’s really mindblowing is how this secretive artist is capable of combining genres that have so little in common, to craft something so beautifully natural and harmonious, a feature that permeates through each of Tamás Kátai’s releases and that is taken to its maximum extent even in his latest fatigue, 2020’s “Naiv”, a beautifully crafted piece of avantgarde art that could as well be Thy Catafalque’s most accessible album to date.

If I had to use a metaphor to describe Thy Catafalque’s music, I’d compare it to water: indeed, just like water, it can assume any desired shape, staying coherent to its very own essence and never interrupting its natural flow. The balance of the compositions in “Naiv” is indeed secured thanks to the masterful use of the electronic parts and of the synths, that are employed to cement the various sections of the tracks and to recollect them to a lowest common denominator: while the rest of the instruments frequently shifts from atmospheric, calmer parts to more aggressive, faster sections, where the guitars take the main spot, it’s the use of synths that allows to keep an inner sense of coherence, in favour of the exuberance of the songs.

In these terms, the opening track “A bolyongás ideje” perfectly displays the aforementioned features: the song starts with a purely black metal riff, then it becomes more melodic thanks to the folkish female choirs, backed by Tamás’ harsh vocals; the mid section displays a more meditative, atmospheric attitude, driven by synths; the song then changes pace and reaches its climax in a completely thrash metal section, only to slow down again, but retaining its heaviness thanks to the use of the harsh vocals. Similar examples of the simultaneous use of opposite elements to create harmony and balance can be found throughout the whole platter: that’s the secret to keep the compositions interesting, and to deliver that sense of surprise that won’t abandon you even after listening to “Naiv” several times.

“Naiv” is better when listened in full: the themes of the concept are better explored and result more suggestive when the listener takes the due time to assimilate the music, letting it lull him in a state of contemplation capable of evoking a wide range of emotions, thanks to the eclectic nature of the album. “Naiv” recollects all of the elements that make Thy Catafalque music unique and expands them, all in a reasonable running time. The album is approachable, experimental, varied and artistically ripe; it’s perfect for any newcomer willing to approach to the band, or for those in search of unconventional music to listen to, and it’s an extremely strong addition to Thy Catafalque’s already excellent catalogue. One of the top albums for January 2020, I feel like recommending unreservedly.

Originally written for: The Metal Observer.