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Macrocosm - 95%

GuntherTheUndying, June 26th, 2016

There is an innate charm to experimental stuff. Metal is especially fortunate enough to have such a wide spectrum of sounds and styles, so when things get weird, they get really fucked up—that’s how I like it, baby. Part of this joy stems from the unpredictable and unconventional instrumental methods and themes meeting ordinary musical textures, resulting in the sense that there really are no limits to creativity. “Sgùrr” is conceptually difficult to wrap one’s head around; it bounces to and fro in a variety of styles and sonic chapters as though allowing the listener to experience a different ecosystem every five minutes. Its wide range offers the beauty and chaos of other worlds colliding, forming its own macrocosm to discover and perceive.

Thy Catafalque is the work of just one man. The world of “Sgùrr” feels much more involved than simply a solitary mind at work, though the depth and imagination of some are far greater than others. Case in point, “Sgùrr” touches between black metal of multiple senses, electronica, folk music, and every little trace within these niches that are caught within the shapeshifting Venn diagram that is Thy Catafalque. No two tracks are the same; each is its own universe. The album opens with a narrative intro followed by an ethereal folk-meets-breakbeat instrumental featuring poignant acoustic work, enchanting violin leads, and piping keyboards played over a rapid electronic drum pattern. This abstract madness is done smoothly and avoids clogging up the natural flow of the record, despite it constantly ever-changing its focus. The scenery shifts, but the wonder does not.

The second half of the album is rooted more in black metal than the first, as the electronic influences drain out of the musical context. Each hemisphere is defined by a track that runs for over fifteen minutes in length, and these are, not surprisingly, the cornerstones of the record. “Oldódó Formák a Halál Titokzatos Birodalmában” sees Thy Catafalque coasting between electronic influences, spacey keyboards, black metal sections, and a spoken word bridge with incredible grace, whereas “Sgùrr Eilde Mòr” prowls with the blasts and harsh vocals of the album’s second half while implementing an Inquisition-esque droning riff and a horn section à la Sear Bliss. The construction and routine demonstrated by this pair alone makes an adventure that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Life itself is an avant-garde experience, I suppose. Perhaps that would explain why Thy Catafalque’s lyrics here deal with natural wonders, such as water and mountains, we overlook but whose beauty and significance we are often detached from. This depth is conveyed not just through the chameleonic fluctuations of structure but by instrumental nuance brought upon by superb songwriting and a creative mind of gold. Thy Catafalque is more of a conglomerate of imagination than a mere one-man band, and “Sgùrr” provides a quest of great detail, gushing with tribulation, as mayhem runs through its veins, magnificence projects from its mind’s eye, and its serenity dispels to the highest mountain and the lowest valley.

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