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Towards Midsummer - 87%

Wilytank, March 23rd, 2017

Tamás Kátai has been making top notch experimental music for over twenty years now; but if you look back that far in the history of his main project Thy Catafalque, you'll see some clear black metal roots on the debut album Sublunary Tragedies. Even so, this was release is very daring and new sounding and I can imagine a good number of metal heads being taken aback by it; just as well considering its limited distribution by the now defunct label KaOtic may have prevented many from hearing it anyway. However, it still has a good share of quality material that I've come to expect from Tamás.

That said, giving Tamás all the credit here would be factually inaccurate. For the first ten years or so of Thy Catafalque's existence, this band was a duo between Tamás on vox, keys and electronics and János Juhász on guitar and bass. Together, they pilot one of the most interesting metal bands to exist, at least until the guitar duty was entirely taken over by Tamás by the time János departed. For Sublunary Tragedies, the duo composed a very raw metal album with some very atmospheric twists. The guitars for the most part are super abrasive but the riffs still have a melodic presence. What completes the mix are the keyboards. It's that layer of atmosphere that gives this otherwise inorganic album this "natural" feel. The overall atmosphere is so effective that in spite of the electronic elements, the music makes me feel like I'm off in the woods just absorbing nature.

Though speaking of inorganic, the drums are 100% electronic and the band makes no attempt to hide that fact. They only get particularly obnoxious on one song, but that song is "Erdgeist" at the beginning of the album. The blastbeasts on that track are super loud and in your face and they just ruin the song.

Luckily, the weakest track on the album is followed by the strongest. "Ashesdance" is the perfect example of what this band does best: combining heavy metal aggression with epic atmospheric beauty; in this particular song, it's particularly potent with the contrast between the abrasive black metal first half and the cleaner epic second half. From there, the rest of the album mixes up the interpretation of that theme in different ways. "Triumph Lightless" is a brilliant chaotic riff storm, "Come Late Autumn Rains" and "Via Millennia" are calmer pieces to break up the pace of the album, "Rota Mundi" is an effective upbeat track before the album concludes with the excellent closing piece "Static Continuance".

Despite a few imperfections, Sublunary Tragedies is a very captivating debut album for this band. This was still a developmental time for the band and it's a very unique piece in their discography. It's been made obtainable again in the band's 2015 The Early Works compilation which I highly recommend purchasing.

Interesting - 80%

absurder21, March 14th, 2010

I came across Thy Catafalque while taking a stroll through MA, looking for avant-garde metal with the idea of trying to understand the entirety if the genre or at least what it means to be avant-garde. I eventually came across Thy Catafalque and I must say, this is definitely a keeper, but I don’t believe this release is as avant-garde as people would imagine. Thy Catalfaque’s music is simple to describe in a broad sense, but to create an exact explanation with words as to make the reader fully understand what this is like would be a daunting task, but I shall try.

In the broad sense, Sublunary Tragedies is, to its roots, black metal. Not just regular black metal though, it also contains a lot of influence from industrial, symphonic, depressive and progressive black metal. While it definitely has its own sound, one can hear tons of influence from bands like Thorns, Emperor, Anti and Ne Obliviscaris( I know they are new to the scene, but there is definetly a common sound between these two). The drums have the artificial sound and beyond breakneck tempos of industrial black metal, the buzz saw guitar tone and speed of bands such as 1349 while adding in the distorted vocals and tragic melody of depressive black metal with a healthy serving of the cold, haunting symphonic and piano layers of symphonic black metal. It then fuses all these traits into a progressive and odd sound, somewhat similar to progressive black metal bands such as Ne Obliviscaris and even a bit of Enslaved.

Whereas the melodies for the most part are quite grim and dark, they sometimes have a somewhat epic feel to them from time to time, making them extremely catchy and hummable but without contradicting the dark, cold sound and it doesn’t reduce itself to the cheese that some epic or power/black bands sometimes fall into.

The general atmospheres of this album feels like the soundtrack to some sort of war, chaotic and full of grandeur, going through points of violent disorder and then into slow, mesmerizing beauty, aided by the synths and empty atmospheres. The lyrics are in Hungarian, so it was impossible for me to figure out what the actual themes or concepts these lyrics are a part of. The production is fairly clean, which helps in this case to highlight some of the more detailed aspect of the album, something that is generally unwanted in black metal but very much a positive attribute to Sublunary Tragedies.

This album, albeit not as bizarre as a lot of avant-garde albums, definitely has it’s oddities to it and is a solid piece of black metal. If you believe yourself to be a fan of all aspects of the black metal spectrum, and do not mind a unique take on the genre, definitely give this release a listen.