Thy Catafalque - _Rengeteg_
(Season of Mist, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Thy Catafalque mean business. This Hungary-to-Scotland transplant wasn't scrounging cash together for a studio-slick document of their mean live riffage so that fans could drop some extra dough on the way out of the club. These tunes were crafted, built to uplift rather than bludgeon (though they sometimes do that, too). I suppose there's some black metal here (sole composer Tamás Kátai calls his music avant-garde metal), but the voices recorded here were treated with more honey than battery acid, and I don't see any reason Jesus couldn't rock out most righteously to _Rengeteg_. Of course, I can't understand Hungarian, so maybe the lyrics demand the ritual disfigurement of virgin genitalia, but I doubt it.

_Rengeteg_ leans heavily on the concise four-minute format, though spiraling into ten-plus minute colossi remains a valid tactic within the first handful of songs. Somehow TC rustle up all the same elements that The Meads of Asphodel implemented on their soul-blisteringly awesome _The Murder of Jesus the Jew_ but combine them in less absurd ways. There's throat-stomping metal here, sure, but every attack is cut with a strong Eurasian dance-pop vibe. Incredibly, the Eastern melodies and fun beats never detract from the unbridled aggression, due mainly to the masterful layering of buzzsaw guitars and chest-caving percussion. "Fekete mezok" piles choral synths and agile baritone vocals onto a burly, chugging riff, then fills any leftover space with pulverizing distortion and clean but muscular guitar lines. "Ko koppan" tip-toes out mid-album with a tapestry of synthesized melodies that could never have survived earlier exposure for fear of losing the audience. Placed as it is, the song provides a moment of calm after the album's first seventeen minutes of storm, as well as space to catch your breath before wandering into the fourteen minute epic "Vashegyek". The back half of the album drags unnecessarily, having made the lion's share of its point within the first five tracks. Still, the rediscovery of horn-sprouting blackness on closer "Minden test fu" proves worth sticking around for.

Heavy music simultaneously beckons and sneers at experimentation and unorthodox orchestration. We should celebrate without reservation the bold successes, and _Rengeteg_ is surely one of those.


(article published 12/2/2012)

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