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Thy Catafalque - Naiv [Season Of Mist - 2020]

Hungarian avant gothic rock / metal band Thy Catafalque has returned in 2020 with Naiv, the 10th chapter in their ever diversifying narrative.  They continue their transition away from metal into ethereal yet technical rock, filling out the production with touches of orchestration, synthesizer and choral female vocal.  They have become an impressively dynamic progressive outfit that seems to contain the entire world within their scope.

The harmonized chant sections, with their symmetric melodic figures, are like traditional European dances, with many of the arpeggiated embellishments added to them by 19th century classical composers.  The historic folk flavor is strong on this recording, as is the energy of the forest, as the rapid momentum of each piece recalls traversing the countryside.  Thy Catafalque makes an odd meter feel groovy and comfortable, laying into the pulse like riding horse back through woodland trails.

The guitar playing is the focus of the majority of the recording, with vocals only appearing on occasion, and synthesizers and strings generally providing additional life to the backing figures.  Though the playing is technical and dense with ideas, tunefulness and melody are the emphasis, with a somewhat melancholic, but generally consonant and flowing style as befitting the dark folk influence.

I was surprised by the perfectly natural post punk of "Tsitsushka", with its funky slap bass.  The first half of "Kék madár (Négy kép)" brings Jethro Tull comparisons with an agile flute solo, then settles into a hazy sunset dub with filtered drum machines and beautiful analog synth work, a lazy and satisfying reprieve from the energy of the rest of the recording, the album's only Berlin school / vintage soundtrack flavored moment.

The album ends on the powerful alt rock stomp of "Szélvész", with a shout along refrain featuring a male vocalist not heard of the rest of the album.  It's a cathartic exercise in straight ahead power, culminating in some smoky black metal rasps and classically Scandinavian harmonized leads.  In the baffling final 30 seconds, this resolves into a half-time reggae/dub beat, which trails off as quickly as it came.  I am left thinking I would not have heard this on any other recording.

On their 10th album, Thy Catafalque are absolutely bursting with ideas, traversing wholly new ground with perfect fluency in each highly contrasted piece.  It is difficult to articulate just how much thought and expression they have contained within their ambitious compositions.  Whatever style they set out to create, the result is infused with many levels of depth and detail.  I'm inclined to say this one even surpasses the previous Geometria (which I rated 5/5 as well), as the contrasted elements seem to sit together more comfortably.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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