Thy Catafalque mainman Tamás Katái is back to handling things on his own. By taking sole control of the reins on new album Meta, there ends up being a singular focus to this album. With this often comes more conventional metal grooves and less of the Scotland-based Hungarian outfit’s blast-beaten black metal. The end result on the album’s opener, “Uránia,” is a positive one, so whatever genre he’s invested in isn’t all that important as long as the songs are good. And on Meta, the songs are definitely good.
Despite Thy Catafalque now essentially being a one-man band, Katái get help on second song “Siraly” as female vocals coast over a mid-tempo waltz of distorted guitar. Things get a more experimental with bells ringing out before the thrashing attack of “10 20 angstrom,” which at this point in the album proves to be the most metal moment. The double bass gives the song a powerful drive. Eventually things get darker as monks start to chant by the midway point. “Ixion Duun” is more of a death metal song that finds the bulk of its power in its more calculated attack. The atmosphere comes on thick for the prog-tinged interlude “Osszel Otthon.” Distorted tone crunches down at the final two minutes, but overall the feeling is more laid back. There is some skilled guitar work in play, something that would make for an interesting fit in the context of some of the album’s more metallic moments.
A more powerful pace defines “Malmok jarnak,” which resonates like a new age version of Rotting Christ, reaching a balance between heaviness and a more melodic sensibility. At 21 minutes, it’s a pretty ambitious piece of work, going for a more conventional metal route by riding the massive guitar sound, before it breaks down into more of a folk interlude. It’s also layered with female vocals and then takes the most unexpected turn comes as the song turns into electronica. Even though the metal returns at the seven and a half minute mark, this is a pretty bold move you are not likely to hear on many other metal albums this year.There is a stoner rock shuffle to the darker tone of “Vonatut.” The crooned vocals add a stronger melodic aspect, dissipating any links to black metal that might have been hiding in the shadows. It sounds more like an upbeat version of My Dying Bride.
Meta finds Thy Catafalque taking more chances than you’d hear on most metal releases of late, and it’s not so tied down to one specific sub-genre that Katái ever feels the need to conform. This is a thinking person’s metal album with enough muscle to prompt head banging, but is also packed with enough genre-defying twists and turns to please the most adventurous listener.