By Dr. Abner Mality

You are about to take a journey. A trip into a vast, trackless forest filled with misty darkness and inhabited by mysterious beings. A place that will fill you with gloom and raise your spirits at the same time. The forest is called "Rengeteg" and your guide is Thy Catafalque.

Thy Catafalque is really just one man...Hungary's Tamas Katai...and you will find that impossible to believe after listening to the lush, beautiful and wholly enveloping "Rengeteg". With just minimal help, Katai has created one of the most addictive avant-garde metal albums that I have ever heard. "Rengeteg" means "dark forest" in Hungarian and as you listen to this album, you actually feel as if you are travelling through a mystical landscape. It is very, VERY rare in this day and age when a release becomes an actual journey, but "Rengeteg" proves it can be done and done very well.

What kind of music are we talking about here? Well, what kind AREN'T we talking about? The scope of "Rengeteg" is breath-takingly wide and covers a multitude of styles and genres, but overall, the METAL genre predominates and serves to tie the rest of it together. Although there are moments of absolute bliss and quietude to be found here, you never doubt for a second that this is metal, and very heavy metal at that. The name Opeth comes to mind several times, but believe me, this is better than anything Opeth have done in many years and leaves their recent folky/proggy stuff way, way behind.

Thy Catafalque demonstrates its metal heart immediately with the bruising pounding of "Fekete Mezok" (all lyrics in Hungarian, but you will hardly notice)...a lengthy track with a doomy feel to it yet not quite true doom. Unusual keyboard sounds and strong clean vocals appear and you detect the soul of ancient Hungary murmuring quietly throughout "Rengeteg". Romania's Negura Bunget also come to mind but again, Thy Catafalque is heavier. "Kel keleti szel" and "Trilobita" are both driving metal songs with beautiful melodies...the ethnic vocals of "Trilobita" in particular are a joy to listen to. With "Ko koppan", we really see how diverse and amazing Katai's songwriting is...this soothing, mysterious song is simply enchanting. Not a pop ballad at all, it sounds like something mystical, from a world far, far away.

The monolithic 14 minute plus "Vashegyek" is the album's centrepiece, featuring the crystalline female vocals of Agnes Toth. This song goes in so many directions...bone-crushing doom metal, melancholy goth, even a touch of danceable electronica...yet never sounds forced. It does go a bit longer than it of the few missteps here. From there, we get an amazingly moody electronic/ambient cut "Holdkamp", another driving metal song with ethnic touches "Kek ingem lobogo", an outstanding haunting ballad "Az eso, az eso, az eso" and a brief, crunchy "Tar garyak vegul". This mind-blowing journey ends with "Minden test fu", which opens with a blasting barrage of black metal mayhem including raspy screams before settling into yet another multi-faceted folk metal killer.

"Rengeteg" finds itself in a place where superlatives run out. and more are all here, mixed together masterfully and dished up with a heaping helping of wonder. This is heavy metal as art. Enter the dark forest with Thy Catafalque...