By Lord Randall

Reliability is a rare commodity these days, be it in personal relationships, professional commitments, or certainly in the arts. To find one of those bands – you know, the ones that worm under your skin and into your soul, to the point that you view each new release with hope instead of trepidation – is a true gift, indeed.

THY CATAFALQUE is one of those bands for our esteemed leader, as ENSLAVED is for yours truly, so he wisely thought another set of ears would give a more balanced opinion when it came to Tamas Katai’s tenth under the moniker. Recorded in no less than 12 countries – aided by guest musicians and, indirectly, by the current isolation we all feel to some degree – ‘Szarvas’ ushers us into "Vadak" with ULTRAVOX-worthy synthscapes, bolstered by bristling guitars that could as easily be mistaken for an orchestral string section. Such is THY CATAFALQUE, though, a wild ride at its most “predictable”, hairpin turns, twists and tangles that only the designer himself could guide us out of safely.

‘Gömböc’ begins dystopian, near-industrial, cold and imposing as RED HARVEST at its height of power, a playful sense of KAIRON, IRSE? experimentation at work in the pulse of the keys and seemingly effortless intertwining of disparate genres to create something truly breathtaking, if you surrender yourself to it. Never one to shy away from more lengthy excursions, Katai pulverizes with ‘Móló’, the most overtly Metal ™ tune thus far, an ideal focal point, arpeggios and leads that might’ve been at home on a MAIDEN album, guttural utterances forcefully interjected as called for. That at around the 6-minute mark the tune veers hard left into Krautrock, complete with wispy female vocals at the sub-level speaks less to a “kitchen sink” approach than to Katai, over two decades in, knowing exactly what THY CATAFALQUE is, and what it is not.

Many moments unmentioned remain within "Vadak", but the point at the end is this. Those familiar will find "Vadak" a welcome guest. Those as yet unacquainted, well, it’s not for everyone, but if you’ve been aching for a new SOLEFALD album, or have followed the trajectory of ULVER, THY CATAFALQUE may become a friend.