Thy Catafalque “Sgúrr” (2015)

Thy Catafalque, the art metal project of Hungarian multi-instrumentalist Tamás Kátai, has been making progressively larger waves in the underground metal scene since relocating to Scotland. Mr. Kátai is something of a folk hero, or patron saint, in these parts, carving out varied gems from a quarry of extreme metal and krautish rock (think Circle), liberally sprinkled with petals from a floral bouquet of folk and psychedelia. His is an usually warm sort of metal, inviting even when it’s bludgeoning. His latest album, Sgúrr is named for the prominently steep ridges found jutting skyward throughout the hills and mountains of Scotland, and like the geological formation, the music both stands apart from and is complementary of the broader metal landscape, deeply unique but not ostentatious, or weird for weirdness’s sake.

Sgúrr is a somewhat less wild ride than previous Thy Catafalque releases, but has a more hard-driving and focused approach. Electric drums and programmed beats are direct and propulsive, always pushing the songs forward with a seemingly endless, slightly artificial momentum. The album starts off with a jaunty folk rock sound with acoustic guitar and violin, traverses through a series of mind-melting, keyboard-and-delay-drenched heavy prog numbers (while the sound is his own, I picked up faint whiffs of Can’s more hard-driving jams and Bo Hansson’s fuzzily weird moog symphonies), and then stampedes into a flurry of razor-sharp black, death and thrash riffs that descend like an ice storm before finally succumbing to dreamily atmospheric doom and a short but beautiful soprano performance courtesy Ágnes Sipos, a curious conclusion that fits the album’s tonal shifts like a well-fitted but glamorously outre glove.

The album is not as radically eclectic as earlier efforts, and is structured around thematic clusters of songs, each with their own generally consistent identity. But this has led to a stronger, more thoughtful sense of songcraft, and each song is like a mental journey unto itself. One set of songs might lull you into an idyllic trance, while the next pummels you–though all have their own spacey, fantastical, seventies science fiction parts. Vocals are not particularly prominent, and when they show up they’re usually low growls or Boredoms-style chants, with occasional forays into spoken word (in Hungarian) and the aforementioned finale. The focus is 150 percent atmosphere, and the robust folk-inflected singing (similar to Magma’s more musical moments) of the past is nowhere to be seen here.

Sgúrr is not Thy Catafalque’s most audacious or wildly entertaining album, but it’s the strongest and most consistent so far. Every song fires on all synapses, each its own self-contained head trip that gives you everything you want and leaves you wanting even more. Albums like this are why I got into music in the first place, to be transported into someone else’s mental space. Calling music a “journey” is a cliche, but sometimes it’s true. This is one of those times.

– James Slone


Release:  October 2015
Label:  Season Of Mist
Avantgenre:  Progressive Art Metal
Duration:  51:37
Origin:  Scotland/Hungary
Official site:  http://
Review online since:  29.11.2015 / 00:24:57


01 – Zúgó
02 – Alföldi Kozmosz
03 – Oldódó Formák A Halál Titokzatos Birodalmában
04 – A Hajnal Kék Kapuja
05 – Élő Lény
06 – Jura
07 – Sgùrr Eilde Mòr
08 – Keringő
09 – Zúgó

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