On his new album Naiv, Thy Catafalque’s mastermind Tamás Kátai has expanded the gripping groove at the core of great heavy metal into what feels like a whole new and perfectly exciting world. The latest record of avant-garde metal from the project, which Kátai has driven for two decades at this point, features a stunning range of instrumentation including a trumpet, saxophone, violin, and even an oud, which is a Middle Eastern stringed instrument. Yet, no matter this luscious buffet of sound, Kátai always sticks to exciting melody that develops in beautiful flourishes throughout his latest album. At times, the music even feels truly danceable.
There’s a clear confidence running throughout the record — nothing feels too overstated, and it doesn’t need to be. The almost immediately catchy melodies just intermingle in beautiful harmony, and it’s great. At the same time, those poignant instruments define a powerfully unique texture for this journey. Perfectly calculated folksy twangs appear quite a few times, and so do other highlights like a subtle infusion of jazz and dramatic but never overwhelming synth work.
Ultimately, thanks to the combo of that perfectly driving melody and the deep personalization that those rare sonic flourishes provide, listening to the music feels like journeying to a bright and new place where the locals have been waiting for you. Whatever that may mean for the listener, the album feels like a chance to stop and consider the relieving peace at the center of these melodies, whose smoothness does not break.
And, just to be clear, there are plenty of straightforward metal elements too — the very first track runs on a backbone of a hypnotic, heavy, central riff augmented by slight keys and blast beats, but Kátai builds the creation well on from there. The intermingling of a powerful fretless bass groove with trombone bursts and saxophone groove on track two immediately jumps out as a really memorable highlight, and the high points go on from there. All of the lyrics are in Kátai’s native language of Hungarian, but you don’t need to understand the words to feel the confidently powerful beat. The power of the groove will nestle up around your comfort zone and then pick apart the walls.
Check some of the music out below! The album is available in full on January 24 via Season of Mist. It’s his fifth for the label.