Before I even begin this review, let us first put aside the notions of the sound that Thy Catafalque used to convey. While there is still a hint of the band’s old black metal influenced style to be found here with “Jura” (2:43) and the lengthy title piece (16:02), Sgùrr is definitely a more atmospheric and electronically infused recording. Just as with Rengeteg, the whole of Sgùrr was completely written by Tamás Kátai as what he considers a little bit more than just a “hobby project” these days. But if you’re not open-minded enough to accept something that isn’t completely black metal, or that doesn’t hold a sense of extremity; then I believe you’ll find very few things to like about what I feel is a very explorative and intriguing disc. Aside from our intro and outro, the record offers almost an hour’s worth of different moods and ideas, which I’m quite sure that the elitists over at Metal Archives will probably thrash unrepentantly as they continue to yearn for a return to the band’s roots. Either that, or they’ll just ignore the effort completely – which is why I am here to break it down in a very digestible manner.
First off, I’ve already mentioned the heaviness of “Jura” and the title track, which do seem to mix black metal elements in with what feels like a slight industrial down-tuned approach. The leads sometimes remind me of the rock version of KMFDM’s “Godike” yet there are still darker sections in which we can still discern a glimpse of Thy Catafalque’s past. As for the rest of the album, it’s profoundly different, with the guitar taking the center stage to dreamy folk atmospheres, (Alföldi Kozmosz (4:15) drum and bass (Élo Lény (4:43) and light soundscapes that remind me of the town music in a great JRPG (A Hajnal Kék Kapuja (2:43). But who knows? You might even hear a little bit of blues or witness an experimental freakout that lasts as long as the title track itself. You’ll just have to give the album a chance to be sure. Sgùrr is just the kind of experiment that fans should expect from current-era Thy Catafalque and serves as an outlet for one man to let loose the very expanse of his imagination onto an unsuspecting populous. But the result was indeed glorious and I feel that the record gives me a little bit of everything, even if it is a mostly instrumental affair. I wouldn’t listen to Sgùrr expecting a fist pumping, horns in the air, heavy metal record. The material presented here is far more mature than that kind of approach, and there are more bands than there are fibers on my carpet that could give you that sort of experience. With Thy Catafalque, you’ve come because you’re looking for something different… and your curiosity will be rewarded. Sgùrr is quite simply, art – and you’ll either love it or hate it; as should be the case with all artistic expression. In this case, the result is certainly an abstract; which those of open minds should find a great deal of enjoyment in. There’s really no better way to say it than that.
(9 Tracks, 51:00)