Label: Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 26 July 2019
Country: United Kingdom
Format reviewed: WAV
Metal, as a genre, could be considered a tad unconventional. I’m saying only “a tad” because there are the more experimental types of music, shrouded in obscurity and lurking in the deepest corners of the vast internet. In this category you could fit dark ambient, drone, noise, black ambient, power electronics and the list could go on. It’s safe to say that no artist in this field will top the charts with a hit song any time soon. All things experimental are peculiar and most of them can’t be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. For most of them, you’ll need a nice pair of headphones and some time to spare, so that you actually get the most out of the listening experience. One other thing you need to have at your disposal is patience. This kind of record is all about vast, textured soundscapes. No riffs, no hooks, no anthemic choruses. So is it worth putting up with such an album? Yes, especially if it’s as good as the self-titled debut of CATAFALQUE.
This project is a duo formed by Thomas Ozers (The Dead Yesterdays) and Dan Dolby (Mastiff) and their album is due out this Friday on Trepanation Recordings, and it’s a debut for the band and also for the label. The record has a staggering one hour and two minutes of playtime(including a hidden bonus track), which is absolutely massive. The cover portrays a lyre made out of a human skull and animal skin. It originates from Africa and it is said to be from the late 19th century. Also, the instrument is engulfed in an aura of mystery, because it’s use isn’t known. Some consider it was made for a particular ritual, while others say it was made by indigenous people only for trade. One thing is for sure though: its origins are as morbid as the album sounds. There are 7 songs, excluding the bonus one, and each of them is named as some sort of physical trauma. To get a better understanding of this beautifully brutal work of experimental violence, I’ll try to get into all the tracks.
1. “Ruptured Spleen”
This song is titled after an injury that in most cases occurs after a severe direct blow. It’s painful and it gets worse as more blood pours in your abdominal area. The song has a central drone loop that keeps repeating, but it gets more and more distorted, like the blood slowly drains away and you start to lose focus before finally loosing consciousness.
2. “Gnarled Limbs”
The second track shifts in tone and abruptly starts with an industrial, ceaseless beat. As the seconds pass, it’s joined by something that resembles a scream of agony, only terrifyingly mangled. From that point, the background feedback only gets louder and louder until everything else abruptly stops and then the remaining noise slowly drains away in the distance.
3. “Splintered Larynx”
This song is the weirdest for me, but I don’t say it in a demeaning way. There are two main elements to this song: there is an industrial drone, constantly ringing and a guitar lost in the mix, but utterly atonal, like it’s a person that struggles to talk normally but fails to do so.
4. “Unclean Break”
This is the shortest track, clocking in at less than three minutes, but it definitely doesn’t lack in intensity. Purely industrial, it sounds like a machine pulverising everything in its path.
For those who don’t know, trepanation is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull. During The Dark Ages and even earlier, this intervention was used to free a person behaving abnormally of the evil spirits possessing them. This track sounds exactly like a drill, never stopping, never forgiving, violating the human mind, despite the constant screams and pleas for mercy.
This song is the easiest do digest. Like inhaling a small quantity of chloroform, these six minutes are fuzzy and they will make you feel like you are weak and unable to move, but are conscious enough to see what is going on around you.
This is probably my favourite track off the record and I think also the best one to use as a closing piece. Probably the most violent of the bunch, it consists of a sharp noise that drones on and then a loud sound that repeats almost every two seconds, however, it gets louder and louder and more layered every time, in this manner, trying to imitate consecutive heavy blows delivered with unparalleled wrath and it manages to portray that sensation with stellar success. The screamed vocals add to this feeling of anger, and in this way complete this wonderful cathartic closer.
CATAFALQUE managed to take me on a hellishly violent ride, made me feel like I was physically abused and still I wanted to come back for more. Now, if I convinced you that this album is worth your time, check out an exclusive stream below and don’t forget to support the band and its upcoming label. 9/10 Metal Gentleman
9/10 Epic Storm!
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