THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO...CATHUBODUA – Interbellum (Massacre Records)
Frenetically paced and fiercely proud, Cathubodua’s second full album ‘Interbellum’ is a symphonic metal fan’s dream. If you can remember the buzz you got hearing ‘Oceanborn’ for the first time, or ‘Consign To Oblivion’, then this could be the album for you. The Belgian band have a great deal of talent in terms of both songwriting and execution, and the album certainly packs a punch.
After the pacey opener ‘Effigy Of Aftermath’ ‘Foretelling’ offers a twist on the Celtic folk sound beloved of symphonic metal bands, but it’s on ‘Will Unbroken’ that the stars really do align. Vocalist Sara Vanderheyden has a fabulous voice and a range to match, and ‘Will Unbroken’ allows her delivery free rein as the riff-driven song twists and turns, underpinning her strident vocals in a song of empowerment. (There is apparently a concept revolving around the rise and fall of a warrior goddess, but it certainly doesn’t interfere with the album’s flow in the slightest.) The album wraps up with its tour de force, ‘Goddess Fallacy’, and at eight-plus minutes this is the track that really allows the band to cut loose and demonstrate their skills to the full. And as it’s cleverly preceded by the ballad ‘The Mirror’ this change in both tempo and ambience magnifies its magnificence and dynamism.
‘Interbellum’ is a hugely emotional body of work, brought to life by a talented group of musicians and some vociferous orchestration. Guitarist Robin Ritzen, bassist Peter Thielemans and drummer Harald Bouten all contribute to this exciting soundscape, with violinist Arvid Vermote playfully adding a new dimension to the top end. It’s not a long album – just six songs and 30 minutes of music – but quality always trumps quantity and there’s not a duff moment on display. A classy album from a classy band.
© John Tucker February 2024
Image by Vincent Dark / Fallen Angel Photography