If you haven’t had the luck of living in the 1970s or 1980s where the rock and metal genre had their origin, or if you haven’t had any close relative that has a passion for these genres, it can be plausible that you might have discovered this extraordinary music through the symphonic side. And if nothing that I wrote yet applies to you, need not to worry, because the release I’m about to review will appeal to almost every metal fan.

CATHUBODUA is a band from Belgium that is about to release their second album Interbellum. After some thorough listening, my opinion is that this is one of the best symphonic albums that this decade will offer, with all due respect to all the other bands. You might think that this is an exaggeration, but your mind will be changed as soon as your ears will find comfort in CATHUBODUA‘s tracks.

I am having an extremely difficult time in finding faults in this record: the production, mixing and mastering are very well done, the melodies are sophisticated, elegant and never boring, the themes and the lyrics are intricate, relatable and compelling.

While the orchestrations may feel pre-recorded rather than resulting from a live orchestra, we have to consider the financial challenges associated with hiring a full ensemble. Especially since this is only their second album! Nevertheless, the ambition to infuse such grandeur into their music is worthy of the best praise.

Here’s wishing CATHUBODUA the best of luck and abundant success on their musical journey, with hopes that future endeavors may afford them the opportunity to fully realize their symphonic vision, because it will be nothing short of spectacular.

Interbellum is only 30 minutes long, but the brevity of this album is inversely proportional to the grandiosity that is contained inside. The closing track, Goddess Fallacy, is a magnum opus that amazes, surprises and will leave listeners wanting for more. For so much more.

I wouldn’t categorize CATHUBODUA as pure symphonic metal, though, because there are plenty of influences from epic, folk and melodic subgenres. Minor additions here and there that emphasize even more this product, like on Foretelling. The track wouldn’t be the same without the acoustic guitar and the pagan elements. They truly have taken their time to carefully prepare and deliver an incredible album.

Should you be familiar with my personal taste and writing, you’ll read that more often than not I claim at least one ballad per album. Not quite doable in metal and in heavier subgenres perhaps, but, when I listen to an album, I always expect it. Ballads have such a powerful meaning and importance that it would be a shame not to put one inside each release. And CATHUBODUA have that, too! The simply exquisite and extraordinary The Mirror, which is not only such a flawless track, but has also a captivating melody, that with the enchanting and seductive voice of Sara Vanderheyden, you’ll feel like the Evil Queen standing in front of the magic glass, making your demands and waiting for its response. Frankly, there has not been a day yet in which I haven’t played this track.

The Belgium group has crafted a musical masterpiece that beckons comparison to the finest compositions of renowned bands like Nightwish. What they have achieved not only pays homage to the genre’s giants but also asserts a distinctive identity that, in moments, transcends even the heights reached by Nightwish‘s most celebrated works.

The melodic tapestry and orchestral prowess displayed by CATHUBODUA not only draw parallels but leave room for the daring suggestion that, in certain instances, they may have surpassed the very essence that defines the pinnacle of symphonic metal. I am sincerely hoping that they will continue on this path, because successes, rewards and fame will be right there waiting for them. Thank you, Sara, Arvid, Robin, Peter and Harald, for proving that in 2024 there is room for new symphonic metal, and that this genre will never lack the talent with bands like yours.

Benedetta Baldin