Divine humanization

-- Cathubodua --

Stijn Daneels

Album genres:
Symphonic metal
Folk metal
Album artists:
Sara Vanderheyden Vocals & orchestrations
Arvid Vermote Violin
Robin Ritzen Guitars
Peter Thielemans Bass
Harald Bouten Drums

Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.


There aren’t a lot of Belgian metal bands out there that I have so much personal history with as I have with Cathubodua. It all started in late 2016 when their bassist Peter introduced me to his band and their debut EP “Opus I: Dawn” and in spring 2017 I saw them compete and win the Black-Out Bash in the Boogiewoogie Bar in Geraardsbergen (delivering an impressive live performance despite how small that venue’s stage was). Since then I saw the band compete at two Wacken Metal Battle Belgium editions (reaching the finals in 2019) and in 2019 I had a blast reviewing their debut full length “Continuum” (read my review here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/195).

Now Cathubodua returns with their second label-backed album called “Interbellum,” have they been able to evolve their style of hard-hitting symphonic folk metal to the next level? We shall hear and see. 


“Interbellum” is the second full-length release of the Belgian symphonic folk metal band Cathubodua and is once again released via the German record label Massacre Records. The album begins with “Effigy of Aftermath” and after a short orchestral chant opening the band immediately kicks it into high gear with operatic vocals, blast beats, rumbling guitars and fast symphonies. This song immediately strikes me as quite different compared to Cathubodua’s earlier work which was overall slower and a bit less confident. “Effigy of Aftermath,” however, is a rollercoaster track that grabs you by the throat without any hesitation. 

Then things calm down a little with “Foretelling” featuring gentle drums, acoustic guitars and flutes before bringing back the explosiveness. The whole song has a melodic catchiness to it as well as some sweet solo violin work (I’ve always loved how Cathubodua utilizes the violin more like an additional guitar rather than a simple support instrument). “Will Unbroken” comes next and this track has a similar opening as in “Effigy of Aftermath” but this song isn’t as fast-paced or as memorable as the aforementioned tune but it still nicely jams along until a moody violin melody wraps it all up.

Up next is the single “Amidst Gods” and the song’s drum and piano intro got me hooked quickly. As a whole, this particular song has a strong classic power metal vibe to it and the rhythms make me feel like I’m seeing an army marching into battle. Definitely a highlight of this album for me. After that power metal barrage is an intimate intermission called “The Mirror,” featuring softer orchestration and a monologue by vocalist Sara. This short tune emits a dreamy but also slightly unsettling atmosphere. The similar vibes of “The Mirror” continue in the opening section of Interbellum’s final track, “Godless Fallacy.” A long but varied track that brings together all of the ingredients that were present in the album’s previous tracks but what I like most about the track is that this tune has a sense of intimacy to it despite the ferocious melodies.

While not as long of an album compared to its “Continuum” predecessor, Cathubodua’s “Interbellum” focuses more on speed and orchestra and quality over quantity while cutting back of some of the folk elements of their previous work. I feel the tracks in “Interbellum” are in line with such tunes like “Hydra,” “Hero of Ages” and “Way to Glory” from their 2019 album and since those were 3 of my favorite tracks from that release I don’t mind the band going further into that direction.

The main negative element that I feel present in “Interbellum” is the mixing which sometimes felt a bit too “much.” Cathubodua often employs combo of guitars, violins, drums vocals and other symphonies and sometimes it gets out of balance in the mixing department.

Band picture by Vincent Dark Fallen Angel Photography.


The front cover of Cathubodua’s “Interbellum” features a spear-wielding female warrior looking over a battlefield that features destroyed castle walls and towers as the skies bright up, signaling a the dawn of a new day.

While the image of a warrior on a battlefield may sound cheesy at first, I do really enjoy the small details in this artwork such as the warrior’s stoic yet slightly sad look on her face, the wheat of the field reminds me of that iconic image from the Gladiator movie wherein Russel Crowe’s character walks through the Elysium Fields touching the wheat as he moves along, the swords stuck in the ground make me think of crosses in a graveyard and finally the huge smokey image of a crow in the background that signals all the death that had just transpired on that once peaceful land.

Lyrically, Cathubodua’s “Interbellum” album is significantly darker than its predecessor. It’s main story deals with the same Gaul war goddess that Cathubodua borrow their name from as she obviously gets involved into endless war but she hopes to one day see the end of war and the start of peace although she’s aware that humanity’s thirst for violence and warfare will never ever be fully satisfied.


My favorites on “Interbellum” are “Foretelling” and “Amidst Gods” while my least favorite tracks are the rather unmemorable “Will Unbroken” and “The Mirror” however, in the case of “The Mirror” it’s not exactly the track itself but how it’s ending isn’t used as a effective transition for the succeeding “Godless Fallacy” track. Also an honorable mention to the “Godless Fallacy” finale, while the song felt a bit too lengthy for me, I did enjoy the sum of all its parts, especially the black metal section in the middle.


8,5 sword crosses out of 10. Cathubodua’s “Interbellum” is a worthy successor to their 2019 album. They’re going faster and harder than ever and despite the mix sometimes being a bit overwhelming, this 30-minute release is a hard-hitting symphonic ground-and-pound. Here’s the “Foretelling” single and music video!