Deep in the wintry woods of Gog Magog Hill something stirred. New sounds tangled with woodsmoke as The Trials of Cato fused their usual flashing Celtic instrumental interplay with striking new compositions to bring us the follow up to their award-winning debut. Gog Magog is The Trials of Cato’s hugely anticipated second album, released in the winter of 2022.
The remarkable rise of BBC Radio 2 award winning trio The Trials of Cato on the UK folk-scene has been the subject of massive critical attention. Dubbed “the Sex Pistols of folk,” (J Davis) they pay clear homage to the tradition whilst twisting old bones into something febrile and modern, with stomping tunes and captivating stories.
Notably formed in Beirut, Lebanon, The Trials of Cato have blazed a trail like no other since returning to the UK in 2016. Memorable performances across Britain, Europe, and North America led to Mark Radcliffe hailing the band ‘one of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times,’ with their 2018 debut Hide and Hair going on to win the BBC Radio 2 ‘Best Album’ Folk Award. With their latest offering Gog Magog, the ‘Sex Pistols of folk’ (John Davis – Led Zeppelin, Gorrilaz) now present their most daring music to date.
Still flying the flag of folk music, Gog Magog sees the band pull harder than ever on the genre’s familiar frame to create something utterly arresting and modern. Capitalising on their enforced closeting during the pandemic, The Trials of Cato have undoubtedly evolved during this period, boiling down the energy of their early years into a bold new sound. The resulting album presents the broadest spectrum of their collective talents yet, a product of swallowing the folk tradition whole and completely reimagining it in a contemporary context.
Gog Magog is awash with a spray of styles, ranging from neo-traditional interpretations of Welsh language poetry to current-day plague songs, as well as unexpected instrumental explorations of the outer edges of folktronica and trad-jazz. Tying it all together is still The Trials’ appetite for flights of adventure, anchored firmly by quality compositions and fabulous playing.
Band member Robin said: “It has been a long time coming but we are so pleased with the results. Lockdown gave us a chance to really look at what we are about as a band and what music we wanted to create. We wiped the palate clean and each of us challenged ourselves to create as much as we could without outside influences. Our beautiful and sometimes mysterious surroundings helped to realise this album and although we’re now delighted to be back on the road, this was a space in time that certainly created this music. We are so grateful for the loyalty of our fans and we sincerely hope they enjoy Gog Magog.”
The album was recorded by Donald Richard and Sean Boyd at Artfarm Studios in New York State, USA earlier this year. It was mixed by Donald Richards and Jake Charron at SpaceCamp Productions, PEI and mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios in London, UK.