Kataklysm has proudly been waving the banners of Melodic Death and Death Metal for nearly thirty years. Originally hailing from Canada, this now multinational act has consistently delivered strikingly aggressive music for decades and it has solidified their spot at the Heavy Metal table. It’s only been two years since they released their last record, Meditations (Nuclear Blast). Yet this new full-length, Unconquered (Nuclear Blast) demonstrates how this quartet has a wealth of heaviness still to share.
The first track, ’The Killshot’ unsuspectedly opens with a drum trilling like it is calling the listener to the battlefield where rage and rowdiness is about to ensue. The military march froths up and then detonates a minute into the song. A fierce dread and devastation takes hold as the roar of the riffs succumb the senses. Kataklysm demonstrates what frenzy can sound like. The skillful work of newcomer James Payne on the drums is a key component to the group’s thunder. His speed, fills, and effortless aggression are highlighted throughout the album. Jean-Francois Dagenais is a master of melody who partners brutality with beauty together flawlessly. The band’s ability to make every song singular comes from the memorable melodies that shine on each piece. Then there is this weight in his grooves, with the help of bassist Stephane Barbe, they are able to make savagery serene. Tracks, ‘Cut Me Down’, ‘Stitches’, ‘Icarus Falling’ all carry an elegant balance of clean and distortion.
Maurizio Iacono has mentioned that the song, ‘Underneath the Scars’ is a bulldozer of a track that will ignite metalheads into straight headbanging madness. The punchy, hard-hitting structure of each song makes this record cohesively crunchy and cooly chaotic. The introspective lyrics strike a nerve since they so thoroughly apply to our current, tumultuous times. ‘Defiant’ shows off the band’s ability to cultivate modern tones while still spitting up the same fury as old school Death Metal acts like Six Feet Under or Vital Remains. There is an accelerated venom in Iacono’s blunt, articulate, and versatile vocals. The drums continue to carry a rage that moves and breathes with the emotions of every song. Each piece shifts in their marvelously manic, grisly, and furious themes. The last number, ‘When It’s Over’ makes a massive and melancholy appeal of indignation. Kataklysm isn’t breaking new ground on this record, but their dark displeasure is enticingly familiar. Their fierceness boldly shows up on this new album. It proves that they still have a lot to offer and why they are one of the main catalysts for the Modern Melodic Death Metal sound.
7 / 10