Kataklysm have really been steadily hyperblasting us for a while now. Their sound, while unique in itself, has remained rather constant since their original vocalist Sylvain Houde left in 1997. Frankly, I thought they were going to peak with the magnificent “<i>In The Arms of Devastation</i>” back in 2006, but their most recent album, 2010’s “<i>Heaven’s Venom</i>”, showed that the Canadian death metallers have life yet in them. But has their vivacity died down, now that they are more than 20 years in?
Thankfully, no, in all but one case that I will highlight later. “<i>Waiting For The End To Come” </i>is here to (hyper)blast you into oblivion, as Kataklysm always do.
Opener “Fire” intriguingly starts out with a very black metal-y motif for an intro, though that type of malevolence is short-lived, and replaced by the slamming melodic death metal the band specializes in. The first track also elucidates the fantastic production job, as each guitar attack setting off like an atom bomb, and each galvanizing kick causing a sonic boom. The cortex simply cannot help but to thrash back and forth to this banger of a song.
After a frankly unnecessary sound bite, “If I Was God – I’d Burn It All” launches straight back into some vicious hyperblast. This track, like the rest of the first four, simply begs to be headbanged to and windmilled to. Hell, the windmilling this track induces could generate enough wind power to fuel all of San Diego.
I could have sworn that Kataklysm stole the opening pit-ready riff of “Like Animals” from Dying Fetus’s “Subjected to a Beating” (and they very nearly did). Similarities aside, “Like Animals” should come with a medical disclaimer, as it’s almost guaranteed to cause scoliosis. This song also highlights the subtle slam death metal influence that seeps through this newest effort a little more clearly, though they continue to inject their strong melodies into the equation for a potent mixture that is sure to excite.
“Kill The Elite” is perhaps one of the more melodic tracks on “<i>WFTETC”</i>, though it’s no less heavy than any other track on this album, as its slamming chorus will attest (side note: if I don’t hear someone yell “KILL THE ELITE!!!” at the top of their lungs, then I may need to invest in a hearing aid). This one is the most likely to stick in your head as well – that bridge riff at 1:20 has been in my head since I first listened to it – and consequently easily dignifies itself as among the strongest tracks on the album (and a strong choice for the first single).
And then Kataklysm took a giant dump on the great build-up they had for the first four songs. “Under Lawless Skies” is utterly excruciatingly to listen to. It reminds me painfully of my regrettable metalcore days, with its main riff playing exactly to the viscerally stereotypical breakdown in every metalcore song. Even a decent verse and chorus can’t save this song from utter catastrophe. It honestly sounds like a bad cover of an Attack! Attack! song.
Mercifully, the band regains its feet with the propulsory “Dead & Buried”, with its very strong melodeath emphasis bringing back the cranial wind turbines in my head, as does the rest of the album.
Kataklysm have come back with a vengeance after crossing the 20-year mark, an impressive feat for any band, though one that has thankfully common in the extreme metal underground. Their formula remains largely unaltered: they riffs continue to be mash-ups of Scandinavian melodeath and brutal slamming death metal and the drums continues to hyperblast. The vocals remain in the same controversial timbre as they always have since Maurizio Iacono took over on vocals; though I personally enjoy them, the enjoyment of the listener can largely be gauged on past experiences with his vocal style. The lyrics remain in their same realm of having no realm, whether they deal with rebellion like on “Kill the Elite” or human stupidity on “Like Animals” among other topics. That said, they do inject a little originality into the mix, such as the captivating black metal elements that pervade “Fire”. All in all, “<i>Waiting For The End To Come” </i>is a solid, even great album from a solid, even great band. Except for “Under Lawless Skies”. Don’t learn of that atrocity the hard way; just do what’s good for you and skip past that train wreck.
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