Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cataleptic: Strength Within (2011)

Groove vs. Redundancy

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards Etc., home of metal, beards, and more.

Cataleptic are a Finnish death-doom group who released their full-length debut Strength Within last December. They have released some previous demos, but prior to this record I had never heard the band.

There are only 5 tracks on the album, but 3 of them eclipse the 10 minute mark so the total length is respectable. As you would expect, the music here is heavy and slow-paced. The guitar chugs away on the early portions of the album, playing riffs which are often simplistic yet effective in a punk sort of way. Here they are just slowed way down and played with a much beefier tone. The later tracks move into more melodic territory, still not getting particularly complex or varied with the riffs, but managing a clear shift in tone that keeps the album from growing stale as it progresses. The bass makes its presence felt, adding some depth to the mix. This is particularly true on the monumental 15-minute closer "Secluded Path" where it departs distinctly from the guitar lines in several places. The drums, as is typical in slower metal, are used sparsely to pace and augment the music without ever rising to the foreground.

The vocals are partly growled and occasionally screamed, but they are largely delivered in a hoarse shout. This makes them sound intense and genuine, and creates different dynamics with the music in different places. Early in the album, when the sound in general is a bit crunchier and more intense, the vocals blend in with the music and match it quite well. Later on, once the music as become somewhat mellower and more melodic, it stands out in contrast with the sounds behind it, bringing aggression to any otherwise relatively peaceful sound-scape. Both work well, and it's hard to tell which I really prefer.

My one complaint with this album is that the guitar riffs tend to fall into simple patterns that can grow a little too redundant before they make a shift. Groove vs. redundancy is always a fine line in doom, and it can often take a lot of fine-tuning to strike just the right balance. Aside from that minor flaw, though, this was a solid and enjoyable record. It didn't absolutely floor me, but I would definitely still check out future releases by this band.

The Verdict: Good, solid death-doom. If you don't mind a bit of repetition, there's no reason not to give it a spin. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

No Sign of Life Records

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