Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Kataklysm: Heaven's Venom (2010)


Kataklysm is one of the old guard of death metal, having formed in Montreal in 1991, and they've had a consistent release schedule since 1995, with an album every year or two since. Released recently, Heaven's Venom is their 10th full-length, but it's the first of their catalog for me.

In many ways, they sound like another of the old guard who released an album this year: Sweden's Unleashed. The sound is simple, catchy death metal, with a trimphant and defiant sound clearly influenced by thrash. Kataklysm seems to be allowing influence of newer bands into their sound, as they've incorporated some breakdowns (especially on "Push the Venom") and some of the melodic death sound (more pronounced on the latter half of the album).

The lyrics are easy to understand. I don't care for the political bent of some of them, but "Every Day I'm Stronger Than Ever" is a damn good shout-along line.

On the negative, the album is missing strong solos, and a few tracks are a bit weak ("Numb & Intoxicated" or "Hail the Renegade"). On the whole this is decent, if you like it simple, but it doesn't have the fire and fury I want from death. The music is catchy at times--especially check out "Determined (Vows of Vengeance)" and "Suicide River"--but as an album it seems like it's just an easy cash-in by a band with a big name.

The Verdict: This is decent, simple, and workmanlike death metal from members of the old guard. They're not afraid to allow a bit of evolution to their sound, but it's lacking a certain level of aggression you would expect from a band with this kind of legacy. The opening monologue pretty much sums it up--they will just keep plodding along forever, unconcerned about fighting back at the world any longer. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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