Kataklysm have been going for an impressive length of time, and even spawned a successful (if sadly short-lived) side project in Ex-Deo. Surprisingly, given their longevity, I only got into them via their Roman offshoot and Of Ghosts and Gods is the first album I’ve really focussed on.
The death metal genre is a busy one, with hundreds of decent acts surrounded by thousands of not-so-good ones. Kataklysm have lasted as long as they have by being one of the best and their reputation is very much intact with this offering. This is a band prepared to push the boundaries of their chosen niche to ensure things don’t get boring, but never remotely lose touch of the dark and heavy core of their musical being.
Drums are breakneck, but guitars are usually more strident and hold everything together – the blistering pace predominantly comes from the skin-bashing. Maurizio Iacono’s vocals are harsh and raise the hairs on your neck – which is in complete contrast to the experience when you meet him. He’s one of the nicest guys I think I’ve ever interviewed!
What I really like about this album is the way everything flows. It’s not blasting death metal harshness for the sake of it; this is a genuine musical effort with flow, catchy riffs, rhythms you can nod your head to… but no lack of brutality as a result.
Some of the songs would work wonderfully well with clean vocals. “Shattered” is one and I wish I was talented enough to cover other people’s music. Maybe someone else will read this and give it a go. That’s the beauty of Kataklysm’s sound, I think. It’s something that you can genuinely appreciate musically while being pounded by the distorted riffage.
Is this the death metal album of the year? Well, there’s a lot of competition, but in my own opinion it’s definitely up there. If you want to sample it all, then keep an eye on the band’s facebook page. From the 21st onwards, they’ll be releasing one video/track per day up until release.
Highlight tracks for me are “Thy Serpent’s Tongue” and “Soul Destroyer” though “Carrying Crosses” has the best intro and… bugger it. It’s another highlight track for being so different to the rest of the album. Every time I give the album another listen, one more song jumps up my highlight list!
Of Ghosts and Gods is released through Nuclear Blast on July 31st.