Kataklysm are known for churning out some heavy stuff, both under this moniker and their Roman-era alter ego Ex Deo. However, prepare yourselves, as Unconquered contains some of the heaviest stuff the band have dropped in a long time. And it’s magnificent.
You’ll likely have heard “The Killshot” by now, and seen it’s rather disturbing video, and you can check out “Underneath the Stars” below. Both are indicative of the ridiculous battering your eardrums will suffer listening through the entirety of the album. Wait till you get halfway through and hit the incredible “The Way Back Home” though. The midway break is a headbanger’s paradise and it manages to squeeze in all those familiar Kataklysm sounds – the deep background melody, drum battery, clanging bass and edgy guitars, all topped with Maurizio Iacono’s hellfire vocals.
That’s the highlight on an album full of highlights, though. “Icarus Falling” is another, and has my favourite intro. Simultaneously calm, eerie and pounding it leads into a chugging rhythm, a heavy main section and an ending which pushes the “melo” from “melodeath” to the fore.
Iacono is quoted in the promo bumph, stating that this is a personal album lyric-wise. He’s gone through some tough times the last couple of years and this is his catharsis. It’s notable, and perhaps a little sad, that in many cases the best musical output from a band comes after or during their hardest times. Megadeth’s best music was written when Dave was off the rails. Linkin Park’s most heartfelt lyrics came from Bennington’s horrendous personal experiences. And here, Iacono has channeled his mental challenges from recent years into an album that he and Kataklysm can be proud of.
Kataklysm have never really let us down. Ever-changing, ever-evolving, but sturdy and reliable. Unconquered is one of their strongest releases to date and definitely deserves a place in the collection of those who like the heavier stuff.
Unconquered is out on September 25th.