While many death metal bands adopt the cliched (and I don't usually have a problem with metal cliches) "Blood, Guts, Gore" approach, which is fun for a while but gets pretty boring, Kataklysm take a different approach. As the album title tells you, this is about something mystical, and I think this adds a great feel to the music and offers something a little different.
THIS is the true "Northern Hyperblast" and I can describe this album in one word: Chaos! Thier last release, In The Arms Of Devastation, doesn't feature any of the "hyperblast" drumming that gave Kataklysm their sound and, had boring song structures with uninspired subject matter... Sorcery is a million miles away from this.
The main contributor to this chaos is oustanding vocal performance (if you can call it that!) of Sylvain Houde (who was obviously also the main inspiration behind the mystical theme of the band). The vocals are simply crazy and range from typical low end death growling to insane high pitched shrieks which have more in common with black metal. The lyrics are sometimes sung with no apparent structure or regard for what the music is doing, and sometimes Sylvain just makes random crazy noises... but this just adds to the choatic feeling and somehow it works! The vocals are often layered, mixing the high with the low and incorporating those random shreiks over the top of the lyrics. It sounds totally mad, but as I said before, somehow it works, and the most oustanding thing is that it never sounds forced: Sylvain ACTUALLY sounds like a madman. I have never heard, nor will I ever hear, vocal insanity like this EVER again. Truly unique and one of the factors which helps make this album different to anything else.
The other thing that gave Kataklysm their unique style was the drums. Max Duhamel has to be one of the best extreme drummers in the world, just listen to those blast beats and the double bass work! Although there is A LOT of "hyperblast" drumming on here, it never gets repetitive because there are well placed tempo changes and slower sections, probably best demonstrated on the first (and my fave track) Sorcery.
And what about the riffs? It's typical death metal stuff, but it has the perfect blend of melody and brutality, which is something few bands can achieve as they usually lean towards one or the other. The guitar work is sometimes technical and sometimes simplistic, but always heavy, and has a great tone.
The production is for the most part clear (although on one track when there is a solo it sounds like a demo), but at the same time the music sounds raw and organic: just how this type of music should sound. Perfect.
For me early Kataklysm just has that "something" that all too many bands lack these days (and Kataklysm HAD, but have now unfortunately lost). The song structures are like the music itself: you never know what's coming next. Although I mentioned that Sorcery is my favourite track, none of the tracks really stand out, as the whole album just blends into one with each song being just as brutal and seemingly haphazard as the last... but as I keep saying, somehow it just works! I love the sheer insanity of this, but I must add that it's definately not for everyone: you will either love it or hate it.