"Revenge... is a meal best served cold."
When someone says the word Canada, what comes to your head first? Their funny and stereotypical speech? Maple Syrup? Hockey? What about extreme metal? Do I have any takers here? Maybe not, but Canada has been blessed with some fine death metal acts over the years. One of the most well known acts is Cryptopsy. They're widely considered to be one of the finest death metal acts ever formed. Another prominent group is Gorguts. If you are a fan of death metal then these names are second hand to you. But what about Kataklysm? They've been around since the early 90s and I have just yet to hear about them with their new album...
In the Arms of Devastation
Kataklysm have described themselves as "Northern Hyperblast", due to their incredibly fast drumming patterns. This album certainly has this sound but they've also grown from just one formula. In the Arms of Devastation contains some of the band's best songs that I've ever come across. The group is incredibly tight and knows how to deliver some incredibly brutal riffing that most fans of metal would love to band their heads along to. The first thing you will notice about the album is that the production is incredibly good. Every instrument is balanced equally and the vocals are right where they should be in the mix. The bass backs up the guitars quite well and gives it that thick, heavy feel that I know the band was going for.
The band musically won't really change your life, but it's still a pleasure to listen to. Kataklysm can write some really ear-catching riffs that will keep you hooked on their albums without being overly technical. Actually, half of the time the guitars and bass are just carrying out some slow chugga-chugga riffs.The other half of the bands riffs are much better. These riffs are great harmonized guitar parts and some speedy tremolo-style death metal riffing. For those of you that are familar with bands like Amon Amarth and their style of guitars, this album will appeal to you. They're really similar bands, but not in a bad way.
If you remember from a few paragraphs back that I said these guys labeled themselves as "Northern Hyperblast", you'll be able to see why once you hear some of Kataklysm's drumming. It's not blisteringly fast the whole time, but occasionally your ears will be pounded into submission with incredibly fast blast beats reminiscent of Cryptopsy's Flo Mounier. The drumming on here doesn't contain the same creative energy of Flo, but it matches him in speed during the hyperblasting sections. Besides these bursts of speed, the drumming on here is rather basic for the death metal. Simple double bass patterns are constantly used and during breakdowns they just slow down even more to even easier beats. There are few points for fills which could have added much to the song.
Vocally, this album remains solid. Death metal growls are always known to be intense, brutal, and low. Kataklysm has these elements and adds to the typical sound by having a rather versatile lead vocalist who ranges from the low, guttural roars to higher pitched screams that might even remind you of the now infamous death metal vocalist, Lord Worm. A perfect example of his vocal abilities could be found on the song "Let Them Burn". In the beginning of this song the opening screams are high pitched, and then switch of from guttural roars back to the higher ones. It's pretty impressive and really fun to listen to when the vocalist decides to use it.
What's something that could have made this album superb, but didn't contain much of? Guitar solos. This album is filled with tons of enjoyable riffs, but there's just something missing through almost the entire time.The first five songs felt empty to me when I initially heard this album because I knew that a guitar solo could have really brought this album up to greatness. By the time you reach "Open Scars", the band finally unleashes a guitar solo upon you. You won't hear another one until the band's final epic song "The Road to Devastation", in which a really awesome solo is unleashed upon you. Had they have used this in all of their songs then this album would have been so much better. Also, while it didn't bother me at all, this album has limited appeal. This album wouldn't bring in someone who isn't familiar to death metal to listen to the album. Only fans of the genre would really enjoy this album, I think.
The album's highlights:
To Reign Again
The Road to Devastation
-- Enjoyable harmonized riffs and heavy chugging riffs
-- Impressive hyperblasting drums
-- Solid vocal work for death metal
-- Good production quality
-- The drums don't use fills very much, beats are often basic
-- A lack of guitar solos, save for two songs
-- This album is only for fans of death metal
Final Rating: 3.5/5 -- I enjoyed this album, but I would only check out if you are already a death metal fan. If you're looking to check out the genre, I'd look at another album.