Kataklysm are my favourite death metal band. They combine the melodic touches of thier European peers and the brutality of the American death metal sound, to create thier own unique style, which they call "Northern Hyperblast".
This CD has one major flaw: there just arn't enough excellent songs on here. All of the songs are good and some are better than good, but just not EXCELLENT. It seems that after track 5 the band was trying to be too melodic or epic... or something like that... or maybe the songwriting was running out of steam... whatever it is, it must be said that these last four tracks are disappointing, especially after the ferocity and sheer ass kicking ability of the opening five songs. This album would be a good start for anyone wanting to get into Kataklysm.
The production is great and suits the style very well: it's crisp and clear, and the guitars have possibly the best crunch I've ever heard.
In Shadows And Dust - 4.5/5
The album opens with a quote from Gladiator, "Ultimately... we're all dead men. Sadly we cannot choose how, but we can decide how we meet that end... in order that we are remembered... as men..."... then the first guitar riff comes in with that awesome crunchy sound. Then the bass and drums kick in, and you know this is gonna kick your ass. This song is basically every aspect of Kataklysms style packed into 2:48: it's got the brutal opening riff, the slower parts that are heavy as hell... and the trademark "hyperblast" drums which are the most intense blast beats you're ever likely to hear. Actually, they ARE the most insane blast beats you'll hear. Short and sweet.
Beyond Salvation - 4/5
My second favourite song on the album. Opens with some heavy riffage and the vocals come in pretty early. Then we hear another Kataklysm trademark which is the high pitched vocals instead of the usual death growl, coupled with one of the best riffs on the album and some cool lyrics. I should point out that although the vocals are really extreme, you can still hear the lyrics most of the time. After about 50 seconds a cool melodic riff is played at breakneck speed with some crazy double bass work, I really love this riff. Mid-way through there is a melodic break and the track slows down with some melodic leads. I would have given this a 5/5 as the riffage, vocals and drums are all awesome, but the structure does get SLIGHTLY repetive.
Illuminati - 3/5
This is what I meant by there not being enough really great songs. The riffage is good and heavy and the execution is flawless, but it just doesn't stick in your head like some of the other songs do (Shadows And Dust, Beyond Salvation and Bound In Chains). Still, this is an above average track and is enjoyable.
Chronicles Of The Damned - 3.5/5
The song kicks right in with some really good lyrics and more hyperblasting drums, followed by a riff that really reminds me of European Melo-death. This is another part that really sticks in my head and makes the song more memorable that the previous effort.
Bound In Chains - 4.5/5
What makes Kataklysm really stand out in the crowd (in my opinion at least) is the excellent slower sections that they sometimes include in thier songs. This one features some more of that insane "Northern Hyperblast", but also has a some awesome slower riffs like the verse and chorus riffs. This was one of the first Kataklysm songs I heard and I always remember the chorus cos it's kind of catchy: "I'm bound in chains, I'm a prisoner of your hate, I'm bound in chains...". Also on the chorus the typical death growl and high pitched vocals are combined... I know this sounds like it wouldn't work, but it sounds really good. A standout track.
Where The Enemy Sleeps... - 2.5/5
The first riff here is just balancing on the edge of being TOO catchy and melodic, a trap which all too many metal bands fall into. Again the riffage is really good but it seems to lose it's momentum pretty soon, and isn't nearly as aggressive as the other songs, and for this reason is just an average track.
Centuries (Beneath The Dark Waters) - 3/5
Starts with a pretty epic sounding riff which builds up well. Then a sort of melodic riff comes in with hyperblast drums over the top... it just sounds really strange. I didn't dig this part at all. Thankfully when the first verse starts the song picks back up, and everything is back where it should be. The song is let down like the previous song because it just seems to lack that aggressive feel combined with melody that Kataklysm are usually so good at. Slightly above average track.
Face The Face Of War - 3.5/5
Follows the more melodic path of the previous couple of tracks, but with excellently calculated riffage and lyrics which helps the song to flow much better. Remains pretty slow throughout but does have some hyperblast drums to add a bit of variation. There is also another kind of catchy chorus "Forever, face the face of war!!!".
Years Of Enlightenment/Decades In Darkness - 1/5
The intro sounds a bit black metal: atmospheric chords where each note rings out. Unforunately, this is pretty much filler and the chorus is very similar to that of the previous track. Forgettable.