Review Summary: 'Northern Hyperblast' may have seen too much sun as it has resulted in this tepid collection of songs
Kataklysm is a Canadian death metal band with a fairly strong melodic aspect to their music, never venturing out to the side of the more brutal spectrum of death metal. They seem to be comfortable with their identity and have even coined the term ‘Northern Hyperblast’ as their sound. Consistent is one way to describe this band. Unfortunately their consistency has often led to albums that sound much like their predecessors.
On first listen to Of Ghosts and Gods, it becomes difficult to differentiate this album from any of their previous works. One thing they did do differently was to create a music video for each song, which they have available on their Youtube page. This is a bold way to promote the album which ultimately falls short of the hype the band created for this album. The first two tracks roll in slowly and have the same formula: start slow, build up with some ‘safe’ riffs and go to a chorus then return to the lead guitar at the forefront. I call the riffs safe because they’re much like what they’ve done before. Maurizio’s vocals in these choruses are not very inspiring. Lyrically it’s more of the same fighting against oppression, being individualistic, and acting as a hero to inspire the weak. The vocals are easy to decipher throughout.
There are some highlights on this album such as ‘Thy Serpents Tongue’ which alternates between a slow heavy riff and a gentle melodic riff that bridges each section of the song. ‘Vindication’ is the first track with some strong drum fills and is the fastest track up to this point of the album with only a minor addition of the slow melodic riffs to connect the song’s sections. Unfortunately each track follows the same formula, nearly to the second, and offers an experienced metal listener a lot to be desired. Their previous effort Waiting For the End to Come is significantly better and has some nice variation from track to track, with the strongest track ‘Elevate’ as the closer. The closing track here begins with a slow minute long introduction into stale guitar and drum patterns. The bass on this album is faintly audible in the background, and the drum work is nothing spectacular.
As a band whose lyrical content revolves around exposing the world for what it is and conveying a spirit of dissatisfaction with the status quo, it is ironic that their music is safe and conforms to one formula so consistently. Kataklysm is a band for metal heads looking to get their feet wet and experience something that is easy to absorb. You won’t find any mind bending guitar progressions like on a Meshuggah album, captivating, evil riffs like on a Behemoth album, or technicality like on a Revocation album (Revocation is by no means the height of technical riffs, but easily eclipses Kataklym’s abilities). For anyone who listens to old school death metal or progressive metal, Kataklysm will offer you nothing new or interesting with this album. This band, and especially this album, is entirely introductory and rudimentary in this genre.