Review Summary: introspection.
Kataklysm are definitely not the same iteration of the band formed over twenty five years ago. It’s natural, for things are not meant to always remain the same. Take a tree’s seed for example; at first, it lays dormant, waiting to unleash its potential. Eventually, the seeds sprouts, giving way to a new life and development. It’s at this stage we see this life force act on its potential and grow into fully fledged magnificence. Unfortunately for a band like Kataklysm, the constant pruning and bending left less “magnificence” and more “middling mediocrity”.
stands simply as the Canadian’s thirteenth full length release, full of the usual fan fare of bombastic riffing, gruffly roared death metal vocals and typically placed blast beats, Kataklysm opts for a progressively more melodic approach than their last few offerings. Unfortunately, the band’s 2018 release feels naturally lacklustre, run of the mill and completely uninspiring to the world of death metal, giving way to a formulaic “by the book” style of music they’ve been releasing for years. Just like the grown tree from the tired simile above, Meditations
shows a band going through the motions - leaves grow, change colour and fall… before being regrown into the same, “but different” version of the original.
Opening the new album is an excerpt bastardised from the likes of Edmund Burke:
...for evil to triumph it only takes good men to do nothing
Even before a single riff enters there’s a real sense that Meditations
is going to be epic. “Guillotine” sets an undeniable tone of force, typical of the band’s everyday foundation. The tight, polished riffing of Dagenais combine well with the jutting percussive touches from Beaudoin. The instrumental proficiency shown by all aspects is clear and precise, showcasing early what these Canadian metal veterans can offer in the year 2018.
As the album progresses, there’s clarity in where Kataklysm’s music is going. Sure, there’s some powerful riffing, solid vocal passages and a complimentary instrumental backbone, but there’s nothing that raises Meditations
above the standard they’ve set on previous releases. Even when considering the band’s natural gravitational pull to all things melodic, adjusting only to shift tempo and musical direction from time to time the album’s lifeless production strips away the sheer intensity needed to carry the darkened overtones of tracks like “The Last Breath I’ll Take Is Yours” and “Born To Kill And Destined To Die”. There’s a distinct lack of edge to Kataklysm’s sonic fury, flattening the music where it should actually build and crescendo.
Fairly, this supposed powerhouse of death metal does try to impart themselves in a positive manner, before falling into a rut of manifested musical mediocrity. The sheer melodic nature of closer “Achilles’ Heel” benefits from a slower pace and hook heavy approach, sinking into a groove of mid paced riffs and even growls. It’s a style that shines through for Kataklysm, but shouldn’t be relied on too heavily in the future. Additionally, the groove focused “Outsider” showcases some of the band’s strongest songwriting in a decade, highlighting the album with a focused and cohesive display of the group’s better features. It’s not overly technical and doesn’t attempt unflattering attempts at speed. Instead, smart hooks and intelligent instrumental prowess enter the fray, demanding dominance with every line.
Overall Kataklysm has gifted fans with a “passable” if completely underwhelming album. It’s not a bad release, but for a band with so much experience, Meditations
should be better than it is. When everything but the production is on par with the band’s ‘by the book’ style, there’s always going to be the resounding feeling that the group’s “special something” is missing. For thirty nine minutes listeners wait for that extra effort, something innovative, something better than what Meditations
It seems the quote mentioned above needs a simple rewrite. For Kataklysm’s 2018 piece, it should read something like this:
...for mediocrity to triumph, it only takes good bands to do nothing