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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Kataklysm

In the Arms of Devastation

Review by Mike Korn

Kataklysm's career is proof that slow and steady wins the race. These French-Canadians are no shooting stars...like the turtle in the old Aesop's Fable, they've been inching towards the finish line for many years, refining their sound and building their base. It looks like "In the Arms of Devastation" could be their final dash to the death metal trophy.

Their sound can't be described as totally original, yet it manages to be very identifiable. It's a smoothly integrated combination of high velocity thrashing, bone-crushing breakdowns and doomy moments mingled with some melodic guitar wizardry that brings a blood-crazed Megadeth to mind. It's not completely insane raging destruction like Cannibal Corpse or The Berzerker, but it ain't for wimps, either.

This record flows as well as any Kataklysm has done. Only their breakout CD Shadows and Dust would I put in the same category as this. If someone were to ask which death metal album should be their first, I don't think they could go wrong with In the Arms of Devastation.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Like Angels Weeping (The Dark)
Here's about as good an example of the Kataklysm style as you can get. A voice announces "Revenge is a dish best served cold," but the speedy riffing here is as hot as a pistol and soon bleeds into a super-catchy mid-paced crunch. The drumming of Max Duhamel induces awe with its blistering speed. There's some nifty twin lead work to add a melodic feel but watch out for the immense crawling breakdown that hits with about a minute to go - absolutely devastating! This is a great pure metal moment.
Let Them Burn
This is another fast paced number where vocalist Maurizio Iacono alternates his guttural growl with a raspier shriek that brings Gonzo of the Muppet Show to mind.
Crippled and Broken
Slow and deadly is how this one kicks off, with a brutish stalking feel that emphasizes the thickness of J.F. Dagenais' guitar sound. Then a speedy thrash riff kicks in until we hit the chorus where that original slow trudge returns to powerful effect. "Crippled and broken/There's no one left to die!" I wouldn't say this is the best song they've got, but I bet it would be killer live.
To Reign Again
Right here is where Kataklysm's songcraft really starts to shine. A gentle acoustic intro gives way to a throbbing metal pulse and an extremely strong chorus. The bass gets a good work out here, which is fairly rare for this type of music. This track is a great mid-paced crusher with the emphasis on real heaviness and subtle melody instead of an all out blast.
It Turns To Rust
The opening slow dirge of this cut reminds me of prime Bolt Thrower. This track features a brilliant male-female singing dynamic as vocalist Maurizio Iacono trades brutal growls with the throat-ripping female shrieks of Kittie's Morgan Lander. The result is sensational and makes the piece really unique. The thunderous heavy groove of the song also delivers maximum headbanging potential.
Open Scars
This brings things back to a boil with a thrashy speedy attack. My god, you couldn't program a machine to play drums any faster than Max Duhamel! The tune hits a very cool "shuffling" groove in the middle that will get the head nodding for sure. It's not a mind-blowing track, but more than serviceable. 
Temptation's Nest
This is another song featuring a variety of speeds and riffs all designed for your headbanging pleasure. There's mid-paced catchy groove, frantic blasting and twin guitar melody in spades. The final crunchy marching tempo is backed up by cool multi-tracked vocals.
In Words of Desperation
I thought this was the most average cut on the CD. It kind of sounds like "generic Kataklysm track." It's not really bad, but I don't see what it brings to the table. The chorus is extremely awkward.
The Road to Devastation
The CD ends with this sad sounding track. The riffing has a mournful sound to it and the chorus is truly devastating with its alternating super-guttural growls and tortured high-pitched rasps. I've never heard this kind of vocal trade-off done so well. This is a more emotional song than we're used to hearing from death metal bands.
 
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