Kataklysm, Unconquered review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

The 14th album from Canadian Death Metallers Kataklysm is Unconquered, a massive earth shaker that will pin your ears back and squeeze your brain.

Kataklysm is a band that has been creating music since 1991, and they are mainstays in the heavy scene. Their catalogue is huge, with not only more than a dozen studio albums but also numerous splits, compilations, and live releases as well. Fans have always had something new to look forward to with this band. The musical style has evolved over the years but they have stayed in the heavy lane.

Founders Maurizio Iacono (vocals) and Jean-François Dagenais (guitar) are joined by longtime bass player Stéphane Barbe and Olivier Beaudoin on drums (according to The Metal Archives, James Payne has since taken over on drums). The new album has similarities to the earlier work of the band, and in that way might seem like an homage to the past. The renewed sound has a sustainability to my ear, a strong tint of permanence, pointing more toward a new direction than a nostalgic episode.

A hazy photo of Kataklysm at Heavy Montréal 2019 (photo by Wayne Edwards)

“The Killshot” opens the set, beginning ominously with a quietude we know cannot last. Sure enough. Aggressive drumming blasts ravage even as guitar rhythms offer a stabilizing reassurance that is itself shaken by rare discordant clangs. The vocals are strong and coarse, easily understood, thereby becoming a narrative instrument as well as a musical one. It is a savage start, and rolls right into “Cut Me Down” for more hostility. There is a quiet melody to this song that is lurking in the background, and that makes it even more disturbing.

There is no letting up in this album. Any airy component is accompanied by a frenzied partner that keeps you on edge throughout. This characteristic is exemplified explicitly by “Focused To Destroy You” and more implicitly with songs like “The Way Back Home,” which have plainer lyrical elements living with musical gunfire and lyrics like this: “I’ll dig your grave on my way back home / I’ll gut you out like the pig that you are.” There is no waffling there, or anywhere else throughout. I will renew my prediction that this ferocity is here to stay. Recommended.

Unconquered is out now. Nuclear Blast is offering many versions and bundles – there has to be something there for every fan.

Links.

The band’s site, https://www.kataklysm.ca/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/kataklysm

Ordering from Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/overview/70940.kataklysm.html

Kataklysm, Unconquered review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont, Concert Review

Cannibal Corpse rolled into South Burlington, Vermont Sunday night on their Red Before Black Tour. Their show at Higher Ground was a Fall highlight for North Country Metalheads looking for a night of extreme music.

Perdition Temple

The opening band was Perdition Temple, a three-piece Death Metal act featuring Gene Palubicki on guitar and vocals with Ronnie Parmer on drums and Alex Blume working the bass. Fast and aggressive, the riff-heavy, driving guitar broke the ice and set the tone for evening. Palubicki’s coarse voice and precision fretting filled the room with energy and threat. Wrapping up a tight 30 minutes in a blistering frenzy, Perdition Temple surely made the list for a lot of new fans in the audience.

Perdition Temple

The middle act was Thy Art Is Murder, an Australian band whose music is usually placed in the deathcore category. I heard many fans in the crowd saying they’d come specifically to see Thy Art Is Murder and that didn’t surprise me at all – they have a big following and they don’t tour the US all the time. The band puts up a powerful wall of sound with two guitars via Andy Marsh and Sean Delander that surround frontman CJ McMahon. The bass backing by Kevin Butler and clinical drumming by Jesse Beahler complete the scene.

Thy Art Is Murder

CJ McMahon was suffering from a respiratory infection which caused him obvious discomfort but his performance didn’t seem to suffer at all. Leaning into material from their new album Human Target (Nuclear Blast), Thy Art Is Murder shook the room and played to their strengths, not neglecting fan favorites. In fact, the only time the crowd was actually singing punchlines was during the Thy Art Is Murder set. McMahon talked the crowd into greater participation by reflecting on how wild the show in Montreal the night before had been. Burlington, he told us, was great, but Montreal was unmatchable. The circle pits were going in force, presaging the vortex they would become with the headliner. There were no disappointments with their solid heavy work.

Thy Art Is Murder
Thy Art Is Murder

The main event was Cannibal Corpse, rounding out the tail end of their Red Before Black (Metal Blade) tour. Standing in the pit in the dark after the band had taken the stage but before they began playing, I could see vocalist George Fisher, Corpsegrinder. He stood with his back to the crowd taking deep, fierce breaths, filling his lungs to ready himself for the auditory assault he and the band were about to perpetrate. Hit the lights, hit the sound, and the crowd erupted to “Code of the Slashers.” Moshing started almost immediately and within a few minutes, an enormous circle pit had formed in the Higher Ground Ballroom with a pulsing jagged edge. Metal was happening.

Cannibal Corpse

The band lead with three songs from the latest album then took a tour through their long catalogue of music. Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan brought the riffs and shreds with veteran accuracy while founding members Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz steadied the songs with an unbreachable foundation. Fisher did not disappoint with his signature hair whipping head snaps, his face completely covered by the result when he sang. This is a band that never makes any excuses and always delivers the fury.

Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse

Never slowing down, Cannibal Corpse announced in October that they would begin working on a new album, their 15th full-length release, as soon as the current tour wraps up. See the show while you can. Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple is a great lineup. They are three bands that complement each other by employing similar musical themes while maintaining unique identities and performance styles.

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, and Perdition Temple at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont, Concert Review