Kataklysm are a band that feels as if they have been around forever at this point, originally blasting out from the colds of Canada with a technical brand of death metal that in the mid to late 1990s pushed extreme in most senses of the word.
Such a long recorded history can sometimes also result in a hard to describe fatigue for both the listener and the band and personally I haven’t listened to a new album by Kataklysm since 2013’s Waiting For an End to Come. To be honest, the only reason I wanted to listen to this new release is because I heard that the formula has been changing slowly and that Unconquered was going to be a culmination of the various directions experimented with on the albums I had chosen to skip.
With theatrical layered guitars and military drums opening the album leading to a certain feeling of unease, the very djent-orientated opener Killshot officially kicks in, wasting next to no time in showing off this new musical direction. The hyper pace is unabating for the first half of the album as they rip through Cut Me Down that rattles along in a more traditional vein leaving the heavy djent for Underneath The Scars, stopping and starting in a way that only Kataklysm could achieve, tearing the brake on before stomping on the loud pedal to reach maximum velocity.
Stitches really brings the djent to the fore as the band strive for a more melodic pace. If it wasn’t for vocalist Maurizio Iacono’s vocal roar this track could easy be lifted from so many other modern bands. Is this a good or bad thing? One thing it shows is that no matter how much Kataklysm do change up their formula and guitar tone, it is still the same band beating away at its black heart.
The piano led Icarus Falling continues the nu- lyrical content without leading anywhere interesting and again, if it wasn’t for the vocals this may well be some pity party woe-is-me late 90s second rate nu-metal tripe. I can’t see myself going back to the modern albums of Kataklysm. There is just something lacking. The adrenaline that this band once fed me seems lost. The more I focus on the lyrics seeking a connection of any kind the more its apparent that I just don’t identify in any way with what is going on here. Musically this album isn’t all bad. Open this Pandora’s box of riffs and you will find something to enjoy, but take heed: there feels as though there is a lot of something missing.
1. The Killshot
2. Cut Me Down
3. Underneath the Scars
4. Focused to Destroy You
5. The Way Back Home
8. Icarus Falling
9. When It’s Over