Kataklysm – Meditations (Released June 1, 2018 – Nuclear Blast)
In the leagues and leagues of generic bands doing generic things, Kataklysm is one of the deadliest purveyors of generic. The tried and true sound they habitually return to ad nauseam never fails to disappoint me. Meditations is an album of diverse openings that tease of a peak on the distant horizon that forever fails to appear. Viewing Kataklysm through the lens of the scene they hail from brings one to seriously wonder how they draw any support. The Quebecois death metal and black metal scenes are two of the most invigorating, forward-thinking, and just plain damn good music scenes in the metal world. Pumping out solid releases left, right, and centre that can play with any band from any other scene, Meditations marks a definite dud. Adding nothing and pushing no boundaries it is shocking to believe Kataklysm comes from the Quebecois death metal scene.
Digging deep to find some saving grace and justify the time I spent on this album (thankfully it plays a palatable 40-minutes) I can tip my hat to the breakdowns. Littering the album at eventually expected locations, the breakdowns provide some brief respite from generic-core riffs and painfully weak vocals.
The album opener, Guillotine, provided a false sense of security, as it featured some solid breakdowns around the generic riffing, giving me some hope for the album. Never a true connoisseur of Kataklysm’s brand of melodic tinged death metal, I had a strong understanding of their base sound from listening to them as background music so Guillotine gave me my first deeper view into what the band is capable, or actually incapable, of presenting. As that deeper view grew wider I found myself in a relatively empty and repetitive chasm that is Kataklysm’s existence. From Outsider the melodic parts are able to catch attention but, feel cut short, they miss that extra note or twist to take them over the top and this persists throughout the album; incomplete heavy, melodic riffs.
I enjoy covering an album track-by-track, delving into each song and what it brings to an album as an individual piece of a larger puzzle. With Meditations that is an exercise in futility (go listen to Mgła) and insanity, luckily I enjoy both…
The Last Breath I’ll Take Is Yours opens as though it were building to a climax, instead it never reaches its foreshadowed peak, erring to an airy metalcore feel throughout the body of the track. Making up for the airiness of the previous track, Narcissist packs a punch with riffs but is undercut by the truly lacking vocals. In a valiant attempt to bring my attention back to the album, for good reasons, Born to Kill and Destined to Die ends the first half of the album juggling nearly-there melodic riffs with the all too familiar generic death metal riffs, creating a confusing beast that was only furthered by In Limbic Resonance. Just as Guillotine opened the album on the right foot, In Limbic Resonance marks a distinct step to the second half of the album as the generic death metal is shed for pure melodic death metal. Further to that, the vocals add a layer with screeches alongside the pervasive weak growls and from under the mire of disappointment comes a blistering, epic solo and even as the solo ends it rides out on a great metalcore style exit but tosses all that aside as the track dives right back to the generic Kataklysm sound to close. The greatest criminal in the epic build to nothingness is …and then I Saw Blood. It has a slow and groovy build up, a nice and relaxed pace and then nothing, it just exists along a plane for its entirety. Solid riffs, let down by underwhelming vocals is what Bend the Arc, Cut the Cord can be known for. This track has a solid lead in that goes into a heading driving riff but, as the rest of the album so prepared us for, again the vocals let us down by not holding a punch. Taken together as the “bigger puzzle” Meditations is all so generic, the pieces are there but nothing ever gets put together properly or finished, the riffs have promise but never go anywhere.
Prior to joining Imperator to begrudgingly perform this review, I had, not so surprisingly, entirely missed whatever media campaign preceded the release of Meditations. May we blame Nuclear Blast for not getting this album to the people or do we blame the sites I follow to find releases for missing out on a chunk of Quebecois death metal? Probably a combination of both, yet, who can really blame them? Meditations is an example of Kataklysm’s sound and if that is your thing it will satiate your depraved needs, if not, this is not the album to develop those depraved need from. If you want good Kataklysm, just go listen to Ex Deo.
-Imperator & TheFaceofEddie