Boy, I have not reviewed a Kataklysm album in years, not since the Digitalmetal.com days. But after rather enjoying 2018s Meditations, I thought I’d give Unconquered a go and see if the band’s 14th (yes 14th!) album grabbed my attention as their last effort did. And yes it has.

I’m squarely in the Kataklysm camp that believes the early Sylvain Houde stuff is untouchable and while the early Maurizio Iacono stuff (Epic, The Prophecy) was solid, they hit a few albums of more predictable, safe, groovy melodic death metal that seemed to be recycled for a while (Prevail, Heavens Serenity In Fire, Venom, Waiting for the End to Come, Of Ghosts and Gods), but they moved units and some folks enjoyed them.

But Meditations grabbed me a little differently and was the first album I really enjoyed as opposed to just shoulder shruggingly ‘meh’. They really locked into a big, confident, groove based melodic death metal sound that suits them. Maybe it was new drummer Olivier Beaudoin?

And so Unconquered (which does not start with a movie quote for the first time in forever) is hitting me about the same as Meditations. Its a big beefy, solid melodic death metal record (with a modern Hypocrisy influence that’s clear and clearer) with a huge JF Deganias production and lots of meaty, groovy hooks mingled in with the piecemeal blasts (i.e “The Killshot”, “Defiant”). It’s not groundbreaking or game-changing, but it’s immediately identifiable as Kataklysm’s current sound, and definitely one of the band’s stronger recent efforts.

From the blistering opener “The Killshot” (one of the band’s strongest songs in a while), In Flames/Hypocrisy esque hack n slash of “Cut Me Down”, thick ending groove of “Underneath The Scars”, stern stomp of “Focused to Destroy You”, another standout in “Defiant”,  and even moodier closing duo of  “Icarus Falling” (which at one point, I thought would descend into a The Project Hate techno electronic moment, but it’s just a tease) and “When It’s Over” ( tell me those could not be Hypocrisy slow song/ballad riffs) it’s all enjoyable, effective, modern, groovy death metal that you come to expect from these guys . The only track only the album that seems a bit weaker is “Stitches”, which could be a Slipknot song.

Vocalist Maurizio Iacono seems particularly combative on Unconquered, with song titles like “The Killshot” , “Cut Me Down”, “Defiant” and “Focused to Destroy You”, he’s out for the blood of someone or something, and with Unconquered he certainly has thrown down the gauntlet to whoever he is pissed at and released yet another solid effort.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 7th, 2020


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