Heaven's Venom

Have long-running Canadian death metal assault unit Kataklysm broken the mold with new album Heaven’s Venom?  Their own mold, that is, the one they’ve been on the verge of crumbling throughout the course of the past few albums?  Gone are the chaotic days of the northern hyperblast, shooed away in favor of hategroove and seething melody.  The pulsing anger that Kataklysm once unleashed with fury is gradually being harnessed and controlled, indicating a serious maturation in sound.  However, they’re not pushing any boundaries but their own.

Honestly, the biggest gripe that Kataklysm followers could come up with for Heaven’s Venom (and probably its predecessors, 2008’s Prevail and 2006’s In the Arms of Devastation) would be the gradually slowing tempo of the material, and maybe also the larger injection of melody.  As mentioned before, this is no longer the super-blasting madness of the band’s early years.  They’re touring with Ozzfest these days, for goat’s sake.  So, any fan out of touch with Kataklysm for the past several years may be less than pleased with the new album, but those who have been following since Shadows and Dust have come to hear a steadily growing melodic beast coming to life, and if they’re anything, they’re consisten.

The usual movie sample/quote opens Heaven’s Venom, this time apparently from Rocky Balboa.  If you’re like me, you get tired of hearing these samples introduce Kataklysm songs.  Regardless, post-quote, “A Soulless God” is mean, scathing and destroys exactly how you would expect modern Kataklysm to destroy: with killer riffs, precise machine-like drum blasts, and Maurizio Iacono’s ripping growls.  Most of the album follows suit.  “Determined (Vows of Vengeance)” carries the duality of being both groove-laden and blast-filled.  “Faith Made of Shrapnel” features more blasting and another sample.  “Push the Venom” sounds…like Kataklysm, but a bit more on the dull side.  I could continue in this fashion, and go through trying to pick out the pieces of note from each track (of which there are a decent amount, rest assured), but that would leave the impression that I’m more impressed with Heaven’s Venom than I really am.  It is definitely signature Kataklysm, but it’s not groundbreaking, and not overly memorable.

Truthfully, Heaven’s Venom is a solid Kataklysm album, one that’s sure to fulfill followers’ expectations, but it isn’t much more than that.  To be fair, there are standout tracks, like “As the Wall Collapses,” “At the Edge of the World” and “Suicide River” (all at the back end of the album).  It’s obvious that Kataklysm have honed their skill throughout the years and albums, and have created a virulent, venomous, yet streamlined sound, which is quite the accomplishment.  Hell, any band that’s been around as long as Kataklysm and is still creating brutal, listenable music deserves a gold fucking star.  So, on that note, if you’re in the market for a little solid northern brutality dashed with sick melody, give Heaven’s Venom a shot.  It’s worth your money.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
September 30th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Andy Synn

    I thought this album had a bit more in terms of new nuances than you have given it credit for, but otherwise really like the review!

    Although i’m not tired of the quotes at the beginning of the albums, I just wish they’d choose some cleverer ones, and keep them short (this one is waaaaaayyyy too long).

    After all, “pain has a face…”

  2. Commented by: Staylow

    I like this one more than Prevail, and think it’s also a bit more aggressive than that one. Actually, this might be one of my favorite Kataklysm albums. I don’t care much for the Houde era stuff, and the next few albums that followed are good, but not great. I honestly think they’re hitting their stride now.

  3. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    This is the best one since Shadows and Dust

  4. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Here’s a Simpsons quote that I think applies to this band:

    “Hey, I think I hear a fog horn…

  5. Commented by: mccumberv

    2000’s The Prophecy(Stigmata of the Immaculate) and 2001’s “Epic: The Poetry of War” were my favorite two Kataklysm albums and it seems to me each album after that they have gotten progressively worse, offering nothing new, just stickiing to the formula, I dont know why I keep buying them. There are other bands out there that can get away with this formula (Bolt Thrower is a good example) but those other bands have massive riffs and great songwriting. Kataklysm just keep putting out the same record with the same lame artwork. haha, but yeah, I’ll probably continue to buy their albums, because I am OCD and a completist.

  6. Commented by: JH DOOM

    This band stopped being good a loooooooooong time ago. Now it’s just painful.

  7. Commented by: stiffy

    I like this album. They are just a good melodic death band now. I miss the blasts. Last really good album I thought was Serenity in Fire. Still, just can’t go wrong with Kataklysm.

  8. Commented by: stiffy

    Good last paragraph, Jodi. That sums it up.

  9. Commented by: gabahoul

    cool I’ll check this out now, last thing I head was Shadows and Dust. good review J!

  10. Commented by: ShaolinLambKiller

    I listened to this band since Sorcery and I’ve enjoyed everything up till In the Arms of Devastation. It was vastly different from even shadows and dust. it was just -core sounding garbage to me. I haven’t and won’t be giving them another chance. I can go back and listen to all the other albums I enjoyed and forget they are even an active band anymore.

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