Kataklysm
Prevail (2nd Review)

Last time I enjoyed a Kataklysm album through and through was Serenity in Fire, perhaps due to Martin Maurais’ ball-bustingly fast drum performance, so much so that it made me question whether the drumming was performed by a person or if the double kick pedals were cleverly disguised as a game of Whack-A-Mole, packaged with a recorder, and propped into a corner of a room filled with 8 year-olds armed with mallets and amphetamine drip systems lodged into the bases of their spines. That’s not to say that the rest of the band sucks: J-F Dagenais and Maurizio Iacono can rest assured that their performances were not bad by any stretch, but then we knew what to expect from those two. J-F was expected to write catchy, brutal riffs inspired by the chugging sounds of a meat grinder crushing up bone and marrow, and he had just that. Maurizio was expected to have a dark growl and a one-dimensional scream combined with the lyricism of a disgruntled high school student armed with a thesaurus for the word ‘destroy’ and an apparent hatred for all things Judeo-Chrisitan, and he had just that.Point is, surprises are what make bands more fun that what they might really be, which is probably why Martin’s performance is hailed above all else on Serenity. It would seem that Kataklysm might be in need of a good surprise right about now.

Prevail marks the 6th album since their style change around the time of Prophecy (Stigmata of the Immaculate), because who but those of the die-hard Kataklysm variety have anything preceding Epic: The Poetry of War? Perhaps first to be noted is the mix: Max Duhamel (y’know, the guy we get to blame for the ‘Northern Hyperblast’ sound) has been punched up exponentially since In the Arms of Devastation, which is cool, I guess. For me, it translates to a back-of-the-bus treatment for everyone else, especially J-F Dagenais and his riffs. But then, something’s gotta give, right? Even so, those riffs sound all-too-familiar, like a cut-and-paste whirlwind resulting in far too many songs being skippable (‘To the Throne of Sorrow,’ ‘Taking the World by Storm,’ et al). There are some good nuggets in there, most notably being the instrumental closer ‘The Last Effort,’ but man, the formula is losing its luster.

And yeah, Kataklysm’s a formulaic band. They, alongside bands like Amon Amarth and Bolt Thrower, have a niche in the death metal marketplace, but of late it’s gotten a little stale. It’s a regression for the band, like “baby’s first death metal album,” and maybe it’s our own fault. Perhap in wishing for a band to maintain a sound they’ve perfected, we’ve given them only so much territory to cover, and the result is a healthy amount of rehashing.

That being said, if you’re willing to dish out some money for four or five songs that absolutely stomp, have at it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
June 12th, 2008

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