Kataklysm - In The Arms of Devastation - 2006 - Nuclear Blast
1. Like Angels Weeping (The Dark) 2. Let Them Burn 3. Crippled And Broken 4. To Reign Again 5. It Turns To Rust 6. Open Scars 7. Temptation's Nest 8. In Words Of Desperation 9. The Road To Devastation
For fifteen years, Kataklysm have plied their so-called ‘Northern Hyperblast’ style of death metal, never letting more than two years pass between full-length’s since their debut album Sorcery back in 1995. Despite shuffling through numerous members over the years, their sound has weathered the trends and remained relatively consistent: an almost trademarked array of meaty, buzzing riffs, omnipresent bass kicks (hence the nickname) and a heavy emphasis on groove that leaves little room for soloing. Though not very well versed in their discography, I would still be surprised to learn if they ever had more than five guitar leads on a single album.
‘In The Arms of Devastation’ is Kataklysm’s eighth album, and likely their most high profile. The album features the reinstated Max Duhamel on the skins, which would perhaps indicate a return to classic form after the mixed success of ‘Shadows and Dust’ and ‘Serenity in Fire’. However, while ‘In The Arms of Devastation’ does indeed rumble along ‘the road to devastation’ in convincingly Kataklysmic fashion, it never arrives at its destination. The album boasts solid production, eye-catching and symbolically rich artwork, and even some high-profile cameos, but despite these handicaps and gimmies, Kataklysm still has yet to convert mer.
The album will likely appeal greatly, though, to those who already favor the band. It is a reliable and smoothly crafted effort with some spots that shine, such as the unexpected mellowness that opens ‘To Reign Again’, the excellent, slippery groove of ‘Open Scars’, and about half of the album’s focal point, ‘The Road to Devastation’. As mentioned previously, there are also guest artists on this album who contribute to the overall appeal and diversity of the album, but subtly. Morgan Lander of Kittie appears on ‘It Turns to Rust’ to provide backing vocals, which could give some fans pause, but fear not, she does not play a prominent role in the song, nor do any clean vocals appear. Additionally, guitarists from Into Eternity provide one of the album’s two solo sections for the album’s last track, though their involvement, too, is quite brief.
As previously stated, though, while these variations are pleasant and well meshed into the album’s folds, ‘In The Arms of Devastation’ still does not live up to its hype. Over their career, Kataklysm have had an unfortunate habit of half-writing their songs. They are, by nearly anyone’s standards, capable of writing excellent and memorable riffs, but for each good one there is another that lumbers lazily along an open E, relying on its inherent heaviness and tone to validate its presence. I had hoped that on this new album Kataklysm would not make this mistake as often as they previously have, but alas, it is not yet resolved. However, the half of the song that they do write is indeed getting better, which bodes well for future efforts. That, and the gurgling half-shrieks of vocalist Maurizio Iacono now have more body to them, which better compliments the rest of this gain-heavy troupe.
Kataklysm have long provided metal fans a mainstay group to fall back on in hard times—a responsible and steadfast name to blast and raise up the horns to. However, though ‘In The Arms of Devastation’ does tempt, it is not yet time for me to cast in my lot with them, and I shall await a more complete effort.
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