Kataklysm - Serenity In Fire

posted by Greg, Monday May 24, 2004 @ 09:10:59 PM

Artist: Kataklysm (www.kataklysm.net)
Album: Serenity In Fire
Release Date: March 9, 2004
Label: Nuclear Blast

Rating: 6.5/10

Recommended Tracks: The Night They Returned, Blood On The Swans, Ten Seconds From The End

When you're a ten-year plus veteran of the death metal scene, chances are you fall into one of two categories: 1) - you get progressively more mellow over the years and turn into a very good hard rock, occasionally metal, band (see Amorphis, Anathema, Katatonia, etc.), or 2) - you get so good at your craft you can keep putting out the same album under different names year after year and your dedicated fan base will still eat them up (see Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, etc.) For those of you familiar with Kataklysm's last offering, 2002's Shadows and Dust, you not only know that Kataklysm falls into group 2, you will also know exactly what to expect from their new album Serenity In Fire.

That being said, if you are a Kataklysm fan you probably already own this album and are thrashing out to it right now, and if you aren't this is as good an album as any to get acquainted with the so-called "Canadian Hyperblast". Sounding a lot like fellow countrymen Cryptopsy (though not nearly as fast or technical), Kataklysm play heavy death metal with more emphasis on a punishing rhythm section over anything else. The lead guitar riffs are kept purposefully simple yet remain somewhat catchy, and the lyrics and vocals aren't anything spectacular, but the double-kicks and blast beats that permeate this album have to be heard to be believed. You'll have no problem figuring out how the band earned their nickname, as pretty much every song has some sort of brutal double bass-breakdown that will attempt to pound your ears into bloody submission. The track "Blood On The Swans" in particular, which opens up with what is basically the drummer beating the hell of his bass drum like it owes him money, is a perfect example of the type of sound you're gonna get from this band, much less this album - outrageously over the top drumming over a simple, driving riff structure and vocals.

A few negative points - a couple of songs sound like they were blatantly written to be anthemic singles for radio or video (the sing-songy, downright catchy choruses of "As I Slither" and the title track are especially guilty of this), and the album artwork is cheesy as hell (see above) with a snake crawling through a skull with fire in the background. Apparently Kataklsym raided the rejects of a Poison or a Motley Crue album cover circa 1987 for this one.

Let's put it this way though: you don't get to stay around for over a decade in the underground metal scene if you aren't good at what you do. Kataklysm enjoyed one of their most successful years ever in 2003 thanks to widespread exposure from MTV2 for the "In Shadows and Dust" video and a hectic touring schedule, and though this album is awfully repetitive at times, it is still an uncompromisingly heavy and brutal slice of death metal that will nevertheless get your head nodding and your horns up the air. In other words, it's what they do best, and they're sticking to it. There's nothing serene about this Serenity at all.

Ah hell, you probably already knew before you finished this review if you were gonna buy this album or not.

- Greg

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