Having seen some thirty live bands over the last year, 2019 has been the best year for me since I got into metal. There were very few bands that I didn’t enjoy and I’d even say a decent number of them surprised me in a positive manner. Therefore, picking one to discuss was difficult, but amongst the ten-or-so candidates, there was one that stood out. Maybe it was because I saw them a month or so ago, or maybe it’s due to my history with the band, or maybe it is just because they were just that great.
Firstly, who and what is KATAKLYSM? Let’s face it, you all know who they are, but still – founded in 1991 and hailing from Montreal, they are one of the most well-known metal acts that hails from Canada. They started their career by playing classic death metal, which has shifted somewhat into a more melodeath sound with the newer albums. However, KATAKLYSM absolutely loves speed and brutality and leaves no room for gentler passages or clean vocals.
Secondly, my aforementioned backstory. My first experiences with metal come from when I was about 13, oblivious to the marvels of music, and an online friend was raving on about HAMMERFALL. As I listened to the classic hits of the Swedish power metal band I felt as if I’d discovered a new part of life. I’d fallen in love. However, being an impatient 13-year-old, this mainly consisted of listening to the same eight songs over and over again as well as about two from SONATA ARCTICA. Feeling bold, one day I clicked on a YouTube recommendation that looked intriguing – that song was KATAKLYSM‘s “Taking the World by Storm,” and uhh, that quickly ended my exploration of extreme metal as it was just about the most unlistenable thing my silly 13-year-old self could have imagined.
Fast forward to a month ago when I was at the Winter Days of Metal, the wintery version of the famous Slovenian Metaldays festival. It was the second day, which started with the local band MORYWA, followed by the British death metal trio DYSCARNATE, Italian symphonic death metal innovators FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, who were absolutely the other stand-out moment of the evening’s line up, and then finally the American deathcore band WHITECHAPEL. Having endured their set, the stage was ready for the Canadian quartet, the headliners of the evening. I’ve never actually listened to them, but I am aware that they’re supposed to be a great live band and therefore I was quite excited to see them play live, especially because I’ve already seen vocalist Maurizio Iacono‘s other band, EX DEO, and highly admire him as a frontman.
Their set started with the song “Soul Destroyer” off of their album “Of Ghosts and Gods” and it was a good indicator of what their performance would be like – energetic, furious and uncompromising; everything death metal should be live. As someone who enjoys vocals the most, death metal is possibly the only subgenre where I don’t mind not knowing the band and their songs beforehand. Their setlist was a good mixture of songs from all of their albums, as well as presenting their latest material in the form of the album “Meditations,” namely “Guillotine,” which was followed by the highlights of the show in “As I Slither” and “Narcissist” during which the crowd was truly going insane as we shook the safety fence while trying not to get murdered by the crowd surfers above our heads.
The thing I loved the most was the intensity of the drums. It is, I think, paramount that the live drums convey pure rage in death metal and KATAKLYSM absolutely nailed that and made sure drummer Olivier Beaudoin had basically no time to breathe. That’s a good basis for death metal – if your drummer has time to breathe it’s not fast enough. As the show continued and the pain in my neck intensified, KATAKLYSM continued their onslaught on the Slovenian Alps with “Prevail” and then slowly ended their set with “Push the Venom” and “Elevate.” thus leaving the crowd in a state of euphoria after their hour-long set. Anyone I spoke to afterward agreed it was an incredible show and a definite highlight of the festival as we slowly got ready for the final show of the night starting at midnight – the Norwegian black metallers of KAMPFAR. The full effects of the KATAKLYSM show, however, weren’t felt until the next day and the last day of the festival when I couldn’t move my neck, but what could be a better indicator of a brilliant show?
Article by Didrik Mešiček
- Soul Destroyer
- The Ambassador of Pain
- Thy Serpent’s Tongue
- The Black Sheep
- As I Slither
- The Last Breath I’ll Take Is Yours
- Marching Through Graveyards
- Crippled & Broken
- Let Them Burn
- In Shadow & Dust
- Push the Venom