A band that never seems to disappoint their fans, in terms of releasing their blend of death metal music, are the Canadian juggernauts of KATAKLYSM. With a career spanning over almost three decades, thirteen studio albums, and a lot of live shows, the band is now ready to present their fourteenth studio album, “Unconquered.” The album is being released on 25 September 2020 through Nuclear Blast Records and we got a head start to make sure to write down our thoughts about it for you.
The album kicks off with lead single “The Killshot.” Before a death metal inferno burns you from the inside out, the song has a short introduction of a combination of snare drums and clean guitars. After that, the frenzy begins and it’s clear that KATAKLYSM is back with one of their most aggressive songs to date – a raw and merciless track without any frills whatsoever. Continuing with the fast-paced “Cut Me Down,” KATAKLYSM again shows no mercy, as the track feels like it’s on the heavier spectrum of their sound with an eye to a melancholic melody and groove, which is no big surprise; the song is mostly riff-driven and for this album, guitarist J-F Dagenais used a 7-string guitar, giving more depth to the riffs and seemingly making them sound heavier than ever.
The drop tuning becomes even more apparent in a song like “Underneath the Scars,” which is probably one of the grooviest tracks on the album. It immediately launches into incredibly bass-heavy riffs; at first the track seems mostly guitar-driven, but its melodicity becomes clear midway through. The track ends with an impressive piece of drumming consisting of double kicks, faster than lightning. “Focused to Destroy You” feels a bit different and somewhat more atmospheric due to the subtle keyboards present, which continue throughout the song, most notably giving a different mood to the guitar solo. The verses are incredibly furious and the chorus groovier and somewhat catchy; another excellent track.
“The Way Back Home” slows down the tempo significantly, giving the album a somewhat more intense mood, while at the same time ensuring a breather to the listener. The more melodic “Stitches” is one of the highlights of this album, being a more infectious track with a lot of hooks and vile lyrics; another track that will fuel moshpits in an excited audience. Hopefully fans will come out of it without any stitches. If you thought that the most aggressive songs on the album are already behind us at this point, you’ll be surprised to find out that KATAKLYSM are persistent throughout. “Defiant” is probably the fastest track on the album, with drums that are so fast that it almost sounds like one big beat – impressive to say the least. The track has an old-school feel to it, showing off that old KATAKLYSM trademark.
The penultimate track, “Icarus Falling,” is perhaps the biggest surprise on the album. The song starts with a somber piano intro and soon heavy riffs accompany the melancholic piece, making it heavier, but not less mellow. While still maintaining their own identity in the track, I can’t help but feel as if modern elements made the track refreshing. Altogether, it works quite nicely together with the final track, “When It’s Over,” a mid-paced finale that feels like the calm after a storm, a fitting choice with which to end the otherwise furious album.
With “Unconquered,” KATAKLYSM shows that they truly raise the banner high, living up to the title of their new studio effort. Their trademark mix of melodic death metal with groove and a lot of aggression is still a success after decades. Yet, there are plenty of elements in this album (for one, the use of the 7-string guitar) that make it fresh and heavier than ever. KATAKLYSM surely have not re-invented the wheel with “Unconquered,” but they do what their best at and prove it once again – another solid album that will not disappoint.
Written by Laureline Tilkin
- The Killshot
- Cut Me Down
- Underneath The Scars
- Focused To Destroy You
- The Way Back Home
- Icarus Falling
- When It’s Over
Maurizio Iacono | Vocals
JF Dagenais | Guitars
Stéphane Barbe | Bass
Oli Beaudoin | Drums
Nuclear Blast Records
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