By Justin Allec
The blastbeat—the demonic drum beat at machine-gun tempos ubiquitous to death metal—was insufficient for Montreal’s Kataklysm. No, they needed something even more extreme to carry the weight of their death metal anthems. Hence, they developed the “northern hyperblast,” which takes the standard blastbeat and adds a syringe full of steroids, which produces an impenetrable, cacophonous backdrop for their songs. I can apply all the destructive adjectives I want to a band’s music but if they’re confident enough to do it themselves, well, that deserves some special attention.
That attention is warranted: on October 8 at Crocks, prepare to be blown away by one of Canada’s finest veteran metal bands. Kataklysm’s 12th album, Of Ghosts and Gods, won a Juno last year for Heavy Metal Album of the Year and is yet another excellent foray into the dark realms of metal. Since 1995’s debut Sorcery, the quartet have managed to distinguish themselves by combining uncompromising, jackhammering death metal with an increasing interest in melody. Early albums matched the oft-chaotic golden time of other 1990’s metal, which pushed thrash’s urgent, frantic template into unholy regions by dragging everything into the bowels of the earth.
Later albums, like the 2002 near-classic Shadows and Dust, began to balance the insanity with vocal hooks. It was a change that made Kataklysm’s metal more singular and accessible, if anything with this much growled aggression can be called so. While other Quebeçois contemporaries, such as Gorguts, began concentrating on complex compositions, Kataklysm followed a path of (mostly) quality, linear-structured melodic death metal more in common with bands from overseas, in particular the buzzsaw-happy Swedish scene. Songs are heavy, fulfilling the required blasting and bruising, but they’re also formatted, with distinct choruses, refrains, and guitar solos. The past few albums, including their recent winner, have also introduced a more stomping, percussive guitar tone, which matches up nicely to the hyperblast while invoking the American metalcore sound. You could cynically complain that the band has changed but realistically, they’ve maintained a level of anger and vitality few bands can match for two decades. Kataklysm may be getting older, but they are certainly not any less deadly.
Touring support comes by way of the Netherlands’ Carach Angren, a symphonic black metal outfit who flips the escapism of classic fantasy upside down for an unsettling experience. The combination of these two acts should keep any metal fan satiated as we head into a season well suited for darker music.