Kataklysm – Goliath (Nuclear Blast)

Wednesday, 9th August 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

The Canadian hyperblast death veterans Kataklysm show no signs of slowing down in their creative output – Goliath being the 15th studio album in their career. Another new member enters the fold, as drummer James Payne took over for Olivier Beaudoin in 2020 – but the same intensity appears through these latest ten tracks of molten metal. When you’ve been delivering material since the early 90’s, it’s more about maintaining interest not only for the faithful, but also scratching the collective itch musically as players/performers, and that’s what you’ll hear in varying paces, tempos, grooves track by track.

The blasting mechanics plus explosive riff antics often seem balanced out by the controlled, down-tuned tones, occasional mid-tempo melodic guitar runs, and stronger groove sensibility to create catchier sections for listeners to grab ahold while waiting for the next speedy sequence. The steady crunch riff parade from Jean-Francois Dagenais moves from deadly, almost metalcore measures to blitzkrieg death mania – often within the same track as you experience for “Combustion”, while displaying some early Scandinavian melo-death touches to make “Heroes to Villains” a second half standout. James ups the BPM ante during “From the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead” – his snare/double kick main duties sure to cause him to lose pounds through live performances should this frantic cut make the grade as vocalist Mauricio Iacono uses his raspy roar to full effect. Dynamics continue to be a focal point for the band as they’ve gotten older – the tribal-like movements that open “The Redeemer” as well as steady mid-tempo musical action for the title cut fulfilling, yet sometimes the groove-laden material can be a bit formulaic or predictable, as “Gravestones & Coffins” seems more suited for younger, more modern appeal. The record ends on the moodier, melancholic “The Sacrifice for Truth” – an almost six-minute outing that includes a galloping musical hook mindset, cultural twists, plus brutal heaviness in the transitions as bassist Stéphane Barbe adds his potent abilities to the mix.

Kataklysm deserve credit for soldiering forward as they use all the collective tool box tricks in their wheelhouse to become a steady force for groove-oriented meets hyperblast death metal. Goliath may not necessarily win accolades for originality, but it should keep the interest and legacy of the group intact.

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