REVIEW: KATALEPSY – “Terra Mortuus Est”
Katalepsy is a death metal band from Moscow, Russia. Katalepsy is also a slam band. In addition, Katalepsy is a groove metal band. Not to mention that Katalepsy is a technical death metal band. At times, Katalepsy is also a hardcore band. All these statements are true, at the same time. Their newest full-length record Terra Mortuus Est is testament those statements can all be true at the same time while not substantially taking away from each other.
Katalepsy have shot to the top of the niche genre that is a slam and brutal death metal, by never resting on the tropes of the genres, and released the seminal “Autopsychosis” and continued with the stellar “Gravenous Hour”, bending genres at every turn. At eleven tracks clocking in approximately fifty minutes, Terra Mortuus Est is an extensive package, to say the least, and lives up to the previous records in terms of subgenre diversity.
While most of the run time sits comfortably in the modern death metal zone, there are arrangements and elements that flirt with other related genres. Tracks like “Night of Eden”, “Those Who Rot The Souls” lean heavily on groovier, more hardcore elements, with their chunky near-breakdown riffs, while “The God of Grave” and the intro to “Deep Down Madness” come dangerously close to being tech-death tracks. Gut punches like “No Rest No Peace” are definite pit starters. The track that came out of left-field was closer “Land of Million Crosses” where Katalepsy leaned heavily into creating atmosphere with layers of ambient keyboards and melodic phrases, providing a unique vision of what the future could hold for the band while forming a great bookend for what was already a genre smorgasbord. Various tracks even flirt with the djent stereotype owing to the extended range eight-string guitars but never rests too much on that trope before getting right back into the groove or modern death metal territory.
The guitar work by Katalepsy is what weaves the signature Katalepsy in and out of the various genres, with seamless ease. Drummer Bauglir is the backbone who takes the riffs and transports them between genres with expertly crafted tempo and density changes, from hardcore d-beats to death metal double bass and tech-death blast bleats coloring the sound in whichever brutal hue is required. The bass has always occupied a pronounced space in every Katalepsy record, and Terra Mortuus Est is no different. This is singular praise for a band that utilizes heavy low-end riffs and eight-string guitars.
Terra Mortuus Est is a diverse record, yet will ultimately fail to enthrall any one of its niche audiences. Coupled with the length of the record, and song lengths being nigh interchangeable, each individual track blends together since almost every track tries to blend genres, making that diversity a blessing and a curse. The vocals, though a staple of earlier groovier Katalepsy, seems oddly out of place when the musicianship veers into other subgenres. While Terra Mortuus Est is an extremely competent record, it may not stand the test of time as either “Gravenous Hour” or “Autopsychosis”.
Terra Mortuus Est further flexes Katalepsy’s variety, flexibility, as it hops from strength to strength. Although it does come close to the “jack of all trades, master of none” trope, it does a great job coming extremely close to being an extremely diverse extreme metal record.