REVIEW: KATAKLYSM – “Unconquered”
Formed nearly two decades ago and known for forging the concept of the Northern Hyperblast these heavyweights have earned their reputation and a worthy name when it comes to the genre of Melodic Death Metal. They’ve established themselves with some great albums one of which even earned them a Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, ‘Kataklysm’ is back with their 14th studio album – Unconquered.
The band comprises of the same line up they’ve had since 2013, with Maurizio Iacono spearheading the charge on vocals, along with guitarist Jean Francois-Dagenais, Stephane Barbe on bass, and Oli Beaudoin behind the kit. The album artwork follows a similar but more simplified style in comparison to Meditations picturing a two-headed heartless beast of sorts. Things are off to an absolute banger of a start with the already released “The Killshot” an aggressive track which discusses a plotted revenge in a rather open interpretation allowing your imagination to shape the story you want to attach and thus setting the pace, mood, and aura for the album itself. Tracks like “Cut me down” and “Focus to Destroy you” bring to light the general context set in this album around pain, setback, fighting back, and overcoming situations all done in a typically Kataklysm style. It is heavy, loaded with riffs, blast beats, and double bass drumming and Maurizio’s now-signature style of growling. The album does try things differently with tracks like “Stitches” and “Icarus Falling” my personal favorite song in the record, which brings in more melodic elements and even high-pitched growling the type you are familiar with in their earlier work. The Northern Hyperblast can prominently be heard in the likes of “Defiant” coupled to some great riff work from Dagenais and a massive growling bass backing it all up to give you a straight-up assault of aggressive, hard-hitting, and brutal death metal.
While this album has the heavy assault loaded through the tracks, I must say it also has great production going for it. I must say I like the mix of this album a little better than the last one, which was a bit too mid-heavy for my liking, this one on the other hand has enough meat in the middle but with a fuller tone which is quite satisfying to listen to. The record ends with “When It’s Over” which in comparison is among the slower-paced tracks in the record but serves as a fitting choice for closure.
Unconquered has some blazing music to offer, however if you’re looking for something radically different for it to offer you may not find it here as it does not break any new ground. After listening to it a couple of times one may find it not brutal enough to be Brutal and not melodic enough to be Melodic. I don’t know if it’s the pacing or the way things are written but oftentimes, I found it to be very in the middle, neither here nor there for sufficient time to satisfy anyone need. It also does lose a little steam in the middle and may generate a sense of monotony, but on the whole, it’s a good album and a very Kataklysm album, and if you’re a fan of their stuff, this may satisfy your appetite for a while. With the world currently in limp due to COVID, the band probably will have to wait before they can get to touring all guns blazing, but until a better time for the world of live concerts, this is a great record worthy of given a listen to.