Review: Kataklysm – Of Ghosts and Gods

A theatrical opening using samples from a classic film is honestly one of the coolest ways to open an album. Numerous bands have used this technique to capture the listener’s interest at the gate, but Kataklysm does it to perfection.

Kataklysm’s newest offering ‘Of Ghosts and Gods,’ due out July 31st through Nuclear Blast Records, is every bit as epic as the opening lines of the album. The album opener ‘Breaching the Asylum’ begins with the fore mentioned dialogue and a slow and heavy march into darkness. As the double bass kicks in you know you’re in for something heavy. Suddenly, the guitar drops and the drums dive into unbelievably fast and technical rhythm headed by the snarling vocals of Maurizio Iacono. ‘Breaching the Asylum’ destroys all expectations and sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

As if the first track wasn’t heavy enough, ‘Black Sheep’ unleashes an auditory assault that’s almost entirely hyperblast beats and crushingly heavy guitar riffs. ‘Marching Through Graveyards’ breaks the mold with a heavier reliance on atmospheric effects and melodic guitar, while maintaining the overall heaviness driving the album, delivering much needed versatility. ‘Thy Serpents Tongue’ returns to the bone crushing heaviness and hyperblast techniques, while maintaining the melodic guitars. Half an album in, two things are certain – the music is highly variable, but Iacono’s vocal delivery sticks the straight and narrow.

While his bandmates consistently push the envelope throughout the album, especially with bassist Stephane Barbe’s solo on ‘Hate Spirit,’ Maurizio Iacono’s vocals stick to its comfort zone of deep, throaty growls until the second to last song ‘Hate Spirit.’ It is on this track that Iacono introduces higher pitched growls that would have been welcome throughout the album, for although consistency is always favored, a little more variety would have been appreciated.

Upon listening through the album a handful of times, ‘Of Ghosts and Gods’ is without a doubt one of the best death metal albums of the year. Throaty vocals, challenging drum beats, and undeniably heavy guitars mixed with atmospheric melody made for a highly enjoyable album. The only drawback is the lack of versatility in the vocal delivery, but as Ahhnold of Austrian Death Machine said “You think the songs all sound the same? Of course they sound the same. Because they sound brutal!” 8/10


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