Feb 092013

(After a bit of a break, TheMadIsraeli completes his reconsideration of the music of Kataklysm. To see what this is all about, check out his introduction to the series here. Previous installments can be found via this link.)

Alright! Now that we’re finally getting back to this, it’s time to wrap it up with the final two albums in Kataklysm’s present discography. Prevail and Heavens Venom are albums that, until this point, I never even listened to, but about which I always heard extremely mixed opinions.

Starting with Prevail, this was pretty much an attempt to recapture what Kataklysm had channeled on In the Arms of Devastation. I don’t blame them, because that album was definitely the best work of their modern era. Prevail is not as impenetrably unstoppable as In the Arms…, however it is still an extremely solid, excellent piece of work. I really love the opening song (title track) especially; it’s full of bulldozing groove and surging power.

The problem is, this album is obviously trying to cash in on the mark its predecessor left. The songwriting is as solid and MOST of the songs are as good, but this album suffers from a couple of draggers that really harm the consistency factor. That’s a flaw this album couldn’t afford, given that In the Arms… was a perfect record, insofar as their current sound is concerned. Songs like “Taking the World by Storm” just feel shamelessly phoned in. Contrasted with trailblazing numbers like “Chains Of Power”, they just feel a bit off as you listen.

Heavens Venom, on the other hand, is a bit different. After the opener “A Soulless God” begins with a REALLY HOKEY CHEESY UNNECESSARY HORRIBLE PARAPHRASE of Sylvester Stallone’s touching monologue in Rocky 6 (this part makes me scratch my head and feel dirty), the music makes a much thrashier direction more apparent.

Despite the attempt at a faster, more feral approach though, Heavens Venom just doesn’t have the oomph going for it. Ironically, the only time that this album shines is in the pure melodeath moments, such as the midsection of the aforementioned opening track. I’d almost go so far as to say it sounds like they’re trying too hard on this album, and unfortunately it shows.


Well, we’ve hit the end of the Kataklysm discography as it stands. Look out for my summary/conclusion piece soon; in the meantime I want to see suggestions for doing this kind of thing with other bands. Give me ideas.



  1. How do you not mention, “Blood In Heaven, ” which, IMO, is the best song they’ve done in the last 15 years? Other than that, I like these kind of reviews. You could try this with bands like Clutch or Mastadon….two bands that I’ve found to have a fan base cut directly down the middle. Either you think they’re the greatest thing ever, or you wish they would get hit by a bus and die. Just a thought.

  2. I love Heaven’s Venom. I didn’t pay it much attention when it came out, but listening to it now I wish I had.

  3. A couple bands I think would be good for this: Anata, Coroner, Neuraxis, Extol, Alchemist, Cephalic Carnage, Pestilence, Dying Fetus, Voivod, Monstrosity, Ephel Duath, Gorguts, Quo Vadis, etc All these bands have changed their styles multiple times and thus fit your criteria in addition to all having albums whose merits are debated fiercely. This goes for both the albums some people like best and the albums some people think suck most!

    • What the hell happened to Anata? Last I heard they were about to record a new album and that was 5 years ago.

      • I looked into it on anata’s message board and basically they say its the label…but then also earache said they have no clue of the bands status, and that’s from an anata fan who contacted them and that’s the response the guy gave.

  4. In terms of a band whose sound changed dramatically as they went along: Satyricon. Seriously every album has its own unique vibe, and when you compare the first three albums to Now Diabolical and Age of Nero its almost like a totally different band; if not for Satyr’s immediately recognizable rasp and the fact that Frost’s drumming is absurdly good you might not realize they were both Satyricon.

    They also stand out a lot from pretty much every other black metal band stylistically too. Dark Medieval Times, instead of the “viking” vibe that most black metal had, had appropriately a very “Medieval” vibe that was really cool; the Shadowthrone was more “Viking”but still distinct, and then Nemisis Divina changed it up again with a very epic apocalyptic feel. The first three albums even though they all had a distinct character you could definitely tell it was all the same band. The next couple albums were the transition period, and I don’t think they’re as good. Rebel Extravaganza is alright, Volcano got high praise from critics but I didn’t’ care for it much at all- what you can hear though is them starting to try out the elements that would coalesce into their new “Black’n’Roll” style on Now, Diabolical. Now Diabolical was a totally new beast, a huge leap from the middling transition albums. Purist black metal fans absolutely hated it because of the shiny modern production and the more conventional, almost pop-ish songwriting, but the groove is infectious with killer riffage throughout and it still definitely had a sinister black metal vibe. It was like Black Metal you could sing along to, very anthemic and catchy. Age of Nero had a similar style but a little rawer production and mixed some longer more traditional black metal songs with shorter catchy numbers like Black Crow on a Tombstone. Their most recent, self-titled release unfortunately just sucks. It came off as a half-assed attempt to return to their old traditional black metal style and the production was just really… weird. Like it wasn’t the good kind of “bad” production that we normally associate with black metal, it wasn’t harsh and raw, it was sort of glossy but muffled and unpleasant. The songs felt like there was no drive behind them at all, it felt lazy. The only song of that album that was good was “Phoenix” which wasn’t really a black metal song at all, with clean singing and a kind of relaxed but dark folky vibe and the kind of pop song structure that they’d used successfully before. Purist black metal fans loathed it of course, but it was really the only interesting song on the whole album and I wish they had explored more in that direction instead of the disappointment they ended up creating.

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