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Saturday, December 20, 2008

CD Review: Kataklysm - Prevail

Kataklysm - Prevail
2008 Nuclear Blast
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Now comes the part of the year where I trickle to the backlog of promos that were mistakenly missed and I excavate a few shining gems from the rubble. Why it took me so long to tackle Kataklysm's Prevail when I really dug Shadows & Dust and In the Arms of Devastation is my bust, but thank the mallrat kid with the shaggy hair wearing a Kataklysm shirt who looked at me like I was the social misfit for wearing a Hades t-shirt to jolt my memory I had this disc.

Now that Prevail has generated a few rightful spins to ease the tension of a dreadful week, let me just use that same kid to make a point. In the mid-to-late eighties, I was that kid, albeit you'd find Metal Church, Overkill or Megadeth on my chest. The swagger I carried around the mall I used to haunt was bounced not only upon regular Joes, preppies and princesses who looked at me like I was trash, but also against people a tad older than I who were wearing (even then) faded Van Halen and Priest shirts. The attitude was "Hey, this is my music, old man..."

Well, now the tables have turned and I have young kids calling me out in reviews and others staring at me like I'm eligible for geriatric care. I even had a bunch of hairball youth whoop and yell sarcastically at me this past summer when I was blasting Opeth from my truck. Goddamn, I remember when I was that disrespectful! Thus when I see a teenager vamping around the mall wearing Kataklysm on his chest instead of Slipknot (whom I also dig very much despite their popularity), I just want to rap knucks with the lad because of all the bands to parade with on your chest, fucking Kataklysm? Hails to you, metal brother...

Prevail is the sound for an angry generation and the hangers-on to a scene that belonged to them originally. Kataklysm are not pretty whatsoever, but what the Canadian metallers do is ram the barriers down with blunt-forced death crushes. Each album these guys churn out, you hear shades of Death and Possessed from yesteryear with some At the Gates and today's contemporary modes of metallic execution. Prevail moves with motivation, slowing down only to be articulate, if not to give their own members a momentary respite from the wicked fast velocity they challenge themselves with.

Prevail can rock through slower grooves such "Blood in Heaven" before the track propels a sonic bottlerocket towards the end. Still, the name of Kataklysm's game is fierce, mostly-unrelenting thrash on songs like "The Chains of Power," "Tear Down the Kingdom" and the headbanger's delight, "As Death Lingers."

Treading closer to black metal velocity for much of the multi-tempoed "The Vultures are Watching" as Kataklysm double-times the pace and Maurizio Iacano mingles Stygian wisps to his otherwise grumbly vocal chops, Kataklysm continues to exhibit versatility instead of cramming 40 minutes of predominantly one pounding rhythm. At six minutes, "The Vultures are Watching" is one of Prevail's most adventurous songs, even as it wraps with a funeral march and a wailing guitar solo from Jean-Francois Dagenais.

Just to throw their listeners one more curveball, Kataklsym finishes Prevail with an ankle-prodding trad metal (bearing just a mere hint of Manowar) instrumental "The Last Effort (Renaissance 2)" which trails into a whispery sequence of hushed note threads and a rousing guitar solo before vanishing into the proverbial ether from whence Prevail begins.

You can't argue with Kataklysm's dedication to the scene with 11 studio albums in 14 years. Though little discertains Prevail and In the Arms of Devastation from Kataklysm's earlier work such as Temple of Knowledge and Sorcery (save for much superior production these days), if you've been following these guys for most of the ride, all you want is right here in Prevail. It's a pissed-off death machine that knows when to lay off the thrusters in the name of artistry.

If I see that kid again, I'm stop him and thank him for being purely metal and then recommend him the new Bloodbath album The Fathomless Mastery.

Rating: ****


Metal Mark said...

I might look at you funny if you wore a Hades shirt because they were a rather average band at best.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Once again more enlightening edification from the rock elitist peanut gallery

Metal Mark said...

Thanks. I am looking at your avatar funny, but it's not having the same effect.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

that's why I'm the Batjerk :)