The Prophecy (Stigmata of the Immaculate)
Unbeknownst to even some fervent metalheads, Canada is home to a quietly enduring tradition of cerebral extremity, most prominently in Voivod and (less so) DBC, among others. After harnessing their aesthetic for the greater bulk of the ’90s, Kataklysm can now add themselves to these hallowed but under-appreciated ranks with their fourth and latest album, The Prophecy (Stigmata of the Immaculate).
Not quite the sci-fi shred of the aforementioned, Kataklysm nonetheless offer an equally brainy brand of metal that’s overtly grinding death metal, covertly kraut rock. Much of the latter assertion stems from the intricate interplay between guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais and the rhythm section of Max Duhamel (drums) and Stephane Barbe (bass), aggressive yet graceful blastbeats working more as tension-building/transitional elements than mere tempo, cascading and then crashing and thusly signaling a tweak or ten in Dagenais’s directives, Duhamel all the while slipping a Mickey of mildly disorienting syncopation into the brew or, at least, a fucked-up fill. The Prophecy isn’t all Duhamel’s show, though: Dagenais’s ultra-harmonic, stressful riffing often weaves a stultifying yet alluring hypnosis, sometimes even kicking into a melancholic melody ala In Flames, either case being a fitting backdrop for head-growler Maurizio Iacono’s more hardcore-oriented bark.
For as heady as The Prophecy gets, Kataklysm possess the oft-aspired-to elan of keeping things just accessible enough (i.e., slide rule not needed too often) without resorting to verse/chorus predictability, with the main emphasis being a thorough whiplashing of the mental and physical: the cerebral colliding head on — and well — with the visceral. Better still, the quartet’s seemingly alien terrain is imbued with a certain humanity entirely foreign to most death-metal bands. Hands down, one of the best records to arrive from our northern neighbors, and a gold standard for modern extreme-metal to lust after.
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