Kataklysm - Sorcery ©1995 Nuclear Blast
1. Sorcery
2. Mould In A Breed
3. Whirlwind Of Withered Blossoms
4. Feeling The Neverworld
5. Elder God
6. Garden Of Dreams
7. Once...upon Possession
8. Dead Zygote
9. World Of Treason

Kataklysm is, at the very least, aptly named. Sorcery sounds like a collision of words: buildings crumbling, volcanoes erupting, oceans displacing, earth splitting beneath black-cloaked prophets spouting apocalyptic poetry in maddening cadence. To this end, the band has consistently espoused a fairly strange motif of gargoyle languages, sci-fi alien races and altered states of consciousness, talk of "Elders" and "Ancient Ones", suggesting it may or may not have been derived from Lovecraft's Necronomicon. I can't even begin to make analytic-allegoric sense out of "Dead Zygote". Is there sense to be made? 'Who cares', maybe? Nonetheless, they get points for an irrepressible sort of imaginative zeal.

The focal point of this band are the vocals, care of Sylvain Houde. He must be like a kid in a candystore at the mixing board. He displays an array of vocal affectations, which range from Brutal Truth-Kevin Sharp grind shreiks to a sub-audible gurgle evoking General Surgury, which sounds to me like a toilet flushing; or, given the battery of vocal channels, a entire wall of toilets flushing. It is striking and far-fetched, but rarely gimmicky or forced; it is, in fact, surprisingly natural sounding where studio touches don't seem overtly evident. Producer Glen Robinson keeps Houde's flamboyance close to the vest, and gives the band an adequate --if slightly drum-oriented-- mixing space. The songs are balanced by fairly standard triple-timed grindcore madness, dipping and swaying and jerking around a continuum that includes said grindcore, fairly technical American death metal and even At The Gates/early Dark Tranquillity type heroistic high-register guitar melodies. My favorite track, "Feeling the Netherworld", makes effective use of the latter, the best use of "solos" and also incorporates its influence in the most coherent manner (including a kickass bass solo), but also, like the rest of the album, has the unfortunate tendency to slip into a grind that sounds muddled and downright annoying. In fact, one of the better tracks is the final instrumental, "World of Treason", which demonstrates how effectively this bands operates at a sensible tempo.

In the final analysis, Kataklysm have added nothing to the genre with Sorcery. But who says they have to? This is competent, damn cool Ameri-death (don't send me e-mails telling me they're from Canada, I know already), and despite the fact I won't play it much, I think it has plently to offer for those who are gung-ho for this sort of thing. Aside from a few minor logistical qualms (during the fast, messy parts, it's almost as if the bass-drum takes precedence over every other gaddamn instrument), a fan of either death or grind oughn't be disappointed, and I recommend Sorcery to either, or both, or anyone in between.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 03/2000

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