French Canadian Death Metal veterans KATAKLYSM are back with yet another album and it’s pretty good. Meditations marks the bands thirteenth full length record (out now via Nuclear Blast Records) and clocks in at just under forty minutes, which makes it their shortest offering in the last ten years, Having listened to it multiple times, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. It’s by no means a bad album but I feel as if the band didn’t put enough effort into the writing.However, there is obviously enough standout material to work with.
The album really starts off strong with “Guillotine”, a powerful combination of guitar riffs and blast beats. Clocking in at two minutes and fifty-six seconds, it still packs a powerful punch. They smoothly transition into “Outsider” keeping the fast pace going while adding some bass driven groove right before the pseudo chorus and eventually slowing down at the end. After a few more shorter tracks the band finally hits gold with “Born to Kill and Destined to Die”, the first to feature a few intense solos from guitarist and founding member, Jean-Francois Dagenais. The song ends with a powerful instrumental break heavily featuring guitars and drums before running through the chorus once more.
The group quickly transitions back into their “Northern Hyperblast” style that they are known for with “In Limbic Resonance”, a crushing track featuring more amazing guitar solos and blast beats. The song isn’t overly saturated with vocals which is a nice change, allowing the instrumentalists within the band to show off their skills. When vocalist Maurizio Iacono actually does sing on this track there is a great mix of the standard death growl with a black metal shriek adding some extra intensity to the track. But again, the band seems almost bipolar musically as they keep drastically changing tempos throughout the album and only keeping the same basic pace for two or three songs at a time.
By the time tracks seven and eight roll around the blast beats are gone, the solos have ceased and the songs feel forced. They end the album with their longest song, “Achilles Heel”, which sounds like the band trying to create a death metal power ballad that just doesn’t come out right. Overall the album is a solid piece of work but it leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps if they sat down and took more than three years to write and record their next one it will come out stronger. Because Meditations just left way too much out to be considered a truly great record instead of just good.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Guillotine”, “Outsider”, “Born to Kill and Destined to Die”, “In Limbic Resonance”
-BRIAN “TORCH” IDELL