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I'll be honest, I wasnt really expecting much out of Kataklysm's "Shadows and Dust." I had heard one or two tracks out of context of the album and, although I thought they were good songs, I was confident the album would simply be another compendum of over-used death metal riffs and clickity clack drumming. In fact, what I was surprised to hear was a strong album with a traditional metal influence and some of the best clickity clack telegraphic drumming I've exposed myself to. "Shadows and Dust" us a blending of metal past, present and future, hinting at an impending rift in the overgenrenation of metal and return to simpler days when a heavily distorted guitar and lyrics about the darker realities of life earned you the title of heavy metal and not some unecesary pinpoint categorization term in an attempt to sort music out to irrelevant levels.
The production on this album is nice, clear and not overproduced to the point of hospital like clinicality. The guitars are clear yet dispicably dirty. Leads are easy to hear and decipher. The bass is a bit indistinguishable; a sham - Stephane Barb put a lot of effort into the record, I'm sure. The drum production is nice and crisp however, the clicking bass drum sound simpy doesnt appeal to me. A bass drum is not supposed to sound like slapping a raw turkey with wooden spoons. Still, the bass drum sound is not so bad that the album becomes unlistenable. The vocal production is also strong on the part of the producer/ guitarist, Jean Francois Dageais. Though this helps, vocalist Maurizio Iacono still sounds somewhat underpar and underinspired.
The album touts some ground crushing material. Songs such as the title track, "In Shadows and Dust", "Bound In Chains" and "Illuminati" are powerful tracks worth a listen. The album contains little filler though songs "Chronicles of the Damned" and "Face the Face of War" don't live up to the strengths of songs such as the epic "Century" and popular "Where the Enemy Sleeps." "Illuminati" and closer "Year of Enlightenment" are strong tracks with some traditional metal flair apparent. The songs string together to create a diverse album with a strong unified coherency. "Bound In Chains" displays some Morbid Angel inspired riffs and the black metal-esque shrieks of Iacono add to the overall diversity. This shrieks tend to sound weak and forced however. They bubble in the throat as if Maurizio was gargling some water instead of peeling flesh like intended. Still, these vocals add some much appreciated vocal dynamics rarely heard in death metal.
"Shadows and Dust" comes off strong with some memorable songs and riffs, yet small details prevent perfect marks. A strong release none-the-less and an equally strong display of Dageai's production talent. Simple, strong song structures help the album breathe and allow for some awesome leads and harmonies also. A worthy release with some minor flaws, but flaws that can be put on the back burner while the rest of the album is enjoyed.
A good CD, I found it in the bargain bin for $4! Why the hell would someone get rid of this? Maybe they thought it was a Justin Timerlake side project.
Anyway, more speed than I am used to, certainly a black metal feel, but with brutal death metal slow parts. The vocals highlight this well too, the vocalist can mix cookie monster - low with gremlin - high with ease. The guitars overall are a little too 80's here and there for my liking, at times the solos are just plain obnoxious. And it seems that the same riff is being used for multiple songs. That being said, Shadows and Dust Candian (bacon) hyperblasts through a bunch of sweet songs, and does it all in about 40 minutes while still managing to sound epic.
Highlights include "Shadows and Dust," the relentless second track (whose name escapes me now), and "When the Enemy Sleeps." There are definitely some guitar parts borrowed from Morbid Angel here too, but hey, I don't want to diss on this, as my intro to Kataklysm I feel lucky to have purchased this for cheap. Very listenable.
Considering I was introduced to Kataklysm so late on in the day, with the Monsters Of Metal DVD set, and that the first album of theirs I got was this years 'Serenity In Fire', there wasn't that much that actually interested me about Kataklysm to begin with.
Labelled as "brutal technical death metal", there wasn't a whole load of anything I could find on 'Serenity In Fire' that struck me as particularly brutal or technical. Yeah sure the drummer can blastbeat like fucking crazy for god knows how long but that to me doesn't equal brutality.... that just equals arthritis at an earlier age.
If it hadn't have been for the fact that the first song of theirs that I'd been introduced to being 'In Shadows And Dust', to be honest I'd have probably passed over on checking out anymore of their material, in favour of more interesting bands.
I stuck to my curiousity though and finally managed to get hold of this album...... my god, the difference between the two couldn't be more profound, at least in my eyes.
Where the music on 'Serenity In Fire' was a little TOO slick and groovy (read: lame), 'Shadows And Dust' seems to maintain that combination of almost Dying Fetus-esque death-groove with the right amount of precision heaviness.
The title track is enough to sell Kataklysm to more people, hell it worked on me, but the standout track in my opinion is the one that follows it, namely 'Beyond Salvation'. Not only does it have a kickass beginning and catchy-ish vocal hook, but it's also definately heavy as well.
There also seems to be a lack of the distinctly OTT & cheesy lyrics that clog up a bit of the albums follow-up (ie, on 'Serenity In Fire's opener, the lyrics are along the lines of "Test me I'm the ambassador of pain, I crush all those who oppose" making Iacanao sound more like a WWE wrestler than DM vocalist).
Quite simply, whether or not this is Kataklysm's best album remains not just to be seen, but will eternally be debated by their fans. This new convert fan has a distinct feeling that 'Shadows And Dust' will have a distinct place in his 'favourite album list' for quite some time to come.
Avoid 'Serenity In Fire', buy 'Shadows And Dust' instead.
Kataklysm seem to be a nearly mainstream monster of Death Metal. There's really nothing to fantasize about that they've ever put out, but it's all, as said, considerably good.
As the album opens, we find an excerpt from the movie Gladiator, and as it is, is probably the single coolest line in the album. It takes about 20 seconds for it to go in, and then fade... and then the intro riff to the album.. and about five seconds later, we get a kickass accented vocal shout ("EAT SHADOWS AND DAAAAAST!"), and then some blasting.. and that's what happens.
Not that it's bad, as alot of the songs are structured diferently. For instance, Beyond Salvation is considerably faster, Illuminati is kind of melodic and more based on pure melodic riffs than speed, wheras Where The Enemy Sleeps is just completely.. slower. All the songs have speed changes somewhere, a few have solos, etc. Pretty much diverse.
Now I can live with one or two songs I don't like, and that's the deal here. Teh album is definatly worth owning, but don't expect something perfect or something that you will adore. Its good, but good =/= orgasm-worthy. It just means the album, with a couple flaws (namely a couple boring songs), is still nice to listen to, and there are definatly better bands and better albums, but there are even more worse ones.
So, why not?
“Shadows And Dust” is my first encounter with Kataklysm, and I am mighty impressed. Great, catchy death metal songs, with awesome deep and guttural “traditional” death vocals, and a higher pitched more “black metal-ish” style voice. The first track (“In Shadows And Dust”) is a killer, and gets right into your head, especially the blast speed dual vocal parts. Great stuff. In fact, the whole album is full of catchy songs. The first three songs stand out as some of the best on the album, although my personal favourite would have to be “Years Of Enlightenment / Decades In Darkness”, which manages to cover a wider range of speeds, and has a great chorus. Production wise, the guitar sound is awesome (very heavy), and the vocals come through at a perfect level that lets you hear the instruments as well as the singing. Personally, I would have liked to hear a louder snare drum, which gets drowned out a bit by the very loud bass drum. Overall, a great release.
I have heard alot a people talk about how this band just isn't the same anymore.........well if they are this good now, they must of really kicked ass before. i must admit that i am a new Kataklysm fan. i saw them open for the Haunted the other day ( the Haunted should have opened for them by the, cuz Kataklysm kicked there asses in well under half the amount of time) but any way on to the cd. i bought it at the concert and got it signed by stephane barbe and J-F Dagenais. i took it home that night ploped it in my cd player and was blown a was for 40 minutes of great music. Kataklysm is so diverse with great guitar and drums, and vocals that mix from growling to a black metal-ish screech that i thought made the Cd less monotonus. It starts of with a purely fantastic guitar riff before the bass and drums kick in. the the growl of "IN SHADOWS AND DUST" let u know that you are in for a treat. a few songs on this cd such as Bound in chains and Centuries get kinda slow and boring with slow breakdowns and super long running time. thus the subtraction of 12 points from the rating. all in all if you what a super diverse and terrific death metal album with a war like theme. then i guess Kataklysm's "Shadows and Dust" is the album for you.
BEST TRACKS : In shadows and dust, Face the face of war, and Beyond Salvation.
Canadian hyperblast masters Kataklysm return with an effort that has been touted to be their strongest to date. Ever since original singer Sylvain Houde left the band after their Temple of Knowledge album back in the late ‘90s, Kataklysm has been a different band. Their earlier efforts such as the aforementioned Temple… and Sorcery was described by critics as “the embodiment of chaos” with their hyperblast tempos and Houde’s similarly chaotic vocals which littered all over the band’s songs, at times sounding way out of place. Yet that was the charm of the old Kataklysm. When the singer bolted and bassist Maurizio Iacono assumed the vocal spot, the band veered into mundane hardcore territory with their first album sans Houde and was punished by fans and critics alike by reacting negatively to the ill-advised direction. Not to be deterred by the setback yet wise enough to be mindful of their mistake, Kataklysm started from scratch and went back to their death metal roots with their next two cds. Which brings us to their latest, Shadows and Dust. Comparing this latest album with their older material, one would probably think that it wasn’t the same band and that maybe entirely accurate. While three fourths of the band remain in the band from their early days, that would be the main factor in bridging the past and present Kataklysm. Musically, the band is making a much more comprehensible style of death metal than before. Song structures are simpler and catchier as the band latch on to an economy of riffs while the vocal parts are clearer as Maurizio has added a shrill black metal-ish rasp to his usual hardcore-ish death growls. The album revolves around the main theme of war and the cd booklet contains similarly war-tinged images to accompany the aural blitzkrieg. Kataklysm has made an album that’s catchy and heavy. It’s in heavy rotation in my player for many weeks now. If you’re tired of the monotonous beatings of the various Morbid Angel clones out there, let Kataklysm serve as your alternative. They deliver the goods with their brand of hyperblasting catchy death metal.
I suppose I should thank MTV2 for galvanizing my flagging interest in Kataklysm.... for whatever reason, Shadows and Dust did not click immediately. Maybe I was expecting some hyperblast mayhem, or less "tame" production values? Kataklysm are the missing link between savage old school death metal and that stuff you sing along with in your car. I hesitate to use the term "vocal melody", but lead gruntman Maurizio Iacono belts out some seriously infectious lines. In the era of gee-whiz technicality and blood drenched album sleeves its cool to hear a band focused on songcraft. And onward with the review...
After a sample and some chug-a-chugga riffage, "In Shadows and Dust" commences the mosh... like its predecessor Epic, the guitar tone here is totally top notch... crisp and pummeling. Kataklysm's riffs never fail to bludgeon in an old school Dismember fashion. In between verses are well placed blast beats and dense, melodic tremelo picking almost reminescent of Amon Amarth. "Illuminati" actually reminds me of something off Carcass' Heartwork... crucial riffs aplenty.
My friends reports of hardcore kids going apeshit during Kataklysm (on the Haunted tour) are validated by tastefully used breakdowns, enough to shatter the monotony of a standard death metal track (although deez Canucks are anything but standard death metal). "Beyond Salvation" is just an excellent song, worthy of several horns and rapid fire headbanging. "I am beyond salvation... I am beyond redemption... I am beyond the ones you heal... YOU KILL!"
The almost rock'n'roll edge that permeates Shadows and Dust is what sets Kataklysm apart from their peers. Melodic death that isn't totally lame? Imagine that!