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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.