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I don't see why this album gets suck poor reviews - 75%

Sinister Intents, January 14th, 2015

Back in late August 2010 was my first taste of the band Kataklysm with the album Heaven's Venom. I remember hearing the track Push the Venom and being floored by how heavy and crushing it was compared to the deathcore acts I was listening to at the time. I was in high school at the time and I had an intense passion for heavy and brutal music, and this passion only grew stronger once I heard that track on the television. By chance I found this album Hot Topic and I got extremely excited to hear the rest of the album and how it compared to the track they would play on that channel. Now this being my first time listening to an actual death metal album in full besides deathcore, I wasn't sure what to expect, I was expecting breakdowns and inhales. I got greeted with a completely different album that what I was used to and immediately fell in love and wanted to listen to more.

Having heard a lot more of Kataklysm since I first listened to this album, the first thing I can say is that they have kept almost exactly the same sound as when Maurizio became vocalist. They fall into the trap AC/DC has fallen into with all of the tracks utilizing the same kinds of scales and progressions and preceding releases. While this may seem detrimental to the band, it actually isn't, it just shows they've maintained a very consistent sound with the guitar work, the bass, and the vocals. From what I've noticed Kataklysm also seems to have a habit of changing drummers every album, and they seem to have a good drummer this time around. Though the drum work on this album is very different from previous albums. It's actually a lot better than previous albums with the drum work. The drumming on Heaven's Venom is a lot more technical than Prevail, and doesn't sound like the same three blast patterns and filler like on Serenity In Fire. Despite the fact that the drummer is better than the previous releases, there is still a dullness to the drum work which arises from the constant blast beating and uninspired filler like on the tracks A Soulless God and Suicide River.

The guitar work is pretty standard to the Kataklysm sound here, much like their previous three releases, but holds onto a lot more of a melodic sound than the previous releases, and shows that the band is becoming more melodic death oriented than what they were in the past. We still get a lot of groove and thrash orientation with crunchy, almost vacuum cleaner sounding power chord riffs, but Kataklysm yields a heavier thrash sound like on Hail the Renegade and As the Walls Collapse. This album also contains some of their best riffs ever, all through out the album we can here originality tinged with their classic sound. Every track contains some something that makes it completely unique with melodic riffs that will certainly get stuck in ones head. A great example of this is Hail the Renegade, A Soulless God, and As the Walls Collapse which also contain the bands best and most melodic solos. They don't sound derivative at all, they're extremely original, especially the bass solo on Hail the Renegade. There is also a lot of tremolo picked riffing on this album, which at times doesn't sound very inspired, and they're actually very simplistic riffs, but they tend to fall flat and just appear to be filler. Stephane Barbe plays some very strong bass riffs on this album, his work is very audible and keeps the sound heavy and consistent. The bass however isn't very technical, he follows what Degenais is doing in a less complex fashion. The highlight of his bass work is in fact the solo performed mid way through Hail the Renegade.

Maurizio's vocal work is exactly the same on this album as every album he has performed since he became the band's vocalist. He performs low growls most of the time with almost entirely the same tone through out. He's actually quite monotonous with his mid-low ranged growls, and this even holds true with his screams which actually sound significantly better than the previous few albums. Despite the vocals being a bit lacking in what they could have been, and not sounding very threatening, they're very intelligible. The lyrical work combined with the vocals is very well done, they maintain the same themes as previous works, but their originality and composition keeps them quite enjoyable throughout this album.

The whole album is rather solid and should be satisfactory to most listeners even with its noticeable flaws. Any fan of the more popular death metal acts like Hypocrisy, Deicide, Amon Amarth, and so on should find this rather enjoyable. If you're looking for something technical and new, you're not going to be elated with this album. When you listen to Heaven Venom you're really listening to a throwback album because it stays very consistent with previous works that this band has done. It may not be as crazy as the bands demos and first album, but it is certainly is one of their better albums to date and highlights a positive direction the band is going in.

Caught in an awkward middle-ground. - 60%

ConorFynes, August 22nd, 2012

Sometimes, a state of mild ambivalence says alot unto its own. Kataklysm are a band to have released some great death metal in the past, with most looking to their classic "Sorcery" as their crowning achievement. Since the nineties however, Kataklysm don't seem to have aged well. Although 2008's "Prevail" seems to have received some accolades from fans, I'm usually left wanting something more convincing out of death metal. "Heaven's Venom" is- in many ways- a demonstration of why I might feel this way about them. Despite the evident skill Kataklysm has earned over the years, the band's tenth album is stuck in an awkward place between heavy groove and melodic death metal. This failure to specialize leads "Heaven's Venom" to be neither terribly heavy or catchy, leaving a moderately enjoyable experience that only partially satisfies.

It may have been unfair to say at first, but I remember telling someone after my first listen that Kataklysm's latest felt like 'elevator death metal.' This was meant in no way to discredit the band's skill as an act, or even to say they're particularly tedious. Where Kataklysm comes up empty is that they lack the sort of ferocity that I look for in most varieties of death metal. Not including melodic death metal (where beauty arguably stands most tall), I expect the genre to grab me by the throat and toss me off a cliff, or whatever musical equivalent that may entail. "Heaven's Venom" may have the ingredients to do that, but it keeps restrained throughout.

Perhaps my overbearing criticism lies in the fact that I first approached it with the expectation of death metal. It's irritating modesty aside, Kataklysm have brought a decent set of songs to the table. "Determined (Vows of Vengeance)" is a great song rooted within the Swedish Gothenburg style- a memorable chorus and melodic lead demonstrates a greater stylistic focus. The album's highlight comes at the end; "Blind Saviour" is an incredible track that finally nails what the rest of the album had beaten around the bush. It may end a little abruptly, but the melodic hooks and tense riffing feels like "Heaven's Venom" finally works its blended formula to its advantage.

There is nothing wrong with blending stylistic doctrines together- that's often how distinctive sounds and band trademarks are formed. In the case of "Heaven's Venom" however, I'm left feeling that this was a potentially great melodeath record that couldn't figure out what it wanted until it was too late. In the end, it is the strong musicianship to carry the album through. The drumming of Max Dahamel fits the band's style perfectly, and Maurizio Iacono packs a good deal of emotion into his growling. Don't get me wrong; it is an enjoyable album, but I don't think "Heaven's Venom" will be recalled with the same respect as their early work when all is done.

Good, but can get repetitive. - 68%

Ducky610, May 18th, 2011

I have to admit that it took a few starts of 'Heaven's Venom' for me to be able to listen through the album from start to finish. That's not to say there are particularly bad songs on the album, the problem is that they tend to blend into one another and there is a distinct lack of lead guitar and solos to distract from recycled rhythms. That aside, this is a satisfyingly brutal, yet melodic release from the band, not dissimilar to previous Kataklysm albums since Maurizio Lacono took over vocal duties.

The album starts off with a customary movie quote then dives into one of the most aggressive tracks on the album, "A Soulless God". Jean-Francois' guitar work here is very sharp and he lays down some of his most memorable riffs on the album. Maurizio's vocals are a highlight for me throughout as he's very good at delivering some deep growls and mixing them with higher raspy vocals without delving into the unintelligible grumbling that is the downfall of some death metal vocalists. The next track, "Determined (vows of Vengence)", is where some of the repetition begins. The track itself is not too bad but it could perhaps be a tad shorter than it is (and it's only 4:48 long!!). This track, along with the next, just sound like they could be thrown anywhere into Kataklysm's back catalog and no-one would be any the wiser. The lead single from the album, "Push the Venom", is also one of the best tracks in the collection along with "Hail the Renegade", which breaks away with a touch of thrash metal-esk speed. "As Walls Collapse" has some of the more memorable lead guitar work on the album, lthough it threatens to fall into a mid-paced chug throughout. The next couple of tracks taken by themselves aren't bad songs and I am rather fond of "At the Edge of the World", however they fall once again to the trap of making the listener feel like they've heard it all before. The closing two songs, "Das Feuer Lebt (Anthem)" and "Blind Saviour", are very catchy and will no doubt get fists pumping when played in concert. I do recommend taking the time to give these ones a listen if you are a fan of the band.

In short, this is album isn't particularly ground breaking and isn't going to be the one to win you over if you are sitting on the fence about Kataklysm, however if you are a fan of the band or just want to hear some straight forward pounding death metal, then this album will satisfy your appetite .

What a load of shit. - 9%

RapeTheDead, August 31st, 2010

Really, Kataklysm? REALLY??? This is the BEST that the band that wrote “Sorcery” can do? Honestly, these guys have been riding on their reputation ever since “Shadows and Dust” came out and every single album after it has just been the same recycled crap that never really seems to be written with any kind of vision in mind besides satisfying their whining fans who want a new album or filling out a contractual obligation with Nuclear Blast. This is some of the most limp-dicked “death” metal I’ve heard in a very long time.

From the first few seconds of A Soulless God, this album’s main flaw is very evident: Where is the fucking FURY??? Where is the gritty, nasty feel? Where is that explosive sound that was heard on classic songs like “Dead Zygote” and “Frozen in Time” that just tears your fucking FACE off and leaves you lying in a pile of your own filth because you just shat all over yourself due to the sheer intensity??? It’s fucking GONE. What’s left is something that sounds like Kataklysm, no doubt about it, but it’s a hollow shell of what they once were. There are times where this is reminiscent of mid-period Kataklysm like Epic: The Poetry of War and Shadows and Dust, but it just sounds so sterile and unmotivated, and resorts to a lot of slower sections that sound more like fucking groove metal than anything. Seriously, I vote we change Kataklysm’s genre tag to “Death/Groove Metal” because with every new album they’re starting to sound more similar to Six Feet Under (which, as we all know, is a terrible band to be compared to). I mean, cmon guys, if you’re going to call your style of music “Northern Hyperblast” at least try to fucking BLAST a little more, willya? Even when we do hear some of the trademark Kataklysm blasting that we all know and love, it’s really watered down and triggered as hell. Goddammit, Max Duhamel’s drumming was the driving force that fueled their past albums, it was always the backbone of the band, the one thing that kept their mediocre albums listenable and enjoyable, and you decide to castrate IT too? God fucking dammit.

The riffing on this album is just laughable. Although it’s not completely repetitive (they do flirt with more melodic and pseudo-black metal style riffing (Numb and Intoxicated kinda sounds like modern BM) on a few occasions), they’re some of the most boring, unspectacular riffs ever seen this side of slam death metal. None of them are going to get stuck in your head (barring perhaps the single “Push the Venom”, although that only gets stuck in your head the same way an alien parasite would get stuck in your head), and none of them even try to ATTACK you like they used to, the guitarists just seem to be content with playing middle of the road, wishy-washy riffs that have no real intention behind them. Now, Kataklysm’s never exactly been the pinnacle of creative or interesting death metal, but this release is the one where their shitty riff construction finally catches up to them and becomes the elephant in the room. On most of their 21st-century releases, they managed to barely stay above the line of mockery with what little charm they had (even In the Arms of Devastation and Prevail had their moments) but at this point, the magic is gone. The thin veil that masked the fact that Kataklysm haven’t really been good for a long while is gone, and their true colors are showing.

Is shit like this really even necessary? With listen after listen this album does not reveal any reason why it should exist. This isn’t going to be anybody’s favourite album, the band isn’t claiming that this is their “heaviest record yet” (and if they are, they’re bullshitting themselves no matter how you look at it), and this is the musical definition of “rehashed”. This isn’t extreme, this isn’t memorable. This isn’t even CONSISTENT, as they try to fuck around with different types of melodies and different speeds, which only results in even larger shitburgers. For example, the closing track, Blind Saviour. I think they were going for a more “crushing” feel by slowing the track down, but do you know what happens when you take boring riffs and play them at half speed? THEY GET EVEN MORE FUCKING BORING. It’s like these guys are trying to fail in every imaginable way.

This is completely and utterly worthless, and something tells me Kataklysm is well aware of this. It seems they’re perfectly content with throwing together whatever comes to mind without any conviction or emotion behind it. They have embraced mediocrity, and I for one will not stand for this. This isn’t the absolute worst piece of music ever written, no, but who buys a whole album for a half-decent riff every now and then? I sure as hell know I don’t. I demand more out of my music than that, and you definitely should too. A big middle finger to Maurizio Iacono and company for thinking that this half-assed bullshit will pass for decent death metal.

Their most consistent release in years. - 60%

Roswell47, August 25th, 2010

For me, Kataklysm's output has been pretty hit and miss in recent years. I am usually as likely to enjoy any given Kataklysm track as I am to be completely underwhelmed by it. Like later AC/DC, Kataklysm keeps releasing albums that contain a couple of good tracks destined to become concert staples, while the rest of the songs on the albums are soon forgotten by all but the group's most devoted fans. With Heaven's Venom, Kataklysm succeeds in breaking its streak of spotty albums. That's not to say that Heaven's Venom is a work of genius, but it's certainly an improvement over their recent output and quite possibly Kataklysm's most enjoyable and consistent release since 2002's Shadows and Dust.

The first half of Heaven's Venom is more or less standard Kataklysm. The first few songs sound like some of the better material on the most recent albums. There's plenty of grooving and catchy riffs like those found in "Determined (Vows of Vengeance)." There are also catchy choruses aplenty such as the unforgettable chorus of "Faith Made of Shrapnel." The band's (or maybe the label's) choice for the album's first single and video, "Push the Venom," is a decent track, but it is definitely the weakest on the album. Although this track is not terrible, it sounds the most like Kataklysm's weaker songs of late. Releasing this track as a single is definitely not putting the album's best foot forward and may give the impression to the curious listener that this album is just more of the same.

Despite a decent first half of the album, the second half of Heaven's Venom improves with a little more experimentation and more variety. Well, it's more experimental for Kataklysm anyway. Heaven's Venom takes a turn for the better beginning with album highlight, "Hail the Renegade." Cool blackened riffs, interesting rhythm patterns, spastic snare rolls, and a melodic bass solo all make this song a standout. With this track, Kataklysm actually makes a strong effort to keep things interesting, and it works. More variety helps other songs stay interesting and memorable too. For example, "As the Walls Collapse" uses harmony riffs and stuttering rhythms and grooves to its advantage, while "Numb and Intoxicated" utilizes an odd riff and a grooving pinch harmonic-laden chorus to stick in your head. "Suicide River" is proof that despite what Six Feet Under has taught us, "simple" can work very well when all of the elements are arranged properly. "Suicide River" and "Blind Saviour," two of the album's strongest songs, both use blackened melodic elements akin to Hypocrisy to close the album strongly. The use of melody is definitely a key strong point throughout the entire album, especially in the last half. Only "At the Edge of the World" causes a glitch in the progress of the last part of the album. It uses stock Swedish riffs (which I swear they must be selling in ten packs at Ikea these days) and a super-jock breakdown at the end of the song. (I can see the no-necks going apeshit in the pit already.) Despite these complaints, the song is still surprisingly strong.

While Heaven's Venom is exceptionally consistent, it rarely goes beyond just being a good release. There are really no amazing, jaw-dropping parts. But then again, that's not what we have come to expect from Kataklysm. For most metal heads, Heaven's Venom won't be an essential purchase. Actually, despite the fact that Kataklysm has improved immensely on Heaven's Venom, some people may still find this album to be just plain average and maybe even boring. However, if you have enjoyed any of Kataklysm's recent releases at all, chances are you will be pleased with Heaven's Venom. Heaven's Venom is destined to be a fan favorite, and surely more than just a couple of these songs will be in Kataklysm's live set for years to come.

Originally written for