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Kataklysm at their best and most original - 90%

12disneyhater, May 9th, 2015

Ah, Kataklysm. In case you don't know who they are, here's a brief description: Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, there were four young men from Canada who each shared a passion for chaotic, brutal, unapologetic death metal. They decided to form a band and create some of the most original, hard-hitting, and energetic death metal on the scene. Thus, Kataklysm was born. After releasing their "Mystical Gate of Reincarnation" EP in 1993, they decided to give the scene just what it needed. Something that captured the genuine chaos and anger that death metal was always hyped up to be. With their classic breakthrough album "Sorcery", they succeeded, and created an absolutely chaotic, brutal, and well-written death metal album that remains one of their greatest even after almost 18 years.

Contrary to the knowledge of many of their younger fans, Kataklysm were led by a different singer for their first two albums. This man's name was Sylvain Houde, and even to this day it's nearly impossible to find a death metal vocalist who sounds like him. Which is part of why "Sorcery" and its successor are quite a bit different from the band's later material. Musically, the album is much more complex than later Kataklysm, as well as much rawer and faster. That being said, it does not sound like a completely different band; it's still unmistakably Kataklysm, just a more insane version of Kataklysm. However, if you're expecting it to sound just like the Kataklysm you hear on "Prevail" or "Shadows & Dust", prepare to be proven wrong.

Songs like "Mould in a Breed" and "Elder God" display a side of Kataklysm that is rarely, if ever, present on their post-Sylvain albums. A side that sacrifices all accessibility for a musical display of technical prowess and absolutely psychotic-sounding vocals to back it up. For those who wonder how Kataklysm's style got labeled as Northern Hyperblast, this album is the perfect proof. Max Duhamel does a fantastic job of combining precision and speed when behind the drum kit on this album. It's not the fastest he's ever played with the band, but it is certainly one of his best performances in the studio to date. Combine his drumming with the fantastic basslines of Maurizio Iacono and the evil riffage of Jean-Francois Dagenais, and instrumentally this album is death metal perfection. The album also manages to add some melody behind all the chaos, as evidenced on songs such as "Whirlwind of the Withered Blossoms" and the instrumental "World of Treason".

In regards to Sylvain's vocal style, let's just say that he sounds like a genuine maniac. Compared to Maurizio's vocals, his style is much less decipherable, deeper, more emotional, and the musical equivalent of a deranged man in a mental institution crying for help. And when it comes to death metal, that's a good thing. His vocals compliment Kataklysm's old style well, and he is simply an amazing vocalist who's work cannot be duplicated. You would have to hear the album yourself to believe it. Sadly, he left the band many years ago due to becoming sick with schizophrenia.

Though I absolutely adore everything that Kataklysm has made since day one, "Sorcery" is definitely one of the best albums they've ever created. It may take a few listens to get used to the vocal style and sheer complexity of it, particularly if you are used to their later style, but in my opinion, you have not fully absorbed Kataklysm until you have heard their work with Sylvain, especially this album. Anybody who calls themselves a Kataklysm fan needs to get this album.

The Time ... has come - 100%

kalervon, March 7th, 2013

This album stood the test of time. Back when I bought this awaited album ("Gate" had made a big impression on me and there was over year between both releases; just under a year for me), I was pleasantly surprised to hear such melodic but nevertheless brutal metal. Today, in retrospect, I can hardly find anything comparable.

The album opens with ambient noises evoking rusty blades in a deserted warehouse, but after "The Time ... has come" is pronounced, it's the Kataklsym hyperblast, faster than "The Orb" of the previous, mini, album. Max Duhamel's drumming, with the elaborate production Robinson and his studio had to offer (think Voïvod's "Nothingface"), is much more solid than his previously recorded performance on the 7" single. He also holds the songs better than the previous drummer did on "Gate". All songs have incredibly melodic-yet-brutal riffs superimposed to blasting drums and wall of brutal vocals that possess both depth and melody. It's not just about Sylvain Houde's vocals, but the unrelenting layered growling vocals that the band are spreading through their songs, creating demonic soundscapes. I suspect Maurizio had a hand in this as well, contributing higher pitched screams. And this is a constant of early Kataklysm, no matter who the producer was (Rémillard, Robinson, Dagenais). For that reason, even though some riffs are catchy, no one could ever say this band is selling out. Even those who diss Carcass or Napalm Death for turning commercial with "Necroticism" or "Harmony Corruption" (as much as I disagree) can't possibly make this statement with "Sorcery". Some songs have several sections and the concept of verse/chorus is almost completely absent or unrecognizable. I would call this progressive but there is no such thing as an idea of progress here. I believe this is in part due to Sylvain Houde's lack of musical training and his strong influence in shaping the songs to make all of his lyrics fit, no matter what. The said lyrics aren't genius but they manage to conjure images that are not too cheesy while using a vocabulary that sounds ominous enough for this type of metal.

It's hard to believe that the first album's trilogy, "The Rebirth Vortex of Creation" was actually written and recorded for a demo shortly before "Vision the Chaos" single. It was performed live before "Sorcery" even came out. That trilogy is probably what the band has ever done best. Most Kataklysm lyrics until then had been influenced by, if not plagiarized on, the book Necronomicon released in 1977 and soon published in paperback form by Avon Books (hencetoforth known as the Simon Necronomicon). The trilogy story, for whoever would be interested, is also influenced by a computer RPG game named Ultima, which began in 1981. The winged gargoyles appeared in Ultima VI "The False Prophet", 1990, and that's where the whole "gargoyle language" comes from. Houde attempts to fuse both universes; the gargoyles as the Ancient Ones (Simon Necronomicon/Lovecraft). All three songs of said trilogy have commercial value which is not overplayed. Sylvain and Maurizio show a good vocal chemistry especially in "Whirlwind of Withered Blossom".

Houde's voice couldn't sound more powerful during "Elder God", and what amazes is the range he possesses while singing in this inhuman mode. The line "Listen to my Magick/Hear the voices of fury" extends over 4 tones (e/C). He is singing, not just growling. Houde is actually very present on this album (on all early Kataklysm), which is quite unusual for a vocalist in a death metal band who does not play any instrument. He "announces" the title track, "Elder God", and "Once.. Upon Possession" begins a cappella.

The songs in the other trilogy ("The Ressurected Portal of Heaven") do not all stand alone as well as those of the first (who were also a demo); but they still work really well together. The first one begins with a very clever build up; the second one has some very good moments as well (there almost seems to be an accelerando, intentional or not, during the various "my images you have turned to the dead" repetitions (~1:00)). Again, these lyrics are taken from the Simon Necronomicon. The third song, "Dead Zygote" has probably less memorable moments than any other on this album.

Metallica's influence can be heard in the last song, "World of Treason", which reminds (though not as grandiose) of instrumentals such as "Orion" or "To Live is to Die" in its attempt. Several times on this album, Maurizio's bass in fact sounds like Cliff Burton's famous "(Anasthesia) Pulling Teeth" due to the fact that it is soloing alone as a guitar normally would.

Once in a while Kataklysm will drag you in a long sequence of alternating bass riffs, guitar riffs, drum segments and insane growling that will linger almost long enough to bore you, but then strike you again with catchy riffs, beats and vocal lines. "Sorcery" has a lot of contrasts and none of them are cheap breakdowns.

The Kataklysm I like to remember. - 98%

Tyrand_Ixadorian, March 1st, 2008

Nothing like the Kataklysm of today, which is bordering on mallcore and full of watered down riffs ripped from Shadows and Dust. Everything from Kataklysm after Temple of Knowledge is just uninspired boring and weak. The only album of the “new” Kataklysm that is worth a damn is Shadows and Dust. This album is very different from those albums, notice the line-up changes. While newer Kataklysm is weak death metal, this album hits you like a fucking train.

Lets start with the vocals. These vocals are fucking insane with a fucking wide range from black metal to sounding like a fucking dinosaur. Sylvain Houde was much better than this guy they got today. Some off the most insane death/grind vocals of the time. Great lyrics too, not just some overdone boring gore lyrics like many other bands do. Kataklysm uses mystical and abstract themed lyrics which I find much more interesting.

Now lets talk about the guitars. The guitar work on this album is very interesting. Its not just blindingly fast brutal riff after brutal riff but also mixes melodic riffs and lead work. Sometimes melodic riffs and leads take away from the bone crushing power but Kataklysm makes it work. I usually don’t care more melodic death metal but this album gets it right. There are also some badass base lines and leads on this album. Some of my favorite parts were the bass really shine is about half way through the track Feeling the Neverword and of course World of Treason.

Now we come to the drums. Kataklysm is called the northern hyperblast for a reason, and that reason is very easy to see on this album. This album has some really fucking fast blasts. Max Duhamel gives an amazing performance on this album. A great example of excellent death/grind drumming.

This album takes all these elements together and makes one hell of a brutal, insane and epic album. One of the best of its genre. Its sad to think that most people only get to see the new and inferior Kataklysm. Don’t dismiss Kataklysm just because of later releases, they made some masterpieces back in the day.

Melodic Death Metal For Real - 80%

optimuszgrime, February 29th, 2008

This is a prime example of melodic death metal. To me, this is what it should sound like, not like so many Gothenburg clones, and so many whiny, suicide driven weakling ‘metal heads’. Mixing in melodies with the metal of death, that is what it is supposed to be about, and not anything else. Other than great bands such as Kataklysm, Magus and Cenotaph, there is no melodic death metal, and I do not give a shit if you think otherwise. This album is pretty good, the recording quality, especially on the bonus tracks, is somewhat weak. The songs are epic and opus like, and all in all fit the lyrical content of Kataklysm, which is occult and the afterlife, and ways of getting I touch with it through such mediums as incantations, spells, sorcery, etc. they have a fixation with reincarnation, and also with sickly fast blast beats! Honestly, this is one of the first drummers to do hyper blasts, and it is generally overlooked. Why this is, I cannot say, but if you listen to the drumming on this recording, it is death/grind with thrashy elements! And to top it all off, his hand does not falter like the death metal artists of today so often does! He keeps them straight and fast as hell. So under the nice melodies there is quiet a bit of brutal pummeling going on as well, make no mistake about it. The melodies have to be heard, they are nice and melodic in the classical (Mozart) sense of the word, and at the same time the guitars have this way of just bringing their own taste to the riffs. There is quiet a bit of black metal thrown in riff wise, but the whole spiel is basically still death metal. I highly recommend it to all people who claim to like melodic death metal. I also highly recommend it to death/grind freaks, for the drums will not leave you disappointed, I can guarantee it.

The gloves are off.... - 100%

cultofkraken, February 13th, 2005

Okay here we have the first full length release of the legendary lineup of Kataklysm. And like the latest reviewer, once I read his/her review I had to pounce on this at once and exonerate this album. First off, the vocals on this album are some of the best ever recorded in death metal. I would equal Sylvain Houde to Lord Worm in terms of sheer vocal insanity and dexterity. Much better than Maurizio's later odd vocal styling which still does not sit that well with me. The other area in which Kataklysm excelled where they now do not is in the riffing department. The riffs on this album have melody while still technical and interesting, instead of the melo-death inspired riffs which permeate their later releases. Musically this album is much more technical and deep than the others, with better song structure (none of this simple riff/chorus/riffchorus pop rock style nonsense) and a lyricism which has to simply be read to be believed.. really out there. This album I hold in high regard as one of the Canadian Death Metal classics, and should be in everyones collection. Be sure to pick up the digipak rerelease with the bonus Mystical Gate Of Reincarnation EP.