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Insane Death Metal - 100%

Milos, August 19th, 2008

It is shame that there are only a few death metal bands that really deserve to be labelled as "death metal". All these technical and fancy stuff which is today called death metal has nothing to do with death metal in my opinion. Even Kataklysm became completely boring after Sylvain Houde left the band. Their next album "Victims Of This Fallen World" is surely one of the bigest disappontments ever.

To focus on this album, I completely understand why Temple Of Knowledge is so underrated. It is surely not because of its quality, but because it's so insane that all this children who don't understand what is death metal all about can not get into it. It is of course a good thing. In the beginning these songs sound chaotic and completely unorganized, but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it and after a while I realised that this is maybe even the best death metal album of all times. At least it is surely amongst my top 5.

Sylvain Houde is total madman. His vocals are so possessed and evil. He really put his heart into this songs. Even until today there is not a single vocalist in death metal that sounds mad and insane like him. It is too bad this was the last album he ever recorded. Everything else here is also great. Never again they had riffs interesting as this. They sounds very brutal, but also very dark and atmospheric which is lacking on the most death metal albums. Every song stands for itself. On their later albums all songs sound similar to each other. I liked The Prophecy and Epic, but after a while I realize that they are in fact very boring. The only thing which could be better (but it don't rush the quality of the album at all) is production. It's not bad, but guitars sound a little weak.

I definitely realized how this album is great when I wanted to hear the best songs from their first three releases. I choose one song from The Mystical Gate Of Reincarnation, three from Sorcery and when I tried to pick a few songs from Temple Of Knowledge I didn't know which one to choose and at the end I played four songs from their previous releases and the whole Temple Of Knowledge album. Masterpiece.

Melodic Occult Metal of Death - 80%

optimuszgrime, February 29th, 2008

In my opinion this album is better than ‘Sorcery’. Why? The recording is nicer and brings out more, the drums are crazier and the melodies are more twisted. Quiet frankly it is a step up from the aforementioned. But it is more or less in the same vein, and I hardly see the difference between the two. This however is a bit longer and a lot more enjoyable to my ears. It is still nice and melodic, and continues with a stronger performance where ‘Sorcery’ left off. The vocals seem to be a point of great malcontent. I like them. I like the crazy shit he does which just sounds like mumbling at times, and I like his harsh, pitch less yelling as well. I think they fit in perfectly with the music, and since it is so random and off beat, it almost sounds like random fits of prophesy being spewed forth. Over all this is a very strange album, very un-traditional. I can link it only with the Mexican band Cenotaph, and not a whole lot else, and even that is only a link because of the melodic nature of the music. The first half of the album is very strong, but the second half falls behind a little bit, but is still really good. All in all this is what I believe melodic death metal is, and nothing more.

In Dirty Wrapping a Hidden Gem - 96%

unanimated, January 30th, 2008

Kataklysm is a band that has had two eras. One with Sylvain Houde, when it was possibly the best in the genre, and one without him, when it's been somewhere around 'average'. For some reason with his departure it wasn't just vocals and lyrics that changed, but virtually everything. The first era, that ended with this album, brought a unique storm of utter brutality with excellent glimpses of melodic yet heavy riffs.

Temple of Knowledge has a hostile and alien feeling when you hear it for the first time. It sounds much less accessible than its predecessor Sorcery. But if you give it some time, you discover that all the things that were great about Sorcery are still here, only wrapped in a colder and harsher package.
What you get here is fast, technical death metal with grindcore-like killing simplicity on one end and black metal-like melodics on the other.

Although all instruments add a lot to the final picture, guitars are still the base here. I think what made Kataklysm so unique back in the days, apart from the vocals, was that Jean-Francois somehow covered a wide range of approaches and styles of playing guitar. And it was not only the playing but also songwriting that made the guitars stand out among the other bands. You get riffs that make you jump to the rhythm, riffs that roll at furious speed and crush anything that's in the way, slow riffs that are backed up by ultra fast drums, melodic, even emotional riffs [for this genre], and everything keeps changing all the time, sometimes faster than you can keep up. The album contains a high amount of variability, but doesn't end up feeling too complicated or disharmonic. The result is simply unforgettable.

As for vocals, Sylvain Houde has no competition in the metal world. He is not of this Earth and not of this Time. And that's good. He serves raw madness in a way that may look like it makes no sense at first, but in the end this mercilesss brutality with its seeming illogic brings an extra dimension into the music. Just like the guitars, the voice never stays the same for long and keeps morphing into various bestial [de]form[itie]s. If you think about an unleashed pack of hungry wolves, Sylvain's vocals would probably stop them and send them back in fear.
Another, and perhaps more amazing of Sylvain's weapons, are the lyrics. If you take the time to read through them, you will find yet another dimension of this album. It will take you even further from this Earth and Time. If you ever get sick of humanity and today's world, play this album and read the lyrics.

Drums are ultra fast, as expected, but retain some sort of originality and Nick Miller has his own style. Just by hearing a few seconds of only the drums i know i'm listening to Kataklysm. Moreover, they work really well with the guitars. That's another strong point of this album, the whole is not only the sum of all elements. Even though each instrument is great on its own here, the final composition is something much more than that.
The bass is probably the only thing that doesn't do anything weird or out of place. It just sounds good and sort of glues everything together.

I've been listening to this album for more than 10 years, and today i think the same as 10 years ago. This is one of the best death metal albums ever [same goes for Sorcery]. There were albums that i really liked at some point but barely ever listen to anymore, but this is one of those heavily tested by time and proven worthy. It has its own sound and style and if i try to think of some wekaness of it, i can't come up with anything. Perhaps the only thing worth meantioning would be that it may sound weird at first and it takes some time getting into it, but it's well worth it. Despite its rawness and some sense of insanity it sounds more pleasant and harmonic than most brutal death metal albums if you really get into it.

After maybe hundreds of listenings i can safely claim that Temple of Knowledge is simply a masterpiece. The last one of Kataklysm.

Extremely weak - 10%

Pestbesmittad, December 24th, 2006

What the hell happened to Kataklysm? After the great debut, which I enjoyed very much, they released “The Temple of Knowledge”, which is a total disaster. What is wrong here then? Well, everything really. All the ingredients that made “Sorcery” such a standout compared to other death/grind releases are present here as well, yes, but this time they manage to do nothing else than annoy the hell out of me.

The music is chaotic, disjointed and unstructured in the most negative way imaginable. On “Sorcery” the general chaos, madness and untypical arrangements helped to make to songs interesting. On “The Temple of Knowledge” you don’t even want to know what’s coming next, as it’s all crap. You just want to run out of this temple of knowledge and seal its doors with the most powerful magic ever seen, so that no one else will enter it in order to seek knowledge. When you listen to these songs, there’s absolutely nothing that sticks to your ear. It’s just a boring and confusing whirlwind of going-nowhere-fast riffs, laughable technical drumming that sounds almost improvised and arrangements that make no sense whatsoever. There isn’t one single memorable track here and that really says everything about the music. Northern hyperblast turned into Northern hypercrap.

However, the biggest criminal of this album is vocalist Sylvain Houde. He’s way more over the top than on “Sorcery” and it’s too bad no one kept him in check because on this album he’s all over the place growling, screaming, belching and vomiting. Often it sounds like poor Sylvain has diarrhoea coming out of his mouth instead of lyrics. Quite frankly, the vocals sound like shit (pun intended). The fact that there are often more vocal tracks than one at the same time just adds insult to injury. This trick was used on “Sorcery” as well but there it didn’t sound like shit and unlike here there were also a lot less simultaneous multiple vocal tracks. On “The Temple of Knowledge”, the simultaneous multiple vocal tracks are overdone to such a degree that the album becomes unlistenable. The vocals haven’t even been arranged in a proper way, instead Sylvain just screams and growls at random whenever he pleases (which is a lot unfortunately) and this makes the whole thing sound extremely childish and retarded. If the vocal arrangements have been left to Sylvain alone, he has not understood that with freedom comes responsibility. You’re supposed to arrange the vocals so that they fit the song, not just scream and growl randomly over the music like an idiot. “The Unholy Signature”, “Beckoning the Xul” and “Enhanced by the Lore” are prime examples of these shitty multiple vocals, listen for yourself and become amazed at how ridiculous they actually sound. It’s no wonder at all that this was Sylvain’s last album with Kataklysm. I bet that when the other members heard the kind of vocals he had delivered, they kicked him out immediately.

Both the sound and the mixing on this album are inferior to “Sorcery”. The sound lacks clarity and many times it’s impossible to understand the riffs, since the guitars are too low in the mix and the drums and the vocals dominate the sound. To sum it all up: awful music, awful vocals, awful production and awful mixing. I suppose this album will cater to people who are satisfied as long as the music is “fucking brutal”, without caring about whether there’s any substance at all in the music or not. You know the saying “it takes a while for it to grow on you”? Well, “The Temple of Knowledge” grew right off me! This album stands as a monument to how death/grind sounds at its worst.

By Far, Kataklysm's Best Release - 100%

Cunt_Crushing_Death, December 17th, 2004

Undeniably so, this band can attribute its popularity now to what it did in the past. BEFORE Sylvain left the band and a massively more "accessible" approach took place. This cd is non-stop, balls to the walls premium insanity taking the form of music. Though a mere 42:42 of music took place here, it feels like over an hour of bone snapping brutal metal from the darkest depths of....Canada (huh?).

Sylvain Houde's vocals are in lay man's terms "Animalistic", and inhumanly fast as well. Speaking of fast, Nick Miller's drumming is a constant display of speed, precision, brutality, and just plain destructive force. As always Jean-Francois Dagenais puts forth excellent effort and talent into each one of his riffs and notes on guitar, the cd features some excellent sections of musicianship from him. Namely "Exode of Evils", "Beckoning of the Xul", "Maelstrom 2010", and "The Awakener". People misjudge this release for its ultra-fast, tempo modifying, progressiveness, and almost no method approach. But believe me, there is definitely a method to this madness. Though many sections seem to rapidly throw themselves off tempo, you must listen carefully and not that 2 or 3 tempo changes take place in a 3 second interval, the songwriting is superb, and the lyrics immerse you into a mythical world of the darkest, most savage nature.

This release is a must for any fan of brutal unrelenting death metal, that exercises unrelenting technical skill, shockingly fast hammerblasted drumming, almost surreally ethereal vocals from Houde, and a complete disregard for any and all forms of weak cop-out fillers so many bands employ in their releases. One of the best Metal albums of the 90's, no question.

iiiinsaaaane!!! - 42%

swineeyedlamb, October 21st, 2004

A few seconds after pressing "play" to this cd circa 1996, a certain young metalhead was heard to exclaim:

"Wow...that's insane!"

Five minutes later he expressed himself thus:

"Wow...that's...still insane!"

It would take this lamb-eyed metal larva quite a while to realise that, under the positively whacked vocals (no regard for meter, placing, timing, generally just not giving a fuck about whatever the band's doing), most of Katakylsm's music is dull, humanistic and "angry".

Like Nile, Katakylsm was adopted by the metal mainstream as a representative of death metal's "extreme" and supposedly abstract arm after the shock effect of blastbeats and grunts wore off around 1993. Again like Nile, this adoption was based on unusual aesthetic trappings and the overall "crazy" effect of melodic music played to atypical and ridiculous extremes. This album's long, long, long blast phrases - the longest I've heard outside black metal, bar Vital Remains - and scores of simplistic riffs create an initial impression of potent instability within songs, an illusion augmented by the total unpredictability of the vocal positions and a staunch refusal to conform to death n' roll verse-chorus structures. But first impressions lie - this is pseudo-complex music made by well-trained dilettantes.

This album has two central problems (three, if you count the unhinged vocals, which I don't) - 1. the peculiar and obnoxious drumming knows no "third way" between rigid/deliberately off-time cascading and coreboogie, and 2. many of the melodies are simply lame.

The first problem turns out to be intractable: dance beats initially seem like transplants from working-class bar music popping up otherwise purist blasting death metal; with repeated listens however it becomes apparent that core is as much in the guitar as the drums. The centrality of “urban music” to the compositions eluded me for so long because the vocals have zero core in either their tone or (thanks to the fortuitous disregard of the music around them) their timing, and because the sheer number of parts means there are also many groove-free blasts and straight-up metal beats throughout. What first seems an annoyance turns out to be a fatal weakness - the almost-techno rigidity and mercurial monotony of the non-core drum patterns causes the easy, down-home core to completely usurp the listener's attention, with the result being even more contemptable than Dying Fetus. Whether boogeying or not, the unorthodox rhythmic aspect of this band is a ham-handed failure of communication.

The second problem is the more frustrating one, considering that there are actually quite a few good-though-simplistic melodic ideas lurking around; often they beat a melodic idea into the ground in an attempt to add catchiness and continuity to these eminently unlistenable songs, making the good ones passable and the passable ones bad. For example, a contrast between numbskulled alternating-chord grindcore riffettes and tremolo melodies is constantly resorted to throughout the album, tending to make the latter come off as cloying and saccharine. The worst offences occur amidst the sparse, weirdly produced leads - these are too intrusive be a texture to the underlying chords but too haphazard and annoying to be of any merit themselves.

If this review has dwelled on the failures of The Temple of Knowledge, it is only because of Katakylsm’s inflated status in the metal world. There are indeed some inspired moments sprinkled throughout, but this is the same uneven and apparently accidental inspiration found in countless forgettable and forgotten local bands. The absurdly verbose but monosyllabic structures are not the root of failure – Katakylsm has gone for “stronger” songs as their career wears on, to no improvement. Rather, this band reveals itself as creatively bankrupt in ways that practice and refinement cannot improve - through its second-rate sense of sense of harmony and its feckless rhythmic maximalism.