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Brilliantly atmospheric death metal - 84%

immortalshadow666, September 4th, 2006

So, the purveyors of “Northern Hyperblast” as they call themselves, Kataklysm have churned out what sounds like another fairly bland and uninspiring metal release, on the surface. But this album goes far greater than this. “Victims Of This Fallen World” is a beautiful, emotional and atmospheric release, but the four Canucks manage to do this without the employment of anything other than their instruments and voice, respectively. No keyboards, no synths, no filler. This is pure, emotional death metal. The riffing style is in the influence (but not outright worship) of Swedish MeloDeath style with grinding drums. Sound like your average Carcass worship? Normally it would. But this, it does not go anywhere near it.

The opening track is titled “As My World Burns”, and it’s a killer of a track. It starts off with a mid-paced death metal riff, which is nothing unheard of before, but really captures the listener, hooking them in for the next 6-odd minutes. The following riff after this soulful piece turns from beauty into the beast – a ferocious riff that displays the great drum skills of Monsieur Max Duhamel. The middle contains a riff constructed of natural harmonics, which are nicely executed and keep the song from going stale, not that it ever seems like it’s heading anywhere near that direction.

Sadly, “Imminent Downfall” seems to suffer from what I call “Second-Track Syndrome”. This is where the band attempts to write a track that sounds nothing like the opening track, and end up writing a song that sounds completely clichéd, and the entire song plods along in second gear. Illdisposed’s album “1800 Vindication” suffered from this, as did “Fragments of D-Generation” by Disarmonia Mundi. However, both those aforementioned albums are great. But back to the Kataklysm review. “Imminent Downfall” isn’t quite as bad as other albums that suffer from 2-TS, and if you can tolerate the rather boring first minute or so, this tune picks up nicely and finishes on a strong note (pun intended).

The third song is “Feared Resistance”, and this is where the Hyperblasters make something which you wouldn’t normally deem as physically possible; mid-paced brutality. Not just a continuous slab of blasting though, of course being Kataklysm, good melodies lie here in. The riffing consists mostly of tremolo parts, leaving the track sounding a little unoriginal, but it still holds its own in comparison to the other songs.

“Caged In” seems to have some of the most weak passages in it. The melodies once again come to the songs rescue, but it doesn’t hook and reel you in, to leave you coming back for more. The riffing isn’t as good, unfortunately the band displays a rather NYHCXXX style throughout a fair proportion of this song, leaving it to make up the base of the music, though it picks up again towards the end with some heavier stylings.

After this, we get possibly the most soulful effort, “Portraits of Anger”. This could have been the title track, the lyrics are quite reminiscent of a title “Victims Of This Fallen World”. The music is none too shabby either, except for one terrible hardcore-ish part about half a minute in, with vocals only, break for music, vocals only again, break again. Other than this, the song holds up well and keeps its place, despite its short length.

“Extreme to the Core”. Cheesy title, cheesy music. This is one of the most simple songs on the record, as well as being the shortest. If “Victims…” has any filler track at all, this is it. It’s not an entirely bad track, but the riffs and drums are second rate for the most part, including some drum passages that sound like they’ve been ripped off a second-rate punk-pop record. The thought-provoking lyrics are the saving grace of making a complete and utter meal out of nearly three minutes, but then they don’t do that much good.

“Courage Through Hope” and we are absolutely back on track in terms of the strength of this fine recording. The opening riff is simply delightful. It’s very slow, it’s melodic as hell, and all the right notes are played – nothing clashes, nothing sounds the least bit out of place, the broken distorted chords fit beautifully over everything. Even though the biggest part of this song plods along at mid-tempo, this is one of the highlights of the CD. The purified greatness of the melodies and riffs alleviate any possible boredom through lack of pace. This, along with the opener, is the one that you will hit the ‘repeat’ button on your CD player for.

The second longest song, “A View From Inside”, follows. This song is another case of being simple yet effective. The repetition and recycling of previous riffs from the other songs may seem like a bad thing, but in this particular instance it helps to familiarise yourself with the album without it becoming stale, and also assisting it to cement the albums’ uniqueness in the fact that it has branched out and tried something new rather than recycling the same old death metal for the squillionth time.

Next up, we have “(God)Head”. The first thing we hear is a catchy and groovy rock drum beat, before those frightening growls come in. This is possibly the most brutal and violent track on the album, after about 1:20 of mid-paced death metal, it builds, and builds and then, motherfucker does it ever let rip. This pattern is not repeated, which is unfortunate as it’s quite a stand out. Still, there are plenty of other components and solid riffs to make “(God)Head” into the strongest track.

“Embracing Europa” is fast and melodic. It’s as simple as that. And boy, it takes a while for the pace to subdue. When it does, the following passage lets the chords ring out, this pattern being quite catchy, and as a result it turns “Embracing Europa” into a good little number.

“I Remember”, beginning with chunking chords, slamming drums and….A VIOLIN!!! Yes, a violin plays the melody in this opening part, as well as throughout the rest of the song. I found it strange that they left so much experimentation so late in the album, as there are many spoken clean vocals in addition to the violin. That’s the only problem with the track, it was left too late on the CD. No points are lost for content, simply for the awesome reason of the tune being excruciatingly heavy, yet at the same time being able to incorporate the use of a classical instrument and not make it sound the whole thing sound like a kindergartener stabbing a cat with a paint brush.

Closing with an instrumental song, “World of Treason II”. The use of broken chords in this song is perfect. Opening with a headbanging passage, after half a minute there is a nice clean riff, and the song is much slower paced for the majority of the rest of the song. The melodies, while still good, sound too reminiscent of earlier passages of the song, excluding the third riff, a hard rocking part. The use of harmonies in this song is especially good, as instead of using both guitars to play broken chords, the guitars play their own separate harmonies and it’s a nice change, if nothing else.

In conclusion to this review. When I opened up the jewel case (I have the 2-in-1re-issue with “Northern Hyperblast Live”), the disc itself informs me “Warning! Not recommended for weak minds!” Well, this statement rings true. If you don’t have a fairly open mind and/or an experimental approach to death metal, you probably will not enjoy this record as much. Those who enjoy atmosphere and a bit of experimentation and branching out
To finish: The riffing isn’t the most original, and the lyrics aren’t massive epic tales, but goddamn. I haven’t felt this cold and icy listening to an album, since many years ago when I was turned into a dejected ice sculpture by a CD called “Storm of the Lights Bane”. Sheer brilliance from the Hyperblasters. 84 points from me.

Kataklysm's season of change - 80%

Kishmakay, May 31st, 2005

This album displays a very different Kataklysm. Here is where the band decided to move towards a more melodic sound exchanging their chaotic song structure for groove. They are starting to sound here a bit similar to Benediction but with more complex, melodic and layered riffage.

Maurizio Iacono's voice shifts from growling Barney Greenway to screeching Glen Benton with mastery in excellent double vocals. Sometimes screaming in both styles at the same time.

Now this might be a shock for the fans of the old Kataklysm style...

There are no really weak songs in the album. Only some weak passages.
The drums are very good, except by the noisy but inexpressive hyperblasts. And some of the groovy parts here and there are just TOO GROOVY, sounding sometimes like hip hop or rap played with distorted guitars (but relax, it is not).

Some parts in "Caged In" sound like New York streets' rap giving the song something like a Biohazard vibe. The funny thing is that even though I completely despise rap I do find this song very interesting.

The album is still overall excellent. And I confess I listen to it a lot more than their older childish XUL stuff. Very brutal passages blended in intelligent, creative guitar riffs and harmonics fuse Melodic Swedish Death Metal style with modern Grindcore.

The last two tracks are slower than the rest of the album but both excellent compositions.

"I remember" is a very good track. Very different from what they have been doing in their previous releases. There is even a violin sound in it.

The next track "World Treason 2" is very different too and maybe even better. It is a beautiful and simple instrumental track, sounding like a crossbreed of Megadeth's and Hypocrisy's slow tunes.

This album is for the open-minded.