Label: Nuclear Blast
Date: September 25th, 2020
Among the cataclysms this world is going through, on a daily basis, seems like this one will be the easiest to weather. Or simply the one which can be the easiest to avoid. In other terms, Kataklysm has lost the juice, so they are forced to power up from any means accessible. Which, in turn, makes for a bland product bearing a familiar name.
Almost three decades ago, the Canadians were a promising act, bearing a strong death metal mark upon their shoulders. When they went melodic, it was still fine, as they indeed had things to say. Which then resulted in growing number of listeners. Up to a point. Unfortunately, it has been proven once again that the only way on from the top is downhill. Sorry to say, but Kataklysm has been sliding for a while now and “Unconquered” is yet another one of their weaker releases.
Though still walking the line of melodic death metal, their edge has been considerably dulled, their brutality almost completely dissolved and their appeal all but lost.
First thing that really caught my ears is the omnipresent nu metal influence. Particularly in the guitar work. Among the heavier and prevalently melodic parts you can expect a whole lot of those bouncy, slamming pieces presented to the world by Korn or Disturbed. “Icarus Falling”, with piano and a fragment of scratching a record (is that the correct term for that stuff DJ’s do?) resembles Linkin Park. Still, with all of them involved, there is hardly a moment of “Unconquered” that will stick to your memory when the album comes to its end. No, not even a catchy chorus you can shout in the shower.
As musicians, Kataklysm leaves no room for doubt. The album is performed to perfection and is abundant of technically challenging scores. Especially behind the drum kit. “Defiant” stands as a living proof of bestiality hiding in the back of the stage. How much of it is due to the pulverizing production is another question. The other instruments are also high class, there is no doubt about it. But it is expected from a band with almost thirty years under its belt.
The problem with “Unconquered” remains in the craftsmanship of tracks themselves. I do not think Kataklysm has lost its ability to unleash powerful albums, or at least individual tracks. More probably, they just need to sit back and carefully examine their recent creations. A bit more questioning and actual scrapping of lesser tunes can do them so much good.
There is no point in living off of old glory for far too long, is there? These days it can really wear thin very quickly.