Kataklysm - In the Arms of Devastation
Nuclear Blast
Groovy Death Metal
9 songs (41'24")
Release year: 2006
Kataklysm, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Alex

My relationship with Kataklysm has been far from simple blind love from the first sight. I still have my copy of 1996 Temple of Knowledge, but my only reason to keep it was the fact it had all bandmembers’ signatures on it (a rarity item). Somehow, I was never sold on the whole Northern Hyperblast thing. Without a doubt, it was fast, brutal and technical … and it left me completely unattached in the process. I think it has been years since I played that album. With such attitude, I missed Victims of This Fallen World, which was probably a fortuitous event. The Prophecy and then Epic warmed up my interest in these French Canadians. Songs like Wounds and When Time Stands Still should have given a peek for everyone of what was about to come – melodic wall of sound was to give death metal, Kataklysm style, some much needed groove. Then, in 2002, came Shadows and Dust, and my jaw is still on the floor where I lost it. Even with quite strong and refined Serenity in Fire to follow, songs like Illuminati, Face the Face of War and Where the Enemy Sleeps stand eternal classics in my book. Well deserved respect and recognition was almost to fall onto Kataklysm, no longer the unwanted stepchild of North American death metal scene.

In the Arms of Devastation was preceded by a swirl of rumors. The build-up was gigantic, with vocalist Maurizio Iacono giving interviews stating the band’s goal to create its lasting legacy of an album, its Master of Puppets. Original hyperblaster, drummer Max Duhamel, was back in the band (here is to the hope he finally stays!). A number of collaborations, following the successful Peter Tagtgren guest appearance on Serenity in Fire, now involving fellow Canadians Kittie (???!) and Into Eternity (hell, yeah!) was in the offing as well. With expectations overblown, it was easy to fall flat on their collective faces.

I have had the album for a week now, I have been listening to it pretty much non-stop. Is this Kataklysm defining hour? Is this their best album? I really don’t know, as Shadows and Dust has already defined them for me and will remain unsurpassed. Is this their Master of Puppets? I am still scratching my head trying to understand what that was supposed to mean – no plans to release strong albums after this one? Is In the Arms of Devastation going to please all of the fans? Who cares, everybody is different, I can only speak for myself.

It is obvious Kataklysm intends to stay on the path they have chosen with Shadows and Dust. It pleases me to no end that the winning formula combining the cutting precision, in your face brutality and droves of melodious groove has not been changed. Hey, this is what makes Kataklysm unique and extremely recognizable. The minute Like Angels Weeping (The Dark) starts blasting, you know, this is Kataklysm. It is explosion with a purpose, however, as Let Them Burn and To Reign Again show. J-F Dagenais’ riffs carry melody throughout these songs, and if that is not enough you will get a dark intro and a bass run as well (To Reign Again). The album does not lack viciousness with Crippled & Broken and has infectious riffs, both reminding me of Slayer (Open Scars) and Kataklysm itself (somehow Let Them Burn has a transition similar to Where the Enemy Sleeps, and I love it!).

Nothing on In the Arms of Devastation is probably as fast as The Ambassador of Pain or Blood on the Swans. And that is probably a good thing, as Serenity in Fire was somewhat detracting in that regard. In fact, It Turns to Rust and Temptation’s Nest may even be considered slow (by Kataklysm standards) introducing stretchy, almost brooding parts. Not considered to be “solo artists”, the band does pierce you with the one on Open Scars, and Tim Roth (Into Eternity) concludes the album with the outro on the closing title track.

Maurizio Iacono is honest about his dual vocal approach. The growl and the shriek are never overlaid, very amenable to the live sound. He also tends to use the shriek more and more as of late, bringing in Morgan Lander on Open Scars (can’t see how that bettered the song as she is so similar to his own high pitch). On the other hand, Rob Doherty duet on the title track works very well.

J-F Dagenais has relegated the production duties to Tue Madsen, and I must say the whole album just sounds warmer and more natural. Max may not be as fast of a drummer as Martin, but those clicking drum sounds are surely not missed. In the Arms of Devastation is close in sound to Autumn Leaves Embraced by the Absolute, and that is my death metal sound standard.

I will let the debate on whether this is the finest Kataklysm album to date rage on. I will judge In the Arms of Devastation on one simple merit. When I put Kataklysm in I want to feel strong, confident, proud, practically empowered to be able to stomp on difficulties and not be afraid to mash my head against the wall. In the Arms of Devastation arms me with the stake to drive through the heart of my enemies, at the same time providing the slight sad and desperate feeling. The music must always be personal, and I am getting from this album what I was looking for, it works for ME.

Killing Songs :
Let Them Burn, To Reign Again, In Words of Desperation, The Road to Devastation
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Kayla quoted 85 / 100
Jason quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Kataklysm that we have reviewed:
Kataklysm - Heavens Venom reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Kataklysm - Prevail reviewed by James and quoted 68 / 100
Kataklysm - Serenity in Fire reviewed by Jay and quoted 93 / 100
Kataklysm - Shadows & Dust reviewed by Alex and quoted 95 / 100
Kataklysm - Epic (The Poetry of War) reviewed by Alex and quoted 72 / 100
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