Kataklysm - Shadows & Dust
Nuclear Blast
Brutal Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (40'21")
Release year: 2002
Kataklysm, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I usually never do this while writing reviews. I speak my own opinion first, and then look for the comparative quotes. I started writing this review and had some free time on my hands, so I figured I would look up those quotes now to save some time later. What I read on other sites, especially Tombstone, made me throw out whatever portion of the review I had already written. A fan recently schooled me on my Solefald review that we, as reviewers, have to be “responsible” as many fans take our words for granted. “Kataklysm have forever lost the spark” – says Tombstone authoritatively. OK, this album didn’t push the envelope, but whatever happened to old-fashioned “this just sounds good”. I’d go further as Shadows & Dust just SOUNDS AWESOME.

It is very rare that the last four albums by a band are a continuous improvement. French Canadians Kataklysm have done just that. Terrible Victims of This Fallen World was followed by a comeback Prophecy. 2001 Epic was a very decent album with some quality songs in it, but Shadows & Dust just topped it all off. Nine tracks of sheer melodic brutality at its best.

With Shadows & Dust Kataklysm has finally cracked the formula on how to combine their excellent musicianship, over the top emotions and unbelievable groove. Melodic death/thrash hybrid by Kataklysm is a harmonious unity of razor sharp guitar riffs, manic drumming of metronome precision and dark brooding melodies. Guitars by JF Dagenois and rhythm section of Stephane Barbe (bass) and Max Duhamel (drums) will mow you down with their machine gun approach. Just check out the end of Illuminati for a tribal hellish march! Max Duhamel has earned Kataklysm a Northern Hyperblast nickname for a reason. I tried to duplicate his almost constant blastbeat and superfast snare simply by playing airdrums. After 2 min I felt like my rotator cuffs are going to jump out of joints. So, proceed with caution. I don’t care that he slows down on double bass when he goes blasting, as this man probably has the fastest hands in the business (aside of late Steve MacDonald of Gorguts). The drums are very smartly triggered too (my guess), and drive just about every song.

Maurizio Iacono goes for his standard dual vocal attack – low timbre growling and angry higher pitch. Sometimes both vocal styles are tracked together (Beyond Slavation), and although I prefer his powerful growling, both singing styles blend very well. In this regard, vocals by Kataklysm nowadays bear no hardcore influences (almost) and resemble Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth (of course, Kataklysm has been around much longer than the aforementioned Swedes).

Melodicism of Kataklysm on Shadows & Dust is pervasive. The guitars stuck in reverb (Illuminati), almost Gothenborg riffs (Chronicles of the Damned) and artful harmonic consonance of Face the Face of War are just a few examples. To emphasize the point, JF Dagenois throws in some solos which are well placed, not overdrawn and very different in their nature. Melodic groovy intro of Where the Enemy Sleeps, bombastic melody in Face the Face of War and noodly twisting guitar in Years of Enlightment/Decades in Darkness provide interesting wrinkles in their respective songs. Melodic sections are usually slower, and drums, for a change, take a back seat allowing the guitar to assume the throne. Speaking of production, it is probably one of the best I have heard recently – no matter how loud you turn the volume you will still hear every instrument.

Shadows & Dust had me going in uncontrollable headbanging and leg twitching. I wonder what those passerby drivers and my co-workers thought. However, I wouldn’t really care. This album brought me the feeling of unbelievable joy and empowerment. Whatever problems I have had at work recently were immediately wiped out of my mind by the sound of songs from Shadows & Dust. The only regret I have right now is not getting my hands on this album as soon as it came out. Then, I would be able to place it #2 on my Top 2002 Albums, right behind Damage Done by Dark Tranquillity and right next to Versus the World by Amon Amarth. And as far as those “creative sparks” go – Kataklysm just lit a fire in my soul.

Killing Songs :
All of them!
Alex quoted 95 / 100
Jay quoted 97 / 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 - In the Arms of Devastation reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Kataklysm - Serenity in Fire reviewed by Jay and quoted 93 / 100
Kataklysm - Epic (The Poetry of War) reviewed by Alex and quoted 72 / 100
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