Kataklysm - Of Ghosts and Gods - (8/10)
Published on July 14, 2015
Genre:Death / Melodic Death
A Second Wind.
Over the past 15 years one almost has to feel at least a modest tinge of sympathy for Kataklysm, who bears the brunt of constant backlash from fans who still can’t accept the simple fact that Sorcery and Shadows and Dust belong in the distant past, not the foreseeable future. With such a curiously picky and sensitive fanbase (bordering fanaticism, really) it’s more than understandable why the band has chosen to address their faithful as “friends,” thus giving credence to the oft-misappropriated quote, “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” Even if such were the case, the thought still can’t be ignored that Kataklysm has taken some of their criticism to heart, at least since 2013, by returning hostilities through a rekindling of their earlier years.
The new album, Of Ghosts and Gods, may not live up to their standards of 20 years erst, but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s so sufficiently varied that whatever new censure may arise is simply a matter of splitting hairs. The newfound aggression of Waiting for the End to Come has transferred not quite so lopsidedly, making this new effort much more evenly paced and mature, balanced admirably between its aggressive and melodic qualities to create a sound that could age rather well if Kataklysm continues this path.
As well, the band explores some new stylistic avenues that fit in surprisingly well considering Maurizio’s concurrent change in vocal approach, a pitch with a venomous bite rather than his typically deep utterances. At this point, one almost has to ask if this is indeed Kataklysm, especially by the time “Marching Through Graveyards” savagely blast beats its way in, the anger and hostility alternating conversely with upbeat thrash riffs and interesting build-ups more commonly found on a black metal recording. The focus, though, always blurs between these moments due to Kataklysm’s signature chug-along fretwork, which admittedly could get old on past albums but never even has a chance here.
That the band has retained their characteristic appeal, their élan vital, so to speak, while branching off in new directions, including some brief dissonance flirtations reminiscent of Behemoth or Belphegor (“Thy Serpents Tongue), or the hook-and-groove menace of “Soul Destroyer,” makes Of Ghosts and Gods a unique amalgamation of ideas that unequivocally proves the band has not stalemated. “Vindication,” if further proof was needed, tremolo blasts such doubts into submission, while its Gothenburg thrash riffs and breakdowns bury the casket once and for all. If Kataklysm could be counted out before, then Of Ghosts and Gods will definitely provide the second wind fatigued fans so desperately need.