I dislike writing negative reviews. Luckily, I have very nice editors that let me submit what I want, rather than being told what to write. I know, decent work if you can get it! I especially dislike it when said negative review is about a band that has been going as long as Kataklysm have been (two decades), and are what you would define as successful. The thing is, my review of the band’s thirteenth record, Meditations, isn’t ENTIRELY negative, but this is just one man’s opinion.
First thing I need to address is that I am not familiar with the Kataklysm’s output at all. Even an insatiable music devourer such as myself has bands that I have just never gotten around to checking out, despite knowing the name. With that said, perhaps at some point in their history they were labelled a Death Metal, or “melo-death” band, and I do hear some elements here and there, but to me this pigeon hole isn’t accurate. I don’t know whether Metalcore has just come to Kataklysm, or they have moved on to Metalcore, but that’s what I hear. Now that isn’t usually a bad thing, but it’s just… loads of bands do this so much better.
I’m going to use an analogy here that might not be to everyone’s liking, but so much of Kataklysm’s material is what I imagine a female who finds it very hard to reach or cannot climax endures. They have so many parts that are so good and should lead to another even better section of music that never…cums? In turn, that makes the following passages so frustrating. For example, the closing track, ‘Achilles Heel,’ starts with a melancholic sounding and almost gothic sounding lead line that repeats itself in the guise of the chorus. On its third outing, you hear what could become a cinematic scale composition and then, what the hell?!? It’s finished!?!
I feel sorry for people who can only enjoy music when it is reinventing the wheel. If you are going to do something that isn’t out of left field, then you need to do it well. Songs like ‘Narcissist’ and ‘What Doesn’t Break Doesn’t Heal’ are so devoid of any character and purpose, that it feels like time has been stolen from you. You are at track six, ‘In Limbic Resonance,’ before you get to a song that is above average all the way through. In fact, it’s a great track, but it’s too little too late. Kataklysm are some great musicians, but writing and performing are two very different things. There are one or two guitar solos, and they are superb, but why do we not get more of them? Meditations’ songs would benefit from them, without question. Penultimate track, ‘Bend the Arc, Cut the Chord’ is the pick of the bunch for me, but it is still lacking a real breakthrough, and ceases before its really gone anywhere.
Kataklysm’s Meditations is one of the most unsatisfying releases I have heard in a while. Avoid it if you’re not already a fan.