Maurizio Iacono posits "If I Was God I'd Burn it All" on KATAKLYSM's eleventh studio album, "Waiting for the End to Come". Far more introspective a metal prospectus than your standard theme of flushing Mother Earth into an eternal conflagration at the cloven hooves of the deceiver. Rather than letting Satan torch the world for sport (ho-hum), the mere suggestion of God having had the shits of His creation turning Paradise into a cesspool seems more, well, more metal if you think about it. Of course, Hell and Lucifer get their kicks anyway on "Waiting for the End to Come", which should settle well with most fans despite a few modifications.Iacono and his KATAKLYSM cohorts, now fortified by drummer Oli Beaudoin in place of the injured Max Duhamel, get a little shifty on their latest work. Perhaps it's the dual time Iacono, guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais and bassist Stephane Barbe split between KATAKLYSM and their Roman history side arena, EX DEO. More likely it's just a natural maturation process from the Montreal death metal vets that forces some alterations into their customary "Northern Hyperblast" scheme. "Waiting for the End to Come" moves along briskly and not just from the crushing digs of Oli Beaudoin, who handles his chores with effortless transitions between fastening blast beats and moshed-up algorithms. You're already upon the fifth song "Under Lawless Skies" in no time and that song sticks way out with its PRONG-esque chomping riffs and guitar peals from Jean-Francois Dagenais that tread instead of shred like the tracks beforehand. While "Fire", "If I Was God I'd Burn it All", "Like Animals" and "Kill Elite" move so crazy fast (status quo for this band), "Under Lawless Skies" and the proto-punching "Dead and Buried" thereafter all but interrupt the blistering pace of this album. To the good, you might add, because the latter two songs feature some of the most graceful and melodic textures KATAKLYSM's yet laid down. Yes, they've been tinkering with melody as far back as 2001's "Epic: The Poetry of War", but the knobby riffs and jerked back rhythms on "Under Lawless Skies" and "Dead and Buried" carry such sophisticated, eddying choruses they become watermark moments for KATAKLYSM. This should be celebrated, not scorned, even if those who followed the band during the Sylvain Houde regime will likely feel put off by the new order of KATAKLYSM's songwriting. The crawling ugliness of "The Darkest Days of Slumber" keeps this album out of blitz mode, but it does allow Oli Beaudoin to exhibit his fills and steady chops at a restrained level, while Dagenais and Stephane Barbe carefully construct a tuneful ambience, once again on the choruses. Fear not, fans, for "Real Blood, Real Scars", "The Promise" and "Empire of Dirt" resume the breakneck intensity, albeit those moments are sieved out of slower set-ups. The marching bars of "The Promise"'s verses pay off with banging tempests on the choruses, while "Empire of Dirt" kicks on the thrusters and explodes in most spots as Maurizio Iacono alternates his gruff exhalations at various pitches. Once more, Jean-Francois Dagenais throws out some chunky static spewage in the vein of Tommy Victor during the breakdown and bridge parts before shredding the tar out of his frets the remainder of the furious ride. Tossing on a pretty solid cover of SACRED REICH's "The American Way" as a bonus cut, KATAKLYSM leaves an overall good impression as they continue to change gears with "Waiting for the End to Come". The lofting spirals of "Elevate" manifesting between the chunky mar of the song's clomping verses are the closest this band has come to accessible, which either sits well with you or it doesn't. At least the bursting finale of "Elevate" produces an exhilarating flash of speed. Outside of a select few like SLAYER, there are only so many songs a characteristically fast band can employ in beast mode and remain interesting, especially after twenty-two years on the scene. KATAKLYSM hardly sacrifices integrity by seeking progression from their monstrous constructs. Instead, they carry forward bearing slight traces of hope along with their usual litany of despair. If Maurizio Iacono worked the celestial knobs above, we all might be in store for a global holocaust, but at least he and his band have enough tact to make the inevitable pain sound welcoming on top of frightening.
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