After a couple of decades of establishing itself as a Canadian death metal institution it is now a near certainty that you'll pretty much know exactly what's coming with each new KATAKLYSM release. Whereas 2006's "In the Arms of Devastation" showed the band at the top of its game with the tried and true chunk-riffing of Jean-François Dagenais and Maurizio Iacono's powerful roar and vicious screams, as well as a few ace tracks (e.g. "Crippled and Broken"), 2008's "Prevail" was a mild disappointment, mainly because it sounded a little too much like a band running in place. "Heaven's Venom" falls right smack dab between those two albums; more satisfying than the latter and not as engrossing as the former.
Put simply, "Heaven's Venom" is the sound of KATAKLYSM riding their predictably patented style without coming off overly recycled like its predecessor. Right from the start, "A Soulless God" gives indication that KATAKLYSM has no plans to abandon the approach that got them the invitation to the dance in the first place, as well as sounding like a moderately rejuvenated band in the process. As is the case with "As the Wall Collapses", which boasts one of the album's most hooky licks (almost folk in cadence), the solo break in "A Soulless God" makes one wish that Dagenais would break out of his chug a little more often. He does make up for it with effective melodic twists at several points along the way, which you'll hear during "Hail the Renegade" and "Determined (Vows of Vengeance)". Along those same lines, the brief bass solo during "Hail the Renegade" is a nice touch and the pinch squeals in the main riff of "Numb and Intoxicated" offer additional examples of an album where an accent here and a minor detour there go a long way toward freshening up the template. It is not easy to stay within established parameters without running an idea into the ground, but KATAKLYSM manages its way through it.
On the whole, "Heaven's Venom" consists of 10 tracks of KATAKLYSM muscle, this time with more attention to detail in the arrangements and a better sense of melody. Some are better than others, but all do more than just take up space. Who says that predictability has to be a bad thing? As it concerns KATAKLYSM, reliability may be a better word for it.