Kataklysm are a Canadian death metal band who brand their sound as 'Northern Hyperblast', which should give some idea of the sonic violence and general over the top atmosphere that they create. The album is loosely themed around death and war, and opens with a quote by the late Oliver Reed from the film Gladiator, extolling the virtues of choosing to meet a glorious death in battle rather than coughing away one's last on upon a squalid deathbed. The album then explodes into a whirlwind of incredibly fast, chuggy riffs, furious blastbeat-heavy drumming and growled vocals. Kataklysm have a death metal sound that is very much their own, combining their impenetrable 'hyperblast' style with strong repetitive grooves and lots of very melodic guitarlines, creating songs which are at once simplistic and catchy and extremely tightly executed. The songs tend to stop and start throughout, suddenly falling into heavier grooves as the tempo changes from super-fast to mid-paced and crushing, whilst the frequent heavy-metal melodicisms that overlie the chugging riffs and sporadic blasting afford the album a kind of Iron Maiden quality, especially on the more epic, slower-paced tracks such as the excellent 'Where The Enemy Sleeps'.
Kataklysm's vocals are very distinctive too, with two seperate vocalists performing gruff but intelligible growls and rasping, high pitched screamed vocals respectively, the the songs constantly switching from one to the other throughout their duration. The lyrics are a simple affair, concerned with a Bolt Thrower-like obsession with war mixed with notions of eternal damnation, and like the vocals themselves they are cartoonish, faintly ridiculous and immensely entertaining, with plenty of sections that simply beg to be bellowed or screamed out loud.
'Shadows and Dust' is a relentlessly heavy yet also very catchy and melodic listen that marries over the top silliness and sonic intensity in a way that is hugely endearing. Full of great riffs, its a very uplifting and entertaining album from start to finish. It's by far my favourite Kataklysm album, and the band would seem to acknowledge its appeal as they played it almost in its entirely last time I saw them live. Catchy, fun and crushing.
1. In Shadows and Dust 02:46
2. Beyond Salvation 04:10
3. Illuminati 04:59
4. Chronicles of the Damned 03:14
5. Bound in Chains 03:24
6. Where the Enemy Sleeps... 05:20
7. Centuries (Beneath the Dark Waters) 05:57
8. Face the Face of War 05:10
9. Years of Enlightment / Decades in Darkness 05:15
Total playing time- 36.33
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 In Shadows & Dust
2 Beyond Salvation
4 Chronicles of the Damned
5 Bound in Chains
6 Where the Enemy Sleeps...
7 Centuries (Beneath the Dark Waters)
8 Face the Face of War
9 Years of Enlightenment/Decades in Darkness