Heaven’s Venom

01. A Soulless God
02. Determined (Vows of Vengeance)
03. Faith Made of Shrapnel
04. Push the Venom
05. Hail the Renegade
06. As The Wall Collapses
07. Numb and Intoxicated
08. At the Edge of the World
09. Suicide River
10. Blind Saviour

[Nuclear Blast | 08/24/10]

1991 marked the year of death metal giants Kataklysm. It’s hard to believe they’re still around, but I’m glad they are. And thus here we are with Heaven’s Venom, Kataklysm’s eleventh studio album. Yes, eleventh. Crazy, huh? Nevertheless, Heaven’s Venom shows that you can still be good after 19 years.

The album begins in typical Kataklysm fashion: movie quote then some fast death metal. It may be the least interesting song here, but it shows that Kataklysm have no plans of slowing down. It’s got your typical death metal riffs with the Kataklysm flair and some insane double bass work. Again, it’s nothing special, but don’t let this deter you. The next song, “Determined (Vows of Vengeance)” kicks off with a very groovy, mid-tempo riff with the monstrous vocals of Maurizio, implementing his distinguishable dual vocal growl/shriek throughout various sections. If the crunchiness and the strength of the riff in this song doesn’t get your head bobbing then I’m not sure what will. In fact, that’s part of what makes Heaven’s Venom a good album: the riffs are much stronger. On Prevail, the riffs didn’t have a lot of room to shine because of the production. That and, well, the riffs were fairly boring. If you were a fan of In the Arms of Devastation, you’ll be pleased to know Heaven’s Venom feels like it went down that path more. The despair melodies are prevalent in tracks like “Suicide River” (my personal favorite) and the moody undertones shine in the chorus of songs like “At the Edge of the World”. Overall, Heaven’s Venom features the same ol’ Kataklysm we’ve come to know and love, with a bigger emphasis on riffs and melodies. It feels like the band matured here (despite the lame lyrics) and as a result, the soundscape feels much more developed.

As I stated, the production here is much better. The riffs stand out like a sore thumb (in a good way) and the emphasis on being more structurally sound and head-bob worthy is a definite plus. Maurizio dominates the foreground with his assault of growls without actually burying what makes this stuff good: the music. To me, this is the strongest record of theirs in terms of production. It does a good job at making each instrument, other than the bass, stand out clearly. It feels much more open and energetic. It works especially well on the double bass because it doesn’t feel so obligatory. It adds fundamental power to each song when it gets coupled with an earth-shattering riff. All in all, the clarity benefits the musicianship well, unlike many albums.

While there are some really great songs here, and some fucking awesome riffs, Heaven’s Venom doesn’t always deliver the goods. The “northern hyperblast” colloquial genre isn’t as rewarding after eleven albums. I mean sure, the spotlight on thundering riffs is great and all, but Heaven’s Venom is nothing more than typical Kataklysm. If that’s a good thing then you’ll be pleased with this record. But for me, I feel like the band continually plays it safe. Where’s the evolution? The much-needed melodies here are a great addition, but it’s not enough to save this album from falling into the pits of monotony and filler tracks, like many Kataklysm albums. It may be harsh to call some songs filler, as everything on here is above tolerable, but whether you’ll end up listening front-to-back multiple times is questionable. To put it simply, some songs are incredibly catchy and some are just a big, fat “meh.” They may have matured, but they haven’t evolved.

Heaven’s Venom doesn’t do anything unexpected other than a short bass solo in “Hail the Renegade”. It’s just Kataklysm; nothing more, nothing less. So put aside any fear of change because it’s not here. You’re going to get Kataklysm and Kataklysm alone. If that’s what you want then feel free to bathe in the rock solid death metal they bring to the table.

Kataklysm – Heaven’s Venom gets…




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