Kataklysm - _Serenity in Fire_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
There are very few individuals who could have predicted the evolutionary path that Canada's self-styled purveyors of "northern hyper-blast" would eventually follow when their now classic _Mystical Gates of Reincarnation_ EP was released in 1992. You see, aside from the almost OTT brutality of the music, what made _MGoR_ and its two immediate successors so special was the fact that in an increasingly overpopulated genre, Kataklysm had a unique identity -- a sound that was wholly their own and which made them stand out from among their peers. These aforementioned records have since and will probably continue to stand the test of time, and are most certainly a far cry from the tepid, generic attempt that they now offer as their seventh studio outing. While Kataklysm's decline has been anything but sudden, it is a sad thing to see a band strip away virtually every discernable quality that once defined their music. Piling on cliché after cliché over the course of the album's 38 minutes, _Serenity in Fire_ is a tired and confused record that at times finds itself uncertain of the genre it wants to belong to. Where progression and diversification have always been something I have praised, the elements of black and Swedish melodic metal on tracks like "For All Our Sins" only serve to drag down the effort even further into the mire of mediocrity. And sure, the record cannot be faulted from a technical point of view, but this makes Kataklysm's decline seem all the more tragic.
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