Published Sep 22, 2020During these tumultuous and unpredictable times, fans of Kataklysm were able to breathe a sigh of relief when frontman Maurizio Iacono declared during a recent appearance on the MetalSucks Podcast that bands delaying their albums amidst the ongoing global pandemic were "unmetal."
What this meant, in addition to confirming the Montreal death metal heavyweights' impressive work ethic, was that fans wouldn't have to wait longer than expected for the much-anticipated follow-up to 2018's Meditations. Kataklysm have never been a band to keep fans waiting between releases, and have managed to maintain a consistent output without sacrificing quality for 25 years.
Unconquered sees the band at their tightest and most aggressive. After a short melodic intro, opener and lead single "The Killshot" springs the album into full force. While each subsequent track brings something new to the table, they all sustain the record's intensity, including slower, gloomier tracks like "Icarus Falling" and "The Way Back Home," which have some of the biggest musical hooks on the album, courtesy of guitarist J-F Dagenais. '"Cut Me Down" smoulders with fiery ferocity, "Stitches" bleeds with impenetrable groove and "Focused to Destroy You" has a massive chorus that crowds will find impossible not to shout at the top of their lungs once the band gets the chance to perform this material live. The only real downside to Unconquered is that it doesn't end with more of a ripper — it feels as though it's one fast, in-your-face song away from having a perfectly chosen tracklist.
The Unconquered listening experience is hugely enhanced by the immersive mix, which gives just the right amount of space to each instrument. The guitars in particular are expertly balanced, and Oli Beaudoin's drums sound as if they're pounding the listener's brain. Nobody needs to prove that Canadians know how to make some of the most exciting death metal out there today, but this immense album is all that's needed to disprove anyone who says otherwise. (Nuclear Blast)