Cataract is an opinionated Swiss crossover band. The band was launched in the summer of 1998 by guitarists Greg and Simon, as well as drummer Ricky. The latter two had previously been band members for eight years. Michi joined the band very soon afterwards on bass.
The band was soon completed with the arrival of singer Mosh. Coincidentally, future singer Fedi was asked to join - an offer he refused. A demo was recorded which later became a 7" EP on Join The Team Player Records. Several songs appeared on various samplers and the band soon found a home on American label Ferret Records. The resulting release is called Golem. Several tours follow including one with Absidia. The band also appeared at the Full Force Festival. Singer Mosh departs - victim of a long-distance relationship - in favour of the aforementioned Fedi. A MCD called Martyr's Melodies is the new lineup's first output. The MCD was originally envisioned as a 7" EP only.
Cataract and Ferret Records part ways, halfway into a two-album relationship, and the band signs to Germany's Lifeforce Records. This cooperation leads to the 2003 album Great Days Of Vengeance. The title and the music of this album reflects the band's anger and frustration. The album features several guest appearances, including Mike the singer for Burnt By The Sun and Ancient's Aphazel.
The Swiss group signed to Metal Blade in early 2004. A German tour was completed without bass player Michael in May, 2005 who had injured his foot during a football match. Henggeler left in the middle of 2006 and would soon join Vale Tudo. Founding member and guitarist Simon left in the beginning of 2007 in order to form his own project. Cataract recruited guitarist Tom Kuzmic (of Disparaged) to replace the departed Simon. The band recruited bassist Nico Schläpfer of End Of Suffering and Timor in advance of its tenth anniversary concert on March 20th in Switzerland. The band’s self-titled album was out in March through Metal Blade.
Arma Gathas, the metal band featuring former Cataract guitarist Simon Füllemans, signed with Metal Blade Records in 2010. The band’s debut album for the label, Dead To This World, was released on April 27th through Metal Blade Records. The CD was recorded in November of 2009 at the Barracs Studio with producer Sky Hoff. Cataract itself completed its new album, Killing The Eternal, at Antfarm studio in Aarhus, Denmark with producer Tue Madsen. The album was out on September 27th through Metal Blade Records.
CATARACT - GREAT DAYS OF VENGEANCE - LIFEFORCE
Cataract is a very good band with something to say. The band specializes in thrashcore with grating vocals totalling in a powerful attack. Devon is a misanthropic onslaught with interesting vocal effects and a huge sound. The Weapon is slower and has a mid-paced crunch. Rest is, appropriately, even slower, but retains both the anger and heaviness. Skipping forward, Lost Compassion has more commercially-tinged influences, but not enough to be a show-stopper. Sinner From Birth (cool title) is a speedy romp through the world of infamy. Great Days Of Vengeance is an instrumental, while Save Their Aim is back to the power-violence. Forsaken Cries has excellent vocal phrasing accompanying the ever-so-poignant lyrics. Scars crosses into Napalm Death territory and attacks with grind. Cataract is both tight and cross and as such deserves your the readers' attention. Is it my eyes or is this band Swiss? - Ali "The Metallian"
CATARACT - KINGDOM - METAL BLADE
In many ways Cataract’s career appears to follow the trajectory of DRI’s two decades earlier. Both bands started out as hardcore groups with a fan base in the said scene, drifted into crossover and eventually completed the transition to all-out thrash metal after four albums. Like DRI, the Swiss band also emphasized socially conscious and critical lyrics. This is the case with Cataract’s Kingdom album, which to these ears has abandoned all vestiges of being hardcore and is a thrash metal album on Metal Blade Records - incidentally, the label DRI was eventually working with. Perhaps, consequently, there has been some upheaval in the ranks of Cataract.
Kingdom is sharp, fast and furious and signals this in blatant fashion when it begins to a trademarked Slayer beat on the Kingdom’s Rise track. The rest of the album is an amalgam of furious thrashing a la Hatesphere and older Sepultura with March With Your Battlelore even sneaking into Bolt Thrower territory. The album is certainly solid and powerful and unfailingly so, but the last mile is missing which hinders the band from being catapulted into elite territory. Perhaps, and this is my best assumption right now, it is the second guitar’s habit of playing guitar chords slowly that does this; for the right hand should be working all the time, which keeps the album at a 'seventy' rating. Nevertheless, Kingdom is a good album, very good thrash record and certainly worth the investment for fans of the genre.
It would be interesting to see whether Cataract maintains its power and speed or falls into the trap of slowing down or weakening its approach in the years ahead the way DRI once did. - Ali “The Metallian”
The name might sound like that of a metal band and the music might cut like a knife, but Swiss quintet Cataract is hardly a household name amongst metal fans. That though is something the band would very much like to change with their second go, the intriguingly-titled Great Days Of Vengeance, which is the act's first for the ambitious German label Lifeforce Records. Ali "The Metallian" talks with guitarist Simon and finds a man willing to back his music with words. - 30.03.2003
Simon, Great Days Of Vengeance has turned out to be a surprise with its massive wallop. Many metal fans might be asking where the band came from given the low profile. "Thanks for the compliment first! I am glad you like it," says Simon obviously gratified for the sentiment. "Yes, we are not well-known on the metal scene, but things are different on the hardcore scene. We have been around for almost five and a half years now as a matter of fact. We have toured Europe three times and even made it to the USA two years ago.
"Let me tell you more. We started out back in the summer of 1998 because we wanted to create a bastard offspring of all the bands we listened to. It was five individuals trying to rock out as hard possible and have a direct message. Ricky, the drummer, and I used to play in the same bands prior to Cataract for eight years. My bands were called Armicide, Damage i.d, Ferguson, et cetra. Greg was also in several bands before like TDA, Blue Water Boy, et cetra. We three started the band. It worked out more than fine. After about a month we asked Michi to join on bass. We tried several singers, but the only one who fit with us and was willing to join was Mosh. Here is fun fact, we also asked our present singer, but he did not want to join back then. With that lineup we recorded a demo that was later released as a MCD and a 7" for Join The Team Player Records. Several tracks appeared on different compilations following which we released the Ferret Records CD called Golem. After that we changed our singer - for the simple reason that Mosh lived four hours away and it didn't work out with him anymore. Fedi sang in another band at that time. We asked him again to join, since we loved his voice, knew him for years and because he is a great person.
"This is the line-up today: Fedi on vocals, Simon on guitar, Greg on guitar, Michi on bass and Ricky on drums. This lineup will remain until the end. You know we are like five kids who found each other and built a collective. We are fully concentrating on Cataract. There are not any side-projects. Our old singer Mosh used to play in two bands simultaneous to Cataract and that is no good.
"We had the chance to go there right after releasing our first full-length on the American independent Label Ferret Records to promote that record. All our releases have sold very well within the so-called hardcore scene. Everybody in the band has been playing in different bands for several years prior to Cataract's birth in '98 too. So we are not new kids. A few of us book shows or organise tours for hardcore bands as well. Some help out doing fanzines and stuff. So we are really into hardcore and metal the DIY way. Through the deal with Lifeforce Records we can reach a whole new audience, especially metal kids, that I am sure will like what we have to offer. With Great Days Of Vengeance we are more metal than ever which is why we hope to get some metal kids attracted to our music!"
Was your contract with Ferret Records for one album? How did you hook up with Lifeforce? "We originally signed with Ferret Records for two records. Yet it was more like 'let us see how the first one goes and then decide regarding the next step.' That meant that Ferret and us were not sure how the long-distance relationship between us would work. It simply didn't work out. The relationship was not agile enough and a label from America can't push you enough in Europe. They mainly concentrate on the USA.
We knew Stefan from Lifeforce Records for a long time before we started working with him. He is an old friend from back when everybody was very active in the small hardcore scene. When Golem came out we started working with him. That turned out to be very positive and so we decided to go on Lifeforce. I can tell you that it was a very good decision. Lifeforce is the best label we have been on so far. The contract goes on and we will not change labels anymore."
What are your intentions in the grand scheme of things though? Simon is ready with an answer. "We want to rock as hard as possible and try to get our message around. That's basically it in short. We are not trying to be somebody or something we are not. We are real and nothing else.
"It's very important to have music and lyrics that are comprehensible to all the kids out there and one which gives them a say. We are very much looking at how the lyrics serve to be a certain playground for discussions. We want to contribute ideas or even solutions to problems that we face everyday. We want the world be a better place, no gods, no master, no wars and no inhumanities."
Looking at a paradigm of a world without gods, masters, wars, et cetra. one has to wonder how the band envisions an alternative though. After all, the concept's been deliberated on for generations. Simon's answer may come as a surprise. "There is no replacement. Humanity must always have something to believe in. Every single person has his own idol. It is when an idol is shared by more than one person that it gets dangerous. There is not a single race that did not worship something or the other. Even those who stood or stand for anarchy do so. Looking at the times right now there does not seem to be a chance to end this type of thinking. I rather wish that nature would take over again and breed a new race. It is just not possible that the human race can walk without any gods or masters. We try to do so and avoid anything which comes close to it, but it's a thin line between influence and adapting.
"No gods and no master can only happen if objective information is available all around the world and if everybody has the same level of information and then reacts the same way. That is just not possible."
Something else that could have legitimately been seen as unlikely until recently is a successful thrashcore band from Switzerland. The country, simply put, has a limited history in the genre. "Why? There are so many bands from Switzerland that made a huge impact on the whole music scene like Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Coroner or bands like Yello, Young Gods or Stefan Eicher," exclaims Simon even if he seems to ignore my genre-specific line of questioning. He contends, "Switzerland is a very creative country musically. I don't think it matters where you come from to play a certain style of music. If you don't like what is happening or are cross about life as we are then you have to say something. It doesn't matter what your origin is."
The title Great Days Of Vengeance speaks to your frustration, does it not? "That title just fit with everything on the record," concurs the guitarist. "We are very into a conceptional look and feel for a record. So the lyrics, music, layout and the title have to fit together. The lyrics are very dark and realistic, the music is very in-your-face and the title just fits with all of that. It is like a book of 'vengeance,' but in a different form. There is also a sarcastic point to the title. The world we live in is pretty much like this. It is 'cool' to go for vengeance! It is like the whole concept has been hyped. Humanity is killing itself."
Readers who do not have the album might be surprised to learn that, given the above, the title track is an instrumental piece of all things. The Explanation is that, "We want to leave interpretations open on that one. We wanted to let the music speak for us on that topic since all the songs with lyrics are made to fit the concept and title. So there was no need to go deeper into this. Just let the dark music speak for the most important part of the record lyrically, we thought. At the end there will not be a human being left anymore, hence no talking is needed at all."
In the meanwhile though some talking is required as the CD booklet's first page begins with an interesting paragraph which itself starts with the ominous words, 'Hell was unleashed....' How does that paragraph fit into the above-described concept? "That paragraph is the introduction to our lyrics and the whole book of 'Great Days of Vengeance,'" remarks the man quickly. "It's like the first part of a book. It's the whole fucking truth about what is happening. Everybody is taking part in the world's downfall. When humanity evolved into something very dominant, the world took a turn and went downhill. Since humanity is able to survive all the problems on earth, it's no longer nature that controls the earth. It is we who control the planet. So whether there is an ice age or flooding humanity will remain on earth because we learn faster than mother earth can invent ways to create new races."
Is this man pessimistic or simply observant? That might be debatable. What is not is how on the musical front Cataract does not go out of its way to incorporate solos into its songs. Simon clarifies, "We just don't feel it is necessary to have more solos. The power is the main thing in our music and the solos would distract from that. We will probably have more solos in our future songs if we feel they won't ruin the songs too much. For now though we are like this. It is a matter of what type of sound you want to create. We wanted to maintain the hardcore a little more this way."
Next the guitarist is asked about a couple of specific songs. Devon, for example, is a great song with interesting vocal effects on it.
"Thank you. I am glad you like it." The man sounds genuinely appreciative. "The vocal effects on that one are simply like five different voices over each other. It is not the technique that helped a lot. It's the engineer who made it sound like that. We only adapted some delays and stuff. We are not too much into technical effects actually. It shouldn't take away the good parts of the singer. Effects should just enhance it."
Another favourite song on the album is Scars. How extreme can Cataract get? Would you agree that Napalm Death is an influence?
"Oh yes," remembers Simon himself a scene enthusiast. "I was helping out Napalm Death doing shows for them back in 1987! I used to write a lot with bassist Shane Embury and also with the old guitar player Bill Steer (later in Carcass). You know, that was back when the English scene was big into hardcore and punk with bands like Napalm Death, Concrete Sox, Heresy, Electro Hippies and tons more. We have loved Napalm Death since that time. I adore every step they have taken. They write good music and great lyrics. They influenced us on both levels and still do. They have been around for about nineteen years now. They are one of those bands everybody should support. It's not only music, but more.
He continues: "how far we can go? There are no limits at all. It simply depends on our taste to be honest. We don't limit ourselves. If we felt like doing a grindcore record then we will do one. We are even thinking about doing just that as a 7" EP. We just want to do what we feel is good for us and what our abilities allow us to do."
Loving Napalm Death is fine, mallcore is not! In that context, the song Lost Compassion seems to try to incorporate a mallcore sound. The effects are reminiscent of bands on MTV. Simon concurs, "that's funny. That's true. After we finished utilizing that particular effect the same thing crossed our minds. It sounds like MTV-style. It just happened. We did not want to do something like that. We just worked on that part until the moment we were happy and that is how it ended up on the CD. I don't care if it sounds like pop, punk or metal. The main thing is that we like it and it fits the song. Otherwise we never ever set any limits in our songs.
Incidentally, going back to what you said earlier, are you a professional booking agent? If so how is the scene right now?
Actually, "no, I never was a booking agent. I did it together with two friends for two or so years. My friend continued, but I couldn't do it anymore. It was just too much. I am more into the artistic side of the music. Nevertheless, I think the scene has become professional very quickly. There are tons of labels, booking agents, promoters and bands. In some way it's good and in others it is not."
There are a couple of guest appearances on the album. Since a couple of these would surprise the readers, we discussed how they came about.
"We have known these people for years now," clarifies my interviewee. "We met Mike, the singer for Burnt By The Sun, when I booked a tour for his old band Endeavor in Europe around 1997. We just fell in love with his voice and wanted him to some day be part of our band in some way! We met Ancient's Aphazel and Jesus Christ through our producer. He is also the manager for Ancient. Consequently, those guys hung out in the studio when we were recording our MCD two years ago. They liked our music and we later asked them to take part in our recording since it would be an interesting mix. Gianluca from Infliction was always into our music and has already taken part on our first CD. It was clear he had to be on there again this time.
"We just love guest appearances by so different people. It makes the album more diverse and powerful."
Having covered the beginning and the contents in the middle of the album it makes sense to ask about its ending. The album ends with a particularly piercing static. "That ending was just natural for us since we wanted the album to end with a riff that didn't necessarily fit with the song," comes the answer laughingly. "We also wanted it to be all over the place, to scare you and to make you notice that it's all over. Furthermore if you play the CD in continuous mode you will notice that it flows nicely into the first song again."
That is if the CD player is still working. For not every quarter is equipped with top-notch apparati like Metallian Towers. Regardless, what are the band's plans in the coming months? "We will be playing and touring a lot," confirms the guitarist. "That's the main thing! Just promote the record and play wherever we can until the summer. In the summer we will be writing new songs again and touring and touring again in the autumn. We will hopefully get the chance to jump on a cool metal tour sometime this year."
As anyone who has read Cataract's lyrics knows, the Swiss act is an opinionated beast. An interview can not end without soliciting some opinion from the band. To that end Simon says, "The world is a fucking mess. We are close to a new and big war. Not really a world war but more like ten to twenty regional wars.
"Humanity is too stupid to be the leading race. Fuck them all. It pisses me off. You know, the war in Iraq is just the peak of the Iceberg. If you see what is happening in Israel, Palestine, Northern Korea, Somalia or Chile then you know where we are heading. If the Moslems do not remain calm then there will be hell unleashed in the region around Iraq, Iran and all the way to Egypt. If the fucking Japanese don't find a solution to the Korean problem then I don't want to know what countries which have nuclear weapons will do. As we say, 'Hell was unleashed...' We could go on forever on this topic.
More specifically, "we are against war! Stop it! We are also against regimes which suppress their own people. We are against governments which is comprised of a man and his druids. We are also against governments who rule international institutions against the will of the people. Humanity and equality has to rule the world. Nothing else!
"We have been talking a lot about this lately at our band practice. Neither Bush nor anybody else has the right to march into a country and kill innocent people. The problem here is that Saddam Hussein is suppressing his people. So who is going to stop him? His own people tried back in autumn of 1991 and again in 1998, but they were nearly all killed. So there is only two ways. Firstly, keep an eye on him, let him continue with his inhumanities and try to argue diplomatically. Another way is to go there as a community of different races (United Nations) and force him to leave. This should happen only if you get the support of the people of that country. There is no way Bush and Blair have the right to do this even if the US was hurt several times in the last ten years by terrorists. The Americans should fight the terrorists and not a country. I guess they should have just followed the path of capturing Al-Quaida and then wait and see what happens.
"It is a difficult situation and it's hard to get your point across in an interview. I don't like either side at all. I hate this world."
In your answer regarding the war on Iraq you seem to display a certain Western hubris. Your presupposition that The US or The West has the right to do things in Iraq - even if you advocate a multilateral approach -, such as executing an agenda of regime-removal is the kind of thing that has inflamed the masses of that region for years.
Simon agrees and is happy to clarify. "That is totally true. It's also a war of different information levels. Supposed objective news is just fake news. I don't believe the media.
What you say is also why I said every removal has to be carried out by the natives from where the dictator originates from. History shows that at some point that doesn't work anymore because the local population is used to the system is so oppressed that they fear for their life. That leads again into a certain way of life where you only think what your leader says is true - nothing else can. They don't see any other truth anymore since their leaders only shows them his truth. This makes it really difficult to talk about this.
I don't support any kind of war or violence at all. This questions also leads into the one above. It's a mix of religious insanity and different beliefs that leads to war. No gods, No masters!"
Sounds like as good a motto as any. Another good one would be, get Cataract's Great Days Of Vengeance at a record store as soon as possible.