Montreal’s Kataklysm was formed in 1991 when bassist Iacono and drummer Saied – both previously active in the Bay Area thrash-influenced T.S.D - placed an advertisement at a local record store seeking newer members. Upon grouping with singer Houde and former Voivod roadie Dagenais the four opted for a death metal sound. Named by the numinous Houde, Kataklysm (initially Cataclysmus) immediately set out to write and record.
The band was initially a two-guitar formation, but would soon be without the services of Stephane Cote. The guitarist, who had left amid acrimony, would later sue Kataklysm for royalty. He would also form the grinding hardcore-oriented Obscene Crisis. The Latin American migrant Saied, however, would leave after the recording of The Death Gate Cycle Of Reincarnation demo in 1992. A session drummer, Mark Marino, would be temporarily drafted for live work. The band had earlier played the Day Of Darkness show with Gorguts headlining. Said tape would feature a trilogy, the band’s sun-like logo and a brutal death metal sound. Remaining the band’s only demo, though followed by an industry-only tape, the band’s initial disc would feature the same demo, plus a newer tune. The Mystical Gate Of Reincarnation MCD (re-named to avoid running afoul of the books’ authors rights) was issued by Nuclear Blast in the midst of negotiations for a recording contract and in exchange for $1,000. In the meanwhile, a pen pal, Fred Schaus, would form Boundless Records and issue a 7” EP with the band in Belgium. Vision The Chaos was a limited release and recorded at an experimental studio, unlike the band’s demo/MCD which was recorded with Oblivion’s Pierre Remillard. In the meanwhile, inspired by a Fear Factory advertisement in a Canadian magazine called M.E.A.T. the band had termed its music ‘Hyperblast.’ The band’s management had added the term ‘Northern’ in order to exploit Houde’s penchant for mysticism and spirituality further. Management had also mediated the return of Houde who had left the band at least twice during this period. The band had also occasionally auditioned second guitarists. A contract from France’s Modern Primitive Records (Disgrace, etc.) would be rebuffed as would later overtures from Invasion Records.
After prolonged negotiations the band would sign to Nuclear Blast Records and set out to record its debut full-length. The album was produced by Glen Robinson at Morin Heights Studio. The album’s release was followed by an offer to fill in last minute as Bolt Thrower’s European openers. Citing a lack of publicity the band had declined. Kataklysm instead toured that spring with Deicide, Cathedral, Fleshcrawl, Brutal Truth and Sinister as part of the Bash Easter Festival. The Canadian Sorcery release parties were conducted in Montreal and Quebec City alongside Incantation. A North American tour would result in a falling out with Incantation and allegations that the Canadians (and friends) had attacked Incantation’s van and property in Montreal. 1996’s Temple Of Knowledge featured a more straightforward sound and a new drummer. Duhamel had left the band (again) due to knee problems and was replaced by American Nick Miller. The album would be Houde’s last studio outing. Ostensibly peeved by the depiction of Houde on the album’s cover and idiosyncratic behaviour the man had been shown the door. Iacono would take over the vocals as well. Having fought with Nuclear Blast the band would sign with Canada’s Hypnotic Records for two oft-criticized albums with a hardcore sound. The band’s new bassist was Stephane Barbe. Fortunately, the band and Nuclear Blast would patch their differences and the band would re-join the German label. The Prophecy (Stigmata Of The Immaculate) was seen as a return to form for Kataklysm, albeit without the distinct growl of Sylvain Houde. A tour with Vader, Fleshcrawl and others would also take place.
Kataklysm would participate in the Nuclear Blast Festivals 2000 and appear on the DVD of the same name in 2001, alongside Destruction, Hypocrisy and others. Epic: The Poetry Of War was issued in September of 2001 and would be seen as a success, but a tour with Marduk would be cancelled. The band would assign production duties to guitarist Dagenais, who had hereto recorded local acts and begun handling work for foreign metal bands as well. American shows would follow under the Death Across America monicker. Duhamel would again leave Kataklysm at the beginning of 2003 and be replaced by JF Richard of Ion Dissonance. In the meanwhile, a project between members of the band and Cryptopsy would be lost in a haze of acrimony. The band would tour with The Haunted and even appear on stage at Germany’s Wacken. The band’s viability would translate into a new recording contract with Nuclear Blast. Serenity In Fire was advertised as featuring Hypocrisy’s Peter Tägtgren, although his guest vocals were mere cameos. The American No More Serenity tour was sponsored by Metal Maniacs magazine and the band shot a promotional video for As I Slither. European shows were cancelled reportedly because Iacono (now residing in the USA) was a new father. The band and Hypnotic Records would get into a legal jab when said label would re-issue the two 1998 albums. The band had planned its own versions of the said CDs. The group would expand its horizons via a tour with Danzig and would soon welcome back Duhamel. In The Arms Of Devastation would disappoint fans upon the announcement of guest work by select Kittie personnel. Several tours, including one with Bolt Thrower, would follow and the band would issue In The Arms Of Devastation. The album’s artwork was chosen from among a number of fan submissions. The cover character would be picked as a mascot. A tour would follow in conjunction with Vader. Bassist Francois Mongrain of Martyr would tour with Kataklysm during its tour with mallcore band Chimaira as the band’s own bass player, Stephane Barbe, has to stay home with his wife who was expecting a baby. The band re-signed with Nuclear Blast Records for more album simultaneous to the release of the Prevail album. The band confirmed a show in Mexico City, Mexico for January 16th, 2009 at the Hard Rock live. This was the band’s first foray into Mexico since the 1995 tour with Incantation which ended up with the bands hating one another and losing money and appetite.
Nuclear Blast Records signed Ex Deo (meaning ‘created out of god’), a project of Kataklysm singer Maurizio Iacono to kick off 2009. According to the German label, "the whole band concept is based on the history of the Roman Empire and will surely please all devoted Kataklysm followers worldwide, but also fans of pagan/Viking metal will surely dig this!” Kataklysm guitarist Jean Francois Dagenais was producing the band’s Romulus album. Guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais was detained by American customs in Washington D.C. in 2009 en route back from Russia. The band claimed he was mistakenly detained for what the agents believed is a criminal. Kataklysm completed the song writing process for its next album in the winter of 2010, which was entitled Heaven’s Venom. The album was tentatively scheduled for an autumn of 2010 release through Nuclear Blast. Kataklysm and Ex Deo singer Maurizio Iacono announced a pizzeria joint venture in Chicago in 2010. It was the second branch of Albano's Pizzeria. The band had recently wrapped up recording Heaven’s Venom which was to be released on August 20th in Europe and August 24th in North America. Heaven’s Venom was recorded by Kataklysm guitarist J-F Dagenais and was mixed by Tue Madsen. The band cancelled its show at Wacken but would play Ozzfest summer. Kataklysm was hitting South Africa in May of 2011. Kataklysm was planning a twentieth anniversary DVD. Kataklysm was announced as the headline act for Hatefest 2011 European tour in December. Support was to come from Triptykon, Marduk and Milking The Goatmachine. In 2012, Rock The Nation touring Agency came to North America through Maurizio Iacono. Century Media America would provide marketing support when booking bands and for the roster.
Kataklysm would release a DVD, called The Iron Will: 20 Years Determined, in April, 2012 through Nuclear Blast. The DVD featured the band’s archival footage, as well as Kataklysm's show at 2011’s Summer Breeze festival. Waiting For The End To Come was the name of the next concept album from Kataklysm. Ex-Neuraxis man Oli Beaudoin was drumming while Max Duhamel dealt with alcoholism. Oli drummed for the band as a stand-in in 2012 as well. In the spring of 2014 drummer Max Duhamel officially retired from the band. Simultaneous to dealing with his alcoholism he admitted that physical issues with his arm have hindered his playing ability, something he had kept to himself. Oli Baudoin would remain with Kataklysm. Iced Earth would headline the MTV Headbangers Ball European tour in December. Opening were Ensiferum, Kataklysm and Unearth. Headbangers Ball was the name of a ‘80s MTV hard rock program.
KATAKLYSM - SHADOWS AND DUST - NUCLEAR BLAST
What to expect from this band? It has always been difficult to follow up on great albums. The originality of Kataklysm's debut MCD and CD were bound to set a standard, one that is rarely met. Several studio albums and line-up changes later Shadows and Dust is released. The obligatory 'innovative new album' is thrown into the bio but they go even further by contrasting their 'humble beginnings as mere merchants of brutal death' to their present 'maturity.' Labels and bands' insistence on insulting their best releases is baffling to say the least. Onto the music itself, the lead-off track In Shadows and Dust features some blasts reminiscent of earlier albums as do Beyond Salvation and Face the Face of War whose chorus is pretty annoying. You can hear some Morbid Angel in Bound Tn (sic?) Chains unfortunately it is the slow, painful Morbid Angel but the song does pick up before returning to the torturous riffs like those of Where the Slime Live. Overall the album features both the essential Hyperblast moments and the slower, painful and more 'mature' moments. One only wishes to have more of the former. - Sheila Wes Det
KATAKLYSM - SERENITY IN FIRE - NUCLEAR BLAST
The Canadian hyperblasters sure have gone through many drummers, Martin Maurais being the latest and his abilities are highlighted through the ten songs on this release. The problem with Serenity In Fire, like so many others before it, is that the drummers' speed and timing are made to sound mechanized. As a result Blood Of The Swans is rendered pretty much ineffective because of the drum sound in its opening and throughout. As a whole this album is what one might except from Kataklysm, periods of fast European and American influenced death metal mixed with slower sections that nevertheless remain heavy for the most part. Hypocrisy's Peter Tagtgren appears on For All Our Sins as an additional vocalist, perhaps coincidentally one of the highlights of the album. Songs like As I Slither and The Tragedy I Preach provide more enjoyable listening but Kataklysm will always be remembered for their debut and Serenity In Fire does not provide anything as ground breaking as Kataklysm's very early releases. Anna Tergel
KATAKLYSM - IN THE ARMS OF DEVASTATION - NUCLEAR BLAST
The last few Kataklysm albums were mere shadows of the band’s early work and were shelved as quickly as they came in so it is a pleasure to report that In The Arms Of Devastation is a better product. The band is still fairly generic, and whoever in the band writes the lyrics and chooses the titles should stop deluding himself that he is a poet, but this album finally sees the band move on from copying Hypocrisy and other Swedish bands. An unheralded artist supplies a great cover artwork and songs like Like Angels Weeping (The Dark) - an example of pretentious prose - To Reign Again and Temptation’s Nest are fairly good death metal cuts with strong rhythm, tight execution and audible bass. The singer is still fairly weak, as is the impotent drum sound, but this is heavy and fast nonetheless. Of note are the backing vocals, the patented Bolt Thrower riff on It Turns To Rust and the Metallica rhythm. This is probably the best Kataklysm album since the departure of the old singer. - Anna Tergel
KATAKLYSM - LIVE IN DEUTSCHLAND: THE DEVASTATION BEGINS (DVD) - SKYSCRAPER
This twelve-song long show, recorded at the 2006 Party-San festival, makes the Canadian quartet the latest to jump unto the DVD craze. Songs from the band’s most recent album, In The Arms Of Devastation, are featured most prominently in the likes of the opener Like Angels Weeping (The Dark) and in Let Them Burn and Crippled And Broken. So are some older favourites like As I Slither and In Shadows And Dust. The band remains relatively static on stage but nevertheless does well in a live setting. The German crowd seems enthusiastic and responds to each song, all of which makes for good if not spectacular viewing. As with every DVD there is the mandatory bonus documentary on the band. Not to be outdone three extra live songs are recorded in the band’s hometown of Montreal and five video clips one of which, The Awakener, features Sylvain Houde on vocals are also thrown in. The seemingly even more compulsory CD version of the show is also made available but as often happens in a package like this the visual version offers just a bit more. - Anna Tergel
KATAKLYSM - PREVAIL - NUCLEAR BLAST
Many a band decides to take the technical or mallcore route as part of their so-called progression or growth. Some others just slow down, offer mid-paced songs that can be criticized as repetitive and perhaps boring. Kataklysm could perhaps be guilty of the latter at times over their career. There are times when the listener is kept waiting for a song to speed up, inject some fast riffs or anything to supplant the heaviness. Being known for the northern hyperblast style Kataklysm however do their part on Prevail. The title track and opener is typical thick riffs, screams and growls much like their recent offerings. Taking The World By Storm starts with some heavy metal type riffing then moves into the sort of arrangement that begs for the aforementioned speed, the mid-paced riffs just keep coming. The Chains Of Power finally delivers some of what is needed and expected. As Death Lingers offers some more heavy yet somewhat melodic death metal. Blood In Heaven is mostly big and thick riff laden with an annoying effect or two and sounds like many a Finnish band in its slow melodic parts. To The Throne Of Sorrow tries to be modern with start-stop riffs to start but before long speeds up and moves into the blasting and again more of the heavy stuff. Breathe To Dominate is a continuation of the preceding. Tear Down The Kingdom is faster and sometimes even heavier and is one of the highlights. The Vultures Are Watching is solid death metal that spends a good amount of time in heavy riffs and screams mode but includes a heavy metal solo too. The Last Effort (Renaissance II), part two of Renaissance from The Prophecy (Stigmata Of The Immaculate), is a five-minute instrumental that closes Prevail and that comes complete with an atmospheric acoustic segment. - Anna Tergel