I have to admit that I consider Kataklysm as a weird case of a band in the melodic death metal genre, as their work so far has either thrilled me or left me totally indifferent. Despite being experienced and skilled musicians since the early nineties, they have not succeeded in maintaining their composing abilities in a stable, high level throughout the years. Unfortunately, that is the case with “Meditations”, their last record via Nuclear Blast.

Released three years after its predecessor (“Of Ghosts and Gods”), the album includes mid-tempo compositions mainly, where the strong, solid rhythm section is present one more time. Jean-François Dagenais’ heavy, sharp riffs set the overall tone of the album, while Olivier Beaudoin gives another excellent performance with his blasting parts and breakdowns, proving that he is a worthy substitute of Max Duhamel. However, you will not find the aggressiveness of the hellish “Shadows & Dust”, as the band has worked more on melodic patterns, like in the last albums, bringing them at the foreground in songs like “The Outsider” and “The Last Breath To Take Is Yours”. On the contrary, more crushing heaviness arises in “What Doesn't Break Doesn't Heal” and “Bend The Arc And Cut The Cord”.

Despite the good intentions of the band, “Meditations” suffer from lack of innovation and creative ideas, as most songs are just typical examples of modern death metal. The rather naive compositions don’t meet the expectations that a listener has from a band of that genre, while some melodic patterns fail to add the necessary element of “diversity” to the album. However, I should make a special comment for “In Limbic Resonance”, where the faster tempo and more well-crafted and inspired melodies give more dynamism to the composition. The overall outcome would certainly be much better if the album had more songs of that level.

“Meditations”, with a few exceptions, fails to attract your interest, as most songs are not distinguishable from the others. Hence, even after many listening sessions, it’s very likely that soon you will have forgotten what you heard; unfortunately, that exactly is the main drawback of Kataklysm’s albums of the last decade.

♦ 6/10

Alex Nikolaidis