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Music / Kataklysm

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Kataklysm is a Canadian Death Metal band formed in 1991. They are very successful by their genre's standards, though not as successful as bands such as Cannibal Corpse. Kataklysm started off with a very chaotic brutal death metal sound on their first two albums, Sorcery and Temple of Knowledge. The former is considered by many to be a classic in the death metal genre, with fans citing then-vocalist Sylvain Houde's diverse vocals, the album's eclectic sound, chaotic riffing, and drumming as definitive strong points. The band was hailed as one of metal's most brutal bands at the time, with a devoted underground following and worldwide critical acclaim from metalheads. However, things began to change when Sylvain left the band.


Then-bassist Maurizio Iacono took over vocal duties, and the band's music went in a more melodic, polished, and simple direction. They also brought in influence from Melodic Death Metal a few albums in, though the aren't really a part of the genre. While their sound brought in new fans, those who enjoyed their more technical earlier sound did not fully embrace the style. However, Kataklysm still has a strong following in the metal world, as well as a solid 12 albums to their credit. Their sound is often referred to as "Northern Hyperblast" due to their pounding and often very fast drum sections.

Aside from Kataklysm, all of the members also perform as the Roman mythology-themed band Ex Deo, which, while still rooted in the death metal of Kataklysm, also incorporates symphonic elements in the vein of bands like Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse.


The band's 13th album Meditations was released on June 1, 2018, and they are currently working on their upcoming 14th, Unconquered, for a fall 2020 release. Additionally, Oli Beaudoin left at some point in 2020, and James Payne took his place on a permanent basis.

Maurizio has a solo project named Invictus, whose sound combines death metal with both groove and melodic metalcore influences, and also features Mutiny Within singer Chris Clancy on clean vocals. Their first album Unstoppable was released on October 21, 2022.

Guest Collaborators:

  • Mike DiSalvo (ex-Cryptopsy) - guest vocals on "Laments of Fear and Despair" (The Prophecy)
  • Rob Tremblay (Necronomicon) - guest vocals on "Manifestation" (The Prophecy)
  • Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) - guest vocals on "For All Our Sins" (Serenity in Fire)
  • Morgan Lander (Kittie) - guest vocals on "It Turns to Rust" (In the Arms of Devastation)
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  • Tim Roth (Into Eternity) - guitar on "The Road to Devastation" (In the Arms of Devastation)
  • Dave Linsk (Overkill) - guitar on "Blood in Heaven" (Prevail)
  • Pat O'Brien (Cannibal Corpse) - guitar on "The Last Effort" (Prevail)
  • Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart) - vocals on "Cut Me Down" (Unconquered)

Ex Deo Collaborators:

  • Nergal (Behemoth) - guest vocals on "Storm the Gates of Alesia" (Romulus)
  • Karl Sanders (Nile) - guitar solo on "The Final War (Battle of Actium)" (Romulus)
  • Obsidian C. (Keep of Kalessin) - additional guitar on "Cruor Nostri Abbas" (Romulus)
  • Stefan Fiori (Graveworm) - guest vocals on "Per Oculos Aquila" (Caligvla)
  • Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania) - female clean vocals on "Divide et Impura" (Caligvla)
  • Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish, Devil You Know) - guitar on "Pollice Verso" (Caligvla)
  • Spiros Antoniou (Septicflesh) - guest vocals on "Pollice Verso" (Caligvla)
  • Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers) - guest vocals on "Boudicca (Queen of the Iceni)" (The Thirteen Years of Nero)

Studio Discography:

  • Sorcery (1995)
  • Temple of Knowledge (1996)
  • Victims of this Fallen World (1998; re-recorded in 2005)
  • The Prophecy (Stigmata of the Immaculate) (2000)
  • Epic: The Poetry of War (2001)
  • Shadows & Dust (2002)
  • Serenity in Fire (2004)
  • In the Arms of Devastation (2006)
  • Prevail (2008)
  • Heaven's Venom (2010)
  • Waiting for the End to Come (2013)
  • Of Ghosts & Gods (2015)
  • Meditations (2018)
  • Unconquered (2020)

As Ex Deo

  • Romulus (2009)
  • Caligvla (2012)
  • The Immortal Wars (2017)
  • The Thirteen Years of Nero (2021)

Kataklysm and its members fit these tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Max Duhamel. He checked himself into rehab because of it.
  • Brutal Death Metal: Most of their material prior to In the Arms of Devastation, especially the two albums with Sylvain Houde.
  • Careful with That Axe: Sylvain Houde, and how. Also, on the later material, Maurizio's signature alteration between deep growls and black metal-esque shrieks can be a little surprising to new listeners.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Sylvain Houde, sadly, as he has been on the street due to untreated schizophrenia for most of his adult life, and people have spotted him shuffling around Montreal while muttering to himself on a semi-regular basis. When an Italian death metal band asked for help with contacting him for a guest appearance in 2018, they were told in no uncertain terms that he was in a bad way and needed to be left alone.
  • Genre Shift: From brutal tech-death (Sylvain Houde era material) to straightforward brutal death with melodic elements (from Victims of this Fallen World through Serenity in Fire) and finally to groove-tinged melodeath (In the Arms of Devastation onward).
  • Gorn: "The Night They Returned", which is notably their only song to cover the topic, at least blatantly. It was actually set to appear in an independent German splatter/cannibal film of the same name, but ended up being scrapped, though it was unknown if it was written specifically for the movie or not.
  • Groove Metal: While not strictly groove-oriented, they are just as known for their groovy portions as they are their fast blasting sections. Said portions are often compared to elephant marches rhythmically, and have become synonymous with their sound, with Maurizio even stating that some have called the band "the Pantera of death metal". Their groove focused riffs gradually became more prominent over the course of their albums after Serenity.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: While Maurizio is one of the clearest singers in death metal at the moment, Sylvain Houde was only seldom able to be understood due to his fast, manic, gruff vocal delivery.
  • Instrumentals: "The Last Effort" from Prevail, which features guitar from Pat O'Brien
  • Lighter and Softer: The Iacono era. Not by much, though.
    • Their entire catalog after Serenity in Fire is this, due to dropping the majority of the brutal death elements of their sound in favor of playing up their melodic side.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Only one original member is gone; Sylvain. However, drummer Max Duhamel has left on and off, though he has been with the band forever. As of 2014, he is out again, and it's unclear if he will ever return.
  • Loudness War: All of their post-Sylvain albums are very loudly mixed. Even the original version of Victims, recorded in 1998, has this problem.
  • Melodic Death Metal: Have shades of this, especially in their post-Serenity in Fire material, but do not qualify as a full-fledged example. Heaven's Venom is probably the closest they've come to straight melodeath, along with some songs on Waiting for the End to Come. That being said, Maurizio does not consider the band as such and just calls them "death metal".
  • Multinational Team: Maurizio, JF, and Stephane are all from Canada, while James Payne is originally from Italy and currently lives in the US.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Victims was strongly influenced by Hardcore Punk and was significantly less chaotic and more structured than their previous material due to Sylvain's departure.
    • The Prophecy was a return to their prior brutal death sound, but with a touch of melodeath, which continued up until Serenity in Fire. Victims was re-recorded in 2005 to match this sound.
    • In the Arms of Devastation dropped most of the brutal death elements in favor of more melodeath, and they have more or less stuck with this since, gradually adding more melody to the point that their sound from Heaven's Venom onward is dangerously close to pure melodeath.
    • Unconquered adds back minor brutal death elements, and introduces 7-strings to their sound with strong groove metal/djent influence as well.
  • No True Scotsman: Maurizio has expressed this attitude towards deathcore, stating in a 2011 interview that to him it was "not really death metal". However, he has nothing against the genre, as the band have not only toured with several deathcore acts, but he has also stated that they themselves have gotten many deathcore fans into straightforward death metal. This makes sense due to their heavy melodeath influences, with shows up a lot in metalcore as well.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Maurizio used to play bass before Sylvain left. Until he became the singer, nobody really knew who he was.
  • Older Than They Look: Maurizio is 47, but looks to be in early 30s at most. For evidence, on the Iron Will documentary he looks, aside from his hair, literally the exact same in every piece of footage from the Victims era onward, despite that album being made in 1998.
  • Rated M for Manly: In every way.
  • Religion Rant Song: A common lyrical theme, especially Type 3. "Marching Through Graveyards" is a particularly vicious one.
  • The Rival: To Cryptopsy, at least in the beginning of their career.
  • The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: Sylvain left the band due to developing schizophrenia. According to his interview on the Iron Will DVD, it doesn't look like he's recovered from it fully.
  • Signature Style: Heavily brutal death and melodeath-infused OSDM with a large emphasis on riffs, blast beats and groove, with lyrics pertaining to real-life issues and mysticism.
  • Special Guest: Oli Beaudoin joined as a temporary session member while Duhamel was in rehab; as of 2014, he has been inducted in as a full-time member after Duhamel decided to step down completely. They've also had a decent number of guests on their albums as listed above their discography section.
  • Symphonic Metal: Their work as Ex Deo.
  • Technical Death Metal: Started off like this, but dropped just about all elements of it after Sylvain Houde left. According to Maurizio, the reason why they simplified their sound was because they felt that Temple of Knowledge pushed the limits of their musicality so much that there was no way they would be able to top it. They do have the occasional technical section in some of their material, however.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Of a sort; while their songs aren't exactly musically simple, they follow a verse-chorus song structure far more often than the majority of death metal bands.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Even when Sylvain was a member, Maurizio also performed vocals, usually backing him up.