Released: 2006, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
“Oderint Dum Metuant” (“Let them hate so long as they fear”—Emperor Caligula). This phrase is on the back of the CD booklet to Cataract’s fourth album, KINGDOM, and with the love/hate relationship the metal community has with metalcore these days, I’m sure the band knows a thing or two about “oderint.” When 2004’s WITH TRIUMPH COMES LOSS came out, the market was just reaching its creative apex but in the two years since, every band with a guitar seems to be cranking out metalcore and the floodwaters are beginning to rise. So where does this leave Cataract? Possessing the same thrash/melodic death-meets-hardcore sound as fellow Europeans Heaven Shall Burn, Neaera, Fear My Thoughts, Hatesphere, Machinemade God, If Hope Dies, Born From Pain and Maroon—really, the list could go on and on—Cataract has a lot more competition but they have stuck with the same formula as on the last album, right down to enlisting Tue Madsen to produce, mix, master and engineer the whole she-bang and once again, it works. Federico Carminitana’s vocals are not unlike those of Phil Anselmo or present-day Tom Araya and guitarists Simon Fullemann and Greg Mader still kneel at the altar of King/Hanneman but unlike many of their metalcore counterparts, Cataract doesn’t just rip-off Slayer and there are certainly no sign of clean vocals anywhere. Instead, the band writes intelligent lyrics like Neaera and couples them with well-written guitar parts instead of relying on breakdowns and tough-guy posturing a la Hatebreed. Despite the influx of metalcore, there are still a few bright lights to be found and KINGDOM is one of them.
As a welcome change, “Kingdom’s Rise” is an instrumental lead-in that actually packs some punch rather than takes up valuable space. Building to a mid-paced, headbanging crescendo of double bass and polished riffs, the difference between KINGDOM and a paint-by-numbers metalcore record are instantly set. “War of Cultures” showcases the crunching rhythm section of Michael Henggeler and Ricky Durst (how many times do you think this poor guy has been asked if he is any relation to Fred?!) and the metallic riffing sets the whole thing in motion. Carminitana is your prototypical frontman—shaven head, burly, scary to old ladies and kids—and he barks with enough venom to capture the energy of the band’s music. “Denial of Life” and “Tongues Spitting Hate” possess enough thrashing mayhem and melodic twin riffing to draw parallels to The Haunted’s rEVOLVEr and Carminitana could easily be mistaken for a well-fed Peter Dolving. Breakdowns are used sparingly and in doing so, become even more lethal. The mid-paced groove of “March With Your Battleforce” slows things down to a Pantera-like dirge but the seething intensity remains. Durst’s double bass assault on “Legions At The Gates” gets the adrenaline pumping before Carminitana channels Tom Araya and “Unforgotten” is a battle-hewn forge into fist-pumping anthemic territory. The Slayer-esque “For Their Sins” bubbles up with aggression and is a fitting end to the album.
VERY few metalcore albums released in the last year possess anything that allows them to rise above the rest but KINGDOM is one of those rarities. The full, beefy production job is just the icing on the cake, too, because it would be very easy for Cataract to slip into a state of ennui, steering a generic album on auto-pilot and hoping to pull in a few suckers looking to part with $15. Fortunately, the band continues to challenge themselves and their fans by dodging the generalizations and mediocrity that the other 99% of metalcore bands are hoping no one notices. Just when I thought metalcore has been raped of any freshness or creativity, along comes KINGDOM with a fresh sound and bullet-to-the-brain vigor that invigorates the sagging genre.
KILLER KUTS: “War of Cultures,” “Denial of Life,” “Tongues Spitting Hate,” “March With Your Battleforce,” “Legions At The Gates,” “For Their Sins”