Led by vocalist Maurizio Iacono and guitarist/producer Jean-François Dagenais, Canadian death metal outfit Kataklysm emerged in the late '90s with a punishing and chaotic sound matched in extremity only by their reputation for being one of the genre's most fan-friendly acts. The band's style has evolved over the years from the tempestuous weight of early releases like Sorcery and Victims of This Fallen World to a more melodic approach to death metal that began with 2002's career highlight, Shadows & Dust. Prolific and remarkably consistent, Kataklysm have maintained a global presence through decades of hard touring and quality releases, eventually earning widespread public recognition in their home country with their 12th album, 2015's Juno Award-winning Of Ghosts and Gods.
Formed in Montreal in 1991, Kataklysm's original quartet of vocalist Sylvain Houde, guitarist Jean-François Dagenais, bassist Maurizio Iacono, and drummer Max Duhamel released their debut album, Sorcery, in 1995 on the Nuclear Blast label, followed a year later by a second album, Temple of Knowledge. Early on, Kataklysm termed their heavy rhythmic style as "northern hyperblast," nicking the hyperblast description from a M.E.A.T. Magazine review of L.A. band,Fear Factory. A subsequent lineup shift led to bassist Iacono replacing Houde on vocals for 1998's Victims of This Fallen World, which also saw the arrival of incoming bassist Stephane Barbe. With a few exceptions, this lineup would remain active throughout the 2000s, with Duhamel sitting out only 2004's Serenity in Fire due to injuries. After a pair of releases that followed in the style of Kataklysm's early days, they made a concerted shift on 2002's Shadows & Dust toward a more melodic, though still heavy, sound. It proved to be a career standout for Kataklysm in terms of critical and commercial response, and informed their approach on subsequent albums like 2006's In the Arms of Devastation, 2008's Prevail, and 2010's Heaven's Venom.
The new decade brought a new drummer in Oli Beaudoin, who had previously played with Iacono in his side project Ex Deo. Two decades into their career, Kataklysm found hard-won worldwide success in 2013 with their 11th album, Waiting for the End to Come. While tours of Japan, Brazil, and South Africa expanded their reach internationally, they achieved unprecedented acclaim back home, winning Metal Band of the Year at the Canadian Independent Music Awards and earning their first Juno Award nomination. They built on this success with 2015's Of Ghosts and Gods, which netted them the Juno for Metal Album of the Year in 2016. Returning in 2018, Kataklysm delivered their 13th studio release, Meditations, for longtime label Nuclear Blast. ~ Timothy Monger