Friday, November 4, 2011

Katharsis - World Without End (2006)

World Without End, the third full-length album from Germany's Katharsis, represented an even deeper descent into pure chaos. Released in August 2006 on Norma Evangelium Diaboli, this record witnessed the band finding their own identity, more than ever, for better or worse. While not exactly following through with what began on 666, Katharsis certainly developed quite a hellish sound.

"Eden Below" bursts forth like a torrent from Hell, possessed with utter chaotic fury. From the guitar riffs to Drakh's maniacal vocals to the intense drumming, hearing this is like the equivalent of a nuclear explosion in your skull. The riffs are quite frenetic and the drumming is thunderous, if not a bit high in the mix. The vocals have a little too much reverb for my taste, but this should not pose a problem for most. As the song progresses, the guitar melodies become a little more focused, though M.K. distracts from this, somewhat, with his overactive percussion. The pace slows down, around the middle, accompanied by some demonic screams that do well to convey a sense of trepidation. They fail to capitalize on this, returning to the faster theme for the remainder of the song.

The next song, "Kross Fyre", rises from the maelstrom and gradually builds up before unleashing a merciless onslaught of raw Black Metal. Though the influence is still felt, it is safe to say that the band had come a long way from sounding like a mere Darkthrone clone. The foundation is still the same, but the manner in which Katharsis built upon it is what made the difference. That said, this track never seems to get the momentum going. Just when it appears that they might, it ends.

"Wytchdance" is a lengthy song, clocking in at eleven minutes. The otherworldly guitar riffs are accentuated by an absolutely eerie vocal performance, really coming together to create a dark and hellish atmosphere. The drumming is similar to Gorgoroth's "Possessed (By Satan)", at times. After a few minutes, things slow down and the listener is filled with dread at the coming darkness. The inhuman wailing is joined by riffs of an more old school approach, lasting a few minutes. This bears a really ugly and primitive feeling, which is exactly what most people that listen to this are looking for to begin with. As the song fades out, one gets the sense of being pulled right into Hell, so much that you can feel the flames lick your flesh.

This is followed by "Ascent from Ghoulgotha", which starts out with typical Katharsis riffs, interrupted by a brief pause, before proceeding with the hideous attack on the listener's senses. The first few minutes almost have more of a primitive Bathory feeling, before transitioning to something more akin to the Second Wave bands that so strongly influenced them. There are some decent tremolo riffs around the middle of the song, though the production lessens the overall impact. Later on, the pace slows down and the down-tempo feeling adds yet another layer of darkness to the track. It all ends with a strange sample that inscreases the lost and desolate feeling of the listener, as if you are in a waiting room near the gates of Hell.

"Kosmik Sacrifice" is a strange track in that the ending sample from the previous track continues in the background, while the band blasts through a brief track, more for effect than anything else. It is less than two minutes, yet serves its purpose well and is quite interesting.

The album reaches its conclusion with the sixteen-minute long title track. The slow riffs create a very morbid atmosphere, hearkening back to Hellhammer's "Triumph of Death", with Drakh doing a good job in matching the type of misery found in Satanic Slaughter's voice, all those years before. The following riffs are like a nightmarish twist on Celtic Frost. The brief guitar solos that are added in are a nice touch, something that a lot of other bands should think of utilizing. The bass also seems more noticeable on this track, adding to the dismal feeling though doing little more than shadowing the main riffs. It takes about six minutes for the song to really get underway, but every bit of the build up was certainly essential. By this point, the riffs show a mixture of Bathory and Celtic Frost, though one has to wonder if this is as much out of real appreciation for those bands or because they are so strongly influenced by Darkthrone, thus being somewhat unaware of what they are even doing. The grim and primitive riffs then transition to a lone tremolo melody that is soon mated with more ghastly moans and intense drumming. This section of the song openly betrays the Darkthrone influence, yet again; nonetheless, all of these various elements flow together quite well and the end result is the lengthy epic that Katharsis had hoped to create for some time before this. The final minutes see the introduction of clean vocals that join Drakh's normal voice, albeit buried for the most part, and a very memorable riff to lead the song toward its demise. The Celtic Frost riff returns, fading into obscurity and bringing things to an end.

What Katharsis accomplished with World Without End was a vast improvement over Kruzifixxion. The songwriting is far superior, maintaining the listener's interest and making the most of their abilities. There are times where their influences show through more than others, but the overall impression is that the band developed their own style by this point, one that was easily recognizable. Though the best tracks here may not match up to the very best of their debut album, World Without End is probably the stronger of the two, as a whole. Seek this out with confidence.