Heaven’s Venom (Nuclear Blast)
By Mike Delano
When I think of death metal, I usually think of dense, dark music that’s listened to alone or in the middle of a sweaty moshpit swirling with anonymous blows. So I’ve gotta hand it to Canada’s Kataklysm for putting out a record that happily smashes those conventions and just rocks out. Not exactly Buckcherry-style, Sunset Strip “rocking out,” but Heaven’s Venom is at times much more swingin’ and groove-based than one would realistically expect from the genre. And it works. You might actually find yourself moving side to side (while you headbang) to song titles you never thought you would, like “A Soulless God” and “Faith Made of Shrapnel,” the latter of which even has a hardcore-worthy life-affirming refrain (“Every day, I’m stronger than ever!”). “Push the Venom” may even be a suitable death metal equivalent to Pantera’s “Walk.” There’s still plenty of brutality here, like the roaring, all-business “As the Wall Collapses,” but soon enough, there’s stuff like “Numb and Intoxicated” that should be on the jukebox at a (really cool) bar. Roll down the windows, these are sounds looking to escape into the summer air on your next coastal drive.