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Catacomb – When The Stars Are Right

catacomb – when the stars are right


When the French cult band Catacomb announced their return, I couldn’t help but being both enthusiastic and sceptic at the same time. Of course, it is great to have a band back that released one of the best 7” EP’s in the (modest) history of French Death Metal, but coming back as a duo (leaving out 2/3rd of the band) so many years later gives all the reasons to be sceptical. But when they announced they would re-record some classic tracks and release them as the ‘Return To Unknown Kadath’ 12″ EP, a title so blatantly referencing the fantastic 1993 ‘In The Maze Of Kadath’ 7″ EP, they made everything even more difficult.

That 12″ EP, ‘Back To Unknown Kadath’, was definitely a record that made it very difficult to feel confident about a new album, the debut album even, some 30 years on – forgetting for a moment the band’s brief revival around the 00s. I have a fairly natural aversion to re-recordings, it’s rare that these produce anything better than the original. So it was with this 12″, in the review I wrote about it I cited that I couldn’t imagine that anyone close to the old recordings would be happy about this transition. I held my heart regarding the upcoming album, which was released in late March in the form of ‘When The Stars Are Right’ via Xtreem Music.

And to start this substantive part with a conclusion, that reluctance turned out to be entirely justified. ‘When The Stars Are Right’, even after a good couple of spins, really feels like a downright disappointment. For a start, not only is it very far removed from the band’s original sound. Now in principle that need not be a problem, sometimes bands are ready for change or time has come into play. But when a different musical direction is chosen, at least the same quality and creativity is expected. That is certainly not the case here.

The Death Metal is free of the beautiful and alluring Doom Metal touch, in its place comes a digital-sounding kind of Death Metal in return. Both the guitars and drums sound too digital and thus too clinical, the feel is so expertly and completely sapped out of the music. Vocally, too, it all sounds pretty flat and simply unimpressive. The riffs are lacking anything that can propel the music to something memorable. Both in the faster sections and the slower, more melodic passages the riffs are not convincing. On the other hand, the electronic elements that have been introduced bring a welcome variation to the music, especially when they provide atmosphere in the background. The same can be said about the guitar leads, which certainly hint at some of the musicality. However, these are really too few ingredients to save the album from the disappointment it really is after all.

Xtreem Music

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