David Galas - The Cataclysm
Neo-Gothic Ambient Rock/Darkwave
19 songs (72'38")
Release year: 2007
Vendlus Records, Vendlus
Reviewed by Alex

I have this thing with the new labels that once they strike a positive chord with me based on a couple of their releases I would make it a point to check on them again and again. I got to be a big The End Records fan this way, and I have a feeling Vendlus might be my next thing. First they intrigued me with V:28, and melancholic black metal beauty of Wolves in the Throne Room last year was unsurpassed.

Vendlus next promo package is here and randomly I picked David Galas The Cataclysm, just because of the old abandoned house and nature all around it cover art. Little did I know what that cover art was inspired by, and what my personal relationship to that was, but more about it later.

The Cataclysm is the work of the single artist David Galas, formerly of darkwave band Lycia, of which I know nothing about, as my experience with darkwave thus far has been limited. Broken down in Sections, preceded by short opening interludes delineating them, I did not sense that The Cataclysm is a concept record, not from the lyrics anyway.

If you do not have the patience for the lengthy mid- to slow pace album full of ambient gloomy music, you might consider listening to The Cataclysm by these Sections, as they do tend to have a common line connecting the songs within them. The opening portion, after Asleep in the Field intro puts you on a bottom of a deep gorge with ravens circling overhead, has the theme of steady rhythmic acoustic strum being the main axis. In this sense The Harvest is quite similar to what The Black League did on Utopia AD. Dark ambience fills in the acoustic strum skeleton, with a beautiful haunting melody climaxing in Alone We Will Always Be. This song, irregardless of the style, be it gothic rock or black metal, lays down melancholy thick. It is almost unfortunate that such a strong crescendo occurs so early on The Cataclysm, not to be matched elsewhere. A synthesizer rolling atop of the acoustics and David’s voice is mostly detached from reality, the first five songs will very much appeal to the fans of Fields of the Nephilim latest record. This portion is also the strongest on The Cataclysm.

The rest of the album, although still haunting and spacey, did not embed itself as much onto my brain. By the time Capsized ended I felt that the song lasted a little too long, with many repeating parts and little development. The off beat of September is quite interesting, and the anxiety in the vocals is captivating, but the chant in the following The Fragment adds nothing and different acoustic tone of Far Away from Nothing does not save it.

The Cataclysm section should have been the album’s pinnacle, and it does play well on contrast between tender violin and brooding guitar in Part 1 and harsh gothic riffs with prominent thick bass in Part 2. After that the record was simply taking its time to wind down, although piano moments in The Burial and percussion sounds of Middle Eastern bazaar in Shimla were appealing. Reclamation and Sect III are more oppressive, with piano waltzing harmony on The Great Ruins of Man and Something Fell from the Sky leaving some glimmer of hope.

Studying the booklet, I found that the lyrics are mostly quite personal pondering the meaning of life, lost love, suicide, but The Cataclysm dilogy does describe Armageddon pretty graphically. I was more interested to find out that the record was inspired by the events of Chernobyl in 1986, and the cover art is taken by one Elena Filatova from the deadzone surrounding the exploded nuclear power plant in Northern Ukraine. Now, that brought back memories. I was at the tender age of 16 when it happened, my senior year in high school, and we lived less than 150 kilometers from Chernobyl. I will never forget what it is to feel the panic permeating 2 million people metropolis (Kiev) and, sadly, there was little serenity in that. Population in the immediate 30 kilometers vicinity was evacuated never to return, and that is where the cover art pictures were taken, dilapidated houses, left behind children toys, etc. We were shaken with fear, after we learned what was going on, but in one recent documentary I realized that we were not shaking enough. If not for the heroism of some, the reactor could have exploded with the force of 150 Hiroshimas, leaving half of the Europe devastated and my family erased from this planet as there would be no Kiev left.

But I digressed. Not to say that if you use Chernobyl for inspiration you have to have violence in the music, but The Cataclysm left me with mixed feeling. The beauty and atmospherics are wonderful, but they simply last too long. Somewhere along the line, and perhaps my mind is always shifting towards the extreme genres of metal, I tried to imagine how these melodies would sound with some cutting tremolo riffs replacing the continuous acoustic strumming. Nevertheless, before you start thinking that my review is as long as the album The Cataclysm is very suitable when you are in need of relaxing amnesia.

Killing Songs :
Alone We Will Always Be, The End is Always Closer, September, The Burial, The Great Ruins of Man
Alex quoted 72 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:08 am
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