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The Cataclysm

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Album Review

Recorded off and on over the course of six years when David Galas was on hiatus from Lycia — itself mostly in retirement during that time — The Cataclysm quite understandably follows in the vein of that excellent band, though naturally Galas's focus is somewhat different from that of Mike Van Portfleet's. With harrowing cover art taken from photos of the Chernobyl region matched by some chilling but beautiful performances, The Cataclysm often resembles nothing so much as early-'90s era Swans — mystic, mantra-like lyric deliveries, massive, textured guitar arrangements, and a palpable sense of looming apocalypse in keeping with the album title and theme. Song titles such as "Far Away from Nothing," "The Great Ruins of Man," and "Something Fell from the Sky" further set the tone, but while melancholia reigns, there are warmer moments in counterbalance — the rich blend of guitar and synths on "Alone We Will Always Be" could almost be an air of hope, while "September" has a similar bright tinge in the verses, if not the chorus. Some connections to Lycia are unavoidable — Galas has a similar fascination with obsessive, focused performances that seek to envelop and dominate — but he stands well on his own, and if anything, his voice also calls to mind noted Lycia fan Pete Steele of Type O Negative, an interesting nod back. Hearing how he counterbalances various vocal performances on songs — both higher-pitched and distant and then deeply growling on "The End Is Always Closer," for instance — further emphasizes his own specific approach. Add to this a sense of how to actually make a division of a song into two parts actually mean something — check the title track's split between contemplation and blasting rampage — and Galas's long-brewing work proves itself to be a masterpiece.

The Cataclysm, David Galas
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