posted on 3/2007 By:
Back in the mid-to-late 80's, I was a fairly typical, cheerless teen that spent a fair bit of time holed away in a dark room, ignoring the attention of my parents and just generally being a mopey, longhaired galoot. During those shiny, formative years, the staple of my musical diet consisted primarily of loads of heavy metal, but I also found myself occasionally reaching for a few tasty, dark, goth-rock gems as well. At the time, tunes such as The Mission U.K.'s "Beyond the Pale", and Sisters of Mercy's "Walk Away" served to quell my growing hunger for emotive, gloomy music, much the same way dispirited black metal and doom do for the shorthaired galoot I’ve become today. David Galas' Vendlus Records debut, The Cataclysm, would have fit fairly snugly alongside many of those bleak goth-rock records from genre heavyweights of yore, but likely wouldn’t have seen as much playing time due to some slight inconsistencies and because of its overwhelming length.
Now, before I paint a completely negative picture of this record right off the bat, let me just say this: there’s an album’s worth of strong material on The Cataclysm, you just have to sift through some dressing in order to find the real meat, so to speak. Nine of the nineteen (!) tunes represented are under 3-minutes long and would stand as suitable intros for any of the ‘full’ tunes displayed, but in a number of instances they’re placed back-to-back-to-back and bleed into one another with running themes such as animals chirping their asses off in nature. This becomes a bit more understandable once you’ve learned The Cataclysm is actually an assemblage of material Galas wrote over the course of five years following the demise of his previous long-running goth-act, Lycia, but some of these tracks need to either, 1) be further developed into more robust tunes – e.g. the acoustic, Alice In Chains inspired “The Fragment”, or 2) be cut from this record and offered on a bonus disc or future endeavor – e.g. the ethereal, dreamlike “Sect I”, “Sect II” and “Sect III”.
When The Cataclysm strikes true, however, it hits with full heart and grieving affection. Galas’ rich, deep tone is strong, convincing, and very reminiscent of goth-warblers of old, sans any of the vampyric swooning buffoonery many bands in the genre choose to employ. The guitar work leans mostly on strummed acoustics and celestial drifts at its core, but Galas occasionally pulls a nice, rippin’ lead from his sleeve as well, which is something I actually wish he’d done more of on this record. His many years behind the bass for Lycia also shine through on numerous occasions, conjuring old, familiar memories of the Cure’s more crushing, non-radio friendly years. And we even see the music drift into damn near metal terrain during the swelling culmination of the album’s fastest cut, “The Cataclysm Pt.2”. The record closes out with the solid one-two-punch of “The Greatest Ruins of Man” and “Something Fell From the Sky”. The former plods along with a cavernous, dismal gate before eventually drifting into its calamitous chaser - a tune that layers softly plinked piano with the sounds of a huge, grating, metal wheel that very effectively grinds the record to a frightful halt.
While certainly not flawless, The Cataclysm has enough solid material present to satisfy just about any fan of dark wave or goth-rock. And despite the record’s occasional deviation into ebbing, I feel this work stands as a sign of good things to come for a man who has definitely paid his dues over the past 20 years. I’d say if you’re a fan of the genre, you should lend this man your ear.
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