The Cleansing

Catastrophic

Metal Blade Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/31/2001

In all of my high school days listening to heavy metal, I don't ever remember getting into the death metal band Obituary. I might have one of their cassettes floating around in the Pierce Memorial Archives - cripes, Elvis himself could be in there somewhere, and I wouldn't know about it - but I've never had a burning desire to pick up the band's entire discography.

Trevor Peres was the guitar sound behind Obituary, and he brings his talents to his new group, Catastrophic. Their debut album, The Cleansing, is the kind of disc which will make you admire how this band refuses to be locked into one particular style of metal. But they are also the kind of band who will challenge you to read the lyric sheet to understand the messages they're trying to get across. While some songs are left to be a bit cryptic, Catastrophic challenges people to think - and that's a refreshing change of pace.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - Peres, vocalist Keith DeVito, lead guitarist Chris Basile, bassist Brian Hobbie and drummer Rob Maresca - could have easily settled into a co-existence playing nothing but speed metal, and they undoubtedly would have done well. But this band seems to know that a well-rounded musical diet is better for everyone involved, and they dare to slow things down and - egads! - throw the occasional melody into the mix. It's a different way of thinking about metal - and it works well. For every balls-to-the-wall track like "Balancing The Furies," there's another track that keeps balances in check, such as "Hate Trade".

But what separates Catastrophic from many other groups is that there is more to what they're singing about on The Cleansing than your typical gloom-n-doom associated with this kind of metal. I admit I could be missing the point of one or two songs, as Catastrophic occasionally dive into the cryptic, leaving some songs open for individual interpretation - for example, is "Messiah Pacified" a song promoting some kind of religious belief or backhanding the actions of those doing their actions "by the motions"?

The messages in other songs are not as hard to decipher, from the decrial of preaching the gospel of intolerance ("Hate Trade") to the warning of the environmental damage we've done coming back to bite us ("Terraform") to the declaration that we're trying to take science too far ("Balancing The Furies"). DeVito's vocals are occasionally obscured by the style of music that Catastrophic plays, but he's surprisingly clear for the balance of time. Whether you listen to what DeVito is singing or you read about it in the liner notes, Catastrophic challenges you to think.

The Cleansing is an entertaining listen, especially for fans of thrash metal (and, undoubtedly, Obituary). and pushes the envelope of how people will think of this style of metal. Who knows? You might actually like using your mind for recreational purposes.

Rating: B+

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.