REVIEW: Derek Kortepeter – Cataclysm (2016)

For Aaron’s review at the KMA, click here!

cataclysm-coverDEREK KORTEPETER – Cataclysm (2016)

We live in uncomfortable times, and Cataclysm is an uncomfortable album.  In the liner notes, Derek explains that he wanted to do an album reflective of the current political and social climate.  Far reaching issues like mass surveillance and personal trauma.  The importance of the message, says Derek, necessitated vocals.

Derek’s an experimental artist that skips gleefully from genre to genre.  The first track here “We Are a Lie” begins life as a spacey ambient synth piece, before abrasive layers of guitars assault the sense.  Derek moans of painful things in what sounds like possibly the largest echo chamber in the state of California.  No prisoners are taken.  Derek doesn’t pander or make his music easy to listen to.  You have to work for it.

The thought police are on the patrol on the ambient second track “They Tell Us”.  Derek mentions Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as two major influences, and you can hear that on “They Tell Us”, sort of a morph of the two bands.  “The thought police tell us we’re safe,” but I don’t think Derek believes them.  On “Outcome”, the drums are in the echo chamber too, but it’s stuttery tremolo guitar that I dig.  That’s how you have to listen to this album.  Find a hook to grab onto, and hang on!

The album is most successful in its ambient synth moments.  These are truly beautiful, but I suppose it the contrast between this beauty and the harsh guitars that is part of Derek’s message.  On “My Life” he says “I’m controversial, hypocritical.”  Then there’s the powerful “Do Not Question”, a seriously emotional collage of historic sound bites.  “Every nation has to be either with us, or against us” says Hillary Clinton.  “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” — Robert Oppenheimer.  Heavy shit.  This merges into “It’s All the Same” an angry rant with an industrial backing track.  Continuing the contrasts, “For the Fall” reeks of punk rock with a hint of metal guitars.

Best track:  “Respite” which is exactly that.  It’s similar in style and function to “A Warm Place” from Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral.  A similar track is the beautiful “Nuclear Winter”.

The album will be available via indiepush.  If you want to support a daring young artist, this might be the album to buy.  It’s sincere and the most direct album that Derek has made to date.

4/5 stars

But it at bandcamp:



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