By Carl Begai
The footage is grainy and distorted, yanked from a decomposing VHS cassette tape, accompanied by audio better suited for a showcase on vacuum cleaners. The focus is on a long-haired punk kid by the name of Max Duhamel sitting behind a drum kit, unleashing an ungodly barrage of blastbeats and fills that should be impossible for someone his age. It’s his first gig as a member of Montreal-based Kataklysm, and a fine example of the band’s “no limits” approach to their career.
Some 20 years later, Duhamel is still raising chaos behind the kit – albeit at a much higher level – celebrating the band’s landmark achievement of lasting this long alongside frontman Maurizio Iacono, guitarist J-F Dagenais and bassist Stephane Barbe with the mother of all metal documentaries, Iron Will: 20 Years Determined.
Truth be told, Iron Will is loaded with so much detail it’s a safe bet that folks completely unfamiliar with Kataklysm would peg the band as playing 20,000 seaters a night and jet-setting at this point of their career. After all, working-class mid-tier artists simply do not release retrospectives this in-depth and extensive. Until now.
“It’s a very detailed and massive release, but I’ll be honest with you, we were worried because it’s so long,” says Iacono. “We were thinking that maybe it was too much, so we went back and forth with (record label) Nuclear Blast and realized that if we cut it, the DVD was going to be like everybody else. We didn’t want to run through it and say ‘The band made it!’ at the end and that was it. This documentary was done for the fans and for ourselves. It’s not made for gaining new fans. If that happens, cool, but that was never the intention.”
“We had to dust off a lot of things to get at that old footage. Especially the footage of our very first practice with me and my mullet (laughs), my cousin Fabio Agostino (guitars), and Ariel Martinez on drums in the basement. You can see the footage is old… ‘90 or ’91; that’s vintage, before Sylvain (Houde/vocals). We weren’t even Kataklysm at that point, we were TSD. My cousin had the footage and it was so old it wasn’t even on a VHS tape, it was on one of those little tapes you put in the VHS tape (laughs). At that time there were no cameras that took normal video tapes, they were about to come out. It was done on a handheld, a bunch of kids thinking they were gonna be rockstars.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: KATAKLYSM – A Crash Course In Determination