In the Arms of Devastation (Nuclear Blast)

It's a mystery why so many great metal bands have emerged from Francophone Canada, but Voivod, Cryptopsy, and Gorguts have heavy-duty competition from Kataklysm. These veterans (this is their ninth studio album since the group formed in 1992) have maintained the same lineup throughout their entire career, and rather than experiment, they've explored their particular sound -- a mix of Morbid Angel-style death metal with hardcore and occasional outbursts of headlong grindcore -- in every possible permutation. Kataklysm plays to its strengths every time out, keeping albums in the 40-minute range and prioritizing blast beats over wanky guitar solos or outbursts of prog-jazz dissonance. Who cares if this album's songs aren't distinguishable from those of their last eight albums? The biggest surprise this time out is a guest vocal appearance by Kittie's Morgan Lander; her shriek melds well with full-time vocalist Maurizio Iacono's grunts and bellows.