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Katatonia - Last Fair Deal Gone Down CD (album) cover

LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN

Katatonia

 

Progressive Metal

4.23 | 88 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish alternative/doom/progressive rock/metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in May 2001. Itīs the successor to "Tonightīs Decision" from 1999 and features a couple of lineup changes as bassist Mattias Norrman and drummer Daniel Liljekvist have been added to the lineup. It was the first stable lineup in the bandīs career, and it would last on four consequtive albums.

Stylistically "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" continues the alternative rock/metal style of "Tonightīs Decision (1999)", but with a stronger focus on variation between tracks and experimentation with song structures and compositional details. Listening to "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" it becomes clear that the two direct predecessors were transitional albums, and that this album is a more complete release. Not that Katatonia stopped progressing at this point, because thatīs far from true (and in that respect this album can also be called a transitional album), but to my ears this is the first Katatonia album which sounds completely satisfying, and where I donīt have any complaints about sub par sound productions, underdeveloped drumming, or untrained/uncertain clean vocal performances. They hit magic here and maybe the last couple of albums should be viewed as training exercises to hone their songwriting and playing skills, to make them ready to write and record "Last Fair Deal Gone Down".

Katatonia already stripped most of their early death/doom elements on "Discouraged Ones (1998)", and although both that album and "Tonightīs Decision (1999)" are still fairly heavy albums, they are not the most metal oriented albums. Instead itīs artists like Tool and The Cure, or maybe more correctly a combination of heavy alternative rock/metal and dark new wave/alternative rock, which is a more valid description of the bandīs music. That description is true for the material on "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" too. There is a lot of use of light/dark atmospheres and heavy and mellow sections, and Jonas Renkseīs melancholic lyrics and vocal performance arenīt far removed from the most dark and depressive Robert Smith (The Cure) moments (take a listen to "Tonightīs Music" and see if you disagree). Katatonia have audible influences but they still manage to create a personal and unique sound, and they are one of those rare artists who are instantly recognisable.

The conscious decision to write a varied album with strong individual tracks while still maintaining a strong tracklist flow and album coherence works here and each track stand out clearly. While all tracks are high quality material, Iīd mention the four opening tracks ("Dispossession", "Chrome", "We Must Bury You", and "Teargas"), "Tonightīs Music", and "Sweet Nurse", as some of the highlights of the album. The performances are strong on all posts, and although itīs impossible not to mention Renkseīs soft voice, and heartfelt and melancholic delivery, the instrumental performances deserve just as much praise. There is a near perfect balance between heavy loud playing and mellow softer sections, and the transitions between the two types of sections work well. Add to those elements a powerful, detailed, and well sounding production, and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" is through and through a high quality release. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

UMUR | 4/5 |

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