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Katatonia - Dead End Kings CD (album) cover

DEAD END KINGS

Katatonia

 

Progressive Metal

3.99 | 88 ratings

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Necrotica
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal / JRFC / PSIKE Teams
5 stars "At night, walking on the tracks, change my perspective..."

That is, indeed, a lyric from the album. However, it's also a quick summation of when I realized Katatonia's greatest strengths as a band. One cloudy evening, many years ago, I parked my car and proceeded to walk to a bass lesson by my jazz instructor. As I crossed the tracks, I listened to Dead End Kings for the very first time on my phone and headphones. As I looked at my surroundings, every color seemed to melt into a muted blend of gray and black through the sheer power of musical atmosphere. The mix of crunchy downtuned guitar riffing and cinematic keyboards found in opener "The Parting" felt like a gradual descent into a different state of being altogether; hell, I felt like I was just teleported somewhere else entirely. Now, keep in mind that I was already a fan of Katatonia by this point. I was a big fan of Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance and the way they combined crushing alternative metal riffs with a melancholic vibe. But something about this experience was distinctly different.

On the more concrete side of things, the most notable aspect of Dead End Kings is that it symbolizes Katatonia's evolution into a progressive rock/metal act. There were always hints here and there, but this is the first time we get to hear those moments in a more fleshed-out way. Tempos are more varied, the rhythms are a bit more intricate, and as stated before, some cinematic synthesizers have been thrown in (and utilized more effectively than on Night is the New Day, as far as I'm concerned). Some songs practically ditch metal altogether, such as the soft palm-muted electric guitar chug of "The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here" or the melodious, textured doom rock (if "doom rock" is a real tag) of "Undo You." A few other experiments are brought on board too, like the strange piano-led swing rhythm of "Leech," the snare drum dominance of the more technically-challenging "Hypnone," and the fantastic inclusion of electronic ornaments to the music of "The Racing Heart." And what does all of this do for the band's sound? Exactly what it should be doing: giving us one of the most atmospheric releases yet by this band. It should probably be clear by this point that when I wrote: "Katatonia's greatest strength's," atmosphere was at the top of that list. And the reason Dead End Kings remains one of my favorite Katatonia albums is because the progressive elements gave them even more ways to experiment with the general atmosphere of their music. Add on top of this some of their most dynamic traditional bangers, such as "Ambitions" and "Dead Letters," and the experience is practically impossible to not recommend. A night on the tracks changed my perspective indeed.

Necrotica | 5/5 |

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