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KATATONIA

Progressive Metal • Sweden


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Katatonia biography
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 - Still active as of 2019

KATATONIA have constantly evolved throughout their career but this has been particularly the case since 2012's ''Dead Eng Kings'', which showed a growing influence from progressive rock, and a significant turn towards progressive metal in 2016 with ''Fall of Hearts'', qualifying them for inclusion in PA.

This latter album shows influences from OPETH, SOEN and PORCUPINE TREE with longer, more elaborate compositions compared to the typical 3-4 minute compositions of the band's last 15 years' history, where the focus was mainly on alternative melodic metal. Despite this, progressive rock influences can be found also in albums such as Viva Emptiness and Night is the New Day.

....

Founded in 1991 by Jonas RENSKE and Anders NYSTROM, the Stockholm, Sweden based act initiated its career as a death/doom band, featuring dark dirges akin to early ANATHEMA, PARADISE LOST and MY DYING BRIDE. While starting off as a studio based act, the pressure to tour resulted in the creation of a full lineup that would consistently evolve throughout the group?s career trajectory. While their first two releases, "Dance of December Souls" (1993) and "Brave Murder Day" (1996) featured prominent harsh vocals, with the latter release involving Mikael ÅKERFELDT no less, "Discouraged Ones" (1998) shed much of the more extreme elements of their sound (including the harsh vocals in favor of a smooth, clean delivery) without reducing the somber and gloomy characteristics.

The band were then signed to Peaceville Records in which they released "Tonight's Decision" in 1999, in which Dan SWANO was recruited as a session drummer. The following year saw KATATONIA finally maintain a stable lineup. With RENSKE (vocals), NYSTROM (guitars), Fredrik NORRMAN (guitars), Mattias NORRMAN (bass) and Daniel LILJEKVIST (drums) as a tight unit, the band released "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" in 2001, an album that pushed the band further away from their doom metal roots and towards a more alternative metal style in the vein of groups such as A PERFECT CIRCLE. The band ended that year on a high note, touring with OPETH. In 2003, the band released "Viva Emptiness", further increasing not only their shift in style, but general popularity as well as they toured relentlessly during the months after that release. In 2006, "The Great Cold Distance" was released, and being their biggest success commercially and critically up...
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KATATONIA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KATATONIA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 48 ratings
Dance Of December Souls
1993
3.71 | 54 ratings
Brave Murder Day
1996
3.87 | 45 ratings
Discouraged Ones
1998
3.35 | 46 ratings
Tonight's Decision
1999
4.32 | 75 ratings
Last Fair Deal Gone Down
2001
4.12 | 70 ratings
Viva Emptiness
2003
3.95 | 82 ratings
The Great Cold Distance
2006
4.04 | 75 ratings
Night Is The New Day
2009
4.00 | 77 ratings
Dead End Kings
2012
3.48 | 48 ratings
Dethroned & Uncrowned
2013
4.03 | 215 ratings
The Fall Of Hearts
2016
3.60 | 66 ratings
City Burials
2020

KATATONIA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 13 ratings
Live Consternation
2007
4.05 | 21 ratings
Last Fair Day Gone Night
2013
4.16 | 25 ratings
Sanctitude
2015
3.86 | 7 ratings
The Great Cold Distance (Live In Bulgaria)
2017
3.37 | 8 ratings
Dead Air
2020

KATATONIA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.46 | 13 ratings
Sanctitude
2015

KATATONIA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Brave Yester Days
2004
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Black Sessions
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Discouraged Ones + Brave Murder Day
2007
3.00 | 1 ratings
Introducing Katatonia
2013

KATATONIA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Jhva Elohim Meth
1992
3.06 | 11 ratings
For Funeral To Come
1995
3.75 | 8 ratings
Sounds of Decay
1997
3.28 | 10 ratings
Saw You Drown
1998
4.00 | 8 ratings
Teargas
2001
3.86 | 7 ratings
Tonight's Music
2001
3.00 | 3 ratings
My Twin
2006
3.33 | 3 ratings
Deliberation
2006
3.67 | 3 ratings
July
2007
3.50 | 2 ratings
Day And Then The Shade
2010
4.00 | 8 ratings
The Longest Year
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Buidings
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Lethean
2012
4.00 | 10 ratings
Kocytean
2014
4.50 | 2 ratings
Proscenium
2017

KATATONIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Fall Of Hearts by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.03 | 215 ratings

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The Fall Of Hearts
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars I will never understand how and why Katatonia is so good. Is it their willingness to change their sound without pressure? Or maybe it's their thirst to experiment and play around with their music. Who knows? What we do know, (or at least me) is that Katatonia is a beautiful and amazing band.

Katatonia flirted with progressive rock on their previous couple of albums, but they never fully embraced it until The Fall Of Hearts. What we have here is a beautiful piece of progressive rock/metal that never gets boring, even with its hour plus length. The album evokes, at least for me, a cold winter's morning or a gloomy, rainy and foggy day. That would be the perfect environment to set the tone for The Fall Of Hearts. Musically, the band shows an impressive ability when it comes to performing, handling complex and extended - length songs with relative ease. The vocals are amazing too, and they fit almost perfectly with the overall timbre of the album.

Love darker progressive rock/metal, look no further. I certainly do. Are you a fan of Porcupine Tree? Do you enjoy the softer parts of Opeth's music? If you said yes to one or both of these, this album should be the perfect fit. Is The Fall Of Hearts a modern progressive rock classic? I think so. Is Katatonia worth your time? Hard yes.

 Last Fair Deal Gone Down by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.32 | 75 ratings

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Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

5 stars How many of you remember listening to your first album that was truly dark? And I'm not just talking about some brooding breakup songs by an arena rock band, but something in which you can actually feel the dread and melancholy pouring out of the speakers? I can safely say that I remember my first experience: with Katatonia's 2006 effort The Great Cold Distance. The moment "Leaders" blasted its way into my stereo with its grim atmosphere and doomy chugging, it felt like I entered a different world entirely. The songwriting was (and still is) fantastic, but the vibe was what really set it apart. Between the hopelessness in Jonas Renkse's crooning and the often sluggish-yet- diverse songwriting, Katatonia sparked my love and fascination with the darker side of music as a whole. But little did I know back then that the entirety of the band's catalog was a goldmine of alternative doom, and little did I know that my favorite record by them wouldn't even be one of the records I grew up with.

Gradually I turned back the clock on my Katatonia, checking out their back catalogue to get the full scope of their evolution. As I went further and further back, the band's original death/doom roots were becoming more and more apparent. But, of course, one thing never really changed: the atmosphere. Regardless, as both the alternative and doom metal sides of the band are incredibly well-executed, I often found that the records that combined both styles would be my favorites in their body of work. And from that thought process emerged my love for the majesty that was Last Fair Deal Gone Down. It was a gradual process, but eventually this one won over the others. Basically, if I had to describe the album in a nutshell, it would be "alternative doom metal with hints of progressive rock"; of course, there's a bit of irony in the fact that this sounds nothing like the Robert Johnson song of the same name. The experience is a beautiful synthesis of melodious hooks, subtle shifts in rhythm and texture, and downtuned riffing that really drives the melancholy and aggression home. That being said, the songcraft displayed here is simply incredible, and some instrumental oddities (such as the orchestration in "The Future of Speech" or the mellotron in "Don't Tell a Soul") expand on the musical ideas quite a bit.

But right from the beginning, Last Fair Deal Gone Down lets us know it's going to be an experience. The soft opening guitar licks of "Dispossession" sound like a blue sky immediately shifting to a dull gray, as if distorting our very world around us. What I'm saying is: the atmosphere is [%*!#]ing potent on this one. Granted, the tight riffing and intelligent songwriting pull it through just as well. The way that opener builds and builds before even reaching its first verse is admirable, especially in how well Katatonia can keep expanding on the same motif without making it boring. Hell, "The Future of Speech" and "We Must Bury You" place much more emphasis on lingering on the soft ballad-like sections instead, and it's just as effective. The cool thing about Katatonia in general is that they can use their technical prowess and diverse compositions to give us endless variations on the same mood. They might constantly be dark and dismal, but they've shown us that it can be expressed in such a variety of ways. This is even true for "Sweet Nurse" and "Teargas," which happen to be the most accessible and pop-oriented cuts of the bunch. If Katatonia ever had singles (perhaps if they started around the grunge era?), these lean slabs of alternative metal would probably make it on a greatest hits compilation. That's not a bad thing, of course, as the catchy choruses and Nirvana-esque "soft verses, booming choruses" they employ are memorable and well-executed.

I think the combination of atmosphere and diversity are really what put this above the other Katatonia releases. The band's whole discography is worth a listen, but there's often been an issue regarding the band being "too consistent and same-y." It's not an unfounded claim either, as the whole "doom-laden alternative metal" thing has been their trademark sound since Discouraged Ones all the way back in 1998. So it's a tried-and-true sound by this point. But in Last Fair Deal Gone Down, every song has its purpose in the tracklisting. Even the shorter pieces, such as the rhythmically-varied "We Must Bury You" and the slow funeral dirge of "Passing Bird" display variation in both the songwriting and mood of the album. The latter is particularly interesting, as the lyrics take on a more lifeless nature as Jonas drearily sings "too much [%*!#]ing emo; it's false, I know." But honestly, my personal favorite song on offer here is the midtempo chugger "I Transpire." The entire track has lyrical themes of being trapped and constricted by people who tap into the narrator's fears and worries, and the dark ambience behind Anders Nydstrom's guitar leads is so thick and palpable that the chorus comes off as both chilling and beautiful. If you just listen to one song off the album, I highly recommend that one.

But if you enjoy either alternative metal or doom metal, I really do recommend the entire thing. Last Fair Deal Gone Down is one of the most gorgeous and brutally honest depictions of melancholy I've ever heard in rock music, and the music backing it all is just as strong. Katatonia were at the peak of their powers here, and the melding of the band's alternative future and doom metal past was at its most balanced and fleshed-out state. This album combined the band's roots with their eventual stylistic shift, but it somehow captured the best of both in the process. I'm grateful for Katatonia's entire body of work and its powerful expressions of honest emotions, but Last Fair Deal Gone Down is the one I'm most grateful for.

 Dead End Kings by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 77 ratings

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Dead End Kings
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Dead Air by KATATONIA album cover Live, 2020
3.37 | 8 ratings

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Dead Air
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Dead Air" is a live album/DVD release by Swedish metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in November 2020. It´s a double live album release featuring a third DVD disc with a visual presentation of the performance. The album is a "live in the studio recording", recorded on May 9th, 2020 at Studio Gröndahl in Stockholm, Sweden. "Dead Air" contains 20 tracks and a total playing time of 87:45 minutes.

The tracklist, which was voted for by the band´s worldwide fanbase, predominantly features tracks from the most recent (five) album releases, although a few tracks from "Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)" and "Viva Emptiness (2003)" have also made their way to the setlist. There´s however nothing on "Dead Air" from the first four albums by the band.

What you notice right away when listening to "Dead Air", is how well produced the album is. This is an incredibly well sounding live recording, and it´s obvious the band have spend time and put a lot of consideration into how they wanted to present their music. In that department "Dead Air" is a top notch release. The performances from all involved are also professional. Jonas Renkse´s vocals and melancholic vocal lines are performed with conviction and he makes enough small changes to his phrasing and notes to make these recordings stand out from the studio versions. Guitarist Anders Nyström performs some very well executed backing/harmony vocals, which provide some extra depth to the vocal part of the performance.

The visual (DVD) part of the release is of a good quality too. Katatonia are not the most exciting nor the most passionate performers on stage though and "Dead Air" is not a release which changes my opinion on that. The quiet/loud dynamics of the band´s music doesn´t always help push their music over the edge of the stage (despite the brillance of the studio versions of the material). Katatonia´s music is generally better suited for headphone listening in a dark room, rather than being experienced at a damp sweaty venue (or in this case live in a studio). A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 For Funeral To Come by KATATONIA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.06 | 11 ratings

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For Funeral To Come
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Let's be honest.

The Nordic doom-death-metal albums of the early 90's are not aging very well. And this EP from the Swedish Katatonia is not an exception.

Despite the engineering of the extreme metal mastermind Dan Swanö, the guitars sound hollow and the keyboards dated. But that's not an exclusive problem of the first records of Katatonia, because the first offerings of Amorphis, Anathema and Opeth are more of the same in terms of sound quality and production.

Nevertheless, this EP contains two decent doom-prog metal tracks named Funeral Wedding and Shades of Emerald fields, not memorable but complex and funny enough. In the extended edition of the EP, there are two tracks recorded for a compilation which are pretty decent too, Black Erotica and Love of the Swan, which is more of a gothic melody.

So, if you are into this kind of Nordic metal of the early 90's, you will surely enjoy this "For Funerals To Come". But if you are more into prog or traditional prog-metal, you can easily avoid this EP.

My Rating: **

 City Burials by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.60 | 66 ratings

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City Burials
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars Katatonia don't really sound the same on any of their albums because they are always changing their ever-evolving sound to what they see fit. Bands who do this aren't doing it to annoy people, (although they might unintentionally annoy some individuals) they do it because they don't feel pressured by anyone to keep playing the same thing over and over again just because their fans like it. True fans of bands who do this enjoy all the different musical styles that a band changes to on their albums. I feel this way with Katatonia. I like all the different sounds they play. It's not like Katatonia does a complete 360 on us and changes to playing emo or something like that.

City Burials is the latest studio offering by the Swedish band Katatonia. The album was released at the best possible time for an album to be released, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What the band gave us is progressive rock and metal that is melodic, has lush and beautiful keyboards, and overall enjoyable sounds that are sure to please anyone, maybe even someone who doesn't like metal. Katatonia have been playing progressive music with skill for a while now, and it pleases people to hear such good sounds coming from a band that played Cookie Monster stuff in their early days.

Katatonia is definitely one of those bands where they sound so different on their early albums from their later albums that you can fool other people and even yourself by not thinking they're the same band. I recommend this to fans of the band who like everything they make, (AKA a real fan of the band) and people who like dark, melodic, and pretty metal. If you want to hear the bands proggier stuff, I say you listen to their previous album, The Fall of Hearts, and then come to this one. You won't regret listening to either off those albums, trust me.

 City Burials by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.60 | 66 ratings

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City Burials
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "City Burials" is the 12th full-length studio album by Swedish metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in April 2020. It´s the successor to "The Fall Of Hearts" from 2016 and features the same lineup who recorded the predecessor. Katatonia have a long history of changing their sound and musical style. They started out playing death/doom metal, then toyed with goth/alternative rock/metal, then started playing hard edged riffs and rhythms again, and then for a period mellowed out a bit more, although their music still featured heavy riffs and rhythms. They´ve had a relatively consistent sound on the last couple of releases though...

...and on "City Burials" they pretty much continue down that same melancholic heavy alternative rock/metal path they´ve also travelled on the last couple of releases. It´s the trademark sound of Katatonia, with dynamic use of mellow melancholic sections and heavy riff oriented sections with Jonas Renkse´s soft, emotional, and melancholic vocals and lyrics on top. It´s as bleak and melancholic as ever (ok, maybe not quite as bleak, but just as melancholic) but it´s unfortunately also a little too much by the numbers. There´s nothing wrong with the quality of the songwriting, the musicianship, or the very well sounding production job, but "City Burials" is Katatonia playing it completely safe, and I had hoped that the adventurous souls of the two mainmen behind the band Renkse and Anders Nyström (guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals) had felt the urge to try something different again. Twist their sound in a new direction and not just release another similar sounding album to the last couple of releases.

Alas "City Burials" is more of the same, and maybe that´s perfectly fine for some listeners, but I´ve come to a point where I´ve begun to find it all a bit tedious, and my alarm bells are starting to sound loud and clear that Katatonia have completely stagnated. It´s probably one of the worst critiques you can give an artist, but I´m afraid it´s warranted here. Very few artists have survived making the same album over and over again and I hope Katatonia realise that change is needed for the next album. But for all my disappointment and an attention which wanders while listening to the album, it is as mentioned above still a quality release, and it´s mostly in the context of the band´s discography that "City Burials" disappoints. Katatonia are still able to make some of the most heartfelt, melancholic, and darkly beautiful music on the scene and they do occasionally shine on "City Burials" ("Behind the Blood" is one of the highlights, as it´s a bit different from what we´re used to hear from the band). A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 City Burials by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.60 | 66 ratings

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City Burials
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars Thankfully, Katatonia's hiatus announced in 2018 did not last very long. In Autumn 2019 the band let fans know they were back in the studio to record a new album. Fast forward to April 2020 and the new album, City Burials, is out. So, how is it? Certainly not an easy album to get into. The first time I listened to it, I was actually scared: I loved everything the band has done since 2001 Last Fair Deal's Gone Down, with the exception of 2009's Night Is the New Day, and that was a sad day for me. I did not want to repeat the experience with City Burials.

And in many ways City Burials reminded me of Night Is the New Day. It may be a coincidence, but the band decided to work on City Burials when they were touring Night Is the New Day in its entirety in 2019, so I wonder whether the fact that they were playing those songs night after night somehow influenced the creation process of City Burials. Another parallel between the two albums is that many of the songs on Night Is the New Day were written by Renkse, who wrote the totality of the songs on City Burials. The consequence of this is that the two albums share one uneasy characteristic: the search for melodies that are not easy to absorb immediately. Vocalist Jonas Renkse never goes for the straightforward melodic solution, neither in the verse not in the chorus of these 11 songs. Rather, he tries and finds something unusual, oblique, unexpected. The result is an album that only grows on you with repeated listening (and I mean many repetitions of active listening!).

Another similarity between City Burials and Night Is the New Day is the fact that both albums are quite heterogeneous in the style of the songs on them. Several songs on City Burials are quite far removed from metal: Lacquer, Vanishers, Lachesis are built on layers of subtle electronic arrangements, with very subdued guitars, and an alternative-pop quality to the vocals (on Vanishers Jonas is accompanied by alt-rock singer Anni Bernhard, with stunning results). In many ways all these songs reminds me of the song Departer on Night Is the New Day, another similarity between the two albums. But then we have also songs that are much heavier - probably the heaviest stuff the band has put out in a long time: Behind the Blood, for example, or Untrodden with its fast and shimmering guitar solo. Other songs are more in the style of the latter albums (Dead End Kings and The Fall of Hearts), with their melancholic overtones and unpredictable structure (another reason why the album is not easy to absorb).

Thankfully, I think that City Burials is much better than Night Is the New Day: the quality of some of the songs here is amazing (Heart Set To Divide, Behind the Blood, Lacquer, Vanishers, Untrodden are all masterpieces and among the best songs Katatonia ever made). Other songs are somewhat a step behind in quality, although in many cases they have their moments of greatness (Rein, The Winter of Our Passing, City Glaciers). In all cases the spotlight is on Renkse's vocals, which here reach new levels in terms of emotion and quality. He has improved so much from the days of Discouraged Ones!

I feel that the second part of the album is a bit weaker than the first 6/7 songs (Flicker and Neon Epitaph don't do much for me). This is a slight unevenness that perhaps could have been rectified by producer Jacob Hansen. I also feel that the production is a bit too "light". This works well in some of the more subdued tracks, but in other songs I miss a bit more heaviness and aggression. But especially more guitars: I really miss more of Nystrom's usually mesmerizing guitar leads and riffs.

But overall this is a strong album, slightly different from the previous two albums Katatonia have released, mellower, more electronic and less metal (think about the collaboration between Renkse and Bruce Soord, The Wisdom of Crowds), but still retaining all their trademark gloom and melancholy.

 City Burials by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.60 | 66 ratings

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City Burials
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by alainPP

4 stars KATATONIA is an epic black / doom band a bit death and gothic when they were born in 1991! 21st album with live performances, 11th studio album, 4 years after their last delivery, he has worked to get the THEATER OF TRAGEDY, MY DYING BRIDE, PARADISE LOST or ANATHEMA, RETROSPECTIVE even more recently recognized. A good metallic rock with progressive connotations and dreamlike melancholic variations sprinkled with freshness. A more nervous album, less prog, more direct, lively and powerful, emotional according to Jonas. "City Burials" represents a catalyst for its creators, with a collection of titles constructed from the fragments of an ever-changing life. The finely played chords move away from the original KATATONIA sound to retransmit the band's journey, its doubts, its thoughts and its rebirth with this heavier old school metal opus and its touch of classicism. An album full of atmosphere and spleen due to the musicians' thoughts retranslating their fragile emotions about wear and the passage of time here and there. The LP and CD versions have a plus in the form of bonus tracks.

"Heart Set To Divide" starts the album with a crystalline voice, an ethereal, half-hovering, half-melancholy vibe until an energetic but controlled break; no shedding, just the tempo set to signify the band's paw; light synths, riffs, clear vocals and finally a good tune in the current doom prog; "Behind The Blood" follows with a very sharp solo from the start, then the energy of the heartbreaking title which gives the second main source of the group. "Lacquer" follows for a spleen, ambient, plaintive track, slow and bewitching tempo, already allowing to cut the atmosphere by a fracture, a shuddering track which should explode even more live in my opinion, also symphonic limit and the voice of Jonas well put forward with the different oppressive keyboards; It's pure, enjoyable, it's atmospheric.

"Kidney" then for a stronger, more languid track with Anders and Roger's guitar surrendering the notes; the well-placed battery allows the progressive break to break out at best, it's nervous and latent at the same time, the final climb can send you into a trance, be careful, the immersion is more than predictable! Note the progressive scents that emerge throughout the album without real sequences or precise breaks, the notes are bewitching, melancholic and form a musical space-time where the title seems to take on more length. "The Winter Of Our Passing" comes back to a tune in line with what I listened to at home a few years ago, also at PARADISE LOST for its heady and wonderful sound at the same time.

Already "Vanishers" signs half of the album, title here again more airy, raw, clear, a little tranquility for a romantic and atmospheric ballad in the tradition of a great ANATHEMA with its small end in decrescendo; to note Anni BERHHARD who comes to lend her voice on it with delicacy. "City Glaciers" for the biggest title, 5'30 "of gothic rhythm and variations giving a serene, calm and hypnotizing atmosphere, spleen also on a melodic and nervous side; a rhyme that also reminds me of RETROSPECTIVE at times. "Flicker" more metronomic, more choppy, with more synths too, almost oppressive and an oriental solo on the guitar, a good dense title, rhythmic with a final rise that suits me, one of my favorites.

"Lachesis" arrives for the small psyche, airy, piano interlude bringing Jonas' rocky voice to an aged and crisp soundtrack. "Neon Epitaph" for a somewhat agreed-upon opus, not bad in itself, but quite predictable; however the voice is more worked and plays with the various instruments. "Untrodden" already ends the album with a title reflecting all the knowledge of the group: clear, languid, plaintive and warm voice, syncopated rhythm peering towards pure rock, towards heavy and heavy rock with here a dreamlike guitar solo, this which is still a little lacking on the rest of the titles; an extended track full of a depressive and happy atmosphere.

Here, the chronicle of the titles is quite fast in fact, given the rather simple titles taken one by one, these same titles which, without connection between them, form a continuity by the intensity launched over the notes, by the force of the syncopated rhythm at times, limpid and icy of the other; a concept by the atmospheric environment lavished by these seasoned musicians and who begin to synthesize the substance of their dreamlike experiences to transcribe it here. An album for fans of cold and icy prog metal, that good sound that warms up with its abyssal and ethereal side, fresh and suffocating, playful and depressive, a KATATONIA that gets better with age, who would have believed that after more than 30 years of activity?

 Last Fair Deal Gone Down by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.32 | 75 ratings

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Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by 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. It´s the successor to "Tonight´s 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 band´s career, and it would last on four consequtive albums.

Stylistically "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" continues the alternative rock/metal style of "Tonight´s 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 that´s 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 don´t 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 "Tonight´s Decision (1999)" are still fairly heavy albums, they are not the most metal oriented albums. Instead it´s 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 band´s 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 Renkse´s melancholic lyrics and vocal performance aren´t far removed from the most dark and depressive Robert Smith (The Cure) moments (take a listen to "Tonight´s 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, I´d mention the four opening tracks ("Dispossession", "Chrome", "We Must Bury You", and "Teargas"), "Tonight´s Music", and "Sweet Nurse", as some of the highlights of the album. The performances are strong on all posts, and although it´s impossible not to mention Renkse´s 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)

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