Released by Peaceville Records
Release Date: April 24th, 2020
Genre: Progressive/Alternative Rock/Metal, Doom/Death Metal
Jonas Renkse – Vocals
Niklas Sandin – Bass
Daniel Moilanen – Drums
Anders Nyström – Guitars
Roger Öjersson – Guitars
Hearts Set To Divide
Behind The Blood
The Winter Of Our Passing
Katatonia is one of the most interesting acts that were standing at the border between the streams of doom, black and death metal in the early nineties. They were first formed in 1991 by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström as a two-piece studio-based project. The early releases of the band had a death/doom metal sound which was influenced by the rise of the genre in Europe at the time. Their resulting debut full-length work, “Dance of December Souls”, was released in 1993. The bleak melancholy and despair of their sound continued to give them the identity of a death/doom metal act. They have recorded and released their second studio album, “Brave Murder Day” in 1996. Renkse experimented with clean, melodic vocals over metal instrumentation due to a desire to create more emotive and evolving music and the band decided to move in that direction. In 1998, Katatonia released their first full-length album of this style, “Discouraged Ones”, meanwhile they have signed their multi-record deal with Peaceville. Despite their lineup changes, the band has kept on walking into the path of music evolution, and they have managed to create seven more records until 2016, the year of release of “The Fall Of Hearts”. With this unmistakable turning point, the success of the band has risen higher, mostly with their latest three studio offerings, where many moments of excellence can be identified in their songs. Even though their sound is still focused on Renkse’s voice and Nyström’s guitar work, they seem to be heading towards an alternative/progressive style with each album, such as most of the forward-thinking bands.
After a small hiatus, Katatonia returns in 2020 with their eleventh studio effort “City Burials” via Peaceville Records. The eleven new tracks move into similar territories with their recent compositions, hence overall this is an extremely well-produced album which includes all the elements that the band has been trying to bring to perfection during their career. The haunting opener “Hearts Set To Divide” with the atmospheric vocal harmonics and keyboards evolves into a piece of smashing guitar riffing with a melting sad melody at the verse and a more intense ending. This leads to “Behind The Blood”, a more crunchy rock, a relatively more vivacious tune with powerful bass lines and impressive guitar solos. The heart bleeding vocals have a huge emotional impact of despair. It’s time for the leading single “Lacquer”, which could be considered as the softer track on this album. It’s quite electronic, less based on guitar work than the others, but still, the smooth, icy melody with the bittersweet interludes and the amazing vocal hooks have an outstanding effect. “Rein”, with the groovy but also infectious guitar sound and the slow electronic interludes which fade into a vigorous ending, is followed by “The Winter Of Our Passing”. This is a more intense, electric, atmospheric song, where the leading role goes to the captivating vocals and the perfect work on the percussion. Renske duets with Anni Bernhard of the band Full of Keys in “Vanishers”, a slow, sweet but sorrowful song that moves around the “Lacquer” vibes, but still the result is brilliant. “City Glaciers” starts with a groovy guitar work but evolves into an atmospheric melody with an eco sounding final effect.
“Flicker” is one of the highlights of the record with its own mysterious, hypnotizing melody and the emotional vocal parts which have a mind-blowing effect on the listener. The most particular part is the percussion in this track: by changing the drummer’s accent, the listener can’t predict the future sequence of musical events, so he is more focused on what will happen in a moment.
“Lachesis” comes as a short piano melody introduction to the final part of the record. Still, the vocal harmonies are impressive.“Neon Epitaph” with its crushing riffage and the touching verses in a supporting role to the mourning but also melting interpretation of Renske with higher notes at the chorus is a more traditional Katatonia song. The consistency of the drum parts is very noticeable and fundamental for this track. This outstanding piece gives a sensation of agony, despair, and emptiness to the listener. It’s time for “Untrodden”, another piece of excellent musicianship, where the calmness and melancholy are in full domain. The stunning guitar solo at the end gives the impression that the journey of sound and emotions has come to its conclusion.
Katatonia completely abandoned the majority of the elements of the doom/death metal veil a long time ago and they have created their dark, emotional, and mournful type of sound without any boundaries or limitations. This continuous transformation has brought them to search and express the more melodic aspects of their music and they have provided a realistic sense of sadness, loss, void, and tranquility with each of their songs. This open-minded attitude and the tendency to music evolution gives a unique blend to the band’s compositions. Every song in “City Burials” has its identity and style, which makes each one sound completely different from the other. “City Burials” is another step of absolute professionalism from Katatonia, a band that never gets tired of exploring and adding something new to their sound.
Written by: Katerina Paisoglou
My Global Mind – Staff Writer