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Katatonia is one of those bands I’ve often stumbled over in diverse reviews, in interviews or in many talks with other Metal fans around the whole wide world but for no truly valid reason I’ve never managed to give them a try until now. The band is though often compared to some of my favourite acts of all times such as the now split-up French progressive gothic metal band The Old Dead Tree, the dark horror metal duo of The Vision Bleak or even the highly diversified melodic metal act Amorphis. Finally, the band’s brand new release was the perfect occasion for me to try out this Swedish quintet. The cover artwork, the booklet and even the song titles seemed promising enough for an atmospheric and profound release and that’s why I took the risk to buy this album straight away.
I guess this wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever taken. I’m negatively surprised by the faceless and weak production, the similar and unspectacular song structures and the lack of energy. Most tracks are simply keyboard driven and lack of crunching vocals, emotional guitar riffs or any progressive tones. I wouldn’t even call this a metal record but rather a depressive rock release without guts. I thought that this release would grow on me and many fans said that this album would need ten or fifteen spins at least before one would appreciate it but if it takes so long it probably means that you really want it to be good and listen to it often enough to drown your disappointment in floating depression. I gave this album about five spins and gave up. My time is definitely too precious to waste another ten hours on it.
This all sounds quite negative but I’m aware that there are still a couple of good tracks on here. “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here” is a surprisingly warm and charming half ballad where the guest vocals of The Gathering's new singer Silje Wergeland fit well to those of Jonas Renske. The track though sounds a little bit too much like a more recent Kamelot duet and the Swedish band should have made something more unique out of this collaboration.
The strongest track on this release comes around with the closing “Dead Letters” in my humble opinion that features some small but efficient electronic samples and distorted vocals as well as a dark and intriguing riff. This song could though also come from Radiohead or Tool. If you have purchased the limited edition, the song “The Act Of Darkening” also happens to be quite decent with interesting drum patterns and a focus on acoustic guitar harmonies that give the song a longing campfire atmosphere.
A few other tracks are acceptable and there isn’t a really true stinker on here, too but the band doesn’t manage to really stay on my mind or leave a deeper impression. I’m not an expert of Katatonia but this album here is only of an average quality and it didn’t make me want to discover more of this band even though they are so often compared to some of my favourite artists.