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The genius of Katatonia is a beautiful thing. Always changing, always defying expectations, and damn difficult to put down in words, their music cups its hand around your ears and worms a way into your heart. Numerous tags have been used to explain their sound, none of which are especially helpful (some of which are plain inaccurate), yet the experience of listening to them is full of surprises that words like doom death and depressive rock cannot hope to describe. 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' is a prime example of mid-period Katatonia - their most challenging stage from a generic point of view - doing something so far outside the box that this album still doesn't have any peers in heavy metal, nor many obvious comparisons from the mainstream rock scene.
At this stage, it's difficult to know if Katatonia is really a metal band, since there isn't the same kind of heaviness that one would expect from anyone like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Machine Head, Arch Enemy, Bring Me the Horizon, Emperor, Napalm Death, or anyone else you would care to mention. In fact, there is a deliberate lightness of touch to many of the songs on this album that defies our genre to come up with answers or comparisons. If I'm forced to think of someone, I might supply Paradise Lost, Sentenced, or Amorphis, though these references come more from a fact that those bands are also constantly evolving and don't sound quite like anyone else - there's no guarantee that a PL or Amorphis fan will take to Katatonia. Even a description of their sound might not help: they had certainly ditched the achingly poetic doom death and shoegazing grunge doom, yet one can still hear The Cure or Anathema as influences on some songs, which end up as curiously straightforward atmospheric rock songs with loud/quiet dynamics, almost in the same vein as Deftones have been playing for the last decade, just not quite so obvious. As insular as it seems, the closest relative is Katatonia's previous album 'Tonight's Decision', which possessed similar traits, such as the gliding then suddenly jarring riffs, the emotionally wrought though ripple free vocals, and the general atmosphere of accepting loss, but made an entirely different puzzle from those pieces. Where 'Tonight's Decision' was anguished, 'Last Fair Deal' is ambivalent; where the former was lurching and edging onto madness, this glides and drifts through memories.
That's the important thing about this album; it's not really about the style of music, but the mood. If Katatonia catch you in the right frame of mind, you will lap up every droplet of their output. 'Last Fair Deal' is much more hopeful than any of the band's earlier releases, with an attitude of recovery and consolidation, plus some unusual sparks of hope that shine through wonderfully in songs like 'Sweet Nurse' and 'Clean Today'. Jonas Renkse was doing something different with his lyrics by this point, picking out stories in beautiful detail and crooning them artfully over the variations of his bandmates. Nothing ever sounds too easy, because the music is always catching up with itself in some atypical way: 'Teargas' would be a radio song if the drum beat wasn't purposely made difficult and the chorus appeared before the halfway point. Each piece, despite often sticking to a verse/chorus/verse format, throws out surprises and creates vignettes that stick with you. 'Sweet Nurse', for example, is musically quite plain, yet is one of my favourite Katatonia songs due to the depiction of a man (presumably Renkse, since he was once an inmate in a psychiatric hospital) anticipating the visits of the nurse, who comes around "like a ghost at night...all dressed in white" and makes him "drink the water with [her] poison spilled". The images are simple, but with the careful backing of the instrumentalists and the weighted vocal delivery even a line like "You smile and say - it's a fine day" bears a depth of nostalgia and wistfulness that truly captivates.
The mixture of songs on 'Last Fair Deal' is another of its strong points. There is no feel of hurry to get through the album and many mid-paced songs dip and soar dramatically, while others choose a slower or quieter approach. Of the first type, 'I Transpire' is a clear highlight, with a drip-feed melody that haunts the music in its gradual ascent, as well as a couple of refrains that retain their power, both emotionally and sonically. 'Tonight's Music' and 'We Must Bury You' progress at a far lower intensity, keeping their restraint for most of their duration: neither quite come off in the end because they just lack the special ingredient of the other charged songs, even if they fit into the album without much difficulty. 'Clean Today' is a more overt experiment with heaviness, keeping a (nearly) standard heavyweight riff for its verses, while 'Don't Tell a Soul' is an unexpectedly triumphant closer that simply aches with potency when the chorus receives a double helping of vocals towards the end. I could go on describing songs until I've mentioned them all, the point of which is that there isn't anything that seems boring or pointless or predictable, even if a few songs ('Tonight's Music', 'We Must Bury You', and 'Passing Bird') don't quite come off.
The reason why it's so hard to describe Katatonia's appeal is because their music is in fact unexceptional. As you may notice, I haven't mentioned much about any of the instrumentalists, and that's due to the fact that no one stands out too much on this album. Instead, every part of the sound is built up in contrast to another, so that the overall feel is quite ordinary - nothing virtuoso or showy - but the detail and atmosphere is very special indeed. Granted, Renkse sings with greater power and range on 'Don't Tell a Soul' and 'Teargas' than any previous Katatonia songs, the drums are more unconventional and creative than 90% of metal albums, the guitars somehow manage to be memorable, atmospheric, and completely uncliched, plus there are a few extra additions (often electronic or keyboard) that fit really nicely here. 'Last Fair Deal' certainly isn't the most spectacular album - not even the most spectacular Katatonia album - you'll listen to, but it has depth and subtlety, which sometimes is even better.
Compositionally perceptive and expressively captivating within a conventional form of songwriting, Katatonia's melancholy and increasingly accessible music has reached a new level of confidence and expressive possibility on Last Fair Deal Gone Down, an album which takes a few cautious chances to subtly expand the band's relatively simplistic formula while maintaining the defining characteristics of the musical concept initiated on 1998's Discouraged Ones.
"my prospects have become less promising
i find it hard to believe in anything
seems I lost my world and so I lost my faith
and I can't go back to where I've been"
In the pop-music tradition of verse/chorus form, these songs offer a variety of alterations to that design much in the way previous album Tonight's Decision established, but with the track to track consistency in expressive impact and thoughtful arrangement which that effort ultimately failed to deliver, relating more in its sequential flow to the unified feel of Discouraged Ones, though with an attentive and inventive application of texture through subtle layering of musical elements, some of which are new to the Katatonia sound-world, such as the vague electronic nuances tastefully applied to songs like album opener "Dispossession" and the somewhat peculiar and slightly disturbing "We Must Bury You".
Though there is considerable sonic weight to this music, which has received a hefty and dynamic production on this album, the style continues to develop away from the band's doom metal roots. It is closer to identifying with darker, more atmospheric styles of alternative rock music, like a heavier version of The Cure's Disintegration merged with a bleaker take on shoegaze and indie rock-style introspective singer/songwriter music.
"will the street lights reflect me well enough
am I transparent when I am clean
will the darkness around me be so strong
that there is no way I can be seen"
The guitarists continue to expand in the realm of ambient texture as well as expressive diversity, using six-string chords towards an increasingly imaginative approach to formulating dark yet engaging riffs and melodic leads, with an abundance of intelligently applied effects treatments to flesh out the atmospheric sound-picture, particularly evident in "Sweet Nurse" and "The Future of Speech". But what really advances the band's music in the areas of structural flexibility and variety is the addition of an actual established rhythm section in the form of bassist Mattias Norrman and powerful, inventive drummer Daniel Liljekvist, who unite to provide a serious sense of urgency and underlying power to Katatonia's music the likes of which it has not enjoyed previously, while bringing a new sense of musical possibility that has clearly boosted the confidence level of the songwriters.
Another significant improvement comes in the form of Jonas Renkse's singing, which is as emotive and severely despondent as ever, but considerably more consistent in expressive potency and tone than his uneven performance on Tonight's Decision. His depressed melodies are better defined in harmonized arrangements while successfully exploring a wider range of tones, including higher tones of emotional conviction that express a different side of desperation and anxiety without sounding forced or out of context.
"I live 'cause I need more light
I hope I can change today"
Last Fair Deal Gone Down, while every bit as melancholic and artistically dark as previous releases, is an album defined by its stimulating instances of genuine development within the band's established aesthetic, a solid effort displaying a moderate quality of maturity while remaining a recognizable Katatonia work, which, while not as immediate as past efforts due to the degree of musical expansion and expressive variety, subtle as it may be, further affirms this band's standing as a highly individual and emotionally genuine prospect in the musical field of brooding, atmospheric rock music. As they have grown as individuals, their music has gradually crawled out from the nocturnal graveyards into the alienated urban settings that is the active landscape of distressed adulthood, resulting in a less overtly sorrowful musical character, manifesting a more distantly perceptive and examined approach to thematic investigations of experience. The empty late-night streets of the sleeping city have become more intimately influential to the band's conceptual observations, awakening a desperate sense of longing to break free from the miseries and anxieties of adolescent isolation, as opposed to the imaginative indulging in such conditions that characterized much of their earlier material. The music remains discouraged and embraced by darkness because there is still stark despair in that hope for change, and while Katatonia left their fantasy and mystery behind in the midnight cemeteries, their self-awareness and existential perspective has developed in a somewhat more pragmatic, modern sense of social detachment that arises from a reluctant engagement with society that comes with the obligations of adulthood.
Katatonia released another album with their signature sound. Some sort of mix between doom rock and very melodic heavy metal. As long as it works, I'm fine with it, and this was the last album where it still worked. During the recording of this record, the masses didn't dive right in the skulls of the musicians. There are no mallcore intuitions yet, and the overall laidback style works very well. Many of the songs are very slow, very melodic and very sorrowful. Honestly, they fell like a less progressive Opeth. You know what, it actually sounds pretty much like Damnation, only with distortion.
The album starts with Dispossession, one of the strongest songs Katatonia ever wrote. Not quite the artistic and emotional brilliance of Strained and For my Demons, but what doom metal song is... Anyway, it's nothing different from Tonight's Decision, which is actually a good thing. No experimantion failures such as the later records, or the unconforming style of the first few records. Katatonia influenced themselves by the right album. Dispossession has a cool style of chord changing. Original, but not too intruiging. It's an easy listen with easy melodies, but the sinergy is top-notch. Melodies that pretty much flow over the chords. Such quality for pretty much 5 minutes is hard to find, but look no further, Katatonia had it back then.
The next 5 songs (with the exception of We Must Bury you) are alike of that description. Each of their own quality. Chrome is slightly inferior, mainly because of the groovecore riffs, but it's still awesome. Teargas is even better than Dispossession, carying the same idea even further down the path of sorrow. I Transpire has the cool rhythm, and Tonight's Music has the cool chorus. We Must Bury you is the odd one out of the first six tracks because of the electronic drums. Still, it's quite a good song, not too special, but not too shabby.
After the six tracks it all gets downhill though. Clean Today is a forebode to what came on their latest two releases. Boring mallcore, nothing emotional. Passing Birds has the atonal chords that just don't fit, don't try to make a Black Session, you just can't. Then there is Don't Tell a Soul which is just uninteresting all the way. Luckily there are The Future of Speech, slightly comparable to the first 5 doomrock top tracks. Sweet Nurse with the infectious chorus and the egyptian-scale driven verses. It's okay, not very emotional driving, just passing the class with a 7.
Last Fair Deal Gone down is the logical transition from the artistic jewel that was Tonight's Decision to the mainstream driven Viva Emptiness. Not too sorrowful, emotional and mystique but also not plodding and heavy-for-the-sake-of-being-heavy. A very pleasent logical transition.
Despite not being a big fan of depressive rock/metal, I always regarded Katatonia as a quality band within the genre. The average rating of this album here on the archives also made me think that this was the band that would turn me into a big fan of this genre. Meh, I was wrong: this record isn't nowhere as beautiful or good as the other reviewers say.
What we have here, friends, is a pretty common album: the songwriting is pretty simple, with the same thing going to the instrumentation. All the songs follow similar (and somewhat repetitive) structures, which annoys the hell out of me: there are some winners here, though, but the stinkers surpass the winners in quantity, that's for sure. The inconsistency of “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” is even more accentuated with the poor performances of the musicians.
That is the big problem of the album: the musicians. With a better singer, this act would sound much better, I tell you. With, say, Mikael Akerfeldt as a vocalist, this record would be much much better. But Katatonia don't have Akerfedlt; they have a guy called Lord Seth, who is a pretty meh vocalist. You know the deal: not that bad, but not that great. The guitar playing is far from awesome, being quite atmospheric during most of the times. The riffs are pretty forgettable (and, at times, sound extremely similar to each other) and the solos are almost non-existant, unfortunately. The bass is inaudible (of course...) and the drumming very average and unoriginal. The atmosphere of this piece isn't that great too, sure the songs carry a somewhat dark and depressive vibe, but there are lots of albums out there with greater atmospheres than this one, even Opeth's debut carries a darker atmosphere than this one.
As for the songs, “Dispossession” may be the best one for miles, carying a decent main riff and a catchy chorus. “I Transpire” is also pretty decent, with, again, a great chorus, the same exact thing going to “Teargas”. “Sweet Nurse” is another clear highlight, featuring the best vocal performance of the album. “We Must Bury You” is somewhat average and “Tonight's Music” insignificant; the rest of the tunes are all weak, uninspired and, most of all, FORGETTABLE. I already heard this album ten times, at least, and I can't remember anything about “The Future of Speech” or “Passing Bird”.
So, a poor rock record (yes, because metal this ain't), at the end of the day. The songwriting is pretty bad and there are not many “beautiful” things about this album, it's a mistery to me why all the reviewers use that adjective to classify this album. Poor atmosphere, poor riffs, poor drumming, meh, don't spend your time with this thing.
Best moments of the CD: None.
Katatonia review for Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Katatonia decided to shake things up on their 2000 follow up to the brilliant 'Tonight’s Decision' this time loosing their last vestiges of Metal and going instead for a Darker Alternative sound. This album continues to receive mixed reviews to this day.
The production is solid and a few steps above their past two releases. The guitars are very melodic as the bulk of the heaviness is gone. There is a growly/fuzzy/dirty sound to them. The guitarists utilize a lot of effects and to surprisingly good effect. There are no solos but lots leads; this is perhaps one of the few familiar things carried over from the bands Metal days. The trademarked melancholy is in full swing here. The bands 'The Cure' influence is clearly rearing is sad head on this album as well.
The bass is all the heaviness on this album. Its heavy is the bottom end heaviness that the bulk of the Nu-Metal crowed used to get their “would-be” heaviness. The drums on the other hand are amazing, pushing the bands rhythm section to places it has never been before. They are beyond tight, precise and creative. They are truly the highlight on this record.
The vocals are at their emotional peak here with Jonas really trying to find his voice. Over all what he tries to do isn't too bad. He doesn't fall flat but it’s clear he's not sure what he's doing in a few places. The lyrics are also a step up from anything they've been to this point. Either they've taken English classes or they've started paying attention to what they're saying.
Despite a love for the bands older works this album can and does hold its own as this album is a total grower. There are a lot of good ideas here and the atmosphere is as bleak as on past three albums. This is by far the bands "saddest" release as well with the vocals only adding to the sorrow. This is a beautiful album and shouldn't be as good as it is.
A very distinctive new sounding Katatonia hits our CD players with their fifth full-length album, Last Fair Deal Gone Down. A lot has been made of the transformation this band has made over the years. From a dark and despairing doom metal band, to what we have today. I for one have welcomed the change and as the years have gone by have grown to appreciate what Katatonia have developed into. I don't see the dramatic change as a negative whatsoever. But instead I see it as a positive, proving what fantastic musicians they have all become over time with this new style of music which brings joy to many listeners all over the globe because Katatonia's music is just that ... Universal, and here is why.
The greatest thing about Katatonia is the fact that no matter what mood I am in, I can always listen to their music. They have an album for every emotion, a song for every feeling and strike a reaction in me that helps me connect to their music. Very few bands have been able to strike such a relationship with me. Last Fair Deal Gone Down displays a new side to Katatonia once again. We've lost the manic depressive feel Discouraged Ones conjured up through it's unusual atmospheric tendencies and wickedly dark production which was incredibly fitting. Instead Katatonia have regained a certain heaviness to their music on Last Fair Deal Gone Down. It's not the same kind we became accustomed to on previous albums, but it's a heaviness nevertheless.
Through uncompromising double bass and relentless distorted riffs, Katatonia have a new-found sound and an edge which perhaps lacked on Tonight's Decision. The vocals have significantly improved also. Jonas has always been a tremendous vocalist in my opinion and deserves a lot of credit for enhancing the somewhat depressive sound of Katatonia. However, with this new-found sound has come a certain upbeat nature with certain songs. It's a welcomed addition to Last Fair Deal Gone Down. On previous albums, Katatonia have had the tendency to stick to using one specific mood to convey the lyrical themes, but not in this instance. Different textures and a varied guitar sound have made this seem like a new Katatonia.
There are sections where it feels a tad too upbeat for my liking, especially considering the content of the lyrics. I feel the music and lyrics are juxtaposed and I don't tend to enjoy that. It offers a down point to the album as the music does not fit the mood the lyrics seem to be aiming to create. However, songs such as Clean Today prove that Katatonia still have the ability to combine all elements of music in their favour. That said, in general, Last Fair Deal Gone Down is a very enjoyable full-length. Though not the best by the band. Highlights are Disposession and I Transpire.
Katatonia – Last Fair Deal Gone Down
I bought this album from a metal shop in Melbourne for $30 Australian (damn imports), but it was worth every cent.
I’m relatively new to Katatonia, as I bought my first album, The Great Cold Distance, in January, but I’ve loved them since the first day I heard them.
Now the album...
It starts with ’Dispossession’, my favourite track on the album. Ander’s guitar opens the song with a closed wah pedal and a clean, reverberant tone. It sets the mood instantly, it’s mid paced, melodic, and almost ‘distanced’ from the listener. Then the drums come in along with the rest of the song. The sound itself is spacious and, as described by Dark_Mewtwo1, ‘disassociative’. This sound follows through the entire album, but it never drags. It manages to draw the listener in with Jonas’ intimate style almost as if he is telling you personally the stories of the songs.
The mood on this album is really my favourite thing about it, it sounds very depressed and emotional without being too heavy or too (and I hate to use the ‘e’ word) emo. It flows really smoothly throughout the album without becoming overbearing and provides great music for when you aren’t feeling the best yourself, in actual fact I’ve always found the mood strangely uplifting in its own depressing yet optimistic way.
‘Teargas’ is the catchiest of the lot, with a seeming happier mood compared to the rest of the songs and their depressing vibe they give off. It really stands out with a more upbeat tempo (whilst in reality it’s still mid paced) and the soft\heavy dynamic really comes together for Katatonia here.
There is very little here I could argue with on this album, it sounds unified as a concept, the artwork suits the album, the lyrics are great and although the bonus tracks could have been left off, (I got the special edition digipack) they weren’t part of the album in the first place so I haven’t reviewed them.
I would recommend this to any Katatonia fan if they don’t already have it, or any fan of more melodic rock in general.
I first listened to this album over two years ago. I had heard "Chrome" and thought it was interesting, so I picked this up. Since then, this album has become one of my favorites.
The opening track "Disposesson" brings the listener in, setting the mood for what is to come. This leads into the reason I listened to this album to begin with, "Chrome." The second song has some of the best lyrics I've read in a while. The chorus is almost like an anthem for the manically depressed. After a few listens, its hard not to feel a bit heavy in the heart. "Teargas" also has a wonderfully catchy chorus. "Tonight's Music" is another highlight. "Clean Today" gives some more metallic guitarwork, while the drums pick up the pace. "The Future of Speech" is another dark piece. The brooding keyboards in the back, the lyrics, and the melodies of the guitars make this one a bit depressing to listen to, but in a strangely beautiful way. "Sweet Nurse" has a bit of a different feel than the rest of the album, while not sticking out quite like a sore thumb. "Don't Tell A Soul" makes for a great end to this album. The lyrics gives a feeling of finality which lingers for quite a long time after the listen. My copy also came with 3 bonus tracks, but they aren't technically part of the album, so I won't review them.
There are a couple things wrong with the album. One is "We Must Bury You." It seems rushed in every sense. First, it is the shortest song on the album by almost a minute, which is pretty big considering the relatively short duration of each song. Also, the depth in the songwriting isn't there. It's almost a chore to have to sit through it to get to "Teargas." The other is "Passing Bird" for pretty much exactly the same reasons.
This definitely isn't something to put in while racing down the highway or while at a rauchous party. It music which demands the attention of the listener. It is highlighly introspective and thoughtful. The music is unique in that it is quite easy on the ears, but the weight on one's person is emotionally crushing. Just listen to the chorus of "Don't Tell A Soul." "When you have no one, no one can hurt you." What a way to leave the listener.
While some like early Katatonia best and other prefer "Viva Emptiness" over this, I tend to think this album is Katatonia at their best. All the peices came together. The arrangements seem more thought out than "Viva" and the lyrics are much more organized and intelligent than even "Brave Murder Day." Call me a depressive, psychotic, or insane, but I enjoy getting depressed from listening to this.
This is the last Katatonia album with leads! You know, Metal Archives is a great example of the idea that everyone is an individual. I don't understand all the praise for "Viva Emptiness", I really don't. The main reason for that is that it's basically radio-friendly gothic hard rock, ala Lacuna Coil. That stuff may not be in heavy rotation on local rock stations around the world, but it is definitly in the mainstream. Andthe biggest thing is that it has no fucking leads! I have no problem with exposure, certainly not if some good music got it's fair share of recognition every now and then. I encourage that sort of thing. What I don't encourage is dropping creativity and musicianship entirely just to sell a few records.
I say all that to say this...this album is a very special piece of my music collection because it is the last (I'm afraid) good music that we'll hear from Sweden's Katatonia. Andreas Nystrom, who has proven himself on numerous albums to be a superb guitarist, leaves his distinctive and excellent lead guitar parts behind following this record. In exchange we now have crunchy, highly overdistoted rhythm pieces that begin nowhere and end in a similar place. Again, I stress how unfortunate it is that such a great musician would choose to waste such skill and creative genius.
This album starts with "Dispossession", which has the best intro on the whole CD. It contains some classic Nystrom leads and probably Jonas Renkse's best vocal work of his career. "Tonight's Music" is another highlight, again with great leads and an atmosphere that can only be defined by the track title itself. Renkse's vocals are stellar once more. Truthfully, what doesn't stand out about this album...is the drumming. It's not terrible, by any means, it just doesn't stand out anywhere on the album. I think that's partially due to the emphasis (thankfully) on the guitar leads, atmosphere, and Jonas' vocals being prevelant. Jonas may not be a great singer, by any stretch, but he has a pleasant voice and I think that's what makes his vocals so awesome on this album. There are no stupid, pointless vocal effects or harmonizing, it's just Jonas singing loudly and clearly into a microphone. Personally, I love that.
The final two standouts here are "Passing Bird" (which begins to go in the Viva Emptiness direction) but works so well because it's a ballad much like "Omerta" from VE, and that particular track is the only one, in my opinion, worth a damn on that whole CD. The final standout is "Sweet Nurse", which alternates between melodic, beautifully led verses by Andreas and Jonas and a heavier chorus in which the layering fits perfectly. I docked this album a few points for the band's inability to make the drums more noticeable, and the utterly stupid "We Must Bury You". Which, by the way, could have easily been replaced by one of the extras released on the special edition and this album would have no complete failures. Otherwise I'd give it a 100% simply because it's the last great performance by the two founding members. I like this album better than the the band's two previous efforts (which are similar in style), and possibly even better than Dance of December Souls. This is just a timeless doom rock/metal album.
I seriously have tried extremely hard to find something wrong with this album. I don't know what it is, but this album is near perfect to me. Even though many people consider any albums past Brave Murder Day/Sounds of Decay crap, I think they are depriving themselves on some of the best music I've heard, which I lovingly dub "shoegaze metal".
From the opening track, Dispossession, you get a sense that this album is going to be very disassociative atmosphere-wise and very depressing lyric-wise. The music follows the shoegaze style, with the two guitars playing two slightly different guitar patterns which match up at certain intervals, and drums that keep the song stable. Jonas' vocals really stand out to me in this album, because they are pretty quiet in the mix compared to other latter-day Katatonia albums, but it suits the feel of this album perfectly. There are some great bass parts throughout the album as well, my favorite being the bass lines played in the background during the pre-chorus on Passing Bird.
Each of the songs on this album have a slightly different feel to them, but all share a common theme of depression. Chrome has a slight "broken heart" atmosphere surrounding it, while I Transpire, my favorite song off of the album, has more of a disassociating feel to it. But even though each song has it's own "soul", per se, the 11 songs flow perfectly from one to the next, so you don't have to interrupt your listening to skip to the next track. It's that good.
Some of the notable parts for me include the chorus to I Transpire, with the keyboard/organ playing in the background, the guitars creating a sort of wash that helps bring out those keyboard melodies, and Jonas' depressing voice just mixing together, it sounds amazing to my ears. Clean Today's riff sounds crunchy and very metal, while Passing Bird's guitar parts sound more sludgy. And while I noticed that a lot of people didn't like it, I love the electronic drum thing on We Must Bury You, it's something that you really wouldn't expect from Katatonia, yet they do it and (at least IMO) do it convincingly.
Sadly, the only thing I knocked off the two points for is the beginning part of Sweet Nurse, which sounds too upbeat compared to the rest of the album. I like the sound of it, but I feel it's out of place. Everything else in this album to me is perfect, from the vocals to the extra keyboard melodies placed throughout, this is definitely one of my all time favorite albums, and I hope many of you can enjoy this for what it is, not flog it for what the band was.
Katatonia is a band that have taken many turns throughout their career. They started out as an outfit of two, releasing the raw almost black-like sorrow of "Dance of December Souls". Eventually they moved on to producing solid Doom/Death with Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals, putting out "Brave Murder Day" and the "Sounds of Decay" EP. After disbanding for a short period of time in 1998 they made a big change and turned into a more rock-ish band featuring clean vocals by founding member Jonas Renske.
Following "Discouraged Ones" and "Tonight's Decision", this is their third release to feature those clean vocals. Many may think moving from growls to those vocals would be a move toward commercialism rather than quality, but that is not the case with this band. The "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" incarnation of Katatonia puts solid songwriting first while still retaining much of the emotion of their older albums. Much of their earlier craft grows more solid here. Better production and more audible clean vocals, as Jonas Renske has had a tendency of improving them by each new release.
The greatness of this album clearly lies in the emotion, the songwriting craft and the balance. While the band tend to throw huge amounts of emotion on the listener in choruses and heavy moments, they alternate the bombast with chilling sections. That's a very smart move in my book, because it never feels forced and overdone. All of my favourite songs on here tend to rely on this formula ("Teargas", "Chrome", "Tonight's Music" and "The Future of Speech").
One doesn't have to analyze far to find this pattern. Just comparing the "Who would call my name without regretting?" part in "Tonight's Music" to the chorus highlights so well how Katatonia capitalize on their ridicilously effective songwriting. They also have enough sense of variation in the flesh of the songs to stop it from becoming tedious. Alternating song lenghts, themes and generally trying different things instrumentally in each one breeds perfection. Once again balance is the keyword.
The progression that became "Viva Emptiness" is also present sometimes in here. Some songs, like "Clean Today" and "Sweet Nurse" carry that same story telling vibe that so much of "Viva.." has. Especially "Clean Today" is an immensely strong track. It combines what quite possibly is the heaviest guitar riffs on this disc with some of the most well-written lyrics. It tops it off with an infectious chorus. The interesting take on the alcohol topic is also quite original.
Looking at the tracklist I only find two tracks who are inferior to the others. "We Must Bury You" and "Passing Bird" are okay songs, but nowhere near equaling the genious of the rest of the disc. Beside this, I find about zero criticism to hand out.
All in all, I find "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" to be the best of the clean vocal-era Katatonia albums. This is a must have for fans of emotional music. I can't recommend this CD enough.
Yes, that's what this album is, simply beautiful ! Another thing, this album was the one who gave a different and more unique sound to Katatonia.
The main difference among all Katatonia early albums and this one is that, this is more complex in its own way, in previous releases Katatonia's sound is way more simple, only with one or two guitar in their sound, in this album not (listen to 'I, Transpire', it has at least 3 guitars in the beggining) and plus, they're using more keyboards also, which gives a more melancholy feeling to their sound !
The reason i didn't gave 100 in this album is 'We Must Bury You' that's quite crappy i must say, that electronic chorus is so NOT-Katatonia, with annoying lyrics and weak melody.
Beside that minor flaw, the album has powerfull and catchy melodies like 'Teargas' that is the best song in here, since the beggining of the song you can feel that sad and melancholy feeling that only Katatonia can give you, the verse and the chorus are quite nice and you'll sing those sad words at least for a week !
'I, Transpire' has a weird title but its also great, the intro is very different of almost all Katatonia songs, it's a mid-paced melody with guitars yelling sadness and the chorus has the more depressing lyrics you've ever heard in a Metal/Rock song.
The next great song is 'Sweet Nurse', don't fool yourself with the beggining, cause it is a little happy for Katatonia patterns of music, but the lyrics are Katatonia-ish, i mean.. Jonas Renkse-ish, very depressing and beautiful.
This album its the best in Katatonia's catalogue, if you're new to the band, it is a good way to start listening, if you like nice melodies and clean emotional vocals, this is for you too, so its a MUST OWN !
Jonas Renske has got to be one of the most depressed people I've ever 'met'. The way this guy writes and sings his lyrics, with such a human feeling of conviction and defense and noble hopelessness is simply awe-inspiring. He may not have the most variation and range in his voice, but he gives the impression of singing from the heart, and it makes him one of my favorite metal vocalists ever.
There are a few obvious highlights for me on Last Fair Deal Gone Down, such as Chrome, Teargas, and Clean Today, but really, with the exception of We Must Bury You, there is not a bad moment on the whole album. Quite simply, Katatonia are a band who play to a style very much their own, knowing exactly how to make the most of that style. And make no mistake, the style that they play can very much be 'genre-tized' as Doom Metal. Slow, often sludgy songs? Check. Dreary and gloomy choruses that depress one more than a chorus should? Check. Lyrics that make you think 'I want to be happy, so why am I listening to this?' Check. And it's all done with more distorted geetars and time-changes than you kin shake a stick at, so there.
Whether you 'get' them or not, there is no denying that Katatonia is in a league of their own when it comes to personifying gloom through sound, and that's what doom metal is about, isnit?
Katatonia have steered even further from their metal roots on Last Fair Deal Gone Down. They have experimented further into alternative/hard rock(less metal) with this album. Jonas Renske still maintains powerful emotional vocals but they aren't quite as dark or sorrowful as previous efforts like Dance of December Souls or Discouraged Ones. Katatonia continue to flourish with their stop(soft verse)/start dynamics(heavy chorus) but the lead guitar melodies, dark vocals aren't quite up to the same high standard as previous releases. Keyboards add an extra dimension, atmosphere is still excellent but something is missing at times that prevents Last Fair Deal Gone Down from being an amazing release.
This album starts with Dispossession, best song of the album and one of Katatonia's best songs. Excelllent atmosphere, very good guitar melodies and variety of guitar parts as well as comparable vocal performances(and overall) to older material and the best use of keyboard on this album. Chrome shows how this album differs from older Katatonia albums, still has some great guitar riffs and catchy, fairly dark melodies. Great song but no Dispossession. We Must Bury You is a disappointment and one reason for the lower grade, lyrically and musically not very interesting and quite short. Teargas almost seems optimistic for Katatonia standards. Very catchy awesome track with an intro that is almost reminiscent of U2(better obviously). One of my favorites on the album.
The rest of the album is either solid or very good the rest of the way through. Tonights Music, The Future of Speech being excellent. This album is a very logical step in Katatonia's evolution. I just believed Jonas was at the top of his game with darker Katatonia albums. They have certainly taken steps to evolve their sound and distinguish this from other albums in their catalogue. It is a great release, recommended for anyone who enjoys alternative/hard rock with a dark edge to it. Favorite tracks: Dispossession, Teargas, Tonights Music, The Future of Speech.
What the fuck?
No, seriously, what the fuck?
After getting this album from a friend, I was prepared to hate it. I try to keep an open mind, but I thought of what I knew about modern Katatonia and came up with the following:
•Slick, melodic, semi-doom metal.
•Vocals that resemble modern alternative rock.
•Not all that much distortion.
And indeed, this album consists of all of the above. So the question is...why the hell do I like it so much?
As Thrash_Till_Death said, Last Fair Deal Gone Down might not be a metal album. At worst, though, it's melodic hard rock, and there are some definite metal moments - just about every song contains a metal riff or two. What is remarkable about Fair Deal is Katatonia's ability to convey incredible amounts of emotion with simple passages, melodies just technical enough to avoid boredom and loaded with a darkness that rescues them from sappiness.
Jonas Renske does indeed sound like an alt-rock vocalist, but he's an alt-rock vocalist singing great melodies. Perhaps the great part is that instead of throwing himself into the songs with passion and emotion, he frequently uses a somewhat dispassionate style (often achieved by multi-tracking) that counterbalances the music; when the music is more basic and heavy, his voice gets more emotional. It's a great tradeoff, and makes this one of the best "mellow out" albums around.
Fair Deal does have some flawed tracks. "We Must Bury You," after an interesting intro that contrasts a light melody with haunting vocals and lyrics ("We had you down upon your knees/We were kicking you in the head"), goes into a stupid, techno-sounding chorus that grates on the nerves like sandpaper. Skip after 45 seconds. "Passing Bird" tries to be doomy and drags instead, the drums often seeming just a bit too slow to match the already sludgy music. The chorus is notable for two things: 1) the first use of the word "emo" by a metal band that I know of (though they pronounce it wrong) 2) an utterly unnecessary and jarring "fuck" thrown in for no reason. The rest of the song is listenable, the chorus is rank. "Sweet Nurse" has an annoying keyboard echo effect throughout that just renders the song irritating.
The rest of the album, pretty much, is all good. The best song is "Clean Today," with the heaviest riff on the album leading into a really excellent, catchy melody. The verses are pure doom metal, with that sort of "numb" vocal style; the chorus is one of the catchiest things in metal but utterly headbangable as well. Relatively simple, but absolutely perfectly crafted.
"Tear Gas" is a lighter track (though certainly not in mood) that relies on the vocals to create the saddened mood before another one of those utterly incredible choruses. The closer, "Don't Tell A Soul," has a cool swing intro (kicking in at 0:25), the best of the rare guitar solos, and a stomping metal riff under a chorus that, you guessed it, really kicks ass. The Katatonia chorus method involves a base of heavy, pouding rhythm guitar, a catchy lead melody, and Renske's vocals finding the Magic Chorus Notes that get stuck in your head and won't get out unless you take a handsaw to your skull. In this case, that's a good thing.
"Transpire" is another good piece, probably the overall most metal song on the album with pure doom sections beginning at 1:43 and continuing throughout. The rest basically follow the same rules - quiet intro, melodic verses, good-excellent heavier choruses, supreme chill music. Not that I'm using this review as a platform for drug use, but this is an excellent stoner CD.
And there you have it. A bonafide thrasher such as myself finds in it his blackened, steak-clogged, malevolent heart to let himself be affected by this music, and it's pretty damn good. Anyone who is seeking some music to lower their blood pressure, soothe their overactive mind, and possibly open up the emo floodgates (a necessary cleansing) should check this album out.
This album marked the drastic change from the repetitive--yet emotional--guitar lines and similar-sounding--yet still effective--songs of Discouraged Ones and Tonight's Decision, to the much more dynamic sound Katatonia currently possesses.
As "Dispossession" explodes with a beautiful synthesizer line and a new ferocious drum sound, it is obvious that this album is a departure from previous Katatonia records. One difference is the production; Tonight's Decision featured a somewhat "muddy" sound, while Last Fair Deal Gone Down is 100% crystal clear. Anders Nystrom's guitar lines sound more mournful than ever, and the presence of new drummer Daniel Liljekvist is immediately felt with a perfect drum production. Jonas is in top form as usual, and when the 4th track on the album, "Teargas," rolls around, one gets the feeling that Katatonia have reached a new high. Teargas features a beautiful introduction, an incredibly catchy chorus, and perhaps Nystrom's most expressive lead guitar line ever.
Other highlight tracks include "Passing Bird" and "Sweet Nurse," both of which are unlike anything Katatonia has ever recorded. Passing Bird, for lack of a better term, almost sounds "hip," and has a classic Katatonia line: "Too much fucking emo, it's false I know." Sweet Nurse is the closest Katatonia has ever come to writing a happy song. The lyrics are definitely not cheery, but the song certainly isn't depressing. In addition, it is catchy as hell.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Last Fair Deal Gone Down features two of Katatonia's most depressing songs ever: "Tonight's Music," and "The Future Of Speech." Both deal with the beloved Katatonia topic of loneliness, but feature more dynamics and depth than their older material, no matter how great it was (and still is).
While not reaching the emotional highs (well, lows) of Discouraged Ones or Brave Murder Day, Last Fair Deal Gone Down is a MUCH more diverse and well-written album. The emotions are still there, they just aren't always as obvious and in your face.
Ever been feeling down and you just hate the entire world, but your not in the mood for some blast beating death metal? Well look no further than this cd. Maybe My Dying Bride can be more depressing, but this cd is a downer all the way through, while at least MDB will throw in some fast bits and some growls. Even the cover on this cd is bleak.
It opens with Dispossession and your soon shown the tortured vocals of Jonas, though still not touching on the depressing state that will come soon. Musically, this track is ok, but doesn't really showcase much, but it fits. This cd isn't the type of cd where fast riffs or pounding double bass would fit in.
Chrome - This song has a faster pace and the drums are a bit more clear, but the guitar has a dark vibe to it, forshadowing whats to come. This has some lyrics that will become normal by the end of this release, "burn down my house and make something happen, stab me in the heart"
We must bury you is next and just look at the bloody title! Though this track is kind of dumb with a electronic drum sound during the chorus, even though its a dark chorus. Ok song, nothing that great.
Teargas is up now and we have to listen hard, as there is vocals in the background saying lyrics that are hard to hear. Where did they come up with the lyrics to this one? "what is it in my eyes, a piece of broken glass,is this the time I should be on my knees for you, is this your way of telling another should be found, now i know, its teargas in my eyes" This is an ok song, but somewhat weak, since it has one verse and the chorus.
I transpire starts with some slightly distorted vocals, but soon this changes, but this is a slow moody song. It doesn't really change pace and is ok.
Tonight's Music is another really downer song, with lyrics like, "how could this go so very wrong, that i must depend on darkness, would anyone follow me further down". The verses are soft, while the music comes in during the chorus.
Clean Today starts off almost upbeat and is probably the best song on the cd. This song is almost catchy.
The cd continues in the slow brooding music and the vocals of Jonas, telling some story of pain and/or suffering. The vocals are pretty good on this cd and the music is good for what it is, but its not going to blow you away with a guitar solo or crazy drumming. Actually, I don't even think this is a metal cd. Either way, its good at what it does, which is either depress the hell outta you, or help when your in that kind of mood. This also kind of makes it a one shot deal, as you probably won't wanna pop this cd in when your driving or when you are on the computer or whatever. Its good for falling asleep to and to listen to once in awhile, but I doubt there will be repeated listens within a couple of days or weeks, unless you are ultra depressed.
best songs imo: Chrome, Clean Today, Sweet Nurse.