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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.