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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.