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It was hard to top The Great Cold Distance. It was one of their best albums, alongside Last Fair Deal Gone Down, with incredible musicianship & production. Not to mention, Jonas's vocals were on top of his game, and he's Katatonia's most important member. I awaited the album impatiently, and was not disappointed in the least when I had the opportunity to hear it in full. The single was out way before the release, and had built up in me a great deal of expectation for the full album.
Where does one start with the album? The usual Katatonia formula is present throughout, with Jonas topping his last performance even. Yes, that is possible. This is his best vocal work yet, and that is saying a lot considering the fantastic performance he gave on the last album, Discouraged Ones & Last Fair Deal Gone Down. One listen to The Longest Year, Idle Blood (which just so happens to be one of the band’s most distinct songs yet), Inheritance and Departer show just how much the man has improved his delivery. Very, very emotive singing and an excellent vocalist as a whole.The musicianship is top notch as well. However, the album’s probably the band’s most different in a while. Not to say they have abandoned their signature depressive doom rock sound, but have now experimented with a lot more emotive one, going deeper into the doom rock genre, with a lot of emphasis on a cleaner attack as opposed to a distorted one, as in the previous album, which was dominated by heavy riffs mostly throughout the running time.
The prime example is Idle Blood. The previous reviewer mentioned it was reminiscent of Opeth, and that is quite right. But as opposed to Opeth, Katatonia manages to do in four minutes what that band strives for in ten or even a fifteen minute song. Mikael was right in saying he almost cried, or did cry, for I don’t remember, while hearing the record, because he realized that Katatonia managed to pull off the exact same sound without meandering pointlessly. The vocals remind me of Mikael as well, and it can be said the entire song is inspired by their work, with excellent background acoustics and Jonas giving his all.
The band continues to impress throughout, but one song stands out the most in the album, and that is Inheritance. Easily the best track on the album and it has many, many good tracks on it. It can be compared with something on Discouraged Ones, for it is highly melancholic and low-key. In fact, it would be a Discouraged Ones b-track even, and that’s awesome as that album was their last HIGHLY depressing effort. One should be prepared for the track as it can lead to many tears being shed.
Overall, the album is another excellent outing. The band has never disappointed me once, which cannot be said of any other band I have heard. I can only imagine what Katatonia has in store for their next effort, whenever that may arrive. Highly recommended.