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Long an underrated act, the latest music from Katatonia begs for widespread recognition with an impressive showing with their latest collection of detached, ethereal modern rock tracks, “The Great Cold Distance.” While most fans are split over whether the band’s prior studio effort “Viva Emptiness” or the much loved “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” is the band’s hallmark achievement, this album should serve for most to become a tiebreaker of sorts, drawing elements from each of those excellent records while adding an even more mechanical mood of melancholy that will make this record a big hit with fan’s of the band’s second, more rock-oriented era.
The group’s music is indeed, more commercial sounding than ever, meaning that it’s polished, well-executed and skillfully produced. It’s a crime that Katatonia have not yet been able to achieve a major radio breakthrough in the United States, but tracks such as the deeply personal “My Twin” further illustrate that Katatonia has what it takes to connect with American listeners. Although the band’s music is a bit frosty, their smooth melodies remain deeply intriguing and the group’s ability to craft a memorable hook is rock solid.
Tracks like “Deliberation” and “Follower” emphasize a hollow feeling that should be familiar to followers of the group. Combining this sort of emotion with impassioned, almost scientific introspection during “July” achieves a numbing effect, causing the listener to become further immersed in a musical downward spiral that becomes all-encompassing. Drifting into an otherworldly chorus with grace and assertion, this cut should be considered as one of the most well put together and engaging songs on the album.
While “The Great Cold Distance” relays often repressed emotion, its deeply progressive modern rock stylings have certainly shown Katatonia to be masters of moody, bleak rock. Ideally, the group would make an excellent opener for either Tool or Opeth and judging by the great success each of those bands enjoy, it’s safe to say that Katatonia is next in line for major-scale acceptance.