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Katatonia returned in 2003 with Viva Emptiness, an album which threw away the large amounts of reverb and distortion from the previous 3 records, and debuted a more streamlined, riff-based sound. And while it works at times, sometimes you feel like they didn't do enough to make it work.
Jonas is in top form on this record, he is one of my favorite vocalists, and his performance on this record is up to snuff. The other constant on this album is the drumming. Once they found a permanent drummer in Daniel for the Last Fair Deal record, Katatonia's songs have been more dynamic, and this record is no exception. Sadly, the rest of the record suffers from inconsistent guitar work, questionable songwriting, and poor lyrics. Ok, I admit, Katatonia is not the band you go to if you want great lyrics, but these are worse than usual. They make no sense to me. This is supposed to be some sort of concept album, but I don't understand what the concept is. On top of this, some of the guitar work seems uninspired, especially toward the middle of the album. There are a lot of good moments on this album, but compared to all their other material, this leaves a lot to be desired. There are some real gems here though, like Ghost of the Sun with its rockish verse riff, and the doomy closer Inside the City of Glass. Many of the tracks make me think filler, something I'm not used to feeling when it comes to this band.
I caution listeners about this album all the time. It seems to divide people quite a bit. I would recommend you preview a few tracks before listening to this, it may leave you disappointed otherwise. I highly recommend the track left out of this album, Wait Outside, which to this day doesn't make sense why the band decided to leave it out. Proceed with caution!