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This is a rather unique album for me personally. The tone of the guitars and the sound of the production gives this album a distinctive atmosphere; which is for me at least, is a grey breezy day. Y'know one of those hopeless days where nothing sounds like fun and you haven't a clue what it is you want to do? Hence the 'Emptiness' in the title. And the way Jonas sings, his voice full of loss, only solidifies this.
The guitars on this album have a low-key hollow sound, which isn't bad at all, it fits the albums art direction quite nicely. There's fantastic layered work between the guitars; there will be a lead riff going, with a backing atmosphere effect (best heard in the chorus of 'Criminals') not really heavy usually, but occasionally. The drumming also follows this trend, nothing over the top, just there to fit the theme of the album, Done well and sounds good. The bass is used heavily here, and like the others, fits the theme of loss that the album has perfectly.
Viva Emptiness is different than other Katatonia releases in a few ways. First of which, the songs have become even shorter, also more accessible. Only one song on the album clocks in at over four and a half minutes. There's also a ballad type song 'Evidence', and an all acoustic song 'Omerta'. Both are wonderful. Katatonia even gives a nod to the older days with the closing instrumental 'Inside the City of Glass' which is only four minutes, but still feels towering, epic and slow; a compact doom song of sorts.
Behind the guitars, the vocals are what you're going to pay attention to. Jonas' lyrics here seem to be him having a conversation with someone; usually telling a story or confessing to something. The way he delivers it though is exquisite, if you pay attention to this album, you can really understand and get a feel for what he's trying to express, which is loss and sorrow for the most part.
Viva Emptiness shows Katatonia taking their signature theme into new territories while keeping their core intact. Highly recommended. Easy to get into, but hard to absorb.