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Katatonia is undeniably one of my favourite bands. Their solid, depressive rock songs never seize to amaze and inspire me. This album is the follow up to the highly succesful "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and it feels like a pretty logical progression. The production is somewhat more clean and there's more electronics present. The positive thing is that the electronics never overpower the guitars. It just makes the Katatonia sound feel more complete.
The biggest similarity with their last album here is the quality of the songs. They always seem to come up with at least 10 tracks that are equally great for each CD. There's also enough difference in pace and heaviness between each track to keep it interesting. Some tracks like "Will I Arrive?" and "Wealth" rely on distorted metal riffs and some are pretty much all-out rock songs.
One of their biggest assets is Jonas Renske. This guy just gets better and better at his vocals by each record. I can't find any vocalist besides Anathema's Danny Cavanough that is capable of conveying so much emotion in his delivery. Despite the fact that this album isn't as extremely depressive as "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" was, it's definitely his best performance when it comes to clarity and singing technique.
Now I feel compelled to have some negative criticism as well as I've been ranting about how much I like each element of this band. As I've mentioned before I don't find this album to be as incredibly gloomy and depressive as "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and "Discouraged Ones" were. In my book that's a negative thing since that's what I really like this band for. Another slight complaint I have is the somewhat vulgar lyricism and slight "nu"-ness that occurs in some songs, mainly "Ghost of The Sun". Those background screams and profanities just don't belong in there.
Still, I really have to compliment Katatonia for having their sound together so well. They have really found an effective way to write their songs, and they still manage to progress just enough to keep it all interesting. I don't find "Viva Emptiness" to be just as great as their other output, but as the big fan I am, I like it anyway.
Best tracks: "A Premonition", "Burn The Remembrance", "Evidence" and "One Year From Now"