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Katatonia has been my favorite band for quite some time now. Although I enjoy the entirety of their discography, I won't deny that I am partial to their early, most harrowing releases; the majestic blackened doom of Dance of December Souls, and the numb and monotonous Brave Murder Day. Between 1994 and 95, Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström went separate ways. While Nyström continued to focus on Katatonia, Renkse started October Tide with Fred Norrman. This album was the result (though it wasn't released until several years later).
Rain Without End lies somewhere between the first two albums of Katatonia in that the melodic leads and ethereal atmosphere of Dance of December Souls is blended with the more up-tempo melo-death style of Brave Murder Day. It's very strange, gloomy, and somewhat soothing, which is not a term I would typically use for an album like this. There's this warm and distant sound quality that subdues the heaviness of the riffs and drums, causing the melodies to have this soft ambient quality to them. These melodies are truly what make the album great, as glorious lead harmonies and interesting chord progressions bleed through the blue tapestry of the album. Violins and keyboards are used sparingly, enhancing the euphonious and bleak melodies that dominate the release. The tempo reaches mid-paced 4/4 patterns at its absolute fastest, and this hurried-walking speed stays consistent throughout most of the songs. However, there are times that it winds down to miserable doomed passages that put emphasis on the simplicity of the rhythm section and the desperation of the vocals.
Renkse's voice here is significantly less brash and mournful than his hideous shrieks and whispers on Dance of December Souls, and a lot of that has to do with the quietness of the recording quality. He instead uses a deeper and more jaded sounding grunt, which is submerged beneath the flow of the lead melodies. Only on the slower and ill-fated sounding sections of 'Blue Gallery' or the funereal 'Infinite Submission' do the mysterious lyrics he bellows truly affect the mood of the music. Quiet ambient track 'Losing Tomorrow', however, is a different case. It seemed as though it was common for doom/death bands in the 90's to include calm and clean sung interlude tracks in their albums to create contrast with the heavy and darker sounding metal songs, particularly the likes of My Dying Bride and Anathema. Well, much like the eerie post-punk of 'Day' off of Brave Murder Day, 'Losing Tomorrow' is a cathartic and depressed intermission of clean guitars, wispy keys, and Renkse's gentle clean tenor singing. It foreshadows the more mellow and gothic direction that his songwriting would later take on Discouraged Ones.
Over time, as Katatonia has sailed through realms of gothic metal, alternative, and progressive rock, October Tide has grown more abrasive and put more emphasis on the melodic death metal aspect of their music. Neither band would ever come back to the unique and calm doom/death perpetuated on Rain Without End, and though a plethora of bands have set out to recreate this style, they will never stand out to me as much as this does. There is something about it that I find so oddly mellowing and therapeutic; I think of it as being the audial equivalent of waking up in a cozy warm bed on a bleak rainy morning. Yeah, it's shit weather outside and you're going to have to get up to go to work, but at least you have a few moments just to relax and dose off. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy the modern, doomy, melo-death sound of bands like Daylight Dies, Insomnium, and Ghost Brigade.
There is a certain degree of brilliance that few attain when conveying a singular emotional content for the duration of an entire album, and it was arguably the Swedish scene that best understood the concept of despair. That is not to say that the doom metal style that developed first in England and America was not brilliant in its exposition of sadness and fatalism, but there was something quite unique about the eventual merging of said sound with the wicked sensibilities of death metal that made for a more concentrated dose of melancholy. Katatonia was among the early proponents of this mode of invoking the spirit of misery, and though there is some dispute as to whether their success in shaping the early stages of death/doom's development was more because of Jonas Renkse's contributions or that of Anders Nyström, the existence of October Tide's extremely well-crafted debut would seem to lend a bit more credence to the former's claim.
It has been pointed out on numerous occasions that "Rain Without End" tends to function as an unofficial 3rd album among the early 2 classic works of Katatonia, though under a different moniker (to be technical, it would have been the 2nd given that it was recorded before "Brave Murder Day", though it was released after). While this is true in a strictly stylistic sense, it should be pointed out that this album manages to perfect the boundaries between atmospheric keyboard work and hard hitting guitar lines, all the while still keeping the style's death metal aesthetic firmly in place. Renkse's barks and groans are perfectly suited to the dense atmospheric and melodic character of each of these songs, conveying a feeling of utter regret amid a sea of nostalgic sounds. The tone of the guitars retains an essential depth and heaviness without robbing the sound of its spacey character, and also presents things in a methodical manner rather than just meandering about for extended periods of time (unlike say, Opeth).
The most appealing aspect of this album, which it shares with its sister works in the mid 90s era of Katatonia, is that it doesn't dwell only in slowness for its entirety. Right from the onset, songs such as "Ephemeral" and "All Painted Cold" start off with a upper-mid tempo feel that is almost old school Sabbath styled heavy metal in character, complete with a riff set that is fairly animated in comparison to the slow, dreary motion that tends to be exhibited amid latter day proponents of this style. The character of the riffs are actually somewhat reminiscent of the idiomatic Iron Maiden influence that was also incorporated by In Flames, though coming in a slower and more minimalist package. "Blue Gallery" also contains an animated, faster moving character to it that comes off almost like the jarring lamentations of a jilted lover contemplating suicide rather than a dreary contemplation of nature in decay that seems to dominate the slower segments on here such as that of "Losing Tomorrow", which is the most Gothic sounding of what is heard on here and showcases a brief glimpse of Renkse's latter day clean vocal sound.
This is one of the better albums offered up by the Swedish death/doom scene during its early days and provides a lot of crossover appeal to fans of both traditional doom metal and anyone else looking for a consonant yet woeful melody to go with the stereotypical grunts and bellows typical to a death metal album. It speaks to a metal scene that is incredibly diverse and not afraid to embrace different outlooks on lyrical content and sound, especially considering that this was put together during the rise of the Gothenburg melodeath scene, as well as a burgeoning black metal scene with death metal influences embodied in Dissection and a few others. And much like the early works of those respective scenes, this is an album that isn't fully bogged down in an established orthodoxy, but rather moves quite naturally from one idea to the next without any regard of maintaining the always slow trappings of the later developed funeral doom style, all the while also taking care not to sound like an overt throwback to older days as Count Raven was during the same time period. For those looking to take their first peak into the bleak and dreary world of Swedish death/doom, "Rain Without End" is among the best places to start.
It has always stumped me that all of Katatonia's mid-90s efforts were perfected not by Katatonia itself, but two of its members writing under another name. This is not to take away credit from the great works of the last decade beneath their primary outlet (Brave Murder Day, Discouraged Ones and the excellent Tonight's Decision), but Rain Without End does steal a little of the band's proto melodic doom and convert it into something far stronger riff-wise, and more digestable at the other end. Another pretty obvious similarity is to fellow Swedes Opeth. October Tide does not use many acoustics here, nor do they write tracks quite as long or complex (as in the riff quota), but what they concoct has a similar atmosphere, if not superior.
Jonas Renkse handles the vocals for the debut, in one of his last performances as a growler. There are some clean vox in spots that sound like Katatonia, but much of the album is delivered through Renkse's brutal sorrows, which are not a far cry from Swanö or Åkerfeldt. The guitars are unanimously sad, but the riffs are stunningly beautiful, in fact I'd go so far as to say they are the match for any Katatonia or Opeth record, at least here on Rain Without End. Each is crafted to deliver maximum melodic metal sorrow, reminiscent of Paradise Lost's Icon from a few years before. Renkse's drums are not at the forefront of importance, they simply amble along the guitars to keep their pace. It is the guitars, performed both by Renkse and Fredrik Norrman, that catapult this record into classic status.
Least of which is not "12 Days of Rain", which opens in a grandiose, slow waterfall of stinging tears, a tale of hope and renewal. One of the strongest riffs I've heard to open a doom metal album ever, and once it hits its Paradise Lost/Metallica-spin in the verse, Renkse unleashes the throat. "Ephemeral" follows, perkier until its own verse, in which another of the band's insanely catchy dual melodies rolls its melancholic tongue across your neck. The track transforms into some acoustic grace before a great climax in which a wall of chords smothers a softly glistening melody. "All Painted Cold" offers a desperate and beautiful riff, before it too slows into a creeping portrayal of memory and loss. Again, it breaks for an acoustic segment, which in this case transforms into the track's penultimate melody. The first segment of "Sightless" is much like what Queensryche would have sounded in 1988 had they been fronted by Swanö and not Geoff Tate, though it soon eschews any of its graceful fluff for a somber, drowning hymn of brute chords.
"Losing Tomorrow" is a brief track which diverts towards some echoing ambience, acoustics, and samples over which Renkse gives a clean, gothic performance not unlike what Katatonia were up to at the time, or Mattias Lodmalm and his Sundown/Cemetery. "Blue Gallery" is a little more 'metal' and 'evil' than anything before it, with a nicely written dual melody where one of the guitars winds over some sad embellishments from the other, then to converge into grace right around :45. The later half of the track has some other riffs which suffice, but may be the only point of the album where I found myself dozing off (in the bad way). "Infinite Submission" brings me straight back to attrition and awareness, with more sparse melodies that shiver below Renkse's crumbling throat. The ambient breaks later in the song are breathtaking, and I almost wish these guys would score something using similar music one day. Of course, these end with another, huge riff...it's a very simple chord progression, but when you stop and let it carry you, it catches up long after you finish listening.
Rain Without End is amazing. So good, in fact, that I can see why the guys decided to shelf the band after a few recordings...it would have created a natural 'conflict of interest' with their other band, which was walking a similar path, though that road has later taken them into far more gothic rock accessibility. But honestly, how could this be improved on? Any attempt would be more likely to fail or disappoint than exceed this beauty. If you enjoy Katatonia, Opeth, Cemetery, Lake of Tears, early-t0-mid 90s Paradise Lost, or later Tiamat, and have somehow not heard this band...well, those are your marching orders.
Highlights: nearly everything on this album...but to choose a few, "12 Days of Rain", "Ephemeral", and "Infinite Submission" for its beautiful ambient segues.
"Rain Without End" is the first full-length from October Tide, a side project of members from Sweden's Katatonia. Appropriately enough, I first discovered this album on a rainy day, many years ago. As I write this, the sky is gloomy and the cold rain has been falling for hours. A perfectly miserable atmosphere for such bleak music.
October Tide's debut L.P. was recorded in 1995, between Katatonia's "For Funerals To Come: E.P. and the "Brave Murder Day" album, despite not being released until 1997. This album has the distinction of featuring the final harsh vocal performance of Jonas Renkse, as he had tortured his throat beyond repair.
Stylistically, October Tide does not deviate from the established Katatonia sound of this era. One may wonder why this album was released under a different name, since it features the same melodic Doom Metal found on Katatonia albums. One reason may be that Anders Nyström was preoccupied with other projects, such as Diabolical Masquerade.
What one finds on "Rain Without End" is a more coherent version of Katatonia. The riffs are mid-paced doom and the trademark melodies and accoustic passages are present. Average song length is roughly five to six minutes. There's enough variation to keep things moving, yet not so much that is distracts from the flow of the song. The somber melodies and tortured vocals work, beautifully, to create a very bleak and dismal album that is unmistakably Swedish.
Standout tracks include "12 Days of Rain" and "Infinite Submission". This is nearly impossible to find, without paying a small fortune, as it has been long out of print. If you see it somewhere, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Fans of old Katatonia will not be disappointed.
Rather unsurprisingly October Tide remind me heavily of Katatonia during the 'Dance of December Souls' and 'Brave Murder Day' era. That distinctive growl from Jonas Renske is equally similar to what he has produced on Dance of December Souls, perhaps taking away from the originality of this particular band and making October Tide seem rather samey. The slow and monotonous sound is also similar to that of a Katatonia long since dead with heavily distorted down tuned guitars, eerie melodies and stunning acoustic sections which is really where October Tide shine like a bright light amidst all the darkness.
Although awfully similar to his performance on Katatonia's Dance of December Souls, Jonas' vocals are still strong and he delivers a purposeful performance, evoking tonnes of feelings and emotions with it. The overwhelming feeling of the similarity between Rain Without End and early Katatonia works is amazing. It's not necessarily bad if you enjoyed Katatonia's earlier work, but it would be preferential for the listener to perhaps hear something new, refreshing and creative. October Tide give a decent performance throughout, but again, the similarities often detract from my overall opinion of this full-length. One could quite easily be forgiven for mistaking this for a Katatonia full-length.
I hate to harp on about this issue, but it is important. The audience is entitled to, and should be given an innovative and creative performance, as opposed to a band sticking to a similar format which gained them notable success with another during a different time period. Although the album is similar, it does have small differences. The vocals are perhaps a tad different. They are deeper growls and more affective than Jonas' previous attempts at harsh vocals, which could often become indecipherable and scratchy. Due to this the vocals could often cause a negative reaction towards the production. However, the production on Rain Without End is top notch. Clear and concise it perfectly moulds itself around the soundscapes October Tide create and compliments them wonderfully.
There is an added bonus which comes from uses two guitarists, whom both play electric and acoustic here. It adds depth, enhances creativity and packs a punch. The bass is subtle, yet affective. Beautifully weaving between the melodic guitars and stunning acoustic sections. The drums are perhaps a little static. They don't add much to the proceedings and this is a shame. As touched upon before, October Tide create picturesque sounds using acoustics and harmonious guitars which play in tangent, all adding up to a beautiful blend of atmospheric masterpieces.
Highlights; Ephemeral and Losing Tomorrow which allows us a closer look at Jonas' awe inspiring clean vocals that add a certain quality of beauty, elegance and pleasantness.
When the cd starts, your hearing is blasted with "12 days of rain". The music is slow and emotional. With guitar riffs that slide to your head and makes you think of treasured memories. The vocals of Jonas Renske(of "Katatonia") suit the music perfectly. Even though they sound very different from his vocals on Katatonia's "Dance of December Souls".
Any who, more about the music. The riffs are slow, but not that heavy compared to a lot of other doom/death bands. That is where the medolic sound of the band is caused. With riffs that drag your emotions around and passive drums that suit the slow riffs. The guitars are on the spot and the drums are put more in the back. Especially the bass drum is not heard very hard compared to the guitars and the vocals. This is a good way to make sure people concentrate on the guitars more and get dragged with the emotion in the music. Of course the vocals are a great part of why this cd is one of the best in my collection. Jonas has done it again, but sadly this was the last time he would ever preform harsh vocals again.
Anyone who is in love with doom metal and with Jonas his vocals should consider buying this cd. Its supreme and great to listen to at any moment in time. The music is perfect for the genre they play in. Hence a score of 94.
Highlight: All Painted Cold
Like Katatonia, this is very emotional music and also stylewise fits perfectly between For Funerals to Come and Brave Murder Day. Maybe this album is the successor to Dance of the December Souls which name was supposed to be Moonbride and was to be released after FFtC. It had even the cover painting finished, which is one hell of a cover if you ask me. ;) Well, back to RWE. All the songs on Rain Without End are outstanding and it's impossible to pick one single favourite. This is not actually too similar to any Katatonia release, but maybe the closest one to compare is For Funerals to Come, although this is not as epic. There're even some hard rock refereces notable here. Not in a way that it would make the music ridiculous or anything, but in a way that makes it even more interesting.
In my book Rain Without End is one of the best albums I've heard along with Anahtema's Judgement, Katatonia's Brave Murder Day and Opeth's My Arms Your Hearse and many other. There's at least one thing common with each one of them, there's no such thing as a dull moment found in them. Each and every song is over the top and so is the case with RWE. Riff after riff they manage bring something new and refreshing and they all fit together very well. Flow on this album is excellent, although it may seem a little bumpy at first, since the mood variations are sometimes quite big.
All in all, this album is marvellous. The emotions we are dealing with this one are out of this world and that's the reason I love this so much. If Katatonia (pre Discouraged Ones) has touched your soul, I'm sure that this will too. Maybe even more - in my case it has. And if Katatonia is just another nice band to you, then chances are you won't find anything special here either. You should give it a try still.