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Thiestru
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:18 am
Posts: 1903
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:41 pm 
 

Seeing as how there's a new Bloodbath album coming out, and the parent band of said project is now on hold, I thought it time for a discussion of Katatonia, one of my all-time favorite bands. What do y'all think of these guys? Favorite albums / era? How do they stack up against similar bands? How did you get into them (assuming you did)? Etc.

My story begins in 2003 when 'Viva Emptiness' came out. As a huge Opeth fan, the band to which they were / are most compared, I had to check it out. So I did... to my disappointment. 'What the hell? This sounds nothing like Opeth! More like... alternative rock.' Such was my reaction. After a few spins, I began to enjoy certain parts of the album, and some of the lyrics, and definitely the artwork. But it still didn't really click. Fast-forward a bit, and I decided to give 'Tonight's Decision' a shot. Now THIS was the ticket! Musically, TD isn't a far cry from VE, but somehow it sucked me in more, particularly the relentlessly melancholic and remorseful mood. And the atmosphere! For many years this remained my favorite Katatonia album, and on a coin toss it may still be, but it's hard to tell.

I don't remember which album I got next, but I think it was 'Dance of December Souls'. It reminded me very strongly of Opeth's 'Orchid', and it was an instant win for me. Soon enough I realized I was obsessed with Katatonia, and I began seeking out every single release they ever put out, no matter how rare. I spent more money on eBay than I care to think of. Eventually I bought a copy of the original 'Jhva Elohim Meth' demo, blue-cassette version, from Anders himself, signed personally to me! (He was trying to raise money for his cat to have surgery, and therefore was selling as much rare merchandise as possible. It was a cause I was happy to support. Not only did I get this demo from him, but also the Bewitched demo, Diabolical Masquerade's first album on vinyl, a promo CD of same, and a Bloodbath pin. The DM stuff he signed, too! Cool thing: the first time I saw Katatonia, in 2006, I met him and had with me ALL my Katatonia - related merch. He signed it all, and was blown away by my dedication - and I got to show him the very 'Jhva Elohim Meth' tape I bought from him, autograph and all!)

Well, I never quite accomplished my goal of buying everything they ever did, but I came pretty damn close. (Damn you, 'Saw You Drown' MCD! Same goes for the split with Primordial.) Now the big question: what era of the band is my favorite? For the sake of argument, I'll split up the eras as follows:

Early: 1991 - 1997 ('Jhva Elohim Meth' - 'Sounds of Decay')
Mid: 1998 - 2005 ('Saw You Drown EP' - 'The Black Sessions')
Late: 2006 - now ('My Twin' - 'The Great Cold Distance (Live in Bulgaria with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra)'

Basically coinciding with each logo change.

For me, the answer is easy: middle period. The early era is a shining example of doom/death/black metal, and the late era is an interesting development of the middle period into more progressive realms, marked by increased musical complexity but surprisingly subdued vocals. (Just compare 'The Great Cold Distance' to 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down'.) The middle stuff is the most emotionally resonant with me, and contain Jonas's best vocals.

Long post, this - your turn!
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CityofScreamingStatues
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:31 am
Posts: 24
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:16 pm 
 

I bought 'Brave Murder Day' around its release date. Thought it was great but a bit repetitive on repeated listens. They didn't totally click with me until 'Tonight's Decision'. Its not a perfect album but the dark and depressive atmosphere blew me away. They've probably improved on their sound and execution, but TD is my personal favorite. In all honesty, last album I bought from Katatonia was 'The Great Cold Distance'.

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Pitiless Wanderer
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:34 pm
Posts: 439
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:30 pm 
 

TGCD is my favorite album of theirs. Something about it just captivates me in a very disturbing way. I can only listen to it once and a while. This is a sad, sad album.

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cultofkraken
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:18 am
Posts: 1788
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:10 am 
 

I had a cassette dub of Brave Murder Day which was the first thing I ever had by them (1998 I think), one of the most paramount and influential releases in my life. I’m a fan of ever single era and seeing them live in Portland years ago with Agalloch and Daylight Dies was a bucket list moment.
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stefan86
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 11:52 am
Posts: 1045
Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:44 am 
 

Hands down my favorite band. I've grown more and more towards enjoying their last three albums the most, but Brave Murder Day and Last Fair Deal Gone Down are immortal classics. Seen them live over 10 times and I really hope they return at some point if the passion is there.
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DividerOfShadows
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 1:58 pm
Posts: 254
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:14 am 
 

I got into them after listening to "My Twin" and all kind of went from there. My favourite album of theirs used to be "Discouraged Ones", but I don't really listen to it anymore because it brings back some bad memories (unrelated to the music on the thing). "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" comes second best to me, and the third place is reserved for "Dead End Kings".

Overall, great band, great music, vocals are beautiful and their artwork is captivating.
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Lord_Jotun
Veteran

Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 5:02 pm
Posts: 2882
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:07 am 
 

To me, the early era ends with Dance of December Souls, with a second stretch starting with Brave murder Day and ending with Discouraged Ones (a lot of people consider it the beginning of their "modern" sound, but vocals aside it's really into that different from BMD).

Like Anathema or Ulver, they managed to maintain a respectable level of quality while reinventing their sound quite often, although I definitely prefer some records over others. Still haven't got around to listening their output after Dead End Kings/Kocytean. Pretty much everything they released in the 90s is untouchable, and they didn't exactly start sucking afterwards (Last Fair Deal Gone Down, anyone?).
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Crescent_Moon
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 2:47 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Altai/Siberia
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:08 am 
 

One of my all-time favorite bands. Discouraged Ones, Tonight's Decision, Brave Murder Day, Last Fair Deal..., Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance - this is my top-6. Starting from Night is The New Day they became more and more immemorable but last album showed that they're still able to kick ass.

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Rodman
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:15 am
Posts: 398
Location: Sydney, Australia
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:59 am 
 

My Katatonia journey is similar to that of the OP.

After hearing and enjoying Bloodbath, I was searching the local CD store for some more crushing death metal and grabbed The Great Cold Distance. Needless to say, I was furious, feeling duped into purchasing some lame alt-rock dross. I immediately exchanged it for a copy of Voivod's Killing Technology - an inherently inferior album but more in line with what I was craving at that time.

Fast forward 3-4 years later and I read a feature on Dance of December Souls in Terrorizer, and since this was around the same time that I was getting into Candlemass and doom-death like Amorphis, I decided to give them another chance. From that point on I was a huge fan of every era, even coming to genuinely adore TGCD. Unfortunately the only time I've ever seen them live was on a scorching afternoon during an Australian summer music festival. Definitely not the ideal environment for a band of Katatonia's ilk.
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Pitiless Wanderer
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:34 pm
Posts: 439
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:21 am 
 

I found the last album to be one of their worst. Not sure why exactly....it just felt like something was missing.

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Thiestru
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:18 am
Posts: 1903
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:03 pm 
 

@Lord_Jotun: I'd agree with you, actually. I was trying to keep things simple, but yeah, their first era was doom/black, and the second was doom/death, with the simplified riffing that characterized 'Discouraged Ones'. 'Sounds of Decay' especially pointed to the sound to come, since none of the songs exceeded seven minutes.
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SoundsofDecay
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 7:58 am
Posts: 119
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:50 pm 
 

Was once one of my favourite bands (see username). The kind of stuff I listened to religiously, only a handful of artists have done that for me. I'm a fan of pretty much up to everything including TGCD, with my particular favourites being For Funerals...., Brave Murder Day and Sounds of Decay (BMD's harsher, more angular, disturbed relative), Discouraged Ones, Viva Emptiness and TGCD. Really burned into my psyche kind of stuff, defines a period of my life for sure. I still remember the first time I listened to "Brave" all the way through having only heard one or two much more recent tracks and being unsure if I liked the band, and the way it just fucking blew me away with it's combination of brutal minimalism and searing, beautiful melodies.

I was so disappointed with NITND when it came out and only slightly warmed to it over the years. Gave Dead End Kings a shot and gave up on them there. It was all just so anemic and lifeless in all the wrong ways. For example Discouraged Ones to me is the perfect distillation of pain and hopelessness juxtaposed with a underlying streak of apathy. It's very convincingly evocative of severe depression. The Great Cold Distance also, a masterpiece of modern metal songwriting and production, arguably they went a lot more superficially "accessible" in that era but there was still some quite disturbing melodies and rhythm work on that one alongside what are, frankly, damn good pop hooks. And so many moments of soaring beauty that are both sad and uplifting at the same time (Instrumental for example).

With NITND and onwards it was like all of that just vanished for me. They even admitted to things like writer's block and not feeling inspired. A shame but I'll always cherish the majority of their discography, it's not constantly on rotation anymore but it's always powerful and still relevant when I do go back to it.

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Lord_Jotun
Veteran

Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 5:02 pm
Posts: 2882
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:39 am 
 

Speaking of eras... how would you guys classify For Funerals to Come, stylistically speaking? That's really an odd one out compared to to everything else, alongside the two compilation tracks and Scarlet Heavens. They were truly insanely adventurous in those years.
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shwartzheim
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:49 am
Posts: 442
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:54 am 
 

Love everything and i do mean EVERYTHING upto and including Viva Emptiness.........and then i just lost interest. Didnt like The Great Cold Distance, never bothered with Night Is The New Day and found Dead End Kings to be pretty dull. Anyways, overall an awesome band. For Funerals, Brave and Discouraged are the ones i play the most.
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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 7836
Location: Lifeless shadows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:38 am 
 

The album I keep returning to the most is Night is the New Day. It shares its professionalism with the previous two albums, and brings it up by a few notches, even, More importantly, it's a mature, evocative, powerful and atmospheric album, with just the right amount of progressive elements to break the innovation stalemate of the previous albums, and serve the music maximally. Things might've gotten slightly out of hand after that album, and the material itself wasn't strong enough to compensate for that. Forsaker, The Longest Year, Idle Blood, Nephilim, and Day and Then the Shade are definitely some of the best Katatonia songs.
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Morn Of Solace
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:19 am
Posts: 1274
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:23 am 
 

Ilwhyan wrote:
The album I keep returning to the most is Night is the New Day. It shares its professionalism with the previous two albums, and brings it up by a few notches, even, More importantly, it's a mature, evocative, powerful and atmospheric album, with just the right amount of progressive elements to break the innovation stalemate of the previous albums, and serve the music maximally. Things might've gotten slightly out of hand after that album, and the material itself wasn't strong enough to compensate for that. Forsaker, The Longest Year, Idle Blood, Nephilim, and Day and Then the Shade are definitely some of the best Katatonia songs.


Well said! It's a really intricate and well written album, with quite a lot diversity between the songs. Default's guest keyboard work is severely underrated, it really ties everything together... Daniel's drumming deserves praise too! :)

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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 7836
Location: Lifeless shadows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:55 am 
 

Yeah absolutely! The keyboards and programming definitely help to make the album what it is, and he deserves more recognition for his talent.
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jdagger
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:52 pm
Posts: 38
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 1:31 pm 
 

One of my favorite bands. Enjoy everything up to and including Viva. TGCD and NITND have some good tracks; I do enjoy NITND more than TGCD. Couldn't get into Dead End Kings and Fall of Hearts has a couple decent tracks.

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Thiestru
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:18 am
Posts: 1903
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 1:35 pm 
 

@Lord_Jotun: I would place 'For Funerals to Come....' at the end of their doom/black period. True, it doesn't sound quite like anything else from that era, but it still fits. A great EP, although 'Epistel' always baffled me. Yeah, it's kind of unnerving, especially at high volumes, but it really doesn't add anything to the release. *shrug* They experimented a lot back then, so whatever.

'Night Is the New Day' was a relief to me after being disappointed in 'The Great Cold Distance', a real step in the right direction, I thought. The latter album has since grown on me, however, whereas the former has stayed about where it was. Unfortunately, it's an example of them doing that thing they love doing, where they resign the best song from the recording sessions to bonus-track or B-side status; 'Ashen' is simply a fantastic song, one of their best ever. Overall, it's a very fine record, although I think I slightly prefer 'Dead End Kings', which came out at a very unhappy time of my life; I was quite happy when 'Night...' was released, so maybe it didn't resonate quite as much with me as its successor. 'Dead End Kings', too, has an outstanding bonus track: 'Second', which I prefer even to 'Ashen'. That song really gets to me deeply, and reminds me of certain people I used to be very close to.
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Anything but undying, eternal praise for Awaken the Guardian is completely wrong and a disgrace to you, your band, family, and Facebook friends list.


If you're interested in hearing my music, it can be found here: http://thiestru.bandcamp.com. Wassail.

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narsilianshard
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:22 pm
Posts: 1937
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:32 pm 
 

I really don't get this band. I own Viva Emtptiness, Great Cold Distance, and Night Is the New Day. Picked them up when I was still relatively new to metal and listened to them endlessly, to try to understand all the hype I was missing and... I still don't understand them even after dozens of listens and revisiting them every few years. Those albums are dark alt-rock with whiny lyrics/vocals, with the occasional metal riff thrown in. "My Twin" for instance is straight-up radio rock, I still get it confused with Chevelle whenever I hear it. What am I missing?

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Flem Clone
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:10 am
Posts: 19
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:46 pm 
 

narsilianshard wrote:
I really don't get this band. I own Viva Emtptiness, Great Cold Distance, and Night Is the New Day. Picked them up when I was still relatively new to metal and listened to them endlessly, to try to understand all the hype I was missing and... I still don't understand them even after dozens of listens and revisiting them every few years. Those albums are dark alt-rock with whiny lyrics/vocals, with the occasional metal riff thrown in. "My Twin" for instance is straight-up radio rock, I still get it confused with Chevelle whenever I hear it. What am I missing?

Give Dance of December Souls a shot. It's the only Katatonia album that I like, and I REALLY like it. I don't think that it'll remind you of alt-rock. It's loaded with beautiful, melodic doomy riffs, and the vocals are not whiny.

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Pitiless Wanderer
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:34 pm
Posts: 439
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:28 pm 
 

Ilwhyan wrote:
The album I keep returning to the most is Night is the New Day. It shares its professionalism with the previous two albums, and brings it up by a few notches, even, More importantly, it's a mature, evocative, powerful and atmospheric album, with just the right amount of progressive elements to break the innovation stalemate of the previous albums, and serve the music maximally. Things might've gotten slightly out of hand after that album, and the material itself wasn't strong enough to compensate for that. Forsaker, The Longest Year, Idle Blood, Nephilim, and Day and Then the Shade are definitely some of the best Katatonia songs.


Night Is the New Day is a severely under rated Katatonia album. It's my second favorite after TGCD. I find the songs to be extremely basic yet crafted well enough as to flow seamlessly from start to finish.

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YesIam
Metal newbie

Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:44 am
Posts: 148
Location: Kenya
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:43 am 
 

Flem Clone wrote:
narsilianshard wrote:
I really don't get this band. I own Viva Emtptiness, Great Cold Distance, and Night Is the New Day. Picked them up when I was still relatively new to metal and listened to them endlessly, to try to understand all the hype I was missing and... I still don't understand them even after dozens of listens and revisiting them every few years. Those albums are dark alt-rock with whiny lyrics/vocals, with the occasional metal riff thrown in. "My Twin" for instance is straight-up radio rock, I still get it confused with Chevelle whenever I hear it. What am I missing?

Give Dance of December Souls a shot. It's the only Katatonia album that I like, and I REALLY like it. I don't think that it'll remind you of alt-rock. It's loaded with beautiful, melodic doomy riffs, and the vocals are not whiny.


This! I live everything up until Viva Emtptiness, but I rarely listen to anything released after 96. Jhva Elohim Meth... The Revival, Dance of December Souls and For Funerals to Come... are all great. Dark, melancholic, beautiful, bleak and crushing death/doom with clear nods towards black metal. Every now and then I pick up Brave Murder Day as well, which is a fine album. But it's a lot different than the three mentioned above.

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colin040
Metal freak

Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:00 pm
Posts: 5526
Location: Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:58 am 
 

Love Dance of December Souls and For Funerals to Come is ok as well (too bad they couldn't milk a full length out of that material though)...just don't care about everything the did after.

I also find it rather disappointing how doom/death bands influenced by Katatonia are rather influenced by Brave Murder Day than Dance of December Souls. The only band I can think of that nails that very early Katatonia sound are Pact of Solitude.

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Morn Of Solace
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:19 am
Posts: 1274
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:06 am 
 

colin040 wrote:
Love Dance of December Souls and For Funerals to Come is ok as well (too bad they couldn't milk a full length out of that material though)...just don't care about everything the did after.

I also find it rather disappointing how doom/death bands influenced by Katatonia are rather influenced by Brave Murder Day than Dance of December Souls. The only band I can think of that nails that very early Katatonia sound are Pact of Solitude.


Out of curiosity: Are you familiar with October Tide's Rain Without End? I feel like is the perfect amalgam between Dance and For Funerals

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colin040
Metal freak

Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:00 pm
Posts: 5526
Location: Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:09 am 
 

Of course I am! I did a review for it, after all. :p And yeah, it's good - to me it sounds like a more refined version of Katatonia did during FFtC - means it's a more melodic approach on doom/death that was rather unique at the time.

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