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Classic - 100%

TheUnhinged, October 23rd, 2012

A touch of feedback, a few doses of speed here and there, a very gloomy and almost psychedelic aura, and even some traces of shoegaze, post-rock, and ambient, mixed together and piled up on top of flowing guitars melodies. Among this vast, gray tundra of melodic riffs is the sound of a beast. A harrowing and miserable growl, telling tales of feelings being numbed, love dissolving into indifference, and the futility of fading from life. Occasionally, an ethereal clean voice floats over the blasts of atmosphere and monotony. In a way, I could see these vocals meaning to tell of the past and the present of a man's life gone wrong. Jonas Renkse's dreamy voice sounds like the happy and innocent past, Mikael Åkerfeldt's harsh screams representing the anguish and unhappiness of present day. The brave murder day.

Katatonia originally started out playing black/doom, eventually turning to a depressed gothic metal sound. Brave Murder Day was sort of the in-between era for the band, a period which was common for bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost (or, as some call them, The Peaceville Three) during the mid to late-90s. However, something that differentiates Katatonia from these bands is that while those bands incorporated more romantic and atmospheric elements in doom metal, Katatonia created a soundscape that is much rawer and harder to classify. Some call it death/doom, some call it depressive black metal, some call it gothic metal, and some people just call it rock with harsh vocals. While I normally like to provide my own genre labels in my reviews, I don't feel it's necessary for this album. Brave Murder Day is one of those albums that sounds so diverse that anybody can interpret its sound differently. The music is very distorted, sometimes mellow, and sometimes more dark and aggressive. Mikael Åkerfeldt takes lead vocals on here, with his abrasive and despairing growl, which keeps things from sounding too melodic. Also, the band occasionally incorporates chilled-out acoustic passages as well as the aforementioned clean vocals, rather than relying on symphonic or gothic elements such as keyboards or violins to create its atmosphere. Another elements that makes this album sort of difficult to label is its usage of various rhythms. The opening songs, Brave and Murder, are played in a very up-beat and progressive pace. The final two tracks, 12 and Endtime, are played in their Dance of December Souls-style dirge pace. Rainroom varies between being fast and aggressive as well as downbeat and lethargic. The guitar sound is very raw and crushing, similar to the blackened shoegaze tone that Alcest has become well known for. The drumming is neither particularly technical or minimal, but due to the ever-changing rhythms, keeps things from getting too repetitive.

If I could sum Katatonia's second album, Brave Murder Day, into one word, that word would have to be cold. Cold to the point of feeling nothing at all, as if hypothermia has pushed your body into a critical condition. You no longer feel the unpleasant sensation of freezing, you're completely numb. Almost as if your entire body has grown empty and that there is nothing left to feel. If that description is too dark or dreary for you, then it's best you stay away from this album. However, anybody who can stand melancholic music (particularly Opeth, Agalloch, and Paradise Lost) should definitely seek this out, especially if they have an open mind. People who really enjoy this album should also look into October Tide, Rapture, Swallow the Sun, Lethian Dreams, and The Foreshadowing.