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Made me katatonic? - 29%

caspian, August 28th, 2016

I'm kinda tempted to say "this album killed death/doom", you can definitely trace a lot of bands immediately getting their wuss on, doubling down on their goth rock influences and whatnot once this album came out. But anyway, Coffins and Cauldron Black Ram and a bunch of other good bands still exist so no big deal on that front. It didn't kill death doom; perhaps a quicker sentence is "this album sucks".

Yeah, it's pretty bad. I tend to think that I listened to this album in a pretty ideal context, too- a rental car when driving around in Iceland. Quick digression here- I didn't find most of my cds for the first week or two of the holiday in Iceland, so I drove around all these pristine, beautiful glaciers with Vulgar Display of Power playing, oh dear! Anyway, yeah, even in the most ideal possible setting this album still bored the crap out of me, and at home with my headphones it's even more dreary.

It's basically depressive rock- little here could be called a riff- and it's all the worst for it. It's a rather long album, full of chord progressions that will remind most modern listeners of DSBM- one sad, vaguely dissonant chord after another, all ticking along in a straight, midpaced 8th note rhythm, with little dynamics to speak of. This sort of plodding, endless-drizzly-day songwriting technique is one that I've long tended to abhor- it's impossible to pull off without creating an unspeakably boring album and Katatonia are no different. It's depressing, sure, but depression is rarely an interesting emotion- it's not as intense as despair or grief or anything. It's staring at a wall for an hour because you feel like shit- a powerful emotion, perhaps, but not an interesting one and I can't see why anybody would be particularly keen on dropping by ole depression towne for a little while.

And that's pretty much it! The songs don't really go anywhere and have a real tendency to blend into one another, the brief straight out shoegaze tune aside. Much is made in the booklet of the influence of Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and the like, and it's there that you can pinpoint where these guys went wrong. Slowdive's Souvlaki has 10 or so songs that are all obviously their own thing, with a bunch of peaks and troughs throughout. Katatonia heard the loud part of "When the Sun Hits", put in a minor key, got Akerfeldt to scream over the top for a while and made a whole bloody album out of it. It's the equivalent of standing at a bus stop for an hour while it rains lightly overhead.

BORING BORING BORING, do not recommend