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Katatonia > Brave Murder Day > Reviews > colin040
Katatonia - Brave Murder Day

Is something gonna happen today? - 33%

colin040, July 16th, 2017

I’ve got the idea that in the metal world, there will always be fans that will praise a band’s effort as long as it’s got metal aspects, regardless of its quality. Brave Murder Day might not be an introduction to Katatonia’s depressive rock sound, but it sure doesn’t really resemble the Katatonia of old (before they had split up shortly) anymore. If anything, this feels like an awkward transitional album that still features harsh vocals.

Now I’ve heard people describe Brave Murder Day as depressing, but I just don’t get that. Maybe I’m just too stoic to get moved by this, but Brave Murder Day sounds rather cold to me - it doesn’t really evoke any feeling at all. Partially the musicianship is responsible for that, which seriously disappoints considering whose involved here. Session musician Mikael Akerfelt doesn’t project any mood to begin with. Now not everyone can be Lord Seth, but considering we’re talking about harsh vocals, it shouldn’t be too much to ask to hear some bite in these vocals. Instead, the vocals end up sounding like harsh vocals you’d expect from a beginner. There’s no bite to be heard in them at all which makes me wonder whether Mikael took his role as a session musician a bit too literally. While slamming and banging the drum kit full of enthusiasm on Dance of December Souls, Jonas Renske sounds like he’s drumming on auto pilot here, but vocals and drumming aside, I'm mostly disappointed by Blakkheim and Fredrik Norman’s roles. Both demonstrated their strengths on Katatonia’s prior works and October Tide’s Rain Without End, but here they end up sounding totally bored. Just listen to the opening track and watch your patience getting tested. It's already something closer to Discouraged Ones than anything else...or is it not? Not even the band seem to know anymore at this point as the tune drags on for ten minutes without any having any resurrecting riff or lead to show up. Hell, anything from that album sounds like it would eventually come to an end, but this opening track sounds like it goes on forever. I’m definitely not against the idea of focusing on repeating guitar riffs over again for a hypnotizing effect so to speak, but Blakkheim and Fredrik Nordman just go through the motions here. Even the leads seem unnecessary and watered down, be it the overlong tapping in the already mentioned opener or the laughable quasi-Arabic leads that suddenly appear in ‘’Rainroom’’.

The rest that’s clearly in the same manner as ‘’Brave’’, isn’t quite as long, but still brings out the worst of the band: a vocal duo that ranges from sounding bland to terrible and some random picked acoustic sections put in between the ‘’heavy’’ overlong riffs without adding some actual value to it. Two out of six tunes wander off the main style of Brave Murder Day, for better or worse. ‘’Day’’ is surely something different. Musically I actually like it though. Sure it’s soft, but the gloomy guitars make it quite pleasant. Unfortunately once Jonas Renske begins to sing the whole thing gets ruined. Seriously, he sounds extremely nervous and irritating as if the band forced him to sing an entire tune by himself. Lyrically I feel that this song feels my frustration though, as the line ‘’Your smile has decayed’’ is something I can relate to, because…you bet it has. ‘’12’’ feels like a sign of a relief and shows Blakkheim and Frederik Norman at the top of their game; coming up with those sung-sounding riffs that were strangely melodic but never too sugary and even the guitar solo has some actual life to it. I’ll admit I find the tune to be oddly structured, moving between those tranquil early Katatonia-esque acoustics and riffs somewhat getting closer to the October Tide territory perhaps, but still, a good song is a good song.

Jonas Renske might have taken vocal duties all by himself after this release, but unfortunately, Katatonia would never be the same again. If you’re looking for some great stuff that involves most of the musicians involved, get Katatonia’s earlier stuff or October Tide’s Rain Without Endinstead. I’d apologize in advance for any grammar mistakes, for Brave Murder Day drained me so much that I’ve ended up catching flies by now.