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Overrated, but still Great - 86%

Gothic_Metalhead, July 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Remastered, Digipak)

When it comes to Katatonia, I always feel that they made a bigger impact playing death-doom then gothic metal or much later prog rock. "Dance of December Souls" is an album I often consider to be Katatonia's best work. With sophisticated poetry, dark guitar tone, and a perfect mix of doom, death, and black metal tempos and vocals make this an influential album among death-doom and black-doom artists. It would be one of my all time favorite metal albums in death-doom, doom metal, and death metal. However, this album is far from bring the most influential Katatonia album according to most fans. The album that truly remains a classic among death-doom and doom metal is "Brave Murder Day."

"Brave Murder Day" to me took a long time to get into mainly because I thought of it as an overrated album in death-doom. It would set the groundwork for Katatonia's musical approach in future albums that I would not think are good. However, the album's influence would be heard in many future death-doom bands like Rapture, October Tide, Daylight Dies and more. So it's understandable why most metal media lists would say this album is one of the most influential albums in doom metal. Nevertheless, "Brave Murder Day" is still an album that I would highly recommend to people looking for some classic death-doom. Though it's still not as musically superior and lyrically brilliant than the band's debut album, "Brave Murder Day" offers a great experience.

The music of "Brave Murder Day" is stripped down compared to the previous album. It expels the eternal atmospheric guitar tone heard in "Dance of December Souls" and became more straightforward doom inspired. The tempos are faster and the structure of the instruments are at the typical approach heard in future Katatonia albums. The album does have those moments where it shows off its dark elements. "Murder" in particular has a great intro and its guitars are really good. "Day" does what most death-doom bands never done and that is have variety and shows off some post-punk/goth rock elements. "Endtime" is also phenomenal with having a dark intro and has dream like feelings of depression. The music was still good to listen to and managed to stand alone as a death-doom epic with a lot of graceful sounding guitars and a structure that goes together.

Jonas Renske actually doesn't assume growling duties for this album. One reviewer told me that he had only contributed to the vocals of "Day." The growling was actually done by Opeth front man Mikael Akerfeldt. What I found out was that Renske damaged his voice while doing Songs off "Dance of December Souls." I didn't realize that and now I totally understand. Nevertheless, the growling in "Brave Murder Day" was still tight and I enjoyed what Mikael brought to the table for this album.

The lyrics are also stripped down in "Brave Murder Day." It loses a lot of that poetic skill heard from the previous album, and doesn't really show an improvement in comparison. Those are my only complaints about the lyrics. Nevertheless, the lyrics in "Brave Murder Day" are still good. Sure it's simpler, but it still has that feeling of pain, and darkness. I also thought it was cool to separate each word in the album title into individual Songs. In Songs like "Murder," "Day," and "12" there's still skill that stick out from the rest of the album and show some unique depressing verses into the music.

"Brave Murder Day" took me long to get into, but still think it's a great album. I still think the album is overrated and it was one of the first steps of Katatonia's shifting music, but that doesn't make the album bad. I also still think that it is not as superior compared to "Dance of December Souls" just because this album stripped down a lot of things that made that album one of my favorites. In the past I would have just skipped this album, but nowadays I enjoy listening to this album. It still has that good pure mix of death metal and doom metal and still shows skill throughout the entire album. It's an album where I would hear inspiration from future death-doom bands and I understand why that is. This album is forever embodied as a death-doom classic.

I find no flaws. - 100%

ozzeh, September 5th, 2018

This album has helped me through more difficult times than any other I can recall. The dark atmosphere matches the darkness of my moods the past several years, and while it is true that Katatonia have certainly always had a penchant for "depressing" music their entire career, this to me is the pinnacle of dark metal.

Now while you have many sub-genres of dark metal ranging from funeral doom to suicidal/depressive black metal, Brave Murder Day is anomalous in the sense that there really is not any other album quite like it in terms of oppressive musical melancholy. To me it's the embodiment of winter after having your heart smashed into a billion pieces, something I know all too well, something this album has helped me through.

While I am not wont to classify it as death metal or doom, or in any pigeon-holed sense, to me it's a bittersweet descent into the maelstrom of despair itself featuring Mikael's harsh vocals which certainly lend themselves to the greatness of "Brave Murder Day" but where the Opeth of this era featured more progressive elements, Katatonia aim for sheer droning atmosphere.

But that's not to say that the musicianship isn't stellar it's just to say that technical pyrotechnics are not the point. The driving riffs blend seamlessly into one another, almost effortlessly like from "Brave" to "Murder" to "Day", in the song track listing. Indeed, it almost seems like a concept album but what separates this from other albums is that it's not trying to tell a story so much as express a feeling.

And that feeling is darkness. Atmospherically the production captures the bleak paradigm so present in Brave Murder Day that the two go hand-in-hand, atmosphere and production, that you cannot mention one without the other. Every instrument is lucid and discernible from the other with a special emphasis on lush rhythm guitar tone, hypnotic bass, and simplistic yet efficient d-beat style drums.

The song "Day" opens with clean vocals and beautiful clean-toned arpeggios. The metallic sensibilities are put on hold in lieu of that sweet melancholic sound which has been the driving force behind Katatonia's entire output since Brave Murder Day.

I really cannot find any other album quite like Brave Murder Day but if I were to blindly grasp for comparisons I'd say Opeth's "Orchid" and Edge of Sanity's "Crimson". And while undoubtedly they're all three monumental classics in their own right, there's just a certain replayability to Brave Murder Day that I really haven't found elsewhere. No matter what mood I am in, no matter what time of year, no matter what circumstances surround me, Brave Murder Day soothes me.

And maybe that's because I easily identify with depression, despair, and sweet melancholy but metal releases like this are rare and the beauty of the song segues like as in "Rainroom" from the droning, croning death metal to clean-swept and clean-sung vocals back to the soaring leads is what makes Brave Murder Day so timeless.

This album never gets old to me, I keep it in my steady listening rotation constantly, do you want to know why?

Because it helps me accept things I cannot accept. It brings a psychical release for me which no other music can, save for Mozart's "Requiem". A flawless masterpiece in my eyes, but hey, to each his own.

The Sound of Falling - 90%

lonerider, July 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Remastered, Digipak)

Katatonia’s run of putting out very high-quality doom/death metal may have been brief, but man, was it excellent indeed. Unfortunately, the oddly titled Brave Murder Day, released in 1996, was already full-length album number two out of only two to feature this style. The band’s sound then underwent a major stylistic shift starting with 1998’s Discouraged Ones, which saw Katatonia drift from doom/death toward more mellow non-death metal territory and, eventually, a kind of introverted depressive rock. Before that happened, there were two more fine doom/death releases coming on the heels of Brave Murder Day, namely the EPs Sounds of Decay and Saw You Drown, but that was it. It’s a pity but no to be changed, so we might as well enjoy what we have and go from there.

So what exactly do we have in Brave Murder Day? The answer is, a one of a kind, non-generic doom/death metal album that sounds like very few others while also staying true to the genre’s stylistic and aesthetic roots. What sets it apart from the band’s debut record and many other traditional doom/death albums is mainly the riffing. Where Dance of December Souls focused on the usual sluggish, monolithic walls of guitars, Brave Murder Day does not always move along at a snail’s pace, often going for a more chugging, strumming riffing style capped by the downright brilliant, crushingly sorrowful leads these guys have always done so well. The first two tracks, “Brave” and “Murder”, are perfect examples for this. They nicely switch between faster and slower tempos and boast richly textured, beautifully harmonized, heart-rending lead guitars that are a clear step up from the already high standard set on Dance of December Souls and the subsequent For Funerals to Come EP. The leads were excellent on those, but on Brave Murder Day, they have reached their pinnacle, constituting the one ingredient that elevates this album to greatness.

Another central component of the band’s sound in those days were the dreamy acoustic interludes. They showed up plentiful on the debut and do so again here, offering some laid-back moments of atmospheric relief in the midst of all the heaviness and despair. (Although they, too, do very little to cheer up the generally depressive mood.) They are incorporated into pretty much every song, including the final three, which overall are a bit “doomier” and even bleaker than the first two. On an album elevating weird one-word song titles to an art form, “12”, featuring the self-referential verses “the moon gave me flowers, for funerals to come”, is a rewritten version of the track “Black Erotica”, which appeared on the re-release of the For Funerals to Come EP. It’s basically textbook doom/death metal with a haunting main riff and very oppressive mood, even though a case could be made that “Black Erotica” was slightly better due to its beautiful acoustic intro, which was omitted on “12”, and grittier production.

“Rainroom” and “Endtime” give us more of the same, the latter featuring a short audio sample taken from the motion picture The Shining. Then there is track number three, “Day”, which is clearly an outlier as well as a precursor to the path the band would choose on Discouraged Ones and beyond. It basically qualifies as dreary, depressive rock/pop, and while it has its moments and the clean vocals courtesy of Jonas “don’t call me Renske” Renkse are competent, its fit with the rest of the material is questionable at best.

Brave Murder Day is nicely produced, featuring a sound that by and large feels appropriate for its musical content. If anything it may be a bit too glossy for this particular genre, but not so much as to make the material lose its ghastly charm. The drums can be a bit of a nuisance though, which is due to their sometimes clicky, artificial sound. Then again, the mix – at least on the highly recommended remastered version – emphasizes the guitars and vocals, which is reasonable in light of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s harsh vocals being downright brilliant here. Jonas, who handled all the vocals on Dance of December Souls, only does clean vocals here, and those are mostly confined to the aforementioned track “Day”. Åkerfeldt’s forceful growls are both brutal and morbid and it’s safe to say this album would not be quite as good without them.

Anyone who likes doom/death metal in general or Katatonia’s older stuff in particular should absolutely get this album, even more so since the 2006 re-release boasts an audibly better sound and includes the equally brilliant Sounds of Decay EP. The band has progressed some since their debut, but Brave Murder Day retains enough elements from Dance of December Souls to make you feel right at home. Of the six songs on here, only two fall below the six-minute mark, and even a ten-minute behemoth like “Brave”, despite the genre’s inherent monotony, feels much shorter than its actual length. Brave Murder Day is just cleverly written and masterfully arranged doom/death with only very few weaker moments to endure and an abundance of great ones to discover.

Choicest cuts: Brave, Murder, 12

Rating: 9.0 out of 10 points

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.

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

Dead people hanging from windmills - 79%

gasmask_colostomy, April 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Remastered, Digipak)

It's a dead bird that introduces the listener to Katatonia's Brave Murder Day, but I personally find a better image in Anders Nystrom's comment (found in the liner notes to Peaceville's reissue) that the band were thinking of "dead people hanging from windmills" when they recorded this album. Catching sight of something from the top of a neighbouring hill and not quite believing your eyes; peering closer and still only having a vague dread of what you can see; not venturing any closer, but moving on forgetfully, just in case your fears are confirmed - that's exactly what this album seems to conjure up. There's something surreal about Brave Murder Day that the dead bird doesn't quite achieve, though there's also something morbid and horrifically detailed about it that is always transferred in good doom death, which that close-up suggests. So, yes, it is doom death, but only as Katatonia could imagine it.

The first thing to deviate from the norm is the style that Nystrom chose for his riffs on this album. There are very few traditional doom or doom death guitar parts: in fact, I would venture to say that '12' is the only song that really approaches conventionality and it's fairly apparent that it's a rewritten song from a previous release (it was originally 'Black Erotica'). The former title is an indicator of the lyrical content ('Black theatre of love/ Violet dances cast their blood/ The moon gave me flowers/ For funerals to come') and the influence of a gothic doom band such as My Dying Bride, whose decadent, poetic lyrics deal with similar themes. Structurally, '12' behaves like a Bride song too, with few repeating parts and longer, more intricate riffs than the other songs. It's a good song, but certainly not the reason for this album's success.

The opener 'Brave' begins with shining feedback and immediately launches into a monotone down-picked riff that sweeps and washes across the listener with subtle changes of emotion. The pace is faster than most doom metal and the overall feeling much lighter, both in guitar tone and atmosphere. This style crops up on most songs here and contrasts with the same slower clean passages that Katatonia first used on Dance of December Souls, the effect of which is to build a quiet/loud and slow/fast dynamic that allows the album to possess extra energy and impact, something that is especially important when the songs average 7 minutes. The first 2 songs make full use of this technique and are the strongest numbers for it, though the additional melodic touches are truly outstanding. No one plays melody like Nyström: on 'Murder', for example, he settles right into the groove between creepy and relaxed and doesn't budge an inch, firing off reverb-soaked arabesques and dreamy counter-riffs.

Because the guitars are so dominant, the other instruments have little work to do. During the faster sections, the bass and drums simply follow the song, though occasionally Jonas Renkse does up the intensity and add some semi-blasts to the mix, most noticeably during 'Rainroom'. However, the drums are not well-produced (not even on the reissue), so there is barely a difference to the feel of the songs. The main vocalist on Brave Murder Day is none other than Mikael Akerfeldt, although the music carries the album strongly and he has relatively few lyrics for such long songs. Notably, the one song that Renkse sings on is much more involved, with a simpler storytelling style ('Grey park looks the same/ And the days are pale/ I never thought it would rain this way') that foreshadows later Katatonia releases. Musically, 'Day' is an extreme departure from the rest of the album, with hazy keyboards and processed beats, plus Renkse's echoey clean vocals. It's an experiment and clearly comes from the band's love of The Cure and their singer's desperation to contribute more to the album, but the style is not fully formed here and jars the listener, breaking the mood of the album. For me, 'Day' could have fitted if the band had excluded the processed beats and kept the track quiet and subtle.

I don't have a lot of complaints about Brave Murder Day and the best part is that - like so many of Katatonia's albums - it is consistently interesting, even if there are a few missteps. 'Day' is unsuitable for this collection of songs, '12' is a little derivative, and 'Endtime' is not as tight as it should be, but none of these are downright bad. What does seem striking is that My Dying Bride (who I have mentioned as an influence on '12') took on much of the style of this album on their later opus 34.788%...Complete, which also did away with traditional doom death traits and themes, used the faster, more simple riffing style with counter-melodies, and included their own poorly-judged non-metal song 'Heroin Chic'. It's weird and smells a bit old now, but it's a dead bird - what did you expect?

Intense - 97%

unholymastersatan, March 21st, 2013

If I were ever to make one of those "flowcharts" for people who never listened to Katatonia, I'd begin with this album, even though it has almost nothing to do with their other works. In their very next album they lose almost completely that more "extreme" doom/death aspects of their music, and their previous works are more "crude", even though it's instrumental proposal is very similar. So why would I begin the flowchart with Brave Murder Day?

Definitely, it's not because of "entry level" characteristics. Songs as Teargas and For My Demons are much more popular and "normally enjoyable" than ten-minute-long death/doom metal songs like Brave. The majority of gutturals by Mikael Åkerfeldt doesn't help in popularity either. But Åkerfeldt's presence seems to add much more to this album than good gutturals: it adds maturity. Katatonia's instrumentals were already excellent, providing beautiful harmonies without losing weight and presence in its songs. Leaving aside keyboards to focus on enhancing the lyrical level and music progression made an almost "minimalist" approach to its former style allowing much more attention to the creativity of its musicians. The aforementioned ten-minute Brave song is not dull or repetitive without having to appeal to progressive methods (what one would think Åkerfeldt would bring, but fortunately didn't), and feels like its much shorter.

Lyrically speaking, it's impossible not to find a great contrast with their other albuns. I'm not much of a fan of poetry, but the difference is too evident. The angry-young-antichristianism on "The spirit is free/Satan laughs/Jhva Elohim Meth" is completely abandoned, and the angry-emo-teenager theme as in Teargas (seriously, using a teargas metaphor for crying for a chick is just childish) and every other post-BMD recordings is taken to a whole other level. It deals with the pains of loss (death or abandonment of a loved one) with a much more stoic approach. Of course, it doesn't stop being "emotional" in a way, but instead of complaining about lost girlfriends in childish anger, it portraits the lack of hope and existential crisis of the absence of loved ones - whether your valentine left you or your parents are deceased - in a truly "catatonic state".

The album production leaves a bit to desire, noticeable on the acoustic parts, specially on the guitars on "Day". But we're talking about a death/doom metal band in 1996, so even though one can't avoid to think "how would it be produced nowadays", it's still a great work. Other than that, it's interesting how its "could-be-better" production adds up to the decaying ambient proposed.

So finally answering the question: why begin with Brave Murder Day? Because if you want more of its doom/death weight and great instrumental harmonics, you can look for their previous works. If you liked the atmosphere, but it was much too heavy for you (basically if you think "Day" is the best song of the album), just go on and listen to their more recent albums. Unfortunately, if like me you find this their best album, the only alternative is its "leftovers" EP Sounds of Decay.

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.

A change of approach. - 89%

greywanderer7, July 12th, 2012

After the underground success of Dance of December Souls, Katatonia split-up in 1995, allegedly due to the difficulty of keeping a stable line-up. During a year, founding members Nyström and Renkse dedicated to separate projects, but they reunited Katatonia in early 1996, with the new guitarist Fredrik Norrman and a session vocalist, Mikael Åkerfeldt, the main man of the now (in)famous Opeth. However, they came back with a vastly different approach to their music, and this is, in fact, a departure from the old sound.

Completely gone are the epic song structures with multiple sections, the black metal and gothic rock influences, and the keyboards. Instead, those are replaced by minimalistic, repetitive song structures, downtuned guitars, droning riffs with a vaguely alternative rock feel (in occasions only open chords), deeper, more 'monstruous' growls, and the use of clean vocals, for the first time in their career, which overall create a darker, more compact yet more emotional and direct sound. In fact, those changes contribute to make a sound that's more accesible and even more melodic than their earlier work, and some few traits of their new sound can be traced back from here.

The production is dry, with a more wall of sound quality to it, with denser, layered guitars and clicking drums (by the way, this is Renkse's best drum performance, using double bass and some adequate fills from time to time). Åkerfeldt sounds more evil and desperate in here than in any Opeth record, and his performance, while being less emotional than Renkse's one on previous works, is more than fitting to the music in here. The lyrics are also different from the elegies of yore, this time being more metaphorical, even though sometimes it sounds like they wrote some random phrases and put them together.

Despite this minimalistic approach to the sound of the record, the songs don't blend together, and they don't sound all the same. 'Brave' is the longest song of the album, going from a droning section to a more melodic but doomier one and then going back to the first section. It doesn't seem like it lasts ten minutes. 'Murder' is slightly fast-paced, way shorter, and has a more 'upbeat' (for the lack of a better word) feel to it. However, 'Day' is a calm, dreamy and dreary song, resembling shoegaze rather than metal. This is the first time Renkse used clean vocals, and even though these ones are performed in a somewhat amateurish way, they are very fitting for the song.

'Rainroom' is similar to 'Murder', still being delivered in the same fashion, but with stronger, more traditional doom metal riffing, and a noteworthy vocal performance by Åkerfeldt. '12' is the only song that resembles the epics of 'Dance of December Souls', and the reason is quite obvious: it's a reworked track from the past called 'Black Erotica'. Though '12' sounds darker, heavier and more oppresive, I strongly recommend the listener to look out for the original version, which is, in my humble opinion, better. The album closes on a strong note with 'Endtime', the darkest and heaviest song of the bunch, even somewhat disturbing, with really strong, spiteful growls, and an horrifying, haunting main guitar riff.

While this focus shift gave as a result a final product which was not as elegant, or sophisticated as the debut, it was still more than decent, the more direct approach made the music more intense, and this gave a blueprint for the new sound the band took in the immediate future, since they used some characteristics of this sound on their first real masterpiece, the follow-up Discouraged Ones.

Life itself turned pale and ended - 85%

jeanshack, June 25th, 2011

Not surprising that the introduction to this record happened during my doom death and progressive death phase. Anything along the lines of Opeth, My Dying Bride or Moonsorrow would have pleased my appetite. In fact, Mikael Åkerfeldt's well rounded deep growl was among my preferred styles within death metal. And one day, just like that, I came to realize that he has done vocals for another band from Sweden -- Katatonia. This prompted an immediate listen to Brave Murder Day.

The band sounded nothing like Opeth, they were more dampened, a tad more depressing and wearier. Even Åkerfeldt sounded different, very different, growls were not as deep. Either I saw a new versatile facet to his vocal abilities or it was just the overall production. Intensely deep growls were toned down and replaced with more lengthy dry sound, residing somewhere between a scream and growl. The shift in vocal style also mirrors the compositions. It’s not adrenaline pumping aggressive assaults of riffage, but rather dragged out dreary riffs; monotonously resonating and lazily shifting its ebb and flow. Quite not the progressive death style.

The whole record could be split into two halves, each having its own feel. The first two songs “Brave” and “Murder” perfectly fits the description given in the above paragraph about sluggish compositions. Really gloomy and creates an ambiance of drizzling cloudy mornings. The more sinister feel is subdued till we hit the second half of the record. “Day” is a very slow track with clean vocals which bridges the two contrasting halves of the Brave Murder Day. When “Rainroom” starts you realize that the record is moving in a slightly more aggressive direction. The growls are literally unleashed; they are more on the face and louder. Drums get more prominent, in some parts the incessant double bass pounding is heard quite noticeably. Sometimes they are interleaved with slow guitar strumming, growls or leads.

“Rainroom” is quite refreshingly heavy and probably the best track of the record. The constant background guitar strumming fills all the crevices and makes the sound sufficiently dense. Couple of minutes into the song and the heaviness withers down a bit, but it is more than compensated by the pain invoking vocals. The song slowly builds up momentum which eventually runs into some brilliant vocals culminating in drums tailored for head banging. “Rainroom” is just the kind of song which makes the album rise above its own deserving quality rating and moves it into a must listen category. When the song tapers off to an end, everything seems to pale in comparison to the reverberating Åkerfeldt growls -- “I saw it end long before it ended, Life itself turned pale and ended”.

“12” starts of slowly and halfway into the song it truly shifts its style in sync with the essence of Brave Murder Day. The heavy rhythm guitar parts with growls are interleaved with clean guitar strumming and slow drums. This pattern is followed throughout the second half till the end where the sound gets really slow and tends to the funereal side of doom. “Endtime” also starts off with slow lead guitars, which shifts to old school heavy metal rhythm sound, then goes back to clean guitar while eventually leading up to a more heavier sound. It hardly matters how this last song goes, by this time the listener would have either got into “Brave Murder Day” or would have trashed it by now. The song ends with this constant drumming and real crude deathly vocals ending with clean guitar. It stops abruptly as if someone just snapped the power cord.

Lyrics are nightmarish, surreal and disheartening. Very much blends with the style of music. Akerfeldt does complete justice to the composer, lyricist and the production crew with his point blank blasts of growling which takes the listener to ethereal depths of doom. As the record progresses his vocals also evolve with the compositions. Towards the end the depth in his growls tend to get more and more audible. Renkse’s style of writing in this record is a bit quirky, lyrics seem like bundled up lines, as if some connecting words went missing, as if the order of lines all got jumbled up. All this idiosyncrasies and the words just work fine, it screams of pain all the way. Love the fact that he never went overboard by needlessly trying to rhyme. The record reeks of lyrical crudeness and pain, of dreary hopeless compositions and of grim pale growls in vocals. All of this concocts up wonders when Brave Murder Day is played on a drizzling Sunday morning backed with sufficient quantities of alcohol, eventually transpiring into a beautifully wasted day.

Emotional Honest Album - 90%

RussianMetalHead, January 14th, 2010

Brave Murder Day made probably one of the most charismatic releases in the doom death metal arena. The music can be definitely considered as one of the classic releases in the genre. One of the characteristic qualities of the album is its hypnotizing melodies. In fact, the main philosophy of this record is quality over the quantity. The songs do not have many riffs, yet music is not boring, but very dramatic, and emotional. Certainly, some people, the music may appear too repetitive, but it works in a magnificent way. The melodies are delicate dark masterpieces which stick in the listener head for days.

The music has a tendency to put the listener in a trance like state mood using simple yet effective melodic foundations done using lead guitar melodies, and harsh misanthropic vocals as the central instruments. The drumming, base, rhythm guitar and other effects provide groundwork for everything else, a certain wall of sound. Somewhat thin production give the additional bleak, and hollow atmosphere to the record makes the dark melodies, and growls even more effective.

Track one ‘Brave’ has an excellent flow, with magnificent lead guitar melodies in a minor scale. The atmosphere is absolutely astonishing. Second song ‘Murder’ has a slightly faster simple riffing, and Katatonia still performs the track live, which points out to its catchiness. Furthermore, tracks ‘Rainroom’, and ‘12’ have an Opeth like harmonies which sounds very fitting, and balanced. In my view, the ‘Rainroom’ may be the strongest track here, since the riffs, the flow, the vocals, and the dynamics are done perfectly; the clean break, followed by the misanthropic melodic foundations is an example of a delicate intelligent songwriting which makes the song so magnificent. Third track seems to be a pretty useless repetitive synthesized pop song which sounds out of place. I typically skip it, and enjoy the gorgeous ‘Rainroom’ few extra times. The song is absolutely fantastic with a heart breaking harmonies, excellent placed beats, and brutal vocals mixed with the emotional clean ones. Certainly the album should be experienced from the beginning to end, because it has a storytelling like quality. The story is pretty depressive one, but somehow it converts negative energy into a positive one, which was probably the main goal of the musicians.

In conclusion, the ‘Brave Murder Day’ is a good album, which is considered a classic in the metal underground. It seems to have a melodic doom death metal tag, but in my view the term may be contingent since many groups mix things up. I would just call it a dark metal classic. If you haven’t heard it, it is a must have for any metal head, as an important release in the metal history. Katatonia are the people, who write a honest emotional music with feelings.

A Crow Left Of The Murder - 84%

OzzyApu, July 2nd, 2009

For a few years I had this album on my computer in all it’s richness, but the second I popped in my copy of the original in the car, I was pissed. Not only did I have to crank the volume at twice the level to hear it at the same capacity as my other CDs, but it still sounded thinner than a strip of gum. The drums were metallic and icy, the distortion of the guitars cut like knives, and the opulence was quite lacking. I won’t entirely bog down the review to bitch about how bad the original production was, but let me just get it out of the way and recommend that you pick up the remastered copy. It isn’t anything to die over, but the remastered release just brings out the music much more than the original.

You see that dead bird on the cover drenched in purple monochrome? Let that sum up the album for you (doubles for tone): dead, dreary, decayed, reflective, and melancholic. Åkerfeldt of Opeth accompanies the songs on vocals. He doesn’t pussify the music by trying to make it sound more like Opeth. He merely handles growling duties and I applaud him for how much effort he puts forth to make these growls sound tortured, mutilated, gutted, and very complementary towards the aforementioned tone of the album. Renkse provides the clean vocals, which are rather off-key, amateurish, and passionless compared to his later performances. Renske handles it timidly, since they only appear on one song in their entirety and in rare occasions elsewhere. It’s suitable for the music on paper, but the album could have been characterized perfectly without them as well. He’d focus them completely later, but compared to the growls, they only play a minor role in the outlook of things this album wishes to resurrect.

I keep forgetting that this album has two guitarists, since I always figured Blackheim performed the best part of the music all by himself like on the debut. Bass duties he handles like a pro – on the original pressing it’s hard to hear his lines, but on the remastered version it sounds as thick as chocolate and helps give more power back to the guitars while filling the air with more vibrance. I’m pretty sure I’m not mistaken when I calculate the amount of riffs per song ranging from two to five. Katatonia churns out these riffs (“Day” just has showering clean guitars) all day, painting a picture of gloom the entire time. They string them out quite well, and they go on and on but somehow I don’t really get tired of them. The first track may be ten minutes, but it won't feel endless since the same pattern and the riffs begin to blend competently to the point where the music becomes medicinal. The sound isn’t evil, but remorseful, mournful, and of a forlorn guilt.

The cold fact is that the guitars don’t need to go beyond their simplicity, since this method works. The result of Blackheim and Norrman’s doomy / melodic playing style has brought into the fold an atmosphere worth keeping and a state of mind worth visiting. Hearing “Brave,” “Rainroom,” and the intro to “12” are moments of bliss and tranquility that I find myself headbanging to with the same compliance as most top-tier thrash bands. Even the drumming can be considered typical of novices in their rather routine playing, but it works in the environment created by the guitars – let nature develop itself without ruination. I’m particularly fond of the double bass, which even on the original sounds beefy and addictive. However, the cymbals and toms on the original sound vastly inferior, since they’re very thin, metallic, and hollow sounding.

I know Burzum kind of brought the repetitive / hypnotic riff pattern into frame, but I really see this album as the one that solidified it. Anyway, this is a step-down from Katatonia’s debut, but it excels in departments where that one fell short. For one, it’s much more entrancing - putting you in mindset makes you lazier than you should be. My own copy is the Avantgarde pressing, so the production is way shittier than the remastered one released a decade later. Get the remastered version and start loving this.

Substituting Ks for Cs is quite nu-metal - 66%

Cheeses_Priced, May 21st, 2009

Come on now. This isn't really metal. It hasn't got any riffs! It's just a bunch of dawdling, repetitive chords. The guitars have a nice, heavy black or death metal tone, and there are harsh vocals, but you have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on me. This doesn't sound like metal.

Now, on the one hand, it would be pretty ignorant and elitist for me to count that as a flaw, and to claim that metal is inherently superior to all other forms of music. On the other hand, I don't want to lie to my reading audience, so I'm in something of a bind.

Katatonia have changed considerably over the course of their career, and to their credit, they seem to have not ticked off their fans all that badly in the process. Lately they're more of a straight rock band – I think? I don't keep careful tabs on Katatonia. But even back here on their debut, they're pretty rock, resembling a heavier Fields of the Nephilim – I think? I don't keep careful tabs on Fields of the Nephilim either.

Regardless, this album is a sort of link between metal and depressing rock music. Depressive black metal seems to have pulled some songwriting techniques from this album, if you want to consider playing one riff for five minutes, then another one for three a “songwriting technique.”

Okay, that's not entirely fair. And it's not as if your typical black metal band is throwing in a million riffs per song in the first place. Brave Murder Day is somewhat distinctive for having songs that, by design, go precisely nowhere... they just sort of hang right there in the present, until the present presumably gets boring enough for the band to start doing something else. “12” starts off with the best couple minutes of the album, some cool intertwining guitar melodies... and then they stop that and do something else. It's annoying because I want it to go somewhere or do something or... something, but it's just the intro. It doesn't sum up to anything.

The music is too passive and indifferent for any transition to feel abrupt, which is the strength and the problem.

What the band does, they are admittedly good at; it kills all depressive black metal pretty dead, for whatever limited bragging rights that might be worth, and fairs well against the classic albums by the British Big Three (My Dying Bride, Paradise, Anathema) as well. After letting go of the feeling that they could be doing a lot more with the style, it's a pretty enjoyable album, and well-produced, the biggest annoyance, to me anyway, being Mikael Åkerfeldt's vocals, which sound exactly as they do on the first two Opeth albums, and ludicrously overbearing against the mellow guitar work.

Not really my thing, anyway. More my thing than their later music, though.

Murdering - 95%

Manwaring, September 5th, 2008

Jonas Renske’s vocals on Dance Of December Souls were nothing short of amazing. At points it sounded as if he was tearing his own throat apart to achieve the sound they desired; in fact it appears my little metaphor has an element of truth to it, thus the absence of his harsh voice on this album. If you were to put a hypothetical scenario to me involving Mikael Åkerfeldt filling in for his close friend Jonas on vocals and asked me what I thought the musical outcome would be, I would probably respond rather pessimistically. I would expect some horrible mishmash of his monotonous voice, straining to keep up with building emotions of Dance of December era Katatonia, or at best a mediocre album compared to it‘s predecessor. But I would have had no idea what Katatonia had in mind for this album.

Åkerfeldt, whatever you may feel about his other musical endeavours, has an impressive amount of control as a vocalist, which is probably why he is still in functioning order and Renske is not. Control is indeed the order of the day on this album. There is a substantial amount of doom-metal added into the mix this time around, and because of this Åkerfeldt’s vocals work perfectly. The songs do not build into throat destroying climax as they did on the previous album, but rather plod along on what are essentially minimalistic chord structures, with Katatonia’s trademark melodic leads played on top. The problem with minimalism, especially in doom-death is you run the risk of simply being boring, two things save Brave Murder Day from ever approaching this fate.

The first is composition. Every song is very well put together, and I’ve yet to ever feel a single riff on the album was simply their to tied me over until the band got their act together. Another is the guitar tone. It might seem a bit anal to obsess over guitar tone as one of the major points of an album, but in the end it’s a much easier thing to quantify than the vague ghost of decent song writing. Somehow to me, especially on many doom-death albums, the guitar sounds as if it’s resigned to some empty sonic wasteland between the vocals above and the bass far below, but the guitar tone on this album does no such thing. It manages to fill the entire song in a wall a noise, in short the guitar is this album. Anyone who listens to Brave Murder Day and says “you know I really dig that bass line” is a liar.

Another factor that lets this album sit above the rest of Katatonia’s discography is the level of diversity. While it manages to be a fully ‘metal’ album, the band have begun to venture into the dangerous world of clean vocals - with surprisingly pleasing results. You can hear the beginnings of Discouraged Ones in songs like Day, or the clean passages in Rainroom, without the band letting go of their metal roots as they would later on.

It’s hard to discuss a Katatonia album without throwing around words like “emotion”, “atmosphere” and claiming that it sounds like “ the dark city streets of a post-apocalyptic dystopian netherworld” but no review can ever really convey those things, and it’s those very things that set this album up for such a high score.

Killer Doomdeath! - 100%

grimdoom, May 31st, 2008

Not every band creates a masterpiece let alone a landmark album. Most only squeak by with a "good" or "great" recording that while admired by many, doesn't gain the cult status and the inevitable debate that others do. This in short, was Katatonia's finest hour.

This could be considered the birth of modern Doomdeath Metal as it doesn't follow the path of the Peaceville three. The aforementioned were crunch heavy, riff happy and structured. Katatonia on the other hand opted to open chord over 90% of this recording as well as repeat the same few riffs per song avoiding the hallmarks of what is now traditional Doomdeath.

The production is good enough for what is here. Apparently this album was written completely in the studio, perhaps causing the minimalistic characteristics more out of necessity than intention. The guitars are not all that heavy but they are menacing in a somber sort of way. There are leads woven throughout every song. The songs have a semi-droning feel to them. It also sounds as if they are in drop 'D' tuning.

The bass follows the guitars but this only adds to the downtrodden feeling. The drums are more or less played on hi-hat, bass and snare with little to no variation. This is also used to good effect as anything more would have caused this album to loose its sorrow filled vibe.

The vocals, provided by Opeth’s Mikael fit the music’s dreary attitude nicely. He sings clean on one song but the rest are his trademarked growls/shrieks. The lyrics are simplistic and depressing.

Over all this is a very emotionally stark album. Its bleakness filling the listener with dreams of oblivion. This is the album where the band developed its signature melancholy guitar sound. This album (like Paradise Losts' 'Gothic' before it) gave way to countless copycats and sound alikes even to this day. If there are any bad marks to be given it would be the band should have continued on in this style. (Granted 'October Tide' continues this style to an extent, it’s not the same).

This is a very recommended album to Doomdeath/Doom Metal fans as it’s truly a masterwork of simplicity and sadness.

An absolute masterpiece of metal - 98%

Apatheria, March 27th, 2008

How this album isn't considered by many to be one of metal's greatest masterpieces, I will never know. Unappreciated in the sense that it isn't heralded to as high of a degree as Mayhem's over-rated De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, or Ulver's great Bergtatt, I still come back to this album when I consider the greatest underground metal albums of all time. While hard to classify musically, as it’s too slow to be black metal and too fast to be doom metal, that’s partially what lends to it’s greatness. With an utterly razor-sharp guitar sound, the monotonous, numbing drum lines, and the brutality of Akerfeldt's vocals, I simply cannot imagine anything darker.

The atmosphere created by all the aforementioned traits is absolutely suffocating. I've already mentioned the razor sharp sound of the guitars, which is achieved to an unbelievable level of perfection. I can't think of a better sound to match the lead riffs, which operate on delightfully dissonant scales. Bass doesn't play a major role, but it doesn't have to; I am often irritated by a lack of bass, but here, anything that distracted from the sound of the guitars would be a nuisance, hence the simplicity of both the bass and the drums. Many have complained about the simplicity and the repetitiveness of the drumming, but I feel it lends heavily to the numbing atmosphere of the album.

Another aspect many have complained about are the clean vocals of Jonas Renske in the track 'Day', calling them whiny and angst-ridden. I heavily disagree, as Renske's voice is far too mature to come off as whiny. Instead, his vocals come off as cynical and weary, like a man who has spent far too much time in the company of death. This track is like his musings on a life wasted, and what could have been. Many say this song detracts from the album; I say it is one of the album's high points.

The album then launches into it's most aggressively dark track, Rainroom. Perhaps the strongest track of the entire album, with Akerfeldt's vocals at their most powerful, and the riffs at their sharpest. The lead riff at 1:45 is amongst the most powerful metal riffs that I've had the pleasure to hear, accompanied by Akerfeldt's despairing vocals as he screams the lines "I saw it end, long before it ended! Life itself turned pale!" It's an incredibly powerful passage and the defining high point of the album. The track then breaks down into a slower, wonderfully bleak passage, with Jonas Renske's clean vocals appearing once more, sounding even more cynical and tired than in the previous track. It's an absolutely killer track, one that must be heard.

And of course, all the other tracks on the album are similarly outstanding. Brave is as good of an album opener as any, instantly enveloping the listener in the album's bleak, numbing aesthetic. And the riff at the 3 minute mark of Brave is breath-taking. Murder is the most eerie track of the album, with strange lyrics that seem to be a disoriented poem written by a madman. 12 is packed full of killer riffs, and an interesting thing I've noticed; there are exactly twelve passages before the song comes to it's climax. Endtime is honestly my least favorite track of the album, but it's hardly a weak track. Where Rainroom is the climax, Endtime is the falling action of the album. But I feel it somewhat fails as an album ending. It would have lead beautifully into the track "For Funerals to Come" from their '95 EP of the same name, which would certainly be the ultimate finale for this album. But I digress.

Overall, as I stated before, I strongly believe this to be among metal’s finest offerings. With this album, Katatonia have created an atmosphere of palpable darkness that few other bands have pulled off before or since. While it should be hailed in the likes of the aforementioned albums, it is merely appreciated mostly by fans of doom metal. I suppose its black metal elements are too few and far between to appeal to the majority of the underground. Nonetheless, it’s a brilliant album that should never be forgotten. With the exception of the Sounds of Decay EP, released a year later, this was Katatonia’s last foray into the truly dark and underground. I suppose they realized that, having perfected their sound with this album, it was time to move on...

Incredible doom release - 97%

FrostOfTheBlack, March 16th, 2007

Katatonia's "Brave Murder Day" is a real classic.

To me BMD does not sound much like doom metal, so it is hard to classify it as such, but it certainly fits some of doom metal's characteristics. I think it would be better described as dark metal because it is doomy, gloomy, melodic, and has some death/black influences as well. Some may disagree with that classification, but it doesn't really matter.

The song structures on BMD are simple, but well-constructed. The opener, "Brave", opens with some feedback to a midpaced guitar riff with equally paced drums. After awhile the music gradually emerges into a different pace with another excellent riff. All the while Michael Akerfeldt's vocals complement the song perfectly. If you are familiar with Akerfeldt's vocal style, it is incredibly deep - just right for this type of music. "Brave" is 10-minutes long, but you'd hardly notice it because it flows so well. The second song "Murder" completely changes the pace, but you get used to it. It features Jonas Renkse on vocals for a different sound, along with slow acoustic riffs that are simple but incredibly haunting. The pace picks up again with some hard-hitting riffs on "Rainroom", some of the best on the album.

Overall the album leaves you realizing how truly talented songwriters the guys from Katatonia are. There's nothing fancy here, no fast solos, no blastbeats, no operatic vocals, no complicated rhythms (though there's nothing wrong with any of those). It's straight-up depressive metal with an excellent combination of clean and harsh vocals that make for an awesome aural experience.

If you get the American version from Century Media, it has the For Funerals To Come EP attached to it, which is excellent as well.

I can probably count on two hands the number of albums I would regard as 95% or greater. This is one of them, and its well-deserved. It is a standard by which all depressive metal bands should compare themselves.

Future Classic? - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, June 14th, 2006

"Brave Murder Day" is the second album and a sheer masterpiece from the Swedes known as Katatonia. This album began the transition from a Doom/Death Metal band to a Depressive Rock band that they seem to be called these days. The album features the harsh vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, in probably his greatest work to date with Jonas Renkse on clean vocals duty. This album contains six tracks varying from 4 minutes to 10 minutes of pure unadulterated beauty.

A truly hypnotive and atmospheric release, like none other. Both Death and Doom influences and elements can be easily picked out within the music. This album is extremely repetitive, which creates a gloomy and dreary atmosphere filled to the brim with emotion. "Day" is a perfect example of this. Jonas Renkse is given the opportunity to make a solo appearance on vocals and produces something unique and quite simply beautiful. His clean and emotive vocals offer the listener the perfect chance to recapture their breathe and marvel in the sheer beauty that is Katatonia. "Day" provides the perfect insight in to what to expect from Katatonia in the near future as they begin to evolve in sound and as Jonas takes control of the vocals duty. The production is crystal clear, but quite rough and edgey. The distortion on guitars makes this more noticeable as each song plays out. Songs vary from slow tempos, to mid tempos and then again to a faster and more aggressive sound. Akerfeldt is able to emit such pain and emotion through his harsh growls, his inclusion on this album is sheer genius. Musically, this is somewhat simple and slow, but very interesting and extremely gripping.

All in all we have a dark, mysterious and emotive album on our hands. Packed with catchy riffs, accomplished drumming and stylish songs in general. Highlights include, 12, Day and Murder.

The beginning of the end - 73%

Sean16, June 10th, 2006

The proper classification of Brave Murder Day is a bit of an issue. It’s still not the depressive rock of Discouraged Ones, but it nonetheless sounds closer to this album than to Dance of December souls. It reminds a bit of Opeth as well, presumably because of the presence of Mikael Akerfeldt on vocals. If Dance of December Souls was black-ish doom/death metal, this time Brave Murder Day could be called slow doom-ish melodeath, because it’s basically what it is, without any judgement value. The band in the same move got rid of all the esoteric, anti-religious imagery, and if Anders Nyström is still “Blackheim” for another album, “Lord Seth” has already become the respectable Mr Jonas Renske, now writing lyrics about depression and loss rather than on “tomb spirits marching in the fields of eternal life” and the likes.

As far-fetched as it may sound to some, this album actually shows some similarities with Agalloch’s works. That means, slow beautiful music with a strong atmospheric feeling but without many variations, and only mild aggressiveness in spite of the predominant use of harsh vocals. All the songs are slow to mid-paced, faster than on the previous album, mainly built on the 4/4 beat the band will use and abuse of on their following releases. With the difference that most of the tracks still exhibit slower doom-ish breaks which add some thickness to the work and prevent it from totally falling into sheer monotony. And once again one can only bow down to some of these beautiful, utterly sad semi-acoustic atmospheric moments which were amongst the highlights of Dance of December Souls and are still amongst the ones of this release.

The icy keyboards have vanished into oblivion as well, and while some freaks who can only stand fully guitar-driven albums will rejoice, the band probably lost another of its former strengths with them.

So now, Mikael Akerfeldt took all the harsh vocals duties here, and while he’s undoubtedly a talented singer, he lives up to nothing compared to Jonas Renske on the previous album. Objectively “Lord Seth” was a far worse singer, but managed to inject passion, slight hatred, and more importantly an incredible amount of LIFE in his voice, which was occasionally more reminiscent of black metal high-pitched screams than genuine growls. By contrast Akerfeldt does some good professional growling work – nothing more. And listening to the pitiful pop-ish whining which will from now on be Renske’s trademark one can’t prevent himself from crying. Yes, this track called Day is heartbreaking, not because it is moving by any mean – it is, actually, exceptionally bad -, but because it sums well how the mighty will soon fall.

However, though lacking a bit of substance this record can still be fully enjoyed, and is still one hundred times better than anything Katatonia is releasing nowadays. Don’t expect another Without God or Velvet Thorns Of Drynwhyl, nothing on this album would ever match the crushing, cold beauty of the band’s previous works, but the longest tracks, if not stunning masterpieces, are pretty interesting to listen to. 12 especially, by far the slowest song here, carries a strong both melodic and depressive feeling, in a soft hybrid between doom and melodeath. By far my favourite track, with the opening Brave, which starts kind of boring but rapidly redeems itself as soon as the wailing doom parts begin.

... nonetheless Katatonia would have had better definitely split up after this release.

Highlights: Brave, 12

Strange, bleak and glorious - 96%

stefan86, July 9th, 2005

Reviewing one of your all-time favorite albums is tough. Katatonia’s “Brave Murder Day” has been with me for a long time. Listening to it again quickly removed the distance that I thought I had gotten to it over the years. I feel the music more than ever, and it’s still a murky death/doom metal masterpiece by my favorite band. I will do my best to dissect what's so good about one of the most intangible metal albums ever released.

Much of the uniqueness of this album lies in the implementation of shoegaze in extreme metal music. This was 1996, long before blackgaze bands like Alcest became underground giants. “Brave Murder Day” is musically monotone and simple, focusing completely on creating an unsettling atmosphere. Repetition is often the key. The main themes of the songs are often repeated for minutes. It's a strange experience.

“Brave” and “Murder” are good examples of what to expect. The guitar riffs are simple 4/4 beat power chords played over equally simple drumming. It creates a sense of trance close to unheard on another album. Many bands have tried to replicate it afterwards, but none of them has really been able to create the same dreary atmosphere. I think it's a result of Katatonia coming into the studio with what was pretty much a blank sheet.

The songs are surprisingly catchy, but the guitar sound makes it an antithesis. The rhythm guitars have a Swedish death metal fuzz with the distortion lowered, almost into being a buzzing noise. There are simple melodies and clean guitars, as well as some signature Anders Nyström tapping melodies. Opening track "Brave" comes to complete halt after three minutes before introducing one of these tapping sections. It's a fantastic tension sequence, building up to the song's most intense section.

All these moves focuses on the eerie atmosphere and Mikael Åkerfeldt’s vocals follow suit. His growls have a whispery quality to them that resonates perfectly with the unconventional guitar ideas. Most of the the lyrics are simple and fittingly obscure, sorrowful ballad "Day" being the exception.

The sound is influenced by dark rock bands like Slowdive and The Cure, and in the song “Day” they go all in on the gothic clean vocals. Jonas Renkse provides a subdued vocal performance that foreshadows the sound Katatonia will have later in their career. It’s a beautiful, bleak rock song. The clean vocals also show up in "Rainroom" and "Endtime". Jonas doesn't yet have the skill he acquires in Katatonia's new era, but his performance is mercilessly bleak.

After “Rainroom”, another dose of glorious 4/4 trance, the album ends with the two most unorthodox tracks. Closer “Endtime” is like an existential black hole, allowing clean guitar parts to repeat and cascade before breaking into death/doom metal extremity. It's the perfect closer, peaking the album's obscure tendencies in an elegant way.

There’s plenty of flack to give “Brave Murder Day” if you dissect it note by note. The production and the instruments are flat and powerless and it’s overall a very bare bones record. Katatonia was a messy band at this time, but they created something that went so far beyond the notes that were played. I'm honestly not sure if the band had any idea that the record would turn out this way. This weird piece of music became of the most influential doom metal albums.

Revisiting the album, I'm still fascinated and drawn in. "Brave Murder Day" is one of my favorite albums, with an atmosphere like no other. It has aged very well, despite being musically and sonically bare bones. It's a doom metal essential responsible for shaping the genre. It's also a set of damn good songs. Some of the darkest music ever recorded.

Originally written for

Repetitive but very good. - 80%

icedray, June 10th, 2003

I will admit that I only bought this cd because I read that Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) did the vocals on most of the tracks of this album. I don't own any other Katatonia albums and what scattered songs from their more recent cd's that I have heard, its suffice to say that this is the only album of theirs that I plan on owning.

Luckily, this cd is quite good. To describe the music on this album is pretty easy. Each song has a couple of riffs which are each repeated a dozen times or so. While that may sound annoying, if the riffs are good to start with then its not a bad thing at all. Here we do have some good riffs. They remind me a bit of Opeth but only a little. As for the vocals, well its Mikael. If you love his growly vox for Opeth, then you will like them here. He sings on all but one song.

As for the songs: It starts with "Brave". This song has a very cool groove that will have you bobbing (although not banging) your head. The song is 10+ minutes but you wouldn't know it because it kinda keeps you in that groove for the whole song. Next is "Murder" which also has a kick ass groove and is in the same line of the first song, but not as long.

However, the album takes a bit of a dive with the next song "Day" which reminds me of Peter Gabriel, for chrissakes. Very whiny vocals by the lead singer of Katatonia. Just not very good at all.

Fortunately, the album picks up with "Rainroom". More Mikael growls and more groove. Fuck yeah!

Suprisingly, the album gets better with the next song which tends to be my fav from this album. "12" is a more epic sounding song and has some great haunitng guitar work. It has the repeating riff but then it gets into this heavy chug with Mikael's tortured vocals and then dips into more mellow playing (reminding us of the great Opeth).

The last song "Endtime" starts off very atmospheric but then breaks into heavy pounding metal and then breaks into the atmosheric stuff again. It then has distorted vocals and breaks into an Opeth like riff and soon enough Mikael's vocals come ripping in. Very good stuff.

If you like Opeth, I highly recommend this album.