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Revamped and revitalized - 74%

kluseba, September 2nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2013, CD + DVD, Kscope Music

It seemed like a quite debatable idea to take the vocal recordings of numbing predecessor Dead End Kings and fit them into new acoustic arrangements recalling ambient and neofolk sounds. While the record isn't excellent, the risk payed off as Dethroned & Uncrowned is a solid improvement over its immediate predecessor.

The songwriting has become more concise as the eleven rearranged tunes are more than two minutes shorter than the same tracks on the predecessor. The songs sound concise, fluid and whole.

While the electric guitar work was at times unspectacular on the predecessor, the ambient and neofolk influences on this release add some much-needed variety to the different tracks. The acoustic guitar work focuses on numbing atmosphere over dynamic progression. The smooth bass guitar creates a slightly menacing undertone. The drum work has become much more percussive and accentuates the atmosphere rather than pacing the rhythm.

The stripped-down instrumental work also benefits the vocals that sound more diversified, expressive and versatile than on the predecessor even though they are exactly the same. This shows that a good instrumental arrangement is half the battle.

Dethroned & Uncrowned shows the potential these songs have. While Dead End Kings was an average depressive rock record, this new approach is a fluid, focused and fresh reinvention of said song material. This might not be a spectacular release but it's actually quite good and the unusual experiment deserves some recognition. If you like gloomy ambient and neofolk music intertwined with depressive rock and gothic rock elements, you should check this album out. You don't even need to be familiar with the forgettable predecessor to enjoy this album to the fullest.

Clasping Tightly to the Crown - 71%

Daru_Jericho, October 30th, 2013

Sweden’s Katatonia seem to move from strength-to-strength, failing to deliver a poor album. Last year’s ‘Dead End Kings’ was emotionally loaded with more dimensions than the usual Katatonia release. ‘Dethroned and Uncrowned’ is an acoustic reworking of ‘Dead End Kings’, not the most obvious choice for an acoustic Katatonia album but certainly one worth listening to.

Although ‘Dethroned and Uncrowned’ is a solid release, it is not because of the acoustic aspect but because of the strength of the original material. One of the greatest differences between rock/metal songs being converted to acoustic is the change in mood and sound. However, the ambience remains the same on both Katatonia releases. The alternations are minimal, showcasing Katatonia’s great attention to detail. The reworking of the synthesizer on ‘The Parting’ is a curious yet applaudable change; the acoustic guitar meanderings on ‘Undo You’ resonate with Scandinavian neofolk. Percussion is largely absent, which adds a more isolating and lonely feel to the music.

The mood remains static throughout the entire album and Jonas Renkse’s vocals do not change at all, which compounds the stagnation of the atmosphere. The lack of heavy elements makes the original softer passages less underscored and this juxtaposition is a key part of Katatonia’s compositions. Overall, ‘Dethroned and Uncrowned’ is a worthy release but certainly not essential listening and does not overshadow the original material.

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