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From something to something. - 100%

greywanderer7, July 12th, 2012

Katatonia's struggle against stagnation led them to modify their sound for the second time at their career, now turning towards a strange, but even more unique sound, which was neither the alternative metal/rock of their late works, nor the death/doom sound that brought them recognition on the metal scene.

Actually, this is not a radical departure from the sound of the previous album, because the simple, repetitive droning riffing and the minimalistic song structures are still present in here. However, the growls, double bass drumming and heavier riffing are completely eliminated from the music, and are instead replaced by clean, melancholic but still dense and distorted guitar lines, and heartfelt sung vocals, not unlike the ones of The Cure's Robert Smith. In fact, a good way to describe the sound of this album would be Brave Murder Day meets Pornography.

At first listen, it might seem that all the songs sound the same (most of them having this 'dundun dundun dundun dundun dundun dundun dundun dundun' riff pattern), but, with time, and repeated listens, every song stars to reveal its own character. Nevertheless, or as a consequence of this, trying to pick standouts is a pointless labor. The drumming is even more basic and simplistic, using most of the time simple 4/4 patterns, and while Jonas Renkse's clean vocals still feel quite amateurish, he makes up for this disadvantage with an extremely intense, emotional and honest performance, never being over-the-top or trying too hard.

The less aggressive direction and the dreamy textures incorpored to the music give it a great, elaborated atmospheric effect, like that of an autumnal, rainy evening, and the lyrics are somewhat more intriguing than the ones on past works, focusing in depression, and while still having a metaphorical approach, they are written in a way than the listener can either try to understand them 'literally', or make up his/her own personal meaning about them.

This is one of those records where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and it has to be heard many times to be fully understood by the listener, because at first it might seem awkward or sappy. In other words, it's a grower, and the main reason why Katatonia succeeded at this new change of sound is because they kept the essence of the music alive and intact, trading heaviness for emotion, and using this new found accessibility not as an end, but as a mean.