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Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance - 90%

AnIrishJournalist, August 23rd, 2010

The Great Cold Distance is Katatonia's seventh full-length release, and it serves as another chapter in Katatonia's fascinating musical journey. It builds on their previous album, Viva Emptiness, by continuing to move away from death metal and by embracing a more melodic approach. While this has somewhat alienated a number of fans of their earlier music, it has opened them up to a much wider audience; namely fans of alternative or progressive music.

A key aspect to this broader appeal is the many elements of different music that is brought together, and as such this makes the band slightly difficult to categorise. Are they death metal? Definitely not on this release, though there are some growls they are more for background effect as opposed to actual vocal lines. Are they doom metal? Debatably yes, though they bear no resemblance to doomsters such as Candlemass or Cathedral, they certainly have elements of the genre, such as the slow, heavy songs and the moody lyrics. Are they progressive metal? It can safely be said that they certainly have progressive tendencies, as in the sudden tempo/rhythm changes they employ, and also the use of unconventional time signatures and song structures. Are they depressive rock? Yes and no. They are undoubtedly still a metal band, and although they do have softer and more commercial songs on this release, every song has heavy metal qualities, which makes up the bulk of the album's content.

The main improvement of this album over its predecessor is its consistency. Although Viva Emptiness was a good release, it was plagued by a lot of filler: for every good song, there was an average one. The Swedes have definately fixed that problem on this album, as every song ranges from good to excellent. The production has also been upgraded, as this album genuinely does sound immaculate. Every cymbal clash, every strum of the bass and every whisper from vocalist Jonas Renske is crystal clear, and also balanced perfectly in the mix; nothing gets drowned out. In fact just about everything has been improved: the musicianship, the song writing and even the artwork are all superior to Viva Emptiness.

A special note must be made for the lyrics. Renske hinted at his greatness with the previous record, but here he really does deliver. The words he sings are both crushingly saddening, and at the same time darkly beautiful and poetic. His tales of woe, from the loss of friends to the themes of mental anguish and insanity, are as immensely creative as they are depressing. The man obviously knows how to write songs for himself, as his vocals are delivered with great success: they are never strained, and while he doesn't exactly have the broadest range out there, his soft, serene voice really does the job of complimenting the music perfectly.

The guitars range from the very heavy, with great use of distortion, to the very gentle. The way that the guitars interweave reminds me of Argus-era Wishbone Ash, and although that might come as a surprise to some, just compare the two and you will see. The drums also do a good job: similar to the guitars, they are pounding at one minute, then the next they disappear as the music transforms. Daniel Liljekvist never overplays, which is a smart move, as this isn't the sort of music to show off your amazing drumming skills with.

As with all albums of course, it has its faults, though they are petty. The bass can be heard, but it doesn't seem to do enough for the music. I get the feeling that had it been made a tiny bit louder, it would have benefitted greatly. Also, I feel that a bass solo or two could have added to the dark overtone of the album, but like I said, it's not a big issue. Also the inclusion of the track 'In The White' puzzles me: it has no standout moments, and it pales in comparison to the bonus tracks contained within the special edition, 'Displaced' and 'Dissolving Bonds', which are both above-average tunes.

All in all, a great release from a great band. It's good to see Katatonia developing their own, unique sound, which they have definitely done with this record. This is a highly recommended album, and it should appeal to fans of both progressive and doom metal. 9/10.

No Rust Here. - 95%

FireMoonOrgy, October 21st, 2008

"The Great Cold Distance" is definitely a great title for this release by one of Sweden's most premier and definitive musical outfits, who have created music that deserves much more 'praise' than what has been given, some would argue. They may not be as premier as other well known Swedish acts like say, ABBA (yeah... ABBA) for instance. A group whom have sold millions of records worldwide, but none the less, the follow up to Katatonia's full-length album "Viva Emptiness" is definitely worthy of some attention when it comes to quality 'heartfelt' music. That being said, what is it that makes this album such a treat of depressive sadness to listen to? Well, there are several things one would be able to appreciate when listening to this release.

One of the most noticeable aspects of the music presented on TGCD the listener will pick up is that it provides an amazing atmosphere in which pain, despair, and solitude are brought forward and thrown straight into your face. Or ears, if that's a better way of putting it. Sadness is definitely a big issue here, as is the case with most of Katatonia's past efforts. There is a noticeable change on TGCD, which is expected from a band like Katatonia who have a 'thing' (a very good thing) for constantly evolving their sound, in which to produce something better than their last. The songs are more or less in the same manner of past releases, mainly continuing with the same formula that can be found on the "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and "Viva Emptiness" and even as far back as "Discouraged Ones". What the TGCD does differently than the before mentioned releases is it comes off as a little more "heavier" for most of the tracks, which makes the TGCD a little more aggressive in its entirety. While still retaining the lyrical pessimism Jonas Renske is known for contributing, molding both the aggressive and clean natures together almost perfectly.

Although not bringing anything completely new to the table with TGCD, Katatonia still manage to offer an incredibly solid and well structured effort with this one. The musicianship is second to known, and backs up the argument made by some who deem Katatonia one of the best bands around still making the kind of tunes they play. Fans of Katatonia's past creations will surely listen to this release with great appreciation, as well as those who may be getting their first taste of this Swedish outfit's brand of music. Katatonia have definitely come a long way since their fantastic debut "Dance of December Souls", and have still yet to release an album that doesn't hold a certain place within someone who truly enjoys their 'katatonic' sound, and "The Great Cold Distance" is no different.

Streamlined - 95%

Dark_Mewtwo1, September 19th, 2008

Katatonia has gone through a lot of subtle changes with their now-standard rock sound. On this effort, the band takes all their influences and shapes it into a cohesive effort, producing one of the band's finest efforts to date.

Everything I could ever want in a Katatonia record is found here, from the atmospheric moods of Increase and July, to the heavier sounds of The Itch, and even the sensibility of tracks like Deliberation and My Twin. Fortunately, none of this sounds slapped together haphazardly. It seems to me that the guys worked dilligently in making everything flow perfectly, while still allowing every part of their sound to shine through. The rhythm section is solid once again, they've really developed a chemistry between the dynamic drumwork and the melodic guitar pieces. I wish they would bring the lead melodies back, and while Deliberation has that, I ultimately dropped those last 5 points because of it. It's their trademark! Everything else, from the vocals to the instruments and the production is high quality. Even the bonus tracks are excellent, bringing into question why these tracks didn't make the final cut.

In short, a fan of Katatonia's newer efforts has no excuse to enjoy this album. It contains everything that has made Katatonia a successful and powerful band, and all done in excellent fashion. Highly recommended.

Decent atmospheric rock stuff. - 68%

caspian, March 17th, 2008

My experience with metal bands going all depressive rock has been quite limited but positive. I guess it didn't work for Agalloch but Sentenced sure did a good job with 'The Cold White Light', Amorphis's last few, progressively more-rocky albums have been quite enjoyable and while I haven't heard anything else Katatonia have done, this also seems to be another success.

Not a perfect album, by any means, but it's still a pretty enjoyable album. It seems that Katatonia have found a little niche- some sort of dirgey, melancholy atmospheric rock that's almost like A Perfect Circle with bigger balls and a less annoying vocalist- and executed it extremely well. The band really knows what they're doing- the arrangements are pretty impeccable, really- 'Rusted' being a particularly excellent example of the impeccable guitar interplay on offer here, and the keyboards are also quite excellent, constantly supplying some sort of excellent background filling- the old 'hold down a bunch of keys for a while' style of keyboard playing has never sounded so good. And we're not even up to the vocals yet. Quite simply, I think the vocals are excellent- super silky and smooth, vaguely yet not completely gay and effeminate (Neige, take notes), with a curious mix of emotion and some sort of world weary indifference.

No doubt that it's all well done, but that's certainly not to say there's no flaws within this record. his talk about 'Katatonia have got a formula and stuck to it' often works well, but they do it to a fault, really- the songs follow some pretty similar structures, and certainly the dynamics shift become extremely predictable after a few songs. As with many depressive rock bands, it becomes difficult over time to really tell when songs start and end- certainly this genre isn't about huge dynamic shifts, but it would be nice if some of the rocking parts genuinely rocked out, instead of getting a bit louder but constantly staying all polite and courteous.

And that bring us to the main problem with this album, really. The production isn't really too flattering with this album- the heavy parts never really getting loud enough to really crush, whereas the clean parts don't really offer enough variation to keep it all terribly interesting. Whoever mastered this did a pretty freaking job, with everything just kinda sinking into a pleasant but bland mush. More dynamics would've been excellent, and it's a real shame that the production is as commercial as it is.

Still, I'm normally of the belief that production can't kill an album unless if it's really bad- and that certainly applies here. Katatonia still manage to whip up some pretty powerful moments here and there (The Itch and Rusted being good examples here), and while in many cases the songs do tend to drag a bit and get a bit bland, there's no denying that is well executed atmospheric rock stuff - certainly, bands like Alcest and Agalloch could take a leaf or two from some of the songwriting techniques and arrangements that are on display here. Not exactly an essential album, but it's kind of interesting and I'll be checking out their older stuff, fo' reals.

Never Discouraged. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 4th, 2007

‘The Great Cold Distance’ takes a back step from the juxtaposed nature of ‘Viva Emptiness’ which, to me, contrasted a summery vibe with downhearted lyrics and often sombre vocals, with all it's fast moving changes in emotion. This is incredibly easy to interpret and still as every bit accessible as the previous Katatonia full-length record, though, for me, there is something lacking. A distinguishing quality that made ‘Viva Emptiness’ a stand out performer above most of the other recent Katatonia records. Whilst there is still a consistency to their songs, some of the atmospheres explored can come across as fairly languid, as shown on ‘My Twin’, a song which neglects the superb juxtaposition approach of the previous record and instead opts for a level headed sound which can sometimes come across as dull in comparison. To me, this record begins how it means to finish. As clichéd as that may sound, it's true. It sounds highly aggressive in terms of the atmospheric undertow spiralling towards the surface of the soundscapes.

When I initially heard this record, I thought this was as aggressive as Katatonia would become, as shown well with the steadfast guitar work on songs like ‘July’, a turbulent experience which highlights the importance of a good vocal display by Jonas. The latest record has definitely altered my opinion of this record and its stance. Whilst the approach may seem more aggressive, ‘Night Is The New Day’ makes it appear less versatile. I did think, at one stage, that the stylistic approach of the guitars was perhaps too abrasive for modern day Katatonia, but having seen the musicians perform a number of the latest songs live in London recently, Jonas is capable of maintaining his own individual performance whilst the other members back him up with generally solid instrumentation, with the occasional use of backing vocals to emphasis certain sections of particular songs.

I’m not sure whether I’d regard this record as overly experimental. Songs like the jazzy ‘In The White’ have a definitive experimental factor attached to them with the superb bass work and slower pace, but the record, as a whole, isn’t as far reaching as ‘Viva Emptiness’, a record which hit home the bands prowess and capabilities when it comes to showcasing a more inviting and accessible sound to an audience used to depressing atmospheres as shown on the older records like ‘Discouraged Ones’ well. Jonas’ voice certainly draws some of those depressing qualities out from behind the more accessible instrumentation, again, as shown on ‘In The White’, but the record is a real mixed bag. Occasionally it will slow the pace down and allow areas like the bass to innovate and, on other occasions, it will take it applying vicious guitars.

The new sound of the guitars isn't the only new addition to Katatonia's most recent full-length. The vocals have changed too. They may tend to shock some of the newer Katatonia fans who're used to the mellow voice of Jonas and the backing vocals. ‘The Great Cold Distance’ marks a change in style, as I said. It's evident from the very first song they're intended to push this aggressive nature on through the criticism they will receive. They're screamed with a much more harsh tone. In actual fact, they appear to act as a big 'fuck you' to anyone who has ever done wrong by this band. Perhaps they are Jonas' own input. However, I quite like them. They add a new dimension of emotional rawness. Antipathetic, assailing and attacking. They have an obvious intent to do some harm through the power of subtle aggression, rather than an in-your-face assault.

"So when you let me in
You let me justify my own reward
You put your hands on me
And I learn the words I didn't know before."

The lyrics are again important in portraying what Katatonia were feeling at the time this record was made. In actual fact, Katatonia’s lyrical themes continue to be important to the band, signifying the sense of loss and regret in the atmospherics, something which the instrumentation can only do so well before the lyrics and Jonas’ passionate vocals have to play a part. These lyrics, especially that last line, appear to back up my point. I'm assuming those words he didn't know are swear or curse words. This supports the idea that Katatonia have a more aggressive approach this time round. This variation in attitudes and values is a welcomed addition. It's refreshing to see a band who aren't afraid to express emotion openly and crudely to their audience. The often punishing riffs, which are played out extremely heavily, though not a patch on ‘Night Is The New Day’, are well suited to these new lyrics and new textures Katatonia have adopted for the time being. Experimentation is again the name of the game. It's no surprise these days anyway.

"You used to be like my twin
And all that's been
Was it all for nothing."

To me, these lyrics are very obscure. They keep that dark element that Katatonia have always had firmly attached to their modern day sound, even though the style has drastically altered to accommodate the problems that Jonas experienced with his voice and performing his old growls that made the debut such a hit. Whether it was in the foreground or hidden in the depths of the keyboards or programming, Katatonia have always had a dark side. These lyrics, to me anyway, are to the fans who have left the fan base as Katatonia have developed through experimentation. From track one to the end, Katatonia keep a steady pace which is built by strong rhythmic sounds, solid song writing and of course, fantastic musicianship. Something we'd surprised not to see by this band. Over time I have come to think much less of this record in comparison to certain others, but it still maintains the backbone of quality that Katatonia have seemingly always had and probably always will have.

The Leaders - 95%

MiniMoose, June 29th, 2007

I honestly did not like Viva Emptiness before i heard this album. It took me a while to listen to The Great Cold Distance, because I didn't think there was anything left to get from this band. Viva Emptiness was a just too abrupt and chaotic I felt. I tried to like the album and took it out several times the last years...but I only found a couple of good songs.

When a friend managed to make me listen to TGCD I was shocked that I could have been so wrong about the band (although it took me at least 5 thorough listens before I actually liked it). Songs like Leaders, My Twin, July, In The White, Deliberation etc just sound too good to be true. Leaders may be one o f the best metal songs I've ever heard. The bass and drum work in particular with a fantastic production makes this album just shine.

The weird thing is that it also made a bridge over to the previous album Viva Emptiness. Suddenly the album just's like TGCD translated the art expression for me (say cheese!;) . The funny thing is also that I've heard others say the exact same thing.

Katatonia actually is one band that makes music into true art, whatever that is...but it feel very right to say so. They are one of the truly unique bands within the dark metal genre. Their short brutal yet beautiful and sometimes groovy expression can't be found anywhere else. Most bands stagnate nowadays or go back to their roots, Katatonia are treading their own path and it's wonderful to follow.

I have only one problem with this album and it's the album artwork. Katatonia have had time after time the best album covers I've seen more or less, but this album just reminds me of a typical cover I've seen a hundred times before. Sad, but heck, it's not really that important. Hope their next album will be a mix between the best of TGCD and VE...or something completely new and equally brilliant.
Viva Katatonia!

An Introspective Journey. - 98%

woeoftyrants, February 5th, 2007

There seems to be a certain trend in metal right now: Bands that once possessed a doom/death sound have switched gears and gone into rock territory. Agalloch displayed this with the overt post-rock influence on "The Mantle", and Amorphis have been hinting at it for years. Katatonia have done it more subtly, though. (And also the best, I think.) The overall sound became easier on the ears, and Jonas eventually ditched the growls for more emotional and versatile clean vocals. "The Great Cold Distance" is Katatonia's coming-of-age album for their new sound. While some older efforts with rock-ish vibes may have seemed forced or stale, this album is chock full of musical density and sincerity to keep one entertained for a while. There is still a fair amount of experimentation here, clearly displayed in the use of programmed beats on the verses of "Increase", and the echoing, painful notes that ring in the background during the chorus of "Deliberation." Some tracks, however, are fairly straight-forward and are still heavy in their own rights. (Ex: "Leaders", "Consternation")

It's clear to see that the band spent a while writing these songs and paid great attention to detail and small nuances. Though many of the songs follow a very loose verse/chorus structure, nothing is kept the same; vocal patterns change, a new guitar line enters the mix, or the drum line changes. Speaking of which, the drumwork is incredibly tasteful here; subtle accents on the hi-hat and bell add some flair, and carefully calculated, dextrous fills smoothly transition the song's passages. Overall, the style is strong and progressive; it goes without saying that the drum sound is fresh and clear, and is definitely one of the album's high point. Back to the songwriting, though; Katatonia have reached a point of artistic maturity in this style that is not often seen. It may not be their best album by many standards, but it is certainly a new chapter and realization in the band's discography.

Other nuances lie within the production. Although there are many effects on the guitars, none of the alterations affect the album's scope in a negative way. Reverb-riddled notes ring in the background, dramatic stop-start cycles of pounding power chords give a sense of urgency, and softly plucked passages of clean guitars pay a bit of homage to Katatonia's old sound. The mood given off can only be described as introspective: Bittersweet, frustrated, depressed, and detached are only a few words to describe the states of being here. Jonas is the main purveyor of these moods, and is totally on top of his game. Lyrically, Katatonia has never been better. Every word is written with true sincerity and passion, and most of the lyrics are memorable on their own stance. Personal themes are explored, delving into subjects of seperation from loved ones and inner turmoil. Jonas' voice is also at its peak here; it's more dynamic, and is able to adapt to the quieter sections with ease while maintaining the power it needs on songs like "My Twin" and "In the White."

The bass plays a pretty important role here. Rather than functioning as a background ambience, it is a totally independent instrument and weaves interesting patterns around the rest of the band. In its standalone moments, such as the verse of "Increase," the bass adds more depth to the overall sound. As everything comes together, it envelopes the listener in a swirling haze of catharsis and a sense of melancholy.

"The Great Cold Distance" stands as a true landmark album in Katatonia's catalog. Highly recommended.

Favorite tracks: "Deliberation", "My Twin", "Rusted", "Increase", "In the White."

Maturity Can Be Tough To Grasp - 84%

Erin_Fox, October 29th, 2006

Long an underrated act, the latest music from Katatonia begs for widespread recognition with an impressive showing with their latest collection of detached, ethereal modern rock tracks, “The Great Cold Distance.” While most fans are split over whether the band’s prior studio effort “Viva Emptiness” or the much loved “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” is the band’s hallmark achievement, this album should serve for most to become a tiebreaker of sorts, drawing elements from each of those excellent records while adding an even more mechanical mood of melancholy that will make this record a big hit with fan’s of the band’s second, more rock-oriented era.

The group’s music is indeed, more commercial sounding than ever, meaning that it’s polished, well-executed and skillfully produced. It’s a crime that Katatonia have not yet been able to achieve a major radio breakthrough in the United States, but tracks such as the deeply personal “My Twin” further illustrate that Katatonia has what it takes to connect with American listeners. Although the band’s music is a bit frosty, their smooth melodies remain deeply intriguing and the group’s ability to craft a memorable hook is rock solid.

Tracks like “Deliberation” and “Follower” emphasize a hollow feeling that should be familiar to followers of the group. Combining this sort of emotion with impassioned, almost scientific introspection during “July” achieves a numbing effect, causing the listener to become further immersed in a musical downward spiral that becomes all-encompassing. Drifting into an otherworldly chorus with grace and assertion, this cut should be considered as one of the most well put together and engaging songs on the album.

While “The Great Cold Distance” relays often repressed emotion, its deeply progressive modern rock stylings have certainly shown Katatonia to be masters of moody, bleak rock. Ideally, the group would make an excellent opener for either Tool or Opeth and judging by the great success each of those bands enjoy, it’s safe to say that Katatonia is next in line for major-scale acceptance.

How about... no. - 20%

Torwilligous, October 13th, 2006

I wonder what these guys were thinking of when they decided to make this album. Did they take the concious decision to override their music with production? Did they just run out of ideas? Did they decide to sound as much like a heinous crossbreed between Tool and Opeth, minus the undoubted instrumental talent these two bands possess, as humanly possible? Have they, in fact, sounded like this for a long time? (I confess, I haven't listened to anything Katatonia have released since their first album, which DEFINITELY DID NOT sound anything like this!)

Whatever their decision, they entered the studio and - some months later - sent the horrible abortion known as 'The Great Cold Distance' staggering forth, about as welcome in my ears as Fred Durst's cock.

Seriously though, what is this? It's horrifically overproduced; the guitars are endlessly layered, sanitised and swathed in pro-tools, and the whole thing has this disgusting 'modern' sheen akin to a band like Tool. The guitars have have that artificially smooth, deep, is-this-a-guitar-or-someone-humming sound that some people seem to think is heavy; the harmonies used sound like a total rip-off of Opeth in many places, and WHAT IN FUCK'S NAME IS WITH THE SINGER!? His vocals are so totally insubstantial, whiny and listless they just end up grating on my nerves, a bit like listening to a baby crying on a bus for SEVENTY FUCKING MINUTES. The only obvious musicianship shown here is from the producers and engineers, as they bolt endless layers of three-note 'sad' leads and bland chords together. Are they ruining the album or making it better? Is it the compositions that suck or the production? Or both?

This leads us to the structuring of the music, which is totally repetitive; and no, I'm not talking here about repetitive in a droning, building, atmospheric way, but in a facile intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-fadout, with virtually every chours being 'loud' and virtually every verse being 'soft'. The vocal melodies, too, are practically indistinguishable from one another, as Katatonia throw any decent idea such as 'range' or 'depth of emotion' out of the window, preferring to use what sounds like the same five notes throughout the album. Then we have the riffs, or - more accurately - the total lack of them. It really is astoundingly bad.

The thing is, I get what Katatonia were trying to do here, and that is making something subtle; melancholy; atmospheric. Indeed, the occasional melody or chorus line does seem to mesh, seem about to rise above the quagmire of 'modern' crap in which it chooses to envelop itself. Ultimately, however, it all comes to nothing, and consequently this is worthless.

The Great Cold Indifference - 40%

Diabolical_Vengeance, June 23rd, 2006

Katatonia has been a band I’ve enjoyed listening to ever since I first heard of them, and I’ve also come to enjoy their evolution from monolithic Doom-Death act to the present style of depressive rock, or whatever you want to call it. Among Katatonia’s modern albums, I’ve enjoyed Discouraged Ones and Last Fair Deal Gone Down the most. Tonight’s Decision has its moments but I’ve always felt it lacked depth and consistency. Viva Emptiness was a good album, but one that I have a certain ambivalence for. Which brings us to The Great Cold Distance.

This is a release I bought not long after it was first released, I hadn’t even bothered to download it beforehand, such was my confidence that this band wouldn’t disappoint. Well, sadly, after listening to this several times and trying to like it, I must say I have been disappointed.

The first track, Leaders, is a good example to take. It opens the disc and soon we’re reintroduced to all the familiar modern-Katatonia trademarks: rousing, memorable choruses, an equally memorable guitar melody that repeats throughout the song, and predictable verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-repeat chorus song structure. While this is probably one of the better songs on the disc, the songs that follow don’t quite live up to the justified hype this band has garnered over the past few years.

One of the traits I’ve enjoyed about modern Katatonia has been Anders Nystrom’s guitar leads, he’s had such an uncanny knack of writing guitar melodies that are memorable yet sorrowful as well, without being overly dramatic or flashy. One of the changes on this disc lies in the production. The rhythm guitars are emphasized, and this is done to the detriment of Nystrom’s leads. Most of his leads are buried under the electronics and the muddy, downtuned and unoriginal rhythm guitar. I’m very disappointed with the rhythm sound as I’m sure they meant it to sound assertive (I remember Jonas in an interview saying the wanted a heavier sound with Viva Emptiness because they felt Creed sounded closer to metal than they did at the time!), but the sound is so muddy and the playing so unoriginal (nothing but power chords played with the subtlety of a 12 year old playing an electric guitar for the first time) I sometimes find myself looking at the CD cover to make sure I’m listening to Katatonia and not some nu-“metal” band.

Although there are some new musical elements scattered throughout, consisting mostly of keyboards, programming, downtuned and processed guitars and vocals. Despite these somewhat new additions, nothing really seems new. On all of Katatonia’s release, there was always an air of freshness, a sense of progression. It seems they’ve integrated these new techniques just for the sake of doing something “new”. They don’t seem to have assimilated these new changes into their sound and as a result, a lot of the programming and electronic tinkering sticks out like a sore thumb. Only the song Consternation seems to have integrated the new elements well.

As the album drags on, there’s an apparent lack of freshness and energy. Jonas Renske’s vocals lack passion and conviction which had been a hallmark of his vocal style. But on this album he seems to be just going through the motions. Even during the moving choruses on this disc he lacks his usual energy and conviction. This is a fatal shortcoming if you’re music is as emotional as Katatonia’s has been over the years.

I don’t know what else to say other than I think this band is capable of far better. There are some good songs on this disc and by most band’s standards this isn’t a terrible release, its certainly better than the sappy, melodramatic fluff that Anathema’s doing nowadays, but compared to what this band has done before, this is a big disappointment. If anyone reading this is looking for an introduction to this band, I suggest you avoid this and look into their rich back catalogue.

A slight miss for Katatonia but still a good CD - 80%

stefan86, April 18th, 2006

I got excited as well as somewhat in doubt when I heard that Katatonia had a new album in the making. "Viva Emptiness" was a bit of a bad omen with its modern direction while definitely being a fine CD in its own right. The single "My Twin" gave me the same feeling with its good atmosphere and infectious verse/chorus structure. Still, the very displaced Tool break had me worried about an almost abusive influence.

Opening song "Leaders" confirms all of these fears. This is essentially a whole lot of Tool molded into a more catchy shell. All the main riffs have a very "Lateralus"-like touch and I'm wondering where the Katatonia went. This is more than being influenced, its a sheer identity loss. Sophomore song "Deliberation" is one I've changed my mind about over time. While I found it very pedestrian at first, I eventually realized it's greatness. It's not really a very exciting track or a standout, but it still gets into my playlist very often because it's so addictive.

One of my main beefs with "The Great Cold Distance" is the lyricism. I have loved many of Katatonia's earlier works, but here it borders on language abuse to be frank. The pinnacle beside the whole "Leaders" is the "Who's first, Okay?" part in the chorus of "Soil's Song". That particular track is also quite a fine example of what's wrong here. The calm parts are damn sweet, but the heavy parts are very dull and uninspired.

So.. now I'm complaining my ass off, but do I have actually something positive to say? Yes, I do. First off, the CD has grown for me. I do like tracks like "Consternation", "Deliberation" and to some extent "Follower" which I didn't like at first. "Rusted" and "July" remained great, "Increase" is always okay. The jewel of this album for me is "Journey Through Pressure" though. The doom and gloom of this song brings me back to "Tonight's Decision" and even "Discouraged Ones". If they keep making songs like that there's no worries.

We do have a real stinker around there though and it's sadly included in their live set. "In The White" is possibly the weakest track in Katatonia's whole career. Quite a fluffy song, straying far into pseudo-emotional territory. Parts like "this is not our last goodbye" rather makes for an upbeat mood than a depressive one. It's obviously a favourite for the crowd who only listens to this band for the catchiness.

The production is awesome in terms of quality, but in a sense it covers up the lack of versitality in the heavier parts. Many of the distorted riffs tend to sound the same, simply being chunky downtuned start/stops. These would never have made it on "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and shouldn't make it here. That's an area where I'm hoping for an improvement on the next CD.

While "The Great Cold Distance" remains a disappointment compared to other works of Katatonia it has grown to a good album of it's own for me. Hopefully they'll hold on to the good stuff done here and release one hell of a CD next time.