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An intro to melancholy - 81%

Bent__Canoe, September 9th, 2019

The Great Cold Distance is a nice slab of depressive, yet still accessible rock/metal. This was one of the first melancholic albums I got into, and has set me on the path to even more bleak and depressing music such as Katatonia’s first 2 albums (which are both brilliant). While not the most soul crushing music out there, Katatonia’s The Great Cold Distance is a great introduction to depressing music for metal listeners.

The songs all stick to the generic formula of verse-chorus-verse, with occasional variation, however, despite not containing the most impressive compositions, each song boasts at least a few interesting musical ideas. The rhythm guitar has a thick and meaty, but not too abrasive guitar tone, delivering heavy riffs that are complemented by Daniel’s fantastic drumming. There are several memorable drum grooves and creative fills, and remain a constant highlight throughout the album.

The vocals on this album are somewhat hit or miss. Some songs have amazing vocal melodies and catchy hooks such as “My Twin” and “July”. Other songs have completely forgettable vocal lines such as “Increase” and there is also an occasional scream that doesn’t exactly do much for the album.

What really makes this album pop, besides of course the pounding riffs and amazing drumming, are the somber guitar melodies that are almost always present. The melodies are melancholic and beautiful, from the opening guitar lines of “In the White” to the atmospheric sections off “Consternation”. The way they are phrased combined with the intricate drumming and the contrast with the distorted guitars is where much of the beauty in this album lies.

While certainly not genius or groundbreaking, Katatonia has managed to put out a number of great tracks on The Great Cold Distance. The emotional impact is there, which is what matters most, and the music is far from uninspired. The Great Cold Distance is a great way to get into genres such as doom metal or atmospheric black metal (despite not being atmo black at all) with its sad guitar lines and vocals. The heavy riffs will definitely satisfy metal newbies, and the some of the choruses are catchy enough to draw listeners in. All in all, a solid release from a band that continues to release great music far past their prime.

Favorite songs: “Leaders”, “My Twin”, “Consternation”, “July”