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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.