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Emptiness indeed. - 15%

thisisnotme, May 3rd, 2012

Katatonia first full lengtht album, Dance of the December Souls, was undoubtedly a landmark record on the death/doom scene. And it's a killer album. Their slow, emotional, powerful, and painful (in a good way) songs wore a very different vest of what their sound is now. They slowly started to discard completely their roots and turn to a more atmospheric/depressive rock with a few metal tinges.

To put things simply, listening to this album gave me a terrible headache. I simply had to stop listening to it when reviewing because my head was hurting too much. And I was actually pretty deep into the “experience”, listening to 10 of the 13 songs in a row. I had to finish the album later.

The best way I can describe their sound is as “Flatmospheric”. It's a goddamn awful album, for there's nothing remotely attractive on it. The guitar work ranges from stupid pseudo-heavy riffs to atrociously bad clean leads, the keyboards usually make annoying layers of atmosphere that don't add nothing on the songs, and the bass, when it comes to the front, only does some uninspired lines. The drums are standard rock with some faster fills and are boring as hell, but the worst is yet to come.

I first listened to Jonas Renske's voice on Ayreon's album 01011001. His calm, mellow delivery didn't made a enormous impact on me, but I confess I liked his voice because differently from the other vocalists on that album, he was sort of the black sheep among those powerful throats (and his lines on that record someway fit with his character in the concept, being much darker and more pessimistic than the other characters on the album, but that's another story). But his delivery on this album is iconoclastically terrible. He sings with absolutely no traces of emotion in the most apathy-ridden way possible, and worse, the vocal melodies are bad, just like the guitar riffs or everything else. He's not the worst vocalist on the metal/rock scene (cough...Brent Hinds...cough), but his performance here is definitely to forget.

Speaking about the songs, they are redundant because they all sound the same: torture. The best song on the album is Omerta, a cute little number with some simple guitar strumming and a (miraculously) good vocal performance with some really sing-alongy “doo roo roo” lyrics. A real surprise. The other two songs that stand out here are Complicity and Evidence, while the latter is the only song where the “heavy” riffs are not that bad. While all the other songs are empty as a funeral drum, there's a song that really stands out in its mindfuckingmelter awfulness and it's One Year from Now. Simply the worst song I ever heard in years.

The only way I can recommend this record is as a torture soundtrack. This is some of the most apathic, monochromatic, and empty stuff ever committed to an album ever. The three good songs alone are what make this album worth of a 15%, but still listening to it on headphones is a good method of damaging irreversibly your eardrums. And your brain, too.