Tuesday 24 May 2016

Review: Katatonia – 'The Fall Of Hearts'

'The Fall Of Hearts'

Ah the sweet sound of Scandinavian misery. There is something about countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland that just means they can do melancholia so well. Katatonia are one of those bands. For 25 years they have been exploring dark forlorn musical realms. Taking their initial inspiration from the British Doom bands Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, Sweden's Katatonia quickly became a force to be reckoned with and by the turn of the millennium albums such as 'Viva Emptiness' and 'The Great Cold Distance' saw the band realise their full potential by diversifying and progressing their sound beyond metal and cutting into the heart of woe.

Fast-forward to 2016 and the band's tenth studio album 'The Fall Of Hearts' is upon us. Building upon their consistently strong and affecting recent output, the band continue to blend doom metal with progressive elements, post rock and ethereal atmospheres to reach deep into the soul and tease out the emotions.

Songs such as 'Takeover', 'Serein', 'Decima', 'Sanction', 'Last Song Before The Fade', 'Pale Flag', and 'Passer' are prime examples of the band's songwriting prowess. The vocals of Jonas Renske perfectly framed by driving rhythms, hard guitars and haunting keyboards. The album has a much more pronounced progressive rock sound than recent albums that benefits from the pop veneer of the production without losing its metallic undertones. The overall effect is not dissimilar from the late 90s output of Anathema but darker, harder and more sombre.

The production, as mentioned before, has a nice pop veneer to it and that's nothing to be scoffed at. This is an album that balances metal, with prog rock and rests a crown of ethereal atmospheres upon it for good measure, which is perhaps the band's most accessible to date. Therefore the album needs, and quite rightly gets the high quality modern production it needs to have the songs sounding their absolute best.

The band's run since 2003's 'Viva Emptiness' has been an enviable one with a consistent trend upwards in terms of quality of releases, and 'The Fall Of Hearts' doesn't break this pattern. The progressive elements sound excellent and add a greater dynamic to the band's atmospheric metal steeped in sadness and loss but more complex and free in execution. Long-time fans will not be surprised or disappointed with this.

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