Monday 15 May 2017

Live: Katatonia – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

KATATONIA (+ TheGreat Discord, Ghost Bath)
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds may be a bit out of the way but it's relaxed atmosphere and strong live pedigree makes it a nice fit for atmospheric metal veterans Katatonia who are visiting in support of their latest effort 'The Fall Of Hearts' which came out a year ago. With a sound rooted in the despair of doom metal and expanded with progressive rock experimentation the band have for 25 years crafted a rich and diverse discography that can veer from hard metallic strains to soft atmospheric melancholia with ease. It's with this in mind that tonight's support bands have been chosen it seems.

First up is Swedish prog-metal outfit The Great Discord, who deserve a bit of slack considering the technical difficulties encountered toward the end of their set and the sheer grit with which they fought on. The stage presence of vocalist Fia Kempe is undeniable as she channels Peter Gabriel circa 1974 amidst a solid metal backing. It does in places feel somewhat convoluted and the songs do tend to struggle to retain a sense of focus, but the band is engaging and the crowd appreciate the theatrical performance. Even when the PA seems to blow in the style of an impromptu MERZBOW remix and the guitars and vocals cut out, Kempe and drummer Aksel Holmgren struggle on regardless until full amplification is restored... then lost... then restored... and finally lost again.

US depressive black metal group Ghost Bath thankfully don't suffer the same technical curse. With a sound that veers from post-black metal, into atmospheric and finally back into depressive the musicianship they demonstrate is sublime. Tightly focused, wonderfully atmospheric and with vocalist Dennis Mikula's anguished shrieks hovering nicely in the mix the band's performance is utterly hypnotic from start to finish. Though notorious for valuing their privacy and wanting to let their music do the talking for them, with performances like this under their belt it's a policy that may actually work out well for them.

But the main event is Katatonia, the veteran Swedes are consummate professionals and even strip the stage back completely of the support band's amps and going straight through the desk which instantly sees their sound replicated perfectly. They've been around long enough to know that even in a venue of that size the average soundman will mike everything up and crank everything as loud as possible, hence the issues with The Great Discord's set earlier on.

The performance is just as strong as the live mix with a tight but relaxed presence that sees them fly through a set of classics and new cuts with ease. The band book-end the main set with new songs from the latest album, opening with 'Last Song Before The Fade' and closing on 'Passer', and add strong cuts 'Serein' 'Old Heart Falls', and 'Residual'. But for the most part it is a long-time fans wish list. Tracks such as 'Dead Letters', 'Teargas', 'Evidence', 'Ghost Of The Sun', 'Soil's Song', 'In The White', 'Forsaker', and 'Leaders' elicit a rapturous response from the audience.

Throughout Jonas Renske sounds strong in in his vocal performance, the band is tight and professional and show off why they are critically acclaimed veterans. Renske has a strong rapport with the crowd as he interacts with them at regular intervals. The setlist seems to fly by and soon the band are back on stage for a brilliant encore comprised of 'My Twin', 'Lethean', and 'July' that surely sent everyone there home happy.  

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