"Dead End Kings" is the 9th full-length studio album by Swedish metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in August 2012. Since the release of "Night Is the New Day (2009)", there have been a few lineup changes as Fredrik (guitars) and Matthias Norrman (bass) have left the band. "Dead End Kings" is therefore recorded as a trio with Anders Nyström handling bass, keyboards, guitars, programming and backing vocals, Jonas Renkse handling lead vocals, programming, guitars, keyboards and drums and Daniel Liljekvist handling drums and percussion. The album also features a guest vocal performance by Silje Wergeland (The Gathering) on the track "The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here".
The music on the album pretty much continue where "Night Is the New Day (2009)" left off. Which means a dark, melancholic and emotional type of rock/metal that has Katatonia written all over it. While Jonas Renkse possesses a relatively "regular" voice, the paatos filled/emotional delivery of his vocals has always been something special. Here is a man who bleeds melancholy and are able to greatly touch the listener with his singing. You gotta be prepared for it though, as he sometimes borders pathetic territory. The instrumental side of the music features a lot of dark/light effects and dynamics between heavy loud parts and mellower more quiet parts. As such nothing new when it comes to Katatonia. It´s a sound they have fine tuned and developed upon since "Viva Emptiness (2003)". Keyboards/synth take a prominent role in some tracks and the music also features tight rythms and both heavy chugging riffs and dynamic clean guitar work.
To my ears tracks like "The Parting", "The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here", "Hypnone", "Buildings" and "Dead Letters" are some of the highlights, but "Dead End Kings" is quality wise a consistent album. It´s also very well produced.
While "Dead End Kings" is undeniably yet another high quality release by Katatonia, I do feel it´s time that the band try something radically new. "Dead End Kings" is a great album but it´s also a very "safe" album, and I´m missing a bit of an edge or maybe a more adventurous spirit to set the album apart from the last couple of albums by the band. But maybe I´m asking too much? Isolated seen "Dead End Kings" fully deserves a 4 star (80%) rating.