This is a really solid effort by Katatonia. Definitely one of their better albums of this century and better than Night Is The New Day. Nothing groundbreaking, and not quite in the same league as Viva Emptiness or The Great Cold Distance yet, but it's been growing on me slowly.
With Dead End Kings, Katatonia continues their "melancholic rock" sound from previous albums. The vocals are enchanting, and the guitars, though featured less often than in previous albums, really make the most of it when they are. Songs like "Leathen" even include fabulous guitar solos, something of a rarity for Katatonia.
"The Parting" is a great opener, and probably the catchiest song on the album. "The One Your Are Looking For Is Not Here" is a simple, melodic song that has some really elegant accompanying female vocals a la Silje Wergeland. "Hypnone" is one of the best tracks on Dead End Kings, with its empassioned chorus... "I need the sound of the rain...". Beautiful lyrics. These first three tracks are the best on the album, in my opinion. Tracks 4 and 5. "The Racing Heart" (a light vocal-oriented song) and "Buildings" (one of the heaviest on the album) are also strong tracks. At this point, I was amazed and thought that this had the potential to perhaps trump Viva or TGCD.
However, tracks 6, 7 and 8 are all disappointingly lackluster. Katatonia succumbed the mid-album rut that so many bands seem to. These songs offer nothing new and simply recycle ideas already presented, and in less interesting ways. For, some reason, the song "Leech" still really annoys me. The piano melody seems childish and the chorus is one of the most bland Katatonia has ever produced (chug a chug).
The rut is snapped, however, with track 9 "Lethean". This song is full of awesome lyrics, swirling drums, and a wall of guitar sound. The first time I naturally began headbanging on this album. The guitar solo is a shining moment that should not be missed.
Overall, Dead End Kings is an album that grows on you with repeated listens and feautures several Grade-A Katatonia songs. For fans of the last few albums, this will not disappoint. Slight saminess and a few too many filler tracks prevent Dead End Kings from reaching the 4 range.
It's just more of the same of what Katatonia's been doing for awhile now: quality melancholic metal. They haven't evolved at all, but I'm just fine with that as long as they keep putting out albums like Dead End Kings.
Best Songs: The Parting The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here Hypnone Lethean