KATATONIA

Alternative Metal / Death-Doom Metal / Metal Related / Non-Metal / Gothic Metal / Doom Metal / Black Metal • Sweden
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Katatonia formed in 1991 in Stockholm, Sweden and was brought together by long time friends, Anders Nyström (aka Blakkheim) and Jonas Renkse (aka Lord Seth). After more than a year of rehearsals and composing, the first real fruits of their labour came to light in mid 1992 with the release of the demo ‘Jhva Elohim Meth’, recorded at Sweden’s Gorysound Studio and produced by the multi-musician Dan Swanö. The demo sold out immediately, bringing Katatonia to the attention of Dutch label Vic Records, who went on to re-release the demo as a mini CD, titled ‘Jhva Elohim Meth – the Revival’. With the CD selling out fast and their reputation spreading like a wildfire through the underground, the duo knew they would need a fuller line-up to move the band up and forward. So, bassist Guillaume Le Huche (aka Israphel Wing) was enlisted to their ranks, enabling them to perform read more...
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KATATONIA Discography

KATATONIA albums / top albums

KATATONIA Dance of December Souls album cover 3.96 | 31 ratings
Dance of December Souls
Death-Doom Metal 1993
KATATONIA Brave Murder Day album cover 4.08 | 39 ratings
Brave Murder Day
Death-Doom Metal 1996
KATATONIA Discouraged Ones album cover 3.84 | 27 ratings
Discouraged Ones
Gothic Metal 1998
KATATONIA Tonight's Decision album cover 3.66 | 28 ratings
Tonight's Decision
Metal Related 1999
KATATONIA Last Fair Deal Gone Down album cover 4.40 | 32 ratings
Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Metal Related 2001
KATATONIA Viva Emptiness album cover 4.22 | 38 ratings
Viva Emptiness
Alternative Metal 2003
KATATONIA The Great Cold Distance album cover 4.05 | 47 ratings
The Great Cold Distance
Alternative Metal 2006
KATATONIA Night Is the New Day album cover 3.67 | 33 ratings
Night Is the New Day
Alternative Metal 2009
KATATONIA Dead End Kings album cover 3.97 | 26 ratings
Dead End Kings
Alternative Metal 2012
KATATONIA Dethroned & Uncrowned album cover 3.91 | 16 ratings
Dethroned & Uncrowned
Non-Metal 2013
KATATONIA The Fall Of Hearts album cover 4.26 | 24 ratings
The Fall Of Hearts
Alternative Metal 2016
KATATONIA City Burials album cover 3.90 | 11 ratings
City Burials
Alternative Metal 2020

KATATONIA EPs & splits

KATATONIA For Funerals to Come album cover 3.44 | 7 ratings
For Funerals to Come
Death-Doom Metal 1995
KATATONIA Primordial / Katatonia album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Primordial / Katatonia
Death-Doom Metal 1996
KATATONIA Katatonia / Hades album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Katatonia / Hades
Death-Doom Metal 1996
KATATONIA Sounds of Decay album cover 4.06 | 8 ratings
Sounds of Decay
Death-Doom Metal 1997
KATATONIA Saw You Drown album cover 3.23 | 7 ratings
Saw You Drown
Metal Related 1998
KATATONIA Teargas EP album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
Teargas EP
Doom Metal 2001
KATATONIA Tonight's Music album cover 3.90 | 5 ratings
Tonight's Music
Metal Related 2001
KATATONIA The Longest Year album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
The Longest Year
Alternative Metal 2010

KATATONIA live albums

KATATONIA Live Consternation album cover 3.27 | 7 ratings
Live Consternation
Alternative Metal 2007
KATATONIA Last Fair Day Gone Night album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Last Fair Day Gone Night
Alternative Metal 2013
KATATONIA Sanctitude album cover 4.11 | 5 ratings
Sanctitude
Non-Metal 2015
KATATONIA Dead Air album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Dead Air
Alternative Metal 2020

KATATONIA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

KATATONIA Rehearsal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rehearsal
Black Metal 1991
KATATONIA Jhva Elohim Meth... the Revival album cover 2.83 | 6 ratings
Jhva Elohim Meth... the Revival
Death-Doom Metal 1992
KATATONIA Rehearsal 92 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rehearsal 92
Death-Doom Metal 1992

KATATONIA re-issues & compilations

KATATONIA Brave Yester Days album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Brave Yester Days
Death-Doom Metal 2004
KATATONIA The Black Sessions album cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
The Black Sessions
Metal Related 2005
KATATONIA Introducing Katatonia album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Introducing Katatonia
Alternative Metal 2013
KATATONIA Kocytean album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Kocytean
Alternative Metal 2014
KATATONIA Mnemosynean album cover 3.58 | 2 ratings
Mnemosynean
Alternative Metal 2021

KATATONIA singles (7)

.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Ghost of the Sun
Alternative Metal 2003
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
My Twin
Alternative Metal 2006
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
Deliberation
Alternative Metal 2006
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
July
Alternative Metal 2007
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Day and Then the Shade
Alternative Metal 2010
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Buildings
Alternative Metal 2012
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Lethean
Alternative Metal 2012

KATATONIA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

KATATONIA Reviews

KATATONIA Viva Emptiness

Album · 2003 · Alternative Metal
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UMUR
"Viva Emptiness" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish alternative/doom/progressive rock/metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in April 2003. It´s the successor to "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" from 2001 and features the same five-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor. It was the first time in Katatonia´s history (up until then) that they had the same lineup on two consecutive album releases. 15 tracks were written and recorded during the sessions, and 13 tracks made the album. "Wait Outside" did not appear on the original version of the album, but appears on later reissues, and was first made available on the 2005 "The Black Sessions" compilation album. "Consternation", which ended up being re-recorded and released on "The Great Cold Distance (2006)", didn´t make the cut for "Viva Emptiness" either.

The 13 tracks which did make the cut for the album, are a very interesting and quite different listen from the material on "Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)". While the band did come into their own on the predecessor they weren´t completely done developing their sound, and while "Viva Emptiness" overall continues the alternative rock/metal style with a melancholic atmosphere of "Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)", it´s generally a darker, heavier, and more gritty release. Keyboards have a more central place in the soundscape along with heavy guitars, powerful drumming, and Jonas Renkse´s soft voice and melancholic lyrics and delivery. The music is very dynamic though and the band still perfectly master the contrasts of light/dark and heavy/mellow.

"Viva Emptiness" opens with the strong trio of tracks "Ghost of the Sun", "Sleeper", and "Criminals" and the high quality generally continues on the remaining tracks of the album (a few tracks are slightly sup par to the best material on the album, but it´s a minor issue). Other highlights include "Burn the Remembrance", "Evidence", and the beautiful melancholic "Omerta". The instrumental "Inside the City of Glass" closes the album on a highly atmospheric note, and it appears a bit strange to me, that the band would chose to add vocals/lyrics to that particular track (which is perfect as it is) on the 10th anniversary version of the album. Truth be told I haven´t heard the version with vocals yet though, so it may be great, and I´m just complaining because I´m a grumpy old man...

"Viva Emptiness" features a dark, gritty, and relatively raw sounding production, although everything is audible in the mix. It´s just compared to the last couple of releases, the volume has definitely been dialed to 11 and sometimes the loud distorted parts are pretty noisy. Personally I enjoy the heaviness of the sound and the attitude Katatonia display on "Viva Emptiness", but it´s a bit less subtle than what is generally heard on the direct predecessor. "Viva Emptiness" marks the end of what I consider the mark II era of Katatonia, as they would change their sound again on "The Great Cold Distance (2006)". In that respect "Viva Emptiness" is a playful transition release, which shows Katatonia toying with time signatures, new timbres and dynamics, keyboards/synths/programming, and overall adventurous songwriting. This is anything but formulaic and it´s one of the more demanding, intriguing, and eclectic releases in the band´s discography. To my ears it´s their magnum opus. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

KATATONIA Dead End Kings

Album · 2012 · Alternative Metal
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Necrotica
"At night, walking on the tracks, change my perspective..."

That is, indeed, a lyric from the album. However, it's also a quick summation of when I realized Katatonia's greatest strengths as a band. One cloudy evening, many years ago, I parked my car and proceeded to walk to a bass lesson by my jazz instructor. As I crossed the tracks, I listened to Dead End Kings for the very first time on my phone and headphones. As I looked at my surroundings, every color seemed to melt into a muted blend of gray and black through the sheer power of musical atmosphere. The mix of crunchy downtuned guitar riffing and cinematic keyboards found in opener "The Parting" felt like a gradual descent into a different state of being altogether; hell, I felt like I was just teleported somewhere else entirely. Now, keep in mind that I was already a fan of Katatonia by this point. I was a big fan of Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance and the way they combined crushing alternative metal riffs with a melancholic vibe. But something about this experience was distinctly different.

On the more concrete side of things, the most notable aspect of Dead End Kings is that it symbolizes Katatonia's evolution into a progressive rock/metal act. There were always hints here and there, but this is the first time we get to hear those moments in a more fleshed-out way. Tempos are more varied, the rhythms are a bit more intricate, and as stated before, some cinematic synthesizers have been thrown in (and utilized more effectively than on Night is the New Day, as far as I'm concerned). Some songs practically ditch metal altogether, such as the soft palm-muted electric guitar chug of "The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here" or the melodious, textured doom rock (if "doom rock" is a real tag) of "Undo You." A few other experiments are brought on board too, like the strange piano-led swing rhythm of "Leech," the snare drum dominance of the more technically-challenging "Hypnone," and the fantastic inclusion of electronic ornaments to the music of "The Racing Heart." And what does all of this do for the band's sound? Exactly what it should be doing: giving us one of the most atmospheric releases yet by this band. It should probably be clear by this point that when I wrote: "Katatonia's greatest strength's," atmosphere was at the top of that list. And the reason Dead End Kings remains one of my favorite Katatonia albums is because the progressive elements gave them even more ways to experiment with the general atmosphere of their music. Add on top of this some of their most dynamic traditional bangers, such as "Ambitions" and "Dead Letters," and the experience is practically impossible to not recommend. A night on the tracks changed my perspective indeed.

KATATONIA Mnemosynean

Boxset / Compilation · 2021 · Alternative Metal
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lukretion
With their latest release Mnemosynean, Swedish prog metal masters Katatonia take us on a trip down memory lane. This double-disc album is a compilation of b-sides, bonus tracks and remixes that span their entire thirty-year career, from the early days when they were a nascent death metal band trying to find ways to push the boundaries of the genre, to the current times where they are globally recognized as one of the frontrunners of the progressive post-metal phenomenon.

The album is cleverly organized in reverse chronological order, starting in disc 1 with several outtakes from the recording sessions of The Fall of Hearts, and ending in disc 2 with a track recorded back in 1994 immediately after the release of the band’s debut LP Dance of December Souls. Disc 2 also contains a handful of remixes, mostly of tracks from The Great Cold Distance, which nicely round off the album. The broad scope of the compilation gives listeners a fantastic bird’s eye view of the evolution of Katatonia’s sound over the years, which is a nice reminder of how far this band has come from their early death metal days. It also shows that the seeds of the band’s current sonic incarnation were sown long time ago, when already in the mid-1990s Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse were experimenting with acoustic soundscapes and mellower musical forms, breaking away from the metallic assaults of the death metal canon.

The most remarkable aspect of Mnemosynean is that, in many cases, the quality of the b-sides included in the collection is as high as that of the tracks that found a home in the band’s full-length albums. As explained in the detailed track-by-track liner notes compiled by the band members themselves, the exclusion of these songs was often due to timing issues: several of the tracks included here were written late in the recording session of an album and there was simply not enough studio time to record them in time for the release of the record. In other cases, the songs were excluded because the band felt they did not fit well within the track-list of their current album, occasionally because they were slightly more left-field than your typical Katatonia’s song. Only in a rare few cases the band decided to leave them out because they did not like them much – as Anders Nyström openly admits for “Fractured”, for example.

The high quality of the material included in the compilation ensures a highly enjoyable and exciting listening experience, with plenty of highlights. “Vakaren” and “Sistere” are fantastic songs that take us straight back to the progressive leanings of The Fall of Hearts, and are as good as anything that you can find on that record. “Wide Awake in Quietus” is taken from the same sessions, but it has a more alternative rock feel that reminds me of The Pineapple Thief. This track also features a cool guitar solo from Paradise Lost’s Greg Mackintosh. Meanwhile, “Unfurl” is a Katatonia’s classic and a staple of their live concerts. It is astonishing to read that this track was coarsely put together by producer David Castillo in his apartment over his laptop computer. “Wait Outside” is another great song, taken from the Viva Emptiness recording sessions. Its three minutes effortlessly recreate the jarring sense of uneasiness that album is soaked in.

Elsewhere, things take a slightly quirkier and more unconventional turn. On “Night Comes Down” the Swedes give the Katatonia-treatment to a Judas Priest’s ballad from their 1984 album Defenders of the Faith. It is a sombre, melancholic track that feels surprisingly close to some of the material Katatonia have released on their most recent record, City Burials. “O How I Enjoy the Light” is another cover, this time by American singer-songwriter Will Oldham. Recorded spontaneously in 2001, this moving, largely acoustic track harks back to the sound of Tonight’s Decision, and is a powerful reminder of the breadth of Katatonia’s influences already back in the 1990s. I also want to mention “The Act of Darkening”, a dark meditation inspired by the Chernobyl disaster where the band experiments with acoustic ambiance and sophisticated vocal harmonies, in a similar way as they did on their acoustic album Dethroned & Uncrowned. The result is simply breath-taking, making this song my preferred track of the album.

Speaking of quirky material, it’s impossible not to mention “Scarlet Heavens” where Katatonia take an unexpected gothic turn. As Nyström explains in the liner notes, this song was recorded after the success of the band’s debut album Dance of December Souls, when Katatonia felt they wanted to explore new sonic possibilities. The end result was “Scarlet Heavens”, a song that sounds like a cross between The Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative. While the band eventually did not follow up on this sonic experiment, it is fascinating to listen to it today.

As a long-time fan of the band, I had lots of fun listening to this compilation. So, should you plunk down your hard-earned cash for it? This is a pertinent question, given how most of the tracks included here have been released before in one form or another (as bonus tracks of the special editions of the full-length albums, as b-sides of singles, on EPs, etc.). So if you have been following this band for years, you may already own a large chunk of the material on offer here, as I do. Personally, I like the idea of having these songs all organized in the same physical release and I did greatly enjoy the “time travel” experience of going through the material in reverse chronological order. Plus, I did not already own all of these songs, so there have been a few pleasant surprises on this record too. The addition of insightful line notes written by band members and producers was also a definite bonus for me, and so was the detailed essay included in the booklet written by music journalist Eleanor Goodman. Ultimately, as it is often the case with these compilation releases, it comes down to personal preferences whether you see this as worthy purchase or not. But if you do decide to give it a spin, rest assured that this is a high-quality release, meticulously put together and containing some top-notch material from one of the most accomplished progressive post-metal acts out today – so disappointed you shall not be!

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

KATATONIA Dead Air

Live album · 2020 · Alternative Metal
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UMUR
"Dead Air" is a live album/DVD release by Swedish metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in November 2020. It´s a double live album release featuring a third DVD disc with a visual presentation of the performance. The album is a "live in the studio recording", recorded on May 9th, 2020 at Studio Gröndahl in Stockholm, Sweden. "Dead Air" contains 20 tracks and a total playing time of 87:45 minutes.

The tracklist, which was voted for by the band´s worldwide fanbase, predominantly features tracks from the most recent (five) album releases, although a few tracks from "Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)" and "Viva Emptiness (2003)" have also made their way to the setlist. There´s however nothing on "Dead Air" from the first four albums by the band.

What you notice right away when listening to "Dead Air", is how well produced the album is. This is an incredibly well sounding live recording, and it´s obvious the band have spend time and put a lot of consideration into how they wanted to present their music. In that department "Dead Air" is a top notch release. The performances from all involved are also professional. Jonas Renkse´s vocals and melancholic vocal lines are performed with conviction and he makes enough small changes to his phrasing and notes to make these recordings stand out from the studio versions. Guitarist Anders Nyström performs some very well executed backing/harmony vocals, which provide some extra depth to the vocal part of the performance.

The visual (DVD) part of the release is of a good quality too. Katatonia are not the most exciting nor the most passionate performers on stage though and "Dead Air" is not a release which changes my opinion on that. The quiet/loud dynamics of the band´s music doesn´t always help push their music over the edge of the stage (despite the brillance of the studio versions of the material). Katatonia´s music is generally better suited for headphone listening in a dark room, rather than being experienced at a damp sweaty venue (or in this case live in a studio). A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

KATATONIA City Burials

Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal
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UMUR
"City Burials" is the 12th full-length studio album by Swedish metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Peaceville Records in April 2020. It´s the successor to "The Fall Of Hearts" from 2016 and features the same lineup who recorded the predecessor. Katatonia have a long history of changing their sound and musical style. They started out playing death/doom metal, then toyed with goth/alternative rock/metal, then started playing hard edged riffs and rhythms again, and then for a period mellowed out a bit more, although their music still featured heavy riffs and rhythms. They´ve had a relatively consistent sound on the last couple of releases though...

...and on "City Burials" they pretty much continue down that same melancholic heavy alternative rock/metal path they´ve also travelled on the last couple of releases. It´s the trademark sound of Katatonia, with dynamic use of mellow melancholic sections and heavy riff oriented sections with Jonas Renkse´s soft, emotional, and melancholic vocals and lyrics on top. It´s as bleak and melancholic as ever (ok, maybe not quite as bleak, but just as melancholic) but it´s unfortunately also a little too much by the numbers. There´s nothing wrong with the quality of the songwriting, the musicianship, or the very well sounding production job, but "City Burials" is Katatonia playing it completely safe, and I had hoped that the adventurous souls of the two mainmen behind the band Renkse and Anders Nyström (guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals) had felt the urge to try something different again. Twist their sound in a new direction and not just release another similar sounding album to the last couple of releases.

Alas "City Burials" is more of the same, and maybe that´s perfectly fine for some listeners, but I´ve come to a point where I´ve begun to find it all a bit tedious, and my alarm bells are starting to sound loud and clear that Katatonia have completely stagnated. It´s probably one of the worst critiques you can give an artist, but I´m afraid it´s warranted here. Very few artists have survived making the same album over and over again and I hope Katatonia realise that change is needed for the next album. But for all my disappointment and an attention which wanders while listening to the album, it is as mentioned above still a quality release, and it´s mostly in the context of the band´s discography that "City Burials" disappoints. Katatonia are still able to make some of the most heartfelt, melancholic, and darkly beautiful music on the scene and they do occasionally shine on "City Burials" ("Behind the Blood" is one of the highlights, as it´s a bit different from what we´re used to hear from the band). A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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Necrotica wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Just switched The Fall of Hearts to progressive metal. There have been countless sources online that have labeled it as a prog record, and I'm inclined to agree. Many of the alternative elements were stripped away in favor of more technical, intricate passages, so I'm keeping the album at prog metal as of now.
Prog Geo wrote:
more than 2 years ago
One of the greatest sad bands!

Pelata wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Katatonia are one of my favorite bands! Beginning with 'Discouraged Ones', the band never fails to put out dark, melodic and engaging Metal!

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