KATATONIA — City Burials (review)

KATATONIA — City Burials album cover Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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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