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Album Reviews : Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts

By on June 23, 2016

570160For all Norway’s talk of being grim and trve, they don’t have anything over Sweden’s masters of melancholy. Bands like Opeth, Bloodbath, and Katatonia have paved the way for beautifully crafted metal that balances somber tones with savagery. Katatonia particularly have forged a sound that’s constantly morphing into something more dichotic with every album. From an early doom/death style, they have released cold gothic material, which formed the foundations for their eventual turn to a more dark rock/progressive rock sound. Their latest album, The Fall of Hearts, is an exemplary of that.

From the beginning, The Fall of Hearts promises to pick up from where their previous release, Dead End Kings, left off. Katatonia have created less of an album and more of a sonic experience, with textured guitar melodies that are augmented with keyboards and smooth bass lines. New drummer Daniel Moilanen does a good job accompanying the rolling rhythms of Anders Nyström. As always, the highlight and focal point of Katatonia is Jonas Renske’s hauntingly emotive vocals that permeate the palpable atmosphere within the songs.

While the focus is predominantly on softer, subtle tones of despair, there are also moments that harken back to heavier times. Tracks like “Serac” and “Passer” utilize a more metal-based approach, creating ominous passages throughout the song. “Serein” feels like a song-length chorus, only broken up by a progressive bridge toward the end. “Takeover” epitomizes the new direction Katatonia have solidified, marking an ever-flowing shift between catchy rock riffs and soft, clean sections that still leave their mark every listen. Highlights on the progressive end of the spectrum include “The Night Subscriber,” and “Residual,” which captivate from start to finish.

The Fall of Hearts appears to be the last port of harbour in the journey Katatonia began with 2003’s Viva Emptiness. A Great Cold Distance, if you will. Every album from then to now was another step closer to grasping their desired sound, and now that they’ve got it in their grasp, one can hope that in the future the dead end kings only expand upon what they’ve achieved with The Fall of Hearts.

About

Benjen is a qualified teacher residing in the south-east suburbs of Perth. Benjen was introduced to hard rock at the age of 12 with Papa Roach's "Love-Hate Tragedy," and has developed a love for hard rock and metal since. He also has a keen interest in gaming and almost every fandom imaginable, from Doctor Who to Deadpool. He can be followed on Twitter @thetoadmode