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Requiem

Katatonia - the gothic alternative

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Katatonia. Obviously they are a band that really stands on their own style-wise, whether in their blackened doom days or their more alternative/progressive dark rock moments and no one would really pretend they are strictly gothic metal. Whatever you call them, though, they deserve their own thread and the gothic metal catch-all is probably as good as any for these Swedish misery merchants. They're dark, they're atmospheric, they're sorrowful. 

Anyway, Katatonia are for me one of the greatest things to happen to music and it gives me great pleasure to begin a conversation about them by ranking their albums from least favourite to most favourite. 

10. Dead End Kings (2012)

There was just something about this album that let me down. Yes, I love 'The Racing Heart', and the final track 'The Act of Darkening' is excellent, but the band just feel off the boil. Much too much filler, phat guitar riffs that have no feeling, and a meandering meaninglessness. Also a bit of arrogance in the album title... Album cover's ok. 

9. Night is the New Day (2009)

The first time I heard this I thought I'd accidentally bought the new Tool album. All chunky guitars. I've since calmed down a bit and songs like 'The Longest Year' are pretty happening. But it's still not really my cup of tea. The final track, again, 'Departer' is one of their best songs - what a classic. Foolish album title. Average album cover. 

8. The Great Cold Distance (2006)

Some people rank this album as the band's greatest, and I think if the miracle song 'Unfurl' was actually on it instead of used as a b-side, it would be a lot higher in my list. As the actual tracklisting stands, this album took me years to warm to despite generally liking it. Yes, 'My Twin' is an anthem, and yet again the final track is brilliant (they're good at final tracks these lads), but come on, people talk about 'July' as if it's something great, but it's just not. It's only ok. Never cared much for this red album cover and booklet. 

7. Dance of December Souls (1994)

Despite probably the worst drum performance in the history of label released albums, this has spirit all the way through it. Youthful vitality, authentic darkness, call it what you will. You can play this late at night with some candles and it's hard to beat. In the day, driving around in your car, it's a little awkward. Old school album cover featuring band members' faces. Pretty lol. Definitely cool. 

6. Viva Emptiness (2003)

This is a great album. The re-release is so overblown with keyboards it's ridiculous, but the original is fantastic. Tracks like 'Evidence', 'Criminals' and 'Omerta' are so goddamn good. There's also a bit of filler here if I'm being honest, and there are definitely skippable tracks here. The guitars sound a bit too razor-wire as well for some reason and I get ear-fatigue or whatever it's called if I listen to it for too long. Overall though, excellent stuff. Pretty cool album cover. 

5. Discouraged Ones (1998)

Bleak, emotional, courageous, this album is a classic. Ok so many bands were going, or about to go, more rock in 1998, but not to this extent of downbeat emptiness. 'Saw you Drown', 'Gone' and 'Deadhouse'. These are the sounds of true hopelessness. This is the band's first album with Jonas purely singing clean. Haunting album cover of a departing angel. 

4. Tonight's Decision (1999)

Similar to the album above, but this release has added energy and much better drums, with Jonas finally getting off the drum stool to focus purely on vocals. Jonas' voice is developing nicely too, and the guitar tone here is to/die/for. Contains the immortal 'For My Demons'. This album also features their best artwork/booklet by Travis Smith back when he was using gothic photos rather than just drawing black scribbles with his computer pen. 

3. Brave Murder Day (1996)

The Klassic Katatonia Kut, bumped down to number three, but still an all time metal masterpiece. The droning repetition of the riffs, Mikael Akerfeldt's roar, Jonas' absolutely stunning lyrics. Emotional hurricanes in 'Brave', '12', and 'Endtime' that also features that cool sample from 'The Shining'. This album had a huge influence on bands, but nothing has come close to this style really. World class album cover. 

2. The Fall of Hearts (2016)

This album is genius, and it took quite a bit of time to grow on me. It features my all time favourite Katatonia song in 'Old Hearts Fall', and overall the atmosphere, musicianship, lyrics and probably the best production of any album I own combine to stylish perfection. Songs like 'Serein', 'Passer' and the European-city-at-night genius of 'Vakaren' (if you have a bonus version) are just next level. My only complaint is it's slightly too long and they could have ditched one of the more progressive Opethy style tracks like the overinflated 'Serac', but the quality here just triumphs. Amazing album cover. 

1. Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)

For years this was my stand alone favourite album of all time, and to this day I think it's still in the top two or three. There is nothing out there like this album, and the production is so unique that there will be nothing like it ever again. 'Teargas', 'Tonight's Music', 'Sweet Nurse'. There's bleakness but also melody; emptiness but also singalong choruses. Great drumming, great lyrics, amazing guitar tone. The cover is probably the worst thing about it, but the music wins. 

 

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I've only truly listened to the three CDs that I own: Dance of December Souls, Brave Murder Day and the EP For Funerals to Come. 

I know I attempted to listen to their later stuff but I'm guessing I didn't care much for it because I don't remember anything. Same thing with Anathema.  

 

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7 minutes ago, Vampyrique said:

I've only truly listened to the three CDs that I own: Dance of December Souls, Brave Murder Day and the EP For Funerals to Come. 

I know I attempted to listen to their later stuff but I'm guessing I didn't care much for it because I don't remember anything. Same thing with Anathema.  

 

Interesting that you like Moonspell and Paradise Lost but not so much Katatonia. I think Katatonia are the best of the three. Give them another try some time. Come and hang out at Castle Requiem and we will have a Kataparty.

As for Anathema, 1993-1999 they were perfect, but very hit and miss after that in my opinion. I can't stand them at all these days. 

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11 minutes ago, Requiem said:

Interesting that you like Moonspell and Paradise Lost but not so much Katatonia. I think Katatonia are the best of the three. Give them another try some time. Come and hang out at Castle Requiem and we will have a Kataparty.

As for Anathema, 1993-1999 they were perfect, but very hit and miss after that in my opinion. I can't stand them at all these days. 

I meant I like the early stuff but vaguely recall not liking their recent stuff. But someday I'll give their later stuff another try. But I have to admit I'm always apprehensive when I hear the word 'alternative' in regards to a metal band. 

But your'e right, I don't like them as much as Paradise Lost or Moonspell. Even Paradise Lost has some stuff I wasn't too keen on. 

I think I'll listen to my Katatonia CDs in the next few days and tell you what I think of them in greater detail. It's been years I think since I last heard them. 

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10 minutes ago, Vampyrique said:

I meant I like the early stuff but vaguely recall not liking their recent stuff. But someday I'll give their later stuff another try. But I have to admit I'm always apprehensive when I hear the word 'alternative' in regards to a metal band. 

But your'e right, I don't like them as much as Paradise Lost or Moonspell. Even Paradise Lost has some stuff I wasn't too keen on. 

 

Yeah I got it.  

Check out the lyric video for 'Old Hearts Fall' as well as 'Unfurl'. Could have a Fields/Sisters vibe that you might enjoy.

"For every dream that is left behind me, I take a bow,

For every war that will rage inside me, I hear the sound

of another day in this vanishing life, returned to dust,

And every chance I've pushed away into the night..."

So chilling. So apt for 37 year old Requiem...

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On 15/09/2017 at 5:10 AM, deathstorm said:

I had listein to quite katatonia  as as well they are pretty good 

Good stuff, Deathy. There is an era of Katatonia for everyone. I enjoy all eras so I’m always happy.

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One of the things that strikes me about Katatonia - and I've alluded to this earlier in this thread - is that they are one of those bands that regularly misfires with their selection of b-sides. They have a habit of choosing fantastic songs to leave off their albums! Here are three examples: 

'Help Me Disappear' from the 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' album sessions. This appears on the 'Tonight's Music' EP as a b-side but it's actually one of the best tracks that they recorded during the album sessions. It's a wonderful catchy song that fits into 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' perfectly and really should have been on the album. 

'Wait Outside' from the 'Viva Emptiness' sessions. This appeared on the 'Black Sessions' best of boxset and has since been included on the ten year anniversary edition of 'Viva Emptiness' which is an inferior release due to the absurd amount of keyboards they've added to an already great album. 

'Unfurl' from the 'The Great Cold Distance' sessions. It appears on the 'July' single. Leaving this chilled out track off the album proper is a calamity that I've personally never recovered from. They later re-released it as the lead track on the 'Kocytean' EP. To this day I think it's my second favourite Katatonia song. 

Each of these three songs deserves to be on their respective albums and I would argue could even be singles. Terrible run of a band who put filler ahead of genius. 

 

 

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Top 5 Katatonia Songs (to be edited with statements when I’m off my phone)

5. For my Demons (Tonight’s Decision)

4. Serein (The Fall of Hearts)

3. Brave (Brave Murder Day)

2. Unfurl (July single)

1. Old Hearts Fall (The Fall of Hearts)

 

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