Sunday, April 19, 2020

Katatonia : " City Burials"

I get these Swedish gloomsters  are no longer a metal band. To some extent I am ok with that . "Viva Emptiness" is my favorite album by them. It's heavier than A Perfect Circle  , but not heavy as what is now considered metal. The first single from this album scared me. But they have not forgotten their guitars in fact they appear on the first song. The have more in common with prog rock bands like Porcupine Tree than metal. The drumming is intricate. The synths sit on equal footing as the guitar. The guitars have enough chug to them almost make you believe you can pretend they are metal. Jonas' vocals have been the focal point for a long time now. They got the most love in the studio. The guitars are layered , but the tone is not as thick as say "Night is the New Day".  The way "Behind the Blood" leads in with a guitar solo it's almost like 80s metal. By 80s metal I mean Ratt, who are not really metal. This song is fun, but I also grew up listening to Ratt as a kid. I am surprised they are ripping out as many guitar solos as they are.

They return to the more introspective and electronic side of the post "Night is the New Day" band. Not that they did not incorporate electronic sounds before then. "My Twin" is one of their best songs and it has many of these same elements, it just feels more emotive and driven where this song, does have emotion to it and Jonas' voice sounds like it's finding a few different colors , perhaps the atmosphere allows for the more minimal arrangement to drift.  They use electronics better on " The Winter of  Our Passing " , which is just a more well written song that employs more groove. The drumming to "Rein"  interesting , I like what they are doing with the subtle double bass accents , but as a song it doesn't feel as focused to me. "Vanishers" is more of a ballad with female vocals courtesy of Anni Bernhard from the Stockholm based Full of Keys. "City Glaciers" starts off with more rock swagger to the groove then the songs gets swept away without returning to that mood.

"Flicker' finds them further indulging their prog side. Midway song get's punchier in it's accents and takes on a darker feel more in line with their "Viva Emptiness" days. The guitar on this album is really showing off . The songwriting fortunately compliments it. "Lachesis" is a more subdued ballad thick on atmosphere and more minimal than the lush instrumentation that marks most of this album. "Neon Epitaph" finds the band employing the kind of sinewy riffs I do not remember them using since "the Great Cold Distance" . It has a very tightly coiled groove , but still allows for them to have enough breathing rom for the kind of ambient melodies they have been given to in the most recent albums. They wander into the more jazz inflected side of prog on the last song. This is not them going full blown Sade as Jonas stays the course doing what he does and there is enough of their more rock sensibilities to keep it grounded . I will give this album a 9.5 it might not be "Viva Emptiness" but it finds them remembering where they came from


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