Reviews Katatonia The Fall of Hearts

Katatonia

The Fall of Hearts

Katatonia’s evolution over their twenty five year career has been one that’s taken in doom, death metal, gothic soundscapes and progressive beats, but more than anything, a deeply felt emotional tie to the music has been found within. Whenever they’ve been moving through difficult moments as a band - with members leaving during last few years – their music hasn’t lost their recognisable edge. That any band can still create exciting, interesting songs after twenty five years together is impressive enough, and for Katatonia to keep that human touch is worthy of celebration. Where some feel, wrongly, that perhaps Night is the New Day (2009) was a blip on their otherwise stellar output, Dead End Kings (2012) lifted them back up and in 2016 The Fall of Hearts cements their place at the top of the melancholy throne.

“Takeover” sets the scene for what follows with a minimal introduction giving way to Jonas Renkse’s delicious voice. The song that constantly expands and works into progressive corners while subtly building towards heavier moments and allowing Anders Nyström’s and new addition Roger Öjersson’s guitars to shine. Katatonia have left behind the death metal elements of their sound but the doomed elegance that has always been a part of the music is still present, albeit in slightly different ways, and in “Old Heart Falls” the darkness spreads through Renske’s vocal and the sorrowful guitar lead that soars above the understated gothic keys below. It feels rich, textured and tangible and it’s in these moments that Katatonia truly fly.

“Decima” begins a trilogy of songs that use quietude as their driving force and while subsequent tracks “Sanction” and “Residual” feature heavier moments, the songs are coloured with definite sadness and smaller passages of solitude are key, rather than weight. It’s a tactic that serves to build “Serac” into an altogether heavier prospect, though, and the track pushes forward on dynamic drums and climbing guitars and onward to the baroque fire of “Last Song Before the Fade.”

“Shifts” finds the band taking that step back again, and for some it might signal that they’ve forgotten how to write a rockier tune, but honestly, these slower songs are some of the best the band have written. They feel necessary, cathartic and authentic and when Katatonia fall into heavier territory on “The Night Subscriber” the payoff is all the more wonderful.

“Pale Flag” is a pretty, almost acoustic, penultimate track and the somewhat tribal drum that underpins the progression adds structure to a morose, helpless song while Renske’s voices creates a forlorn atmosphere. “Passer” closes out The Fall of Hearts in opposing pace with huge guitars ushering in the end. It’s still desolate, but in a passionate way, rather than a forsaken manner, and the loneliness that permeates the piece is felt in the gorgeous, shimmering, post-rock guitars that add a new dimension to the sound – a dimension one hopes that Katatonia continue to explore in the future.

Katatonia have come a long way since their inception; their evolution is striking and their sound remarkable, and for them it’s a journey that is constantly evolving. It goes to show that even after all this time, they still have fire, although the sadness that permeates their music means it hasn’t been an easy ride. Hope is still ever present in their records, yet a resolution seems tantalising out of reach. It’s comforting to know it’s the same for them, as it is for us.

8.5 / 10Cheryl
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Peaceville

2016

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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