Friday, May 27, 2016

Katatonia - The Fall of Hearts (2016)

For every album that has passed, Katatonia has become more progressive and less aggressive in their sound, starting out as a blackened doom metal (with the members having black metal names and everything), all the way to where they are now, a more calm, gothic progressive metal band that relies more on melodies than brutality. It is a journey that other bands have done (Opeth, Amorphis, etc.), but Katatonia stands out as the only band that probably have left their roots on the attic. Okay, it was a long time ago they did the major change, but still, hearing this, their 11th studio album "The Fall of Hearts", and comparing it to their debut record, "Dance of December Souls" from 1993, and you would think that it was two different bands that made these records.

The first thing I notice about "The Fall of Hearts" are the guitars, which are calmer and quieter, and I am not sure if I fully like it. Sure, it creates a mood that fits the band really well and gives the album a nice personality, but they take away a lot of the only thing that kept Katatonia being a metal band. It continues mostly in the style of "Dethroned & Uncrowned", which is the acoustic version of the amazing album "Dead End Kings", and while I personally disliked "Dethroned & Uncrowned" for ruining "Dead End Kings", I knew that the style on that album could work with music that was specifically written for that album. Well, here we have it.

With all of that said, I still think the guitar work is excellent, and the few heavy bits that are in fits well, and are not thrown in for the fan's sake. The rest of the performance is as expected of the band, high quality work, with everyone contributing in creating a magical and emotional album. Jonas Renkse has one of the smoothest vocals in the industry, and you easily get mesmerized when you listen to him singing, and the drum work by Daniel Moilanen are spiritual and uplifting.

As a reviewer, it is hard to listen to "The Fall of Hearts", because you get easily entranced by its magical sound, making you forget all about space and time, and when it all is over, it will not feel like it has gone 1 hour and 7 minutes, but more like a half hour. This is the sole reason to why I have not finished this review earlier, because I just let go of my focus and start to relax, a reflex that still is there, even after 10+ listens. I am of course a little frustrated over this, because I wanna get this review done, but at the same time, I am okay with it, because I highly enjoy the feelings that this album gives me, and to still experience them after several repeated listening sessions is incredible.

Now, I usually try to point out a few songs that stands out in the album, but the truth here is that there are no true stand outs on "The Fall of Hearts", every song is just as strong as the next one, and while none of them might be too memorable, they work extremely well together and creates a big, solid entity. The song writing is just so superb, so fluent, so soothing that you could wash away all of your sins with it. The only track that steers off on its own is the final song "Passer", which is without a doubt the heaviest song on the album, but it fits into the rest of the songs seamlessly, so it almost seems like the heavier tone does not really matter here, it is just a added bonus. This is ultimately an album that should be listened in its entirety, any other way is simply not doing it justice.

"The Fall of Hearts" is a very reasonable follow up to "Dead End Kings", taking its magical sound and develop it even further. Katatonia keeps delivering some stunning music that is easy to swallow, and even if this barely would be considered a metal album, it is just heavy enough to make the most out of it. It might even be one of the best Katatonia album ever made, holding the high quality that the band has put out during its career, and you will most certainly love this album if you are into gothic doom metal. A fall of hearts, but certainly not a fall from grace.

Songs worthy of recognition: Seriously, just take them all in, they deserve it

Rating: 9,5/10 Seracs

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