"The Great Cold Distance" (Peaceville; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

On their seventh studio album, the metal stance of Swedish doomsayers Katatonia's melancholic is very much intact throughout the 12-track "The Great Cold Distance." 

With an air of sadness and a flare for creating depression-filled metal dirges like "Increase" and "Leaders," these mope metal veterans meticulously pile on the pain for a maximizing downtrodden feel. And while this darker-edged quintet may not be as ornate as Opeth, as oppressive as November's Doom or as Gothic as Paradise Lost, can you name another act that could convincingly pull off a melodically moody tirade laden with desperation and call it "July"? 

Juxtaposing the fragility of life and inevitability of death with Tool-esque crescendos (check out "In the White") and atmospheric rhythms that radiate a cold, bleak vibe (try "The Itch" on for size), this CD should unquestionably be kept away from sharp objects and unstable mindsets. 

For more information visit http://www.katatonia.com

"Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (Peaceville Records; 2001 / 2004)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

If you’ve followed Katatonia from the start then you probably aren’t with them now. They started with Dark Metal, and then they explored Doom Metal. Later on in their career they slid into Goth Rock and now they produce Alternative Metal. There are too many bands that don’t ever stray from one style, but I love bands that grow musically, even if its out of everyone else’s choice. This CD title comes from a song by blues legend Robert Johnson.

This 2001 disc was re-released in 2004 to add three bonus tracks: “Sulfur,” “March 4” ( which was on the “Teargas” EP), and “Help Me Disappear,” which came from “Tonight’s Music” EP. I purposely didn’t go back and listen to their earlier stuff because then I would be comparing discs and that’s not what I want to do here.

Although it may seem that they’ve abandoned the musical styles of before, I think once you’ve been exposed, even for a little while, that Katatonia's style stays with you. The mood here is gloomy and depressing and you’re convinced that vocalists Jonas Renkse is feeling everything he sings.

The melancholy lyrics are a treat for anyone teetering on the edge of insanity; I found them dismal and the music just as creepy. If this stuff doesn’t put you in a blue funk then you apparently didn’t really dive in, you just dipped your toes in the murky water drowning Jonas.

This release is labeled under “Metal” but I really didn’t hear any of that ( I mean, what you and I would call “Metal”). The power punches are loud and only bring you back from the edge for as long as you want to stay. The guitar is well played and even though the solos are absent, it's still got that gloomy sound resonating long after the song has ended. The soft parts are quiet but don’t cause any fear; it's more of a conversation where the beast is saying, “Sit, let’s talk a while.”

I liked what I heard but I might not go back and listen to their earlier stuff because this release will hold me for a few more therapy years. If you’re just now discovering Katatonia then be mindful that they change completely from one style to the next. It's your decision to stay with them or not.

Katatonia: Jonas Renske – lead and backing vocals; Anders Nystrom – guitars, mellotron; Fredrick Norman – guitars; Daniel Liljekvist – drums; Mattias Norrman – bass guitar.

For more information, check out http://www.katatonia.com or http://myspace.com/katatonia

"Discouraged Ones" (Century Media; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I listened to "Discouraged Ones" for the first time right after I heard Circle Of Dead Children's chaotically brutal "The Genocide Machine." As such, Katatonia's brand of melancholy seemed particularly more morose than I could have ever expected.

Basically, Katatonia is The Cure for metal heads with a good measure of doom/death thrown in. Minimalist lyrics and occasionally too strum-y rhythms without enough 'oomph' to jazz up the tunes is the easiest, albeit insufficient, way to describe Katatonia. However, the intended effect is abundantly clear - somber melancholy is an expressive emotion with stunning depth and various colors. "Discouraged Ones" recalls early Paradise Lost without the grit and growling vocals.

"Cold Ways" manages to mix a loud guitar sound yet still somber mood with plaintive vocals in the verse followed by tortured vocals in the chorus. "Distrust" really gives the disc a serious kick for someone who's leaving an intolerable reality for something unknown. Is "Distrust" about suicide? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. However, "Deadhouse" is the gem on this CD; the mournful vocals will have you guessing the meaning of the song long after you've heard it for the hundredth time. Is it a ghost? A vampire? A mortician? Don't try to decide because you'll think something different every time you hear it.

To the casual listener "Discouraged Ones" is a very bitter pill to swallow. The listener should immerse themselves and wallow in the somber proceedings - not a task to be taken lightly. 

Aside from songs that initially all sound alike upon the first few listens, "Discouraged Ones" is a very good listening experience.

"Discouraged Ones" was produced by Katatonia. Vocals were co-produced by Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth).

Katatonia is Jonas Renske on lead vocals, guitars, and drums; Anders Nystrom on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals; Micke Oretoft on bass; and Fred Normann on guitars.

For more information visit http://www.katatonia.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03 Apr 2022 15:56:16 -0400.