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Katatonia - "Night Is The New Day" (CD)

Katatonia - "Night Is The New Day" CD cover image

"Night Is The New Day" track listing:

1. Forsaker (4:05)
2. The Longest Year (4:39)
3. Idle Blood (4:23)
4. Onward Into Battle (3:52)
5. Liberation (4:18)
6. The Promise Of Deceit (4:18)
7. Nephilim (4:27)
8. New Night (4:28)
9. Inheritance (4:30)
10. Day & Then The Shade (4:26)
11. Departer (5:27)

Reviewed by on October 25, 2009

"The album is an expression of their past experiments tempered with a sense of new discovery as the band delves into new musical territory."

Katatonia has been on a journey of constant rediscovery since their debut full-length release “Dance of December Souls.” Long gone are the growling vocals and tales of mist-shrouded lands under a full moon, to be replaced with a maturity and progressiveness not seen by many metal bands. “Night is the New Day” is the culmination of Katatonia’s long career exploring the various facets of metal. The album is an expression of their past experiments tempered with a sense of new discovery as the band delves into new musical territory.

“Forsaker” starts the album off with a series of chunky guitar riffs that get increasingly louder as they echo out of the background. Longtime fans may do a bit of a double take during the first few seconds, as the guitar parts almost bring to mind the hardcore genre. It doesn’t take long for the band’s hallmark depressive sound to float to the surface with the appearance of Jonas Renkse’s vocal work. Renkse’s voice is its own instrument, and he knows how to use it to produce the effect needed. The clean singing ebbs and flows between bleak, upbeat, and something in-between. The heavy guitar parts from the intro get worked in and out of the synths throughout the song, providing a blend of heavy and laid back sounds without losing focus of either style.

Like several of Katatonia’s previous albums there are forays into more mainstream territory that could potentially find acceptance from a larger audience than metal usually receives. These forays never go so far as to prevent extreme metal fans from enjoying the music. Nearly every song has a segment that shows off why the group is still associated with death metal bands even though there is nary a scream to be found. The guitars are consistently heavy and the drumming is spot on, but everything is carried by an overarching melody that is usually reserved for progressive rock bands.

There is no question that Opeth and Katatonia have influenced each other over the years, likely because of the long time friendship between the band’s vocalists, and it shows on “Night is the New Day.” Many of the progressive elements of the album and the changes in song structure bear a strong resemblance to the overall feel of Opeth’s latest album “Watershed.” The song “Idle Blood” has the most similarity, and it’s also one of the best tracks to be found on the disc. The correlation is only skin deep, however, as the songs are immersed in the style the Swedes have been building for years. “The Longest Year” is a trademark Katatonia track, using that flowing feel produced when all the instruments work together to take the listener on a depressing musical journey.

None of the songs ever reach a full five minutes, but they still have a spacey and cosmic feel that’s easy to get lost in and float along with. The feeling is helped along by the band’s strong base in doom metal. The tracks aren’t so much slow as they are unhurried, as though Katatonia wants the audience to experience their music for as long as it takes to sink in. As with previous releases the music is still trapped somewhere between depression and hope, landing squarely in melancholy territory. When the dark atmosphere is combined with some of the more psychedelic synth passages, one can’t help but think that “Night is the New Day” is the sort of album that will end up being the soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Fans of any era of Katatonia’s work will love “Night is the New Day,” and anyone who hasn’t checked them out yet will have a stunning jumping off point to get started. The album is one to actively work through over a series of listening sessions, and each journey through just makes the music better.

Highs: The trademark Katatonia sound is prevalent, but its been expanded with more progressive elements.

Lows: It wouldn't hurt to hear some growling every now and again.

Bottom line: The culmination of Katatonia's career, and a melancholy metal album that deserves to be listened to many times over.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)