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Katatonia - "The Longest Year" (CD/EP)

Katatonia - "The Longest Year" CD/EP cover image

"The Longest Year" track listing:

1. The Longest Year (4:37)
2. Sold Heart (4:32)
3. Day and Then the Shade (Frank Default Remix) (5:36)
4. Idle Blood (Linje 14) (3:23)

Reviewed by on April 6, 2010

"...considering the quality of the source material, it’s still worth braving the nonsensical techno remixes to hear the single new offering on the EP."

The post-album EP can be a hard sell to anyone who isn’t a fanatical fan of the band in question. They usually have scant bonus material beyond what was heard on the album, and the remixes generally feel like tacked on filler. “The Longest Year” does suffer from many of those standard problems, but considering the quality of the source material, it’s still worth braving the nonsensical techno remixes to hear the single new offering on the EP.

No one will ever agree on which song from any given Katatonia album is the best, but “The Longest Year” is among the best choices for a single, as it catches the entire feel of the band’s earlier “Night is the New Day” disc. The song condenses the musical trajectory used in the album, giving a good mix of the slow and downhearted aspects with the heavy guitar parts.

After the unchanged title track ends, the EP heads into the only truly new song, “Sold Heart.” It’s an entry that has the same general gloomy feel of the other songs, but has a bigger emphasis on emotion and seems more overtly concerted with romantic issues. “Sold Heart” isn’t as heart crushingly bleak as the anti-love tracks on “Discouraged Ones,” although it still clearly has a negative and sullen connotation. A steady wall of bass sound flows through the background at all times, and some of the guitar work gets heavily into prog rock territory.

“Day and Then the Shade” is the first song to get the remix treatment, and it actually starts off incredibly well. The song begins as an atmospheric and piano heavy piece, with intermittent stutters in the background like a skipping record, which gives a cinematic and epic quality to the melancholy feeling. Apparently someone decided that dirges from doom metal bands can also double as dance floor hits, because the track then randomly gets a techno beat. The weird mix of slow doom with upbeat techno occasionally comes off as something listenable along the lines of Nine Inch Nails, but more frequently is just baffling and completely out of place.

The final remixed track “Idle Blood” may be the worst offender, as it seems like it had the least amount of effort applied. It’s essentially the same song, just slowed down and with a wall of unnecessary sound effects added in the background. “Idle Blood” was one of the highlights of its original album, so it’s a shame it couldn’t get a better treatment on the EP.

Getting the chance to hear a previously unreleased track from the “Night is the New Day” recording sessions is the main draw for “The Longest Year.” Fans who don’t care for remixes should probably just wait until the song is included in some deluxe re-release down the line, but the lure of new Katatonia material may prove too tempting to resist for the die-hards.

Highs: The new song fits with the feel from "Night is the New Day," and the one unchanged song is still awesome.

Lows: The remixes start out promising but then nose dive into nonsensical techno beats.

Bottom line: The remixes aren't really worth your time, but the single new song gives it some appeal to serious Katatonia fans.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 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)