Review: Katatonia “City Burials” [Peaceville Records]

Review: Katatonia “City Burials” [Peaceville Records]

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Katatonia‘s story is quite similar to their countrymen Opeth one: started as very depressive Doom/Death Metal, the band strived to make their sound softener, Jonas Renske stopped to use growling, focusing on clean vocals and Progressive started to prevail in the band’s music. But in contrast to Opeth, Katatonia emphasizes the atmosphere in their songs and mood changes, not only playing techniques and complicated time signatures. After a couple of line-up changes and release of The Fall Of Hearts, Katatonia declares the hiatus in 2018 to “re-evaluate what the future holds for the band”. But already in 2019 musicians started to work on their new album called City Burials.

The opener “Heart Set To Divide” shows the listener what to expect literally from its first seconds: flickering synths, quiet guitars and a little bit distant, sorrowful Jonas’ vocal create an incredible atmosphere that leads the listener into the realm of sadness and melancholy. Later, when all instruments start to play in full force, music first turns into Progressive and then into leisurely but gradually gaining pace Metal, reminding last works from Opeth and Evergrey. Following “Behind The Blood” goes almost classic Heavy Metal, especially at verses. Jonas’ vocal still cold and melancholic but somehow these things work together well. But in the middle of the song everything changes dramatically: the tempo and the main melody but this only makes the song heavier. There are plenty of heavy riffs in “Rein” too, but with its slow pace this song is much more Doom than Heavy. Towards the end of the song music transforms to Progressive with fast tempo and great drumming from Daniel Moilanen.

The first single from the album was “Lacquer”: it’s a slow and very atmospheric piece with keyboardist’s Frank Default brilliant work. However, his contribution is not only in this song: during the whole album he masterfully transmits the moods and creates incredible thing in the listeners’ minds easily. There is pretty much from Doom in “Lacquer” also: the slow pace, the atmosphere and melancholia in every single note but with this it’s a lot of Progressive elements here also. String and brass sections add the atmosphere to this song also.

Anni Bernhard from Full Of Keys band can be heard in full of tragedy song caked “Vanishers”. Tenderness in her vocal doesn’t reduce the sorrow, quite the contrary: when you hear Anni sings “We’re dead now, affinity has been found below the ground…” you realize that things got worse, there is no hope and the only thing you can do is just deal with it, that’s all,

Well, the most atmospheric song in the album will probably be “City Glaciers”. This piece is nothing like the other songs from this album, which change the pace a couple of times. Gutarists’ Roger Öjersson and Anders Nyström work is magnificent here. For several times all instruments here fall silent just to return after that in their full power and charm the listener with this emotional rollercoaster. “Flicker”, which goes after is the catchiest song in City Burials; it has a great drumming and long melodic solo. Also this song refers to Katatonia‘s previous works.

Long story short, City Burials is endlessly sorrow album, very atmospheric and very diverse. All songs are different here, no one sounds similar to another, but nevertheless there is no mistake, it’s Katatonia! Oh, and one more (quite important) thing: this album can hardly be played as some background music or something. In this case you need to get away from everything and let this album captivate you. He will definitely do it, no doubts!

City Burials will be released on April 24 via Peaceville Records.

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