CD review KATATONIA ‘City Burials’

Stockholm-enrooted Katatonia went through some morphing over the last three decades. Was the start based on a passion for Death Metal, the Swedes moved more and more towards becoming the masters of melancholy, a vibe that’s embedded in progressive Rock- and Metal songs.

After having toured extensively in 2018, the band decided to enter a hiatus with the aim to reflect, re-group and now return. After the break Katatonia’s melancholic heart is beating even stronger, manifested in a new longplayer called ‘City Burials’.

The start into the album is a very peaceful one, at least for the first 1,5 minutes when Jonas Renske’s vocals are in focus. After a while the opener ‘Heart Set to Divide’ gains heaviness with the first riffs kicking in. The song evolves to a melancholic interplay between calmer sections that culminate in a powerful chorus. There aren’t many bands that use these layers like Katatonia does. Melancholy and dynamic aren’t usually best friends but Katatonia brings these poles together in a great fashion.

After such an exciting start the album continues with ‘Behind the Blood’. With four and a half minutes the tune belongs more to the spot-on Katatonia tracks. Next to the melodic vocal lines, the might solo parts stand out most. While ‘Behind the Blood’ shows the heaviness of the five Swedes the contrast follows right after. ‘Laquer’ shows the sensitive side of Katatonia. No heavy riffs, no harsh sounds. The song is an atmospheric and calm one with a level of intensity that can handle comparisons with the heavy tunes on the album.

The starting triple reflects very well what to expect from the entire album and it’s not a surprise that ‘Laquer’ as well as ‘Behind the Blood’ have been chosen as single releases. Big soundscapes, a gloomy atmosphere, well-done twists and musical savvy is what manifests itself in 11 new songs. It feels like the break did something good for the band. Each of the songs has an emotional depth that’s touching right away. These songs aren’t just music. They are emotional short-stories, driven by a strong heartbeat.

‘The Winter of Our Passing’ is another track you should have listened too, a short but intense milestone with a rather catchy chorus. ‘City Glaciers’ is another example for a song that catches you right away, reflecting again the beauty of grayness. You can drop the needle wherever you want, you will be rewarded with great music that triggers an emotional journey. And with all the melancholy weaved into each of the songs there are still enough sun-rays that avoid drowning in hopelessness. Instead it is soulfulness being the overarching theme of the album.

‘City Burial’s is the anticipated new Katatonia record. Expectations are high and Katatonia’s new longplayer can easily handle those. ‘City Burials’ exceeds these expectations, being a new musical masterpiece with songs being shimmering musical pearls covered in shades of gray.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Heart Set To Divide
  2. Behind The Blood
  3. Lacquer
  4. Rein
  5. The Winter Of Our Passing
  6. Vanishers
  7. City Glaciers
  8. Flicker
  9. Lachesis
  10. Neon Epitaph
  11. Untrodden

Label: Peaceville

Genre: Progressive Melancholic Metal

Release Date EU: April 24th, 2020

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