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City Burials


Artist: Katatonia
Label: Peaceville Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 24 April 2020

Peaceville Records releases the eleventh album by Progressive Metal band Katatonia. They formed in Sockholm, Sweden in 1991. The current line-up consists of Jonas Renkse on vocals, Anders Nystrom on guitar, Niklas Sandin on bass, Daniel Moilanen on drums, and new recruit Roger Ojersson on guitar. There are guest vocals on one song by Full of Keys singer Anni Bernhard. The band took a break after their previous album, The Fall of Hearts, emerged in 2016. Now they are back, utilising not only the Progressive sounds for which they are known, but an ingress of 1980s-style Heavy Metal – as that is what they grew up listening to. They describe their music as very natural; others have described it as well-crafted and idiosyncratic...

Katatonia (not to be confused with Catatonia) is a band which has somehow passed me by since their inception almost 30 years ago. Therefore, I approach this with no preconceptions. The vocals are remarkably clean and clear. There is a general Hard Rock feel to the band, with simple but sometimes meaty riffs. They are described as melancholy, and it’s a fitting description. Not to the extent of Pink Floyd, but it’s interesting stuff. They are heavy in places, although not to the Metal level I’m used to listening to. Much of this would be happily accepted for radio airplay, as there is a certain commercialism to the form – particularly the vocals. Many of the structures are driven by the nice drum patterns and a variety of different guitar style riffs, which then leave breaks for a guitar melody or solo. At one stage a drum machine effect is incorporated, and I hate those with a passion. The drummer here is very effective.

The pace is pretty much moderate throughout, with changes such as a marching sound, floating guitar, and a multitude of sound effects including piano and keyboard atmospherics offering little clue as to their direction. There are a couple of what you could call ballads, which still let loose for the chorus. Many of the songs walk a line between Prog and Goth. It’s slightly detrimental to the band that the vocals are pretty much all sung in the same tone, with none of the real anguish that the group portrays. It makes me wonder how it would change the balance if some of the vocals were growled. As a Metal fan I find the full band effect far superior to some of the more subdued moments which lead up to them. The overall sound nevertheless produces a relaxing background music which you can fall asleep listening to on headphones – and I don’t mean that in a detrimental way.

The track listing is: Heart Set to Divide; Behind the Blood; Lacquer; Rein; The Winter of Our Passing; Vanishers; City Glaciers; Flicker; Lachesis; Neon Epitaph; and Untrodden. The closing track begins with piano and trebly off-beat guitar, and incorporates by far the best guitar solo of the album. It would have been nice if this excellent and atmospheric guitar piece played-out this release, rather than returning to the formatted song.


Ty Power

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