KATATONIA - Viva Emptiness
March 7, 2003, 17 years ago
Heralded as the post-Opeth possibility, Katatonia have returned with a much-anticipated opus that ties up the loose ends of a band that gleefully and catalogue-illogically casts such strings to the pavement then pulls. No question that this is the one band that must be compared to Opeth (Jonas and Mikael are best buds), and Katatonia do not disappoint, mining those obtuse, poignant melodies that aren't so much doomful but wistful, the soundtrack to a better world that exist exotically as a warm glow within the brain, but one that indeed does exists all the same, given the validity of dream states as a place, for those receptive of mind games, in which to live. The cool thing is that the band rock out often, aggressively, percussively, quite immediately, almost industrially without those tools, evoking thoughts of what the perfect Anathema album might be, given that band's gutted, inside out existence these days, or what Porcupine Tree might sound like, if Wilson's metal bits were all pasted together (that's both a compliment and a criticism). And Renske's world-detachable Kevin Moore-like vocals are a refreshing change from the sandpaper death that continues to rough up so much of this kind of music. I still am not enamoured with the echoey, noisy, messy, cymbal- and high hat-drenched backbeat and the spongy snare sound (see last album). And the lyrics... well, one can again hear awkward English amongst the gorgeously grim progressive din (I still scratch my head that Katatonia, or in fact a band as studied as Soilwork, still courts pain in this department: Speed, you have English friends - they'd be glad to help). But bottom line is this: gone are the electronic window dressings, back comes the metal, and retained are more good musical ideas than anybody else out there, save for Soilwork.