Released: 2004, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Following this month’s b-sides and rarities release from Dark Tranquillity, Century Media has now given Katatonia fans something to drool over. BRAVE YESTER DAYS combines all of the band’s early E.P.s, singles and compilation tracks on to a mammoth two-CD collection. The discs are housed in a fold-out digipack with a beautiful booklet that will satisfy any fans of the band.
The material hearkens back to Katatonia’s 1992 E.P., JHVA ELOHIM METH and concludes with 1998’s SAW YOU DROWN E.P.. Hearing the band evolve from a death/doom duo up to their current goth rock sound is quite striking. The earliest tracks are that of a band whose sole purpose is to provide doom and gloom mixed with aggressiveness, not unlike the heavier side of My Dying Bride. “Without God” is a heavy track featuring excellent vocals by Jonas Renske, while the instrumental beauty of “Crimson Tears” offsets its harshness perfectly. Once the tracks from the FROM FUNERALS TO COME E.P. begin, a more melodic approach begins to show with Opeth-like harmonies and more focus on song structure. “Epistel” is an experiment in noise and backwards vocals that works well. The tracks taken from BRAVE MURDER DAY and SOUNDS OF DECAY feature Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth on vocals. His growl breathes new life into the band and tracks like “Murder” and “At Last” are a stunning swan song to that style for Katatonia. Beginning with the SAW YOU DROWN E.P. in 1998, the band abandoned the death vocals entirely and adopted a goth rock sound that bands like Anathema have also followed. “Scarlet Heavens” is a light, almost poppy track, with an amazing riff, showing Katatonia is far from just another screaming bunch of gloomy metalheads.
While Katatonia has never done much for me personally—I’ll take the doom of My Dying Bride and the prog/death of Opeth—this collection is the mother lode for fans of the band. Collecting all of the rarities and singles in one complete package is enough to warrant a purchase rather than spending hundreds on eBay to get them. Anyone wishing to check out a talented band that is not afraid to experiment should do well in picking up BRAVE YESTER DAYS. This is a well put together package that will appeal to die-hards and newbies alike.
KILLER KUTS: “Without God,” “Velvet Thorns (of Drynwhyl),” “Murder,” “Saw You Drown,” “Scarlet Heavens”