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Katatonia
Night Is The New Day
December 2009
Released: 2009, Peaceville Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

With each successive release, Katatonia manages to plunge itself just a little bit further into the darkened depths of harmonious musical despair. NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is full length number eight for the Swedes and treads even closer to the brink of the abyss in triumphantly subdued fashion. Conceptually picking up pretty close to where 2006’s THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE left off, NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is quite possibly the best that this band has sounded in, well, ever. Much more focused than its predecessor, this album captures all of the elements that you’d expect to hear from Katatonia while still managing to progress the band’s sound into new territory. NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY will challenge some fans and enthrall others, but is a listening experience that successfully elicits the emotional connection with its audience that so many bands strive to achieve, yet ultimately fail to.



While Katatonia has always had a knack for writing engaging, gothic flavored metal tunes, NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY leans a little heavier on the gothic and a little less so on the metal. Taken out of context, that last statement by itself might be enough for some of you to make up your minds about things and scream “HOST!” without giving the album a (last) fair deal. Not to say that the album doesn’t have its heavier moments, it’s loaded with them, but the focus here is on creating rich atmospheres within the context of a Katatonia song that goes beyond the traditional formula that you’ve heard over and over from the band. The programmed effects and synth elements are more pervasive than on previous releases, but complement the core song structures magnificently. After spending some quality time with the album and then backtracking through last several albums, the approach taken here really is the next logical step in the band’s progression.



The album opens with “Forsaker,” riding a crushingly familiar Katatonia riff line that weaves in and out of between the heavy and the esoteric, saddled by Jonas Renkse’s ever morose vocal harmonies. Things quickly shift gears into the restraint of “The Longest Year,” a beguilingly mellow number that launches into a monster second verse and chorus. “Idle Blood” takes an almost folksy, ballad style approach, while not sounding at all out of place within the band’s catalog, while the lingering doom of “Nephilim” harkens back to the DISCOURAGED ONES era. “Onward Into Battle,” “Promise of Deceit” and “Inheritance” all have a rather progressive vibe, while “New Night” and my personal fave “Liberation” crunch back with the band’s more traditional brand of melodic heaviness. The closing one two punch of “Day and Then the Shade” and “Departer” round out the album brilliantly. Whereas the former is a hard, punchy, almost upbeat head banger, the latter is a quiet, somber dirge carried by faint piano lines echoed with subtle effects and a guest vocal from Enter the Hunt’s Krister Linder.



The production is pristine, emphasizing all of the right parts in the right places. While the album is advantageous in its arrangements and approach, it never feels pompous or complicated just for the sake of being so. The underlying dark thread that joins each song together into a complete package creates a captivating environment that keeps you listening and will have you hitting “repeat” once the disc has come to an end. Arguably Katatonia’s best effort yet, but unquestionably their most focused and cohesive, NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is a tremendous, truly emotive collection of songs. Expect to see this one on plenty of year-end best of lists, and deservedly so.
Track Listing

1. Forsaker
2. The Longest Year
3. Idle Blood
4. Onward into Battle
5. Liberation
6. The Promise of Deceit
7. Nephilim
8. New Night
9. Inheritance
10. Day and Then the Shade
11. Departer

Lineup

Jonas Renkse - Vocals, Programming
Anders Nyström - Guitars, Programming, Backing Vocals
Fredrik Norrman - Guitars
Mattias Norrman - Bass
Daniel Liljekvist - Drums, Percussion


Next review: » Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
Previous review: » Katatonia - My Twin (MCD)

Katatonia
Night Is The New Day
December 2009
Released: 2009, Peaceville Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Hanntu

Having arrived at NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY without ever having touched anything of Katatonia’s, I guess the only thing qualifying me for this review is ‘new ears’. The Swedes have faded in and out of my consciousness over the years but I’ve never taken the plunge into their music, until now, that is.

Even without being a fan of the band, it’s immediately apparent to me how important Jonas Renkse’s voice is to the overall package that is Katatonia. And even though the kind of voice he possesses is not one that I’d immediately enjoy, it seems to fit the outer-worldliness of their music. He is not overtly melancholy or depressing – in fact, there’s a quite uplifting quality to his voice at times – and it’s certainly not what I’d call ‘dark’. He just seems to convey the emotion of emotionlessness, a detached type of apathy that speaks volumes without him ever needing to rise out of his gloriously simple delivery. That’s a real gift, I believe. It’s a slow, solitary, painless, ‘just nod if you can hear me’ ascent into the void.

The rest of the band is similarly restrained, but there’s little flashes of surprises here and there that make you feel special to have picked out. For example, that little jazzy organ bit in the fade-out to ‘Idle Blood’, it’s so not in keeping with the rest of the album…The bass sound in NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is just godly – it’s so important to have a good, thick bass sound on such a minimalist album where each instrument has to fill a certain space in your hearing, and you can certainly hear Mattias Norrman’s every bass line in the mix. The guitarists flit in and out of your attention span, here a chunky downtuned nu-metal-ish groove riff, there a grave picked acoustic section, here a trippy echo-laden lead line, there a gentle shimmering open chord – it’s positively criminal that two musicians should have such brilliant understanding of dynamics and structure and variety, and how to tie it all together.

Voyager, U2, My Dying Bride, The Gathering, Coldplay, Warning, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree…Katatonia.
Track Listing

1. Forsaker
2. The Longest Year
3. Idle Blood
4. Onward Into Battle
5. Liberation
6. The Promise Of Deceit
7. Nephilim
8. New Night
9. Inheritance
10. Day & Then The Shade
11. Departer

Lineup

Jonas Renkse - Vocals
Anders Nystrom - Guitar
Fredrik Norrman - Guitar
Mattias Norrman - Bass
Daniel Liljekvist - Drums


Next review: » Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance
Previous review: » Katatonia - My Twin (MCD)





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