Released: 2007, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
I’ll admit that Katatonia is a band whose party I was late in coming to. It was the brilliant LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN that got me hooked on the majesty of Katatonia upon its original release in 2001. Before that, the band’s doomy, gloomy death metal sound never did much for me and it was their transition with that album (and subsequently 1999’s TONIGHT’S DECISION) into more melancholic, clean vocal-driven territory that really grabbed my attention. Today, Katatonia has pretty much abandoned their first three releases, choosing to focus on their darker, moodier post-BRAVE MURDER DAY material. It was 2006’s THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE which really broke the band on a global scale and a show from the tour supporting that album is chronicled on the band’s first live venture entitled LIVE CONSTERNATION. Shot at Germany’s Summerbreeze Open Air on August 17, 2006, is released as a two-disc package with the DVD and accompanying audio CD of the performance giving fans plenty of bang for their buck.
Recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 (with a Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround option, as well), the DVD offers stunning visual treats, trippy effects and split-screens to keep things looking and sounding interesting. Cuts like “Soil’s Song,” “Had To (Leave),” “Deliberation” and “Evidence” leave the viewer mesmerized. “Right Into The Bliss” and “Ghost of The Sun” are particularly engrossing, capturing the melodies and nuances of Katatonia’s music perfectly. Vocalist Jonas Renske, virtually hidden behind a thicket of jet black hair, looks like a cross between Ian Gillan circa 1983 and Cannibal Corpse’s George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher but his buttery-smooth croon and brief moments of aggression turn all expectations upside down. The atmospheric leads and haunting riffs of Fredrik Norrman and Anders Nyström give tracks like “Leaders” that extra clout to really sink in on a completely visceral level.
Now that the touring cycle has ended for THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE, it is with much anticipation that fans await the next opus from Katatonia. As a stop-gap release, LIVE CONSTERNATION fills the void and allows fans who were not able to catch Katatonia on their global assault to witness the band performing. This is not a terribly exciting show nor is Katatonia ever going to be noted for their exceptional stage presence however the band’s music works on so many emotional degrees that it begs to be seen and absorbed. LIVE CONSTERNATION is just the right tool.