Released: 2009, Peaceville Records
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.