Album Reviews, Artists / Bands, Culture, Metal / Hard Rock — August 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Katatonia – Dead End Kings


Artist Name: Katatonia
Title Name: Dead End Kings
Label: Peaceville
Reviewed by: Fabio Marraccini

As discussed before in this column, the Swedish masters of dark and progressive heavy music have been given a tough assignment: top up their acclaimed 2009 album Night is the New Day. The results, as anticipated in the review of the first single – ‘Buildings’ – to come out of the new album Dead End Kings, are truly amazing.

Produced by founding members Anders Nyström (lead guitars) and Jonas Renkse (vocals) and mixed by David Castillo of Katatonia, Opeth and Bloodbath fame, and marking the recording debut of guitarist Per Eriksson, the album can be previewed online, and pre-ordered from iTunes everywhere including South East Asia, and will be officially released August 27th. Anders, Jonas and Per are joined by Daniel Liljekvis on drums and Niklas Sandin on bass.

Katatonia have become one of those bands with a musical signature of their own, one that transcends definitions. Trying to pin them into a particular sub-genre is pointless. Yes, it’s true that the last shades of their early days, when it was easy to stamp them with the Death/Doom metal label, are almost all gone. The album sounds metal nevertheless, heavy and dark, tight rhythms and arrangements, but it is above all enveloped by beautiful melancholic melodies, keyboards, clean and crisp vocals, and a smooth dreamscape-like atmosphere.

“The Parting” kicks off the symphony, with dark guitar sounds, slow enchanting vocals, beautiful piano and string arrangements, and a mesmerising melody. “The One You’re Looking For is Not Here” is a majestic ballad with broken tempo and the soothe background vocals provided by Silje Wergeland, the female lead singer who currently fronts The Gathering. “Hypnone” continues with heavier passages alternated with beautiful piano melodies, while “The Racing Heart” is more of a truly progressive song, that starts easy and fires up towards the end. “Buildings” is really a change of pace half the way through the record, but “Leech” goes back to the progressive style introduced in the first part of the album. The four songs that follow pretty much call this same formula, each one with its individual signature of beautiful melodies, while “Dead Letters” closes the album in a heavier and more ominous stance, with ripping riffs, powerful drums, bold bass lines, all creamed by beautiful keyboard melodies and enchanting vocal lines – I’d say it’s probably the album’s standout track, as it has a little bit of everything, almost like a highlights summary of the whole album.

Well-crafted, well produced, well played, and once again showing that these musicians have certainly created a style of their own, this album is a must that will please a wide variety of audiences. It transcends metal once again, and delivers a beautiful soundtrack for the years to come.





Katatonia – Dead Letters (from Dead End Kings)


Katatonia – Dead End Kings – pre-order on iTunes: