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Katatonia - Dead End Kings (Album Review)

Monday, 13 August 2012 Written by Ben Bland
Katatonia - Dead End Kings (Album Review)

It has to be said that Katatonia are a pretty special band. In a metal world that is massively oversaturated with bands seemingly determined to avoid breaking the mould, the Swedish dark metallers have created a sound that is definitively their own over the course of albums such as 2003ís 'Viva Emptiness' and 2009ís acclaimed 'Night is the New Day'. However, even the most original of sounds can start to wear thin if repeated too often, and, for some, 'Dead End Kings' may become the tipping point at which that comes true of Katatonia.

ImageThat is not to say that Katatonia are not trying to evolve. 'Dead End Kings' features the band meld the crushing doom riffs of their past with the increasingly diverse electronic instrumentation, presumably of their future, more than ever. There are, though, two main factors that do limit Katatoniaís attempts to push their sound into new territories, and those two factors do happen to be the musical tendencies of the bandís two key members.

Vocalist Jonas Renske remains limited by his, admittedly melodic and instantly recognisable, voice. His range simply isnít varied enough to adequately accompany the new developments in Katatoniaís sound. As such it can be hard to distinguish the more atmospheric approach taken on 'Ambitions' or the increased melody of the guitar work on 'Hypone'. Having said that, Anders NystrŲm, the bandís guitarist and lead compositional force, also has to take a large share of the blame for Katatoniaís increasingly predictable sound. The approach here seems to be that change is fineÖas long as itís just a little bit. Sure, there is notably prominent piano on the likes of the aforementioned 'Hypone', and on 'Leech', but instead of ever surrendering the Katatonia sound completely enough to create something genuinely new, the band stop short and revert to the same guitar tones yet again.

Of course, to focus on such things does rather ignore the fact that this album is another good entry into the Katatonia discography. Their semi-progressive edge reaches its height on closer 'Dead Letters', which sounds like the sort of brilliantly insistent thing Tool might conjure up if they could find the time between wine making sessions. Opener 'The Parting' also gets things off to a great start with its marching drum fade in, and the guest vocals of Silje Wergeland (of The Gathering), on 'The One You are Looking for is Not Here' provide some welcome contrast to Renske. For Katatonia fans this is going to be another welcome release from the Swedish group, and for their consistency they really should be applauded. The nagging feeling remains, however, that, in order to create a record that cements their reputation as one of the great metal bands of the age, Katatonia just need to go all out and delve into their experimental tendencies more than ever.

'Dead End Kings' is out on August 27th via Peaceville.

Katatonia tour the UK in December.

Katatonia UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon December 10th 2012 - O2 Academy Islington, London
Tue December 11th 2012 - Manchester Academy 3, Manchester
Thu December 13th 2012 - Limelight, Belfast
Fri December 14th 2012 - The Button Factory, Dublin
Mon December 17th 2012 - O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tue December 18th 2012 - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Wed December 19th 2012 - Talking Heads, Southampton
Thu December 20th 2012 - Fleece, Bristol

Click Here to Compare & Buy Katatonia Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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