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Katatonia: Viva Emptiness

My fellow BW&BK scribe (and boss) Chris Bruni described this album as "a masterpiece for the ages." Whether or not this description sounds hyperbolic even by metal scribe standards, well, that's a decision to be reached by the ages, I suppose. The specifity of this masterpiece (and it is) deserves clear focus. The Swedish doom metal outfit has passed beyond the promise of their debut to crystalize into one of two great bands striving for a seat on metal's highest throne-- the other one, naturally, being Opeth. But more about them soon!

"Ghost of the Sun" sets the quality standard that the rest of the album more than exceeds. The Beatlesque harmonies are just the beginning. And not to profane any purist ears, but if you can stand the thought of emopunks The Ataris, whose videos blanket MTV and annoying popups dominate MP3 sites -- anyway, if you can stand the thought of The Ataris being cited in the same breath as Swedish doom, well, let's just say these guys are on the same page, a page called nostalgia.

Let's be blunt: if you have a heart, Katatonia will break it. Whether it's the mournfully accepting Beatles reference in "Ghost of the Sun" -- "You said hello/I said goodbye," or it's charging chief riff, like a crystal shard through hope's molecular structure, or the way Jonas Renske's voice breaks like fragile glass and coheres around a cool determination; whether it's "the way the light hits the room" in "Criminals," in which love and its denial are coded in the discourse of penalism [check out Foucault's Discipline and Punishfor more on this]; or the coda, "Inside the City of Glass," which as the 13th song at the same time completes the cycle begun on "Ghost" -- there's so many layers, and rich at that, on this album that all I can say further is, buy it and cherish it. Chris is right.

Added: April 11th 2003
Reviewer: Alex S. Johnson
Score:
Related Link: The Official Katatonia Website
Hits: 3095
Language: english

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