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Katatonia: Night Is The New Day

With the release of their eighth studio album, Katatonia continues their path toward a more mainstream sound while still retaining the dark and melancholy feel that is their trademark. Jonas Renkse is at his gothic best delivering most of this album in a monotone that is as hypnotic as listening to waves crashing upon the shore. The moody, atmospheric nature of this package is a perfect blend to his catatonic type delivery.

The thunderous guitar that opens the album is something that you had better keep in memory as Katatonia seems to be drifting further from their metal roots and turning to a more keyboard driven sound. The heavy guitar laden opener "Forsaker" whets the appetite but then the band takes you down a completely different path where the crunch of before is used much more sporadically. Sure, "The Longest Year" and the best song on the disc, "Liberation" packs some punch but they seem to have gone a route where the brooding heavy six string work has given way to a much more melodic song structure. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The music to me is much more interesting than what we had received from them before.

That is, more interesting except for when they take this change of pace to the extreme like on the song "Inheritance" where they sound like a heavier version of Coldplay. I guess if they want to go mainstream then this is as close as you can get to that goal.

I guess that the problem is they push the mainstream button too much on this disc. Musically this album is still dark, just not as much as their other work. Lyrically, they are as melancholy and morose as ever. Sonically they are almost as depressing but in a much different way than before. Sometimes this works to their benefit such as on the haunting ""Departer" but at other times it makes they sound just blah.

As you can tell, this is a hard album to pin down and that is just what the band was after I suspect. There music has always been an ever changing work and this is no exception. It is going to take some by surprise and others are going to just fall in love with it. I am going to split the difference and say that it is a very good work but not their best. Maybe I am just in too good of a mood for this much depression.

Track listing:

1. Forsaker
2. The Longest Year
3. Idle Blood
4. Onward Into Battle
5. Liberation
6. The Promise Of Deceit
7. Nephilim
8. New Night
9. Inheritance
10. Day & Then The Shade
11. Departer

Added: February 28th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Page
Hits: 2682
Language: english

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Katatonia: Night Is The New Day
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-28 15:42:38
My Score:

The first thing that stands out on the first couple of listens is Jonas Renkse's amazing vocals. This partly stems from the fact that he has written nine of the eleven songs by himself, thus rendering it almost a solo album in a sense. This may lead one to think that the songs on this disc are somewhat samey offering little variation in their context. However, that is certainly not the case. The Katatonia sound is still intact here -- this album has such an emotional attachment to it, and its most rewarding moments have been hidden for the attentive listener.

It is only with repeat listens that the rest of the album reveals itself, hence why it seems less accessible than its predecessor, the incredibly amazing The Great Cold Distance. Where the previous album was a display of dynamics focusing on complex rhythmic patterns and nimble drumming, Night is the New Day is a thorough study in pure atmosphere. Tracks may seem rather one-dimensional in the beginning, but that is more likely the result of being engulfed by Renkse's otherworldly singing. This album is his pinnacle from a vocal standpoint, his deep, breathy, sparse vocals take on almost hypnotizing quality on each track, drawing you into the compositions like never before. He has never channeled so much colour and palpable emotion into his songs as he has on this album.

The songs have more resolution and character, and the compositions are more amorphous. The band no longer opts for the crushing quiet/loud dynamics heard on the previous disc. There is no effort to create huge, catchy choruses either, as each track on this disc is informed by pure, hollow emotion. Don't expect any choruses to leap out at you. It's not that there aren't any catchy vocal parts. On the contrary, they are in great abundance here. They have just been built into the tracks without stealing away from the rest of the composition. On "Inheritance", for instance, Renkse delivers the ultimately gripping chorus only towards the end of the composition. He sings: "Let them inherit this fire now | Lest they will forget that we were ever here." This just feels so right in the context of the song as it follows the tense trip-hop beats and precedes Nystrom's beautiful guitar theme -- and yet it stays with you for days on end.

The same thing applies to "New Night" or "The Longest Year", which would be a great representation of the current Katatonia sound. With its ever shifting dynamics (easily the best Katatonia production!), nuanced drumming, sparse yet supremely melodic vocal lines, this is one of their most patient and complete songs in their career. The passage where the analog synth note is held and streteched just after the first chorus is simply spellbinding. There is a wealth of nuance and subtlety to discover here, as the inner-song structures are actually smoother than ever.

This is not to say Night is the New Day consists of tracks alike. "Liberation" marries electronic elements with thick yet organic sounding guitars while "Idle Blood" recalls Opeth circa Damnation for its finger-picking acoustic guitars, harmonized vocals, and depth of the keys. Again, the guitar theme on this song is absolutely masterful. "Forsaker" stands out for its use of heavy guitar riffs and laidback verses, not to mention the great guitar tone and Rhodes piano in the mix.

"Nephilim" is the band's doomiest composition in years, perhaps since Brave Murder Day. Its huge, sludgy cascades of riffs and guitar feedback make it the darkest and most sinister number on the album, but the band prevent it from breaking the album's flow, as they insert weird, theatrical vocal melodies at the end -- I could swear there is a female vocalist singing along with Renkse in the outro, but the CD booklet won't confirm my theory.

Enter The Hunt's Krister Linder appears on the final song "Departer", easily the most moving track on the album. It is a very atmospheric song with an abundance of synth layers and Linder takes over the second half of the song concluding it with utmost emotion.

Kudos to Katatonia for not succumbing to the loudness war, and producing such an album. David Castillo's mix and engineering as well as Jens Bogren's mastering are in one word perfect. The level of detail in the songs is stunning and the album has more character in this respect than any other Katatonia release prior. Also, the artwork and packaging are great. I especially love the jewel case -- it's like Steven Wilson's solo album but comes in a cool cardboard box.

Mikael Akerfeldt certainly wasn't exaggerating when he proclaimed Night is the New Day "the greatest heavy record in the last ten years". Indeed, this is Katatonia's new masterpiece and it is bound to unlock new horizons for them. I can't wait to see what direction they will take with their next album.

Katatonia: Night Is The New Day
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-01-28 18:06:26
My Score:

Katatonia have been on quite a creative upswing the last few years, releasing one alluring album after another of stunning, melancholy soaked heavy metal that sees them getting closer and closer to wider acceptance. Night Is the New Day is their latest collection of doom & despair, a slightly less heavy affair than previous offerings yet no less dark, the band offering more accessible songs & vocal styles in what is a sure bet to open their music up to additional metal fans. That's not to say that Night Is the New Day is going to make all those U2, Coldplay, and Radiohead fans run out to pick a copy of this CD up, though in a perfect world, it should. Tunes like "Forsaker" and "The Longest Year" contain some pretty compelling melodies and catchy atmospheric moments, all housed within some doomy riffage, and there are plenty of lush acoustic guitar chords, dreamy Mellotron, and psychedelic, almost Pink Floyd influenced passages on "Idle Blood", "Onward Into Battle", and "The Promise of Deceit" to please most prog & psych fans. In that regard, it's almost hard to classify this as a 'metal' album-truth is, there's not a lot of thunder here, as the majority of Night Is the New Day sounds closer to mid-period Porcupine Tree than the crushing, doomy Katatonia we are used to. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as part of me thinks that the band kind of wore out that style and were ready for a slightly new direction.

If you can accept a Katatonia album with catchy vocal melodies, layers of electric & acoustic guitars, floating electronics, and a psychedelic, somber vibe, there's lots to like here.

Katatonia: Night Is The New Day
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-11-16 07:58:03
My Score:

Swedish metal group Katatonia was formed in 1991, and so far the band has unleashed eight studio albums, including this their latest CD Night Is The New Day. Interesting title... suppose that's ok if you don't like the sun light. Night Is The New Day is a complex and varied album, with strong delivery and suitable matching of vocals and musicianship.

"Forsaker" goes back and forth between a heavy and the mellower like Opeth vibe this album has at times, "The Longest Year" also has a placid start but once it comes to life as Katatonia dispel their breed of metal. There is so much positive press for this release, it took longer than expected, but after more spins Night Is The New Day's appeal shone through.

Night Is The New Day is an album with its good times, and there's no denying it sounds impressive, capturing that dark melancholy feeling atmosphere. It seems like the sort of gloomy album that requires ones undivided attention, from start to finish. Though overall, and yes the vocals styles are different with a more aggressive tone from Swallow The Sun, I'd have to go with the content on their CD New Moon over this.



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