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Katatonia: The Fall of Hearts

The kings of atmospheric/melancholy progressive rock & metal, Sweden's Katatonia, have returned after a four year break with a brand new album for Peaceville Records titled The Fall of Hearts. In addition, they've also made some personnel changes, with new guys Roger Ojersson (guitar) and Daniel Moilanen (drums) now firmly intrenched in the band. If you've followed Katatonia over the last decade or so, there won't be a hell of a lot of surprises here on The Fall of Hearts, as the album basically continues on with their style of brooding prog rock with occasional bursts of metallic energy. However, the songwriting continues to go in the direction of increased accessibility, and Jonas Renske's vocals are as astounding as ever in their clarity and emotional impact.

Kick off track "Takeover" is one of the heaviest tunes on the album, complete with a wicked, tumultuous riff that cascades over catchy grooves and a killer vocal hook. easily one of the most upbeat and addicting songs the band has recorded in some time. "Serein", "Decima", and "Old Heart Falls" follow familiar territory, Renske's gorgeous yet pained vocal delivery soaring over lilting guitar chords and prog rock keyboard tapestries, while "Sanction" brings forth some Opeth styled metal riffing that pops in and out of the arrangement in clever fashion. "Serac" also cranks up the metal side of things but features some great atmospherics, as always the band delivering big on the light & shade variance in their music, a style that is also successful on the moody yet crunchy "Last Song Before the Fade". Much of the remaining material here is of the deeply melancholy persuasion, dripping with atmosphere and seeing some gorgeous soundscapes being layered in by the band, with "The Night Subscriber" also featuring some chilling Mellotron and "Passer" dialing up heavy riffs and blinding drum work.

I've long had an issue with Katatonia's music being a tad too melancholy and lacking variety, with their last few albums being somewhat interchangeable and sounding eerily similar to each other. That hasn't necessarily changed here on The Fall of Hearts either; a few of these songs just kind of meander along in similar fashion, and again, there's perhaps a few too many tracks on the album, but, easily two-thirds of these songs are of a much higher quality than we've heard from Katatonia on their last few albums. Many of the melodies are so addictive and catchy, and when the band kick up the arrangements a notch, the riffs and rhythms are terrific, as are the keyboard layers. The good stuff here is really, really good, and the rest is still damn solid. I know I've tended to nit pick with this band a lot in recent years, which seems to go against the grain of most, but this is easily their best album since The Great Cold Distance, which came out 10 years ago. If you've loved everything Katatonia has done since Viva Emptiness, then surely The Fall of Hearts is going to make you quite happy, but if you are like me and been hit or miss with their output in recent years, this new one will be a pleasant surprise.

Track Listing

  1. Takeover [07:09]
  2. Serein [04:46]
  3. Old Heart Falls [04:22]
  4. Decima [04:46]
  5. Sanction [05:07]
  6. Residual [06:54]
  7. Serac [07:25]
  8. Last Song Before The Fade [05:01]
  9. Shifts [04:54]
  10. The Night Subscriber [06:10]
  11. Pale Flag [04:23]
  12. Passer [06:25]

Added: May 22nd 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2553
Language: english

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