Katatonia, one of the heavyweights of Scandinavian metal, are back with their tenth studio album, The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville, 2016). And, perhaps for the first time, they come with an album that may give them a mainstream spotlight three decades into their careers.
But that’s not a bad thing. Despite having worked with different sounds over their long career, they are widely regarded as a Doom Metal band. Some include Gothic or Death. But The Fall Of Hearts is neither. It can best be described as an entirely prog-rock album. And prog-rock is more likely to have a more widespread audience.
It is worth noting that since their last LP, Dead End Kings (Peaceville, 2012), the band went through two lineup changes. This is the first album that features drummer Daniel Moilanen and guitarist Roger Öjersson. Founding members Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström repear as a smart and inspired writer/producer duo.
The Fall Of Hearts, then, offers a mix swaying in between the more melodic version of Tool and a heavier Porcupine Tree. Vocally, growls are absent and replaced by soothing hooks, backed with powerful guitar riffs and thoughtfully restrained drum passages. Multi-tracked voices bring them front and center, highlighting them as the main musical event throughout.
The lyrics and themes still surround despair and loss, but the overall construction of the album makes them more appealing to a wider set of listeners. It should be interesting to hear opinions from a hardcore Katatonia fan (I’m not), but from a prog-rock perspective, this is a fitting evolutionary step for a band with more than 30 years experience in one of the more obscure circles of music (a feat easier said than achieved). Kudos and long life to you, Katatonia.
Catch them on tour.
Recommended tracks: Last Song Before The Fade, Takeover, Serein, Old Heart Falls.
Listen to The Fall Of Hearts below.