Album Review: Katatonia – Dead End Kings

For Katatonia fans, the wait is over.  You know what I am talking about.  The new CD is probably in your hands and you are reading the liner notes or perhaps you have 12 digital files in your library and you are squinting at PDF liner notes on a screen.  You are probably thinking the same thing as me; damn this is some fine Katatonia!  Since the band announced they were recording new material in January 2012, it’s been a long eight months, but Dead End Kings is now upon us.  I, for one, have been anxiously awaiting the follow-up to Night Is The New Day released three damn long years ago – forgive my impatience.  As I breathe a sigh of relief I can safely say Dead End Kings hit the nail with the hammer.  But, this is Katatonia we are talking about; should there have ever been any doubt?

Almost immediately, the first thing I noticed about the album was the infusion of slightly more progressive elements with a few odd time signatures.  At the beginning of The Parting, the drum-work is what really gives me that impression.  It’s less melodic than say something you would hear on Last Fair Deal Gone Down which was melodic and groovy.  The drum-work that electrifies Dead End Kings seems more progressive than rock.  I think this is a fresh change.  The one thing that impresses me so much about Katatonia is that they have a core sound or a core genre and formula that stick to, but each album is still unique.  As I mentioned with the first track, this particular style carries on through The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here and Hypnone – three promising opening tracks.

At this point, I am thinking that touring with Opeth, who was supporting their very 70’s prog album Heritage, rubbed off on Katatonia a little bit. Though Dead End Kings is far from sounding 70’s, the prog-infusion is evident.  By the fourth song, The Racing Heart, you hear a song that is signature Katatonia; instantly recognizable, melancholy, beautiful, atmospheric, and somewhat reminiscent of their earlier works.  Buildings elevates the level of metal up a notch from the somber The Racing Heart to something that is similar to Forsaker or Evidence – though very much its own beast.

Ambitions is a song that starts off on the subdued side before it intensifies in such a way that makes for a powerful and dark dose of Katatonia.  From what I can decipher from the lyrics, the song is centered on a happier time before a bad breakup (possibly) which resulted in faded ambitions, confusion, and indecision.  Undo You is a very haunting song where Jonas’ vocals shine and send chills down your spine.  Because this song is a bit toned-down musically, your ear focuses much more on the lyrics and vocals.  It’s one of my top 3 songs on the album so far.

Lethean is a great rock song that could be in the same ballpark as Teargas from Last Fair Deal Gone Down – again only using other Katatonia songs for reference.  First Prayer and Dead Letters retain a higher level of intensity for a truly strong finish.  The Act of Darkening is the bonus track you get on the deluxe copy and pretty much an acoustic song with some percussion.  It is unlike anything I have heard Katatonia do before.  It’s a wonderfully arranged song and worth owning the deluxe edition just for this one extra song.  Overall, this is a remarkably solid 9th studio album.  In true Katatonia fashion, they stuck to their distinctive style and still managed to create an album with its own uniqueness.  I am not sure this tops my favorite Katatonia album Last Fair Deal Gone Down, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean Dead End Kings is lacking anything.

Release Date:  21 August 2012

Record Label:  Peaceville Records

Nationality:  Sweden

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About WarpRider

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on 2012-08-30, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Great cd, well-written review! I like reading something about every song.

  2. Ordered this one yesterday along with NITND. Katatonia had been recommended to me before and in response I picked up Tonight’s Decision – randomly came across it in a second-hand store, actually – and wasn’t terribly impressed. OK but nothing remarkable. By contrast, Dead Letters grabbed me immediately with its groovy guitar riffs and multiple twists in mood and pace. It’s the kind of epic emotional and sonic jourmey that Opeth or Porcupine Tree might luxuriate over for 10+ minutes, condensed into half that time but losing none of that power in the process. I was reminded of both those bands actually, especially by the mellow part ar 2.07 – 2.47 mind you Mikael Akerfeldt is best buds with both Renske and Wilson so they probably share a bit of inspiration around…

    If the rest of the album is as good as this I’ll be well pleased. (Not read a bad review yet, either.)

    • I am glad you are digging the new Katatonia. I don’t have the album Tonight’s Decision myself, I haven’t gone that far back. If you are looking for some back catalog albums, I highly recommend Last Fair Deal Gone Down. I am sure you can sample most, if not, all of that album on YouTube. Viva Emptiness is pretty good too. I do like that fact that you get a lot of what Opeth does without having to wait so long. I like long songs, but shorter ones are just as great too and Katatonia does a great job of putting powerful songs together with a reasonable amount of time.

      Most reviews are quite positive. I think Katatonia found one bad review and posted it to their facebook.

  3. I haven’t picked this up yet, but will be doing so very soon. It’s great to hear Katatonia are keepin on keepin on. I’m really digging the released single tracks, looking forward to hearing the whole thing. Great review!

  4. I ordered the album right after reading the review. Last fair gone down is also my favorite Katatonia album (I only have the ones since Tonight’s decision). And by the way I want to thank you for this site. It showed my some music I mabye never would have discorvered. Especially the brilliant Cormorant album, which isn’t (yet?) released in germany ( I’m from Germany, by the way: Sorry for all spelling mistakes). Thanks!

    • I am glad you liked the album and thank you for coming by and checking us out. As for Cormorant, you might be able to download it digitally from either their website or from a link at their website. http://www.facebook.com/#!/CormorantMusic/info

    • Thanks for reading our humble little blog and commenting! Means a lot to us! Danke!
      LFDGD is my fave Katatonia album too, and I got this record over the weekend and feel it’s one of their stronger offerings. Enjoy your listens!

      On Cormorant: Right now the only way to get the album is through the band or over Bandcamp. They are unsigned and 100% independent and even thought they’ve had offers to sign, they choose to remain as they are. You can get the CD through Bandcamp nice and easy, I live in Italy and it came to about 15 euros for the CD (which has some awesome packaging and artwork), shipping, and a digital download of the record. You can get your own copy here: http://cormorant.bandcamp.com/ (if you’re just interested in a digital download, it’s ‘name your price’, even free if you wish, but you’ll toss them a few euros though, right :)

  5. To Problem with Bandcamp is, that I don’t have a Creditcard and I’m not really a friend of PayPal. I know that nowadays it seems to make it impossible to buy some music. As far as I know PayPal is gathering data and has given data to US Departement of Homeland Security. Your not allowed to sue if you’ve been defrauded by the seller. They also reserve the right to freeze your money etc, etc.

    So I guess I should get a credicard ;-P

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