Friday, 24 June 2016

Katatonia - "The Fall of Hearts" (Album Review)

By: Phil Weller    

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/05/2016
Label: Peaceville Records


These songs are harmonised and bolstered by each member, with each instrument vital without ever dominating and as such, this feels like one of Katatonia’s most well rounded releases to date.  Ten albums in and they sound fresh, replenished and polished, throughout the album as a whole, are some perfectly placed and executed riffs. You feel a lot of the time they are holding back, never fully going for the jugular, and that caged beast approach makes these songs utterly compelling.

“The Fall of Hearts” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Takeover
2). Serein
3). Old Heart Falls
4). Decima
5). Sanction
6). Residual
7). Serac
8). Last Song Before The Fade
9). Shifts
10). The Night Subscriber
11). Pale Flag
12). Passer


The Review:

As I write this, I write on the dawn of a changed Britain. Amid the dramatic shifting of both the British and the European political landscape, there is, despite a majority vote for Britain to leave the EU, a gloomy sense of dread residing over this little island, a sense of not knowing where our future lies and how it will all pan out. Rain patters against my windows pane and Katatonia’s tenth studio album, ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ provides a fittingly greyscale soundtrack this morning.

Yet, beneath their frowns and sighs is a sense of hoping, a light piercing through the dark. From the raw emotion of the uplifting guitar leads in ‘Serac’ to the delicate doting of ‘Decima’, decorated by genteel acoustic and soothing strings, here is a record endorsed by the Swedish band’s worldly experience and musicianship. Ten albums in and they sound fresh, replenished and polished.     

The record starts to unfold instantly, Jonas Renkse, who also takes on co-production duties, purring atop cascading clean guitars. Sprinkled throughout the track, and indeed the album as a whole, are some perfectly placed and executed riffs. You feel a lot of the time they are holding back, never fully going for the jugular, and that caged beast approach makes these songs utterly compelling. These songs are harmonised and bolstered by each member, with each instrument vital without ever dominating and as such, this feels like one of Katatonia’s most well rounded releases to date. The light and shade of ‘Takeover’, which boats some excellent guitar work betwixt serene acoustics and dark, ominous piano introduces the album perfectly.

Preceeded by the aforementioned ‘Decima’, ‘Sanction’, hinging on a monster riff, benefits from the calm before the storm and stands as one of the record’s standout moments. ‘Passer’, for those wanting a little more meat and potato offers just that – more savagery in the form of relentless blast beats and gruff guitar work amongst the breezing vocals.

Yet, as much as there are stand out moments pocketed throughout the record, the greatest success is just how well it flows from start to finish: It sucks you in and before you know it all 12 tracks have passed by. This is achieved through their signature overcast atmosphere, that blackened mood that, contrary to first impressions, isn’t wholly surrendering. There is hope and an inner strength lurking within and on a day like today it is both cathartic and empowering. An excellent record.

The Fall of Hearts” is available here


Band info: facebook

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