A Year’s Reflection On Katatonia

A Year’s Reflection On Katatonia

Katatonia was formed in Stockholm Sweden in 1991 by Anders Nystrom and Jonas Renkse. I was a late comer, having not heard them until 2009 and their 8th studio album Night Is The New Day. I would certainly have become a fan years before had I been exposed sooner. I worked my way back into their catalog one album at a time and pretty much lost interest in anything prior to 2003′s Viva Emptiness. While I acknowledge that a lot of the older material is good music, it just doesn’t resonate with me and I find it inferior to what came on Viva Emptiness and everything after. What started out as a death/doom metal band slowly transformed into a melancholy-drenched progressive metal band. While still very heavy at times, Katatonia’s overall creative approach became much more melodic and diverse and their songwriting had matured to a level of sophistication and perfection few bands ever achieve.

While I was still riding the glory days of their fellow countrymen Opeth, Katatonia didn’t get my full attention, though I did keep up with their new releases. Once Opeth started going down a creative path I had no interest in I was able to focus more on Katatonia. I had already got to the point where their music was reliable, and regardless of the time and place it was always music I’d gravitate to. Dead End Kings was not as good as their previous two albums, but as is common for me, over time I grew to appreciate the songs more. When The Fall Of Hearts came out in May of 2016 I was initially underwhelmed. I had a certain level of expectations, but the first few listens were more or less boring to me. Most of the musical ideas and melodies just seemed too subtle and I couldn’t quite grasp onto them. However, Katatonia’s music still offered a whole different vibe than most other stuff I listened to and I continued to listen to the new album.

I’m not sure when or why it happened, but at some point during the summer The Fall Of Hearts finally clicked for me. I literally went from it boring me to having a great craving for the album that now seemed genius. From that point on I delved very deep into their other albums and started realizing just how much their songs spoke to me musically and lyrically. Today I regard Katatonia as my favorite band and their music the soundtrack to my soul. If I had to leave society and abandon all my music aside from one band, I’d take my six Katatonia albums. I don’t generally project my inner deep melancholy to the rest of the world, but Katatonia’s music perfectly compliments that part of myself.

Some years ago I went to go see Opeth in concert and Katatonia opened for them. I was pretty excited about that, as there are few bands anymore that I want to see that I haven’t seen. While their sound was good and their musicianship was excellent I came away from the experience unimpressed from a stage presence point of view. All I can really remember now is that Jonas just stood relatively motionless at the front of the stage the entire set, with his hair covering his face like Cousin Itt from the Addams Family. Essentially, I would rather have just listened to them on CD at home. So, a few years later when I heard they were coming back to Denver on a headlining tour for the Fall Of Hearts I had no expectations. However, I was so consumed by their music by then that I just couldn’t say no. When they finally hit the stage I was a bit shocked. It was like watching an entirely different group of guys. Despite the somber core of their music, they genuinely seemed happy and were so much more energetic than the previous time I saw them.  New drummer Daniel Moilanen was outstanding, and new second guitarist Roger Ojersson filled out what is ultimately now a line-up with great presence live. They held my complete attention all night, which is rare for any band, and I reveled in every minute of their performance, which featured songs from six different albums going back to 2001. Even during their set, and certainly at the end of their performance, they seemed extremely grateful for our patronage, especially in light of another competing metal show the same night. The crowd size was decent, though. Not packed, but filled out. Comfortable, really, and it just made for a more intimate night without some of the annoyances of a sold out show. I even bought a shirt, which I never do anymore. With this band I didn’t think twice about spending $25 on a t-shirt. Bands don’t make near the money they used to from album sales, so touring and merchandise literally keep them financially afloat. Plus, it was a bad-ass design. I’ll be wearing this one proudly.

Denver. They have been taking these shots at every show on tour. My devil horns are somewhere in the background.