Katatonia – “The Fall Of Hearts” (Peaceville Records)
One of the pillars of the early 90s doom death scene along with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, Sweden’s Katatonia have evolved over 25 years to become one of the leading names in dark progressive rock/metal today. “The Fall Of Hearts” is the band’s 10th album no less, and is grandiose in just about every way, from 12 tracks of epic length, through their complex layers and the atmospheric textures surrounding each and every one of them. Now with a new drummer in Daniel ’Mojjo’ Moilanen, the addition of recently recruited guitarist Roger Öjersson (Tiamat) has certainly made a difference especially in the increase use of solos along with plenty of flowing acoustics, delicate piano and a sprinkling of tablas. What it all adds up to is some of the most emotionally charged and powerfully atmospheric music you’re likely to ever hear, taking in dark rock, prog and of course doom death, which although not part of today’s staple, is like a brooding beast prowling the band’s dark periphery and occasionally taking a predatory foray into the circle of light. The effect is nothing short of musical bliss achieved through perfect artistic expression as your mind and body are hit by waves of ecstasy through dark, but uplifting and passionate sounds. It’s as if you’ve awoken from a long sleep and walked out of a misty forest to bask in the radiance of a beautiful sunrise. There is a fine balance between genius and madness and frankly I don’t know (or care) which it is that feeds Katatonia’s masterful ability to contrast dark brutality with ethereal tranquility – not only once but time and again, predictably here but then again, unpredictably there – it’s all over mesmerizing songs like ‘Serein’, ‘The Night Subscriber’ and ‘Passer’. Produced to match its superior standards by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Ihsahn, Devin Townsend) and engineer Karl Daniel Lidén (Switchblade, The Ocean, Greenleaf), along with artwork created by long time designer Travis Smith, “The Fall Of Hearts” brings together all the elements of Katatonia‘s career into one illustrious album.