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KATATONIA – “City Burials” (Peaceville Records)

Slow Tempos and Softer Atmospheres in Katatonia’s City Burials Album

Katatonia’s creative somber voice remains but prog and metal elements take the back burner with their 11th full-length album City Burials. Their unique song structures and intricacy in layers are definitely at the forefront in almost every track but overall, the sound is more rock oriented compared to recent albums in the last few years.

A big thing that is noticeable is half of the songs lack peaks and valleys. There are few buildups or twist and turns. It’s all sort of neutral. Another big aspect to this album is the songs are more condensed in length compared to their previous one The Fall of Hearts which had longer numbers and choruses that stuck first listen.

There are hooks here and there on City Burials but it is more subtle and makes you wanting to re-wind it right away. It would have more of a lasting impact if those parts correlated with the rest of the song but on some, it just fizzles out.

All harsh critiques aside there are still some notable tracks on the album. “Heart Set To Divide” the album’s opener gives off their familiar melancholic vibes with amazing harmonized vocals and ethereal keys in the background. “Lacquer” is a great example of Jonas Renkse’s extraordinary vocal range particularly in the chorus part of the song.

A song that stands out from the others guitar riff wise would have to be the bluesy “Reign”. There are even hints of doom metal here in there that give it an ominous direction. Another special track was “Vanishers” where Anni Bernhard from Full of Keys does guest vocals with an alluring harmony on the chorus.

But of all of them “Flicker” is the most moving, dark, and captivating. There is a menacing theme through parts of the song but it keeps treading forward. A really cool key change happens for a few seconds as well. Towards the end of the song there is a laid-back guitar solo that goes for a little and then comes to a sudden holt. Then eerie electronic effects arrive and soft-spoken words lead to a belting singing note accompanied by massive guitar chords and persistent drumming. A guitar phaser lead effect weaves in and out over all this, putting forth a powerful trance.

For some reason the last three tracks of the album “Lachesis”, “Neon Epitaph”, and “Untrodden” didn’t seem to give much momentum and left a dull ending. Coming up with a score is a hard one on this album but the notable tracks outweigh all the downsides of the record which gives it a 7 out of 10 for me. But who knows this album can grow overtime.

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Author: Tom Sundgren

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