Dead End Kings by Katatonia (Peaceville Records)
For their ninth album Katatonia continue to craft uplifting and contemplative songs in equal measure, creating catharsis out of chugging guitars and delicate keyboards and whispered and haunting vocals.
Dead End Kings opens with The Parting, starting things out on a fast rocking note then lulling you to a woozy state, then pinching you a few more times with rock guitars just to keep you aware the music is still playing. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here keeps your attention with a steady mid tempo and the addition of The Gathering vocalist Silje Wergeland harmonizing beautifully with Jonas Renske’s anguished delivery.
Hypone floats on strings and electric piano, gathering power with Daniel Liljekvist’s harder percussion and chugging guitars. The Racing Heart is rather catchy with swelling strings and various keyboards by Anders Nystrom and guitars bouncing around in the background, Renske singing about storms and sun with conviction.
Buildings stuns simply because it reminds you of how hard Katatonia can rock, inviting you to bang your head to the precision starts and stops of the dynamic arrangements, the instruments dropping out for a breath before the whole band tears it up once again. Lethean acheives a dark beauty, Nystrom playing textured guitar scratches one second, then soloing with a throaty tone the next, showcasing his and Per Eriksson’s guitar talents throughout.
Playing driving metal, keyboard-led pastorals and progressive space rock, Katatonia encapsulate all that they are, Jenske crooning and soothing, then anguished and angry, the whole band dramatic and thrilling.
Katatonia are headlining the “Epic Kings and Idols” tour now with Devin Townsend Project, Paradise Lost and Stolen Babies through September.
(Review by Bret Miller)