on November 10, 2009
I just had to add to the other five-star reviews here, and say that this is a stunning album from this sadly underrated band (at least here in the United States of Musical Ignorance), but hopefully will still bring them the acclaim they deserve. My immediate response upon hearing this was that it was the album I've been waiting for Katatonia to make since I first heard Last Fair Deal Gone Down. While I loved the previous two releases (especially Viva Emptiness) I didn't hear the sheer creativity of composition evident in Last Fair Deal, and while that has remained my favorite Katatonia record, it is also a bit underwhelming in the production department - great songs and lots of atmosphere, but all beneath a sort of muddy curtain of sound. This new one is crisp and defined in the production department, while overall being perhaps their least heavy album ever. Don't let the first song Forsaker fool you. After that, you'll hear an album full of contrasts: heavy passages, acoustic interludes, electronics, keyboards, and what I believe to be, the always-awesome mellotron! Jonas Renske's vocals are also the best I've heard from him yet - still monotone-ish (in that great Katatonia way) and as always haunting and moody. But there seems to be a new approach to the singing on these songs that makes the vocals fit with the music better than ever before. You may actually be surprised at how mellow and laid back some of these songs are, but rest assured, it's still Katatonia all the way. In a just world, they would be the biggest metal band on the planet right now. A great, great album!
on November 10, 2009
Its a rare feat for an album to so absolutely encompass beauty and darkness, and the overall atmosphere that goes with those to subjects. Then it goes without saying that 'Night is the New Day' is one of but a handful that scratch that itch with exactly the right sound and depth.
This album is so diverse in the way it sounds and yet so cohesive that it truly blew me away the first listen through. I put it on again and listened to it all the way through a second time and started to see this landscape of emotion that Katatonia have created, and it floored me. It all flows together so well, and builds to the emotional crescendo on "Departer", where Krister Linder adds his haunting vocals to the mix. Its hard not to be touched at some level by almost all of the songs on the album. "Forsaker" opens the album aggresively enough to shake you but is gentle enough to lure you in to a sense of uneasy calm, then your led into "The Longest Year" which is going to be considered a standout song in Katatonia's career for years to come. "Liberation" is another track that rips into you and demands you peer into its soul and all the while it refuses to let go giving you the sense of despair Jonas Renske is conveying.
Other stand out tracks: Let me say, I find it very VERY hard to say that all the tracks on any album are excellent, but in this case I can't single out any song that I wouldn't listen to. I can spin this album all the way through, then put it on again without batting an eye. I can't praise Katatonia and crew enough for putting out something of this magnitude, and I can say with the utmost certainty that this will go down as one of the great albums for this entire genre of music, and definately one of the bright highlights of the bands career.
Say what you will, but this album is a no brainer purchase and one of the best albums in the past few years... and is proof enough that taking the time to carefully create something can pay off in spades.
There is a very special place in my heart for Katatonia. About three years ago I randomly picked up the album "Viva Emptiness," and was treated to a magical formula of pretty fresh hard rock/metal combined with the most superb penmanship from one Jonas Renske. Katatonia dislodged "Misery Loves Co." as this writer's favorite band of all time. Katatonia filled a void for something I didn't realize I was lacking; somber, melancholic--darkness. (For my definition of "dark," the lyrics to "Criminals" should suffice.)
Their last album took this to a whole different plane, though the theme wasn't quite as dark as the subject matter on songs such as say, "Criminals," the musicianship was pushed another notch, and Renske still pens verbal poetry like a gothic madman.
I put all that down to give you, the reader, what I was expecting when I eagerly found out that "Night is the New Day" was dropping in November. I was expecting quite a bit...
The first track, "Forsaker," is hands down the most melodic Katatonia song I've ever heard... the rather simplistic initial guitar riff offset by a strong harmonic chorus of singing that powers through the mix. And the lyrics... "The dark will rise, dread the new freedom! Give up the right to find your true self; Forsake your own reason..." then softly singing the accusation: "forsaker... forsaker...!" The song mellows out again for a very Pink-Floydish solo before repeating the chorus... the song moving for another nice melodic section carrying another new musical theme.
Though, the first set of lyrics I thought I'd heard was "The dark will rise, grant the new freedom, devour the right to find your true self; forsake your only son..." As you can tell there is a great deal of difference between what I expected and what is actually there. These lyrics are completely different from each other.
The title track displays more electronics than the band has dabbled in before, and is good in its own right. Track 3, "Idle Blood," is a very "Porcupine Tree" kind of song, turning reminiscent of Opeth's "Damnation" album about 3:30 or so, with synth strings and Rhodes-like organ moving to completion.
Overall this album displays a much broader range of musical ability, lost quite a bit since "The Last Fair Deal Gone Down." Not that I'm slamming the last two albums by any stretch, but this is probably the best comparison album for general style.
Track 5 starts to pick up energy again, the band chugging in some simple drop-d-tuned-down to A before moving into another broad and open expanse of intricate melody. Electro-industrial kicks in a bit at 2:30 leading up to an interlude that starts to remind me yet again of Opeth at 3:00.
The biggest surprise to me is the song "Promise of Deceit." This song starts out with a very industrial beginning and slowly fades in some complexity in the form of some pretty and clean arpeggiated electric guitar. It is slightly reminiscent of "Soil's Song" when all is said and done, though nowhere near as dirge-like. Another favorite for me is the epic "Ashen," a song that combines elements from nearly the entire past ten years of their work. The album closer, "Departer," almost conjures a bit of Bjork as Jonas invokes a falsetto before the album ends on a very mysterious and haunting note.
In conclusion, though this album is by no means anywhere near as dark as the last two... they make up for this in the quality of musicianship; they've outclassed themselves on every level on this album. I have to say I do miss the ultra-dark and heavy atmosphere promised by "Forsaken," hinting at the previous two albums... but I would be a hypocrite if I stood here and bitched that they didn't write another version of either of those. I wish it was darker, but that's personal preference getting in the way of objectivity. This album is a big step forward to a new plane for the band; it sounds like absolutely nothing they've done before, and though I can't say I love it as much as the previous two, I give credit where its due, and this might be one of the best of the year in terms of style and scope.
on September 4, 2011
Streamlining their approach to a conventional form of elegiac despondency, Katatonia's Night is the New Day essentially continues the stylistic agenda of 2006's The Great Cold Distance, with the same flawless studio production but with less variety in arrangements, tempo, and expressive tone. It is a more consistent effort in terms of its specific mood centering, which involves a concentrated regularity in the application of its defining elemental components, as well as a more repetitive concept in songwriting. This is more a refinement of previous ideas than an exploration of new discoveries within the framework of those ideas. The trademark melancholic sound is intact, but this album maintains a more reflective quality essentially absent of their familiar desperate anxiety. It exudes a depressive aura of darkened scenes in a subdued and brooding sound that has long served as their defining characteristic, though the distress is noticeably muted this time around, restraining the emotional fluctuation for a more contemplative treatment of withdrawal and hopelessness.
"The dark will rise
Abandon your freedom
Give up the right to find the true self
Forsake your own reasons"
The songs are unified by an elusive sense of distance which is limited in its vastness by over-reliance on the exhausted loud/quiet dynamic of which Katatonia's variations on pop-style songwriting have increasingly assimilated as a formula. There are no real standout tracks, and though a surrounding melody navigates each song with fluid motion and their penchant for strong hooks remains, songs as a whole are less distinctive than before. A few songs feature vague and ephemeral progressive rock-style deviations, most of which seem oddly disconnected from the conceptual source and used merely for a symbol of thematic variation. This particular feature will not silence the largely lazy and superficial Opeth comparisons, particularly descriptive however of "Idle Blood", an acoustic-based window-gazer of a song which sounds like a lost track from Damnation.
"the unforgiving void
the forge in which our values burn
the resting leech
our thinning minds
in my abstinence I turn to nothing"
To communicate his pessimistic and dejected perspectives on identity and experience, Jonas Renkse uses a nearly unchanging tone of reflective resignation in his disconsolate melodic singing voice without any real dynamic expressive changes. The singing is well-delivered and competently performed, but strangely vacant emotionally. This is not to say he is unengaged with the emotional fabric of the song, but that fabric, compartmentalized in experiential fragments into deeply considered events defined by emotional responses, is detached from any kind of discernable passionate urgency in a relinquished state of distant consideration. This holds true for the guitarwork as well, which is as expressive and mood-reflective as always, with frequent use of atmospheric resonance and clean melodic lines over faintly ominous riffs, which are too often mired in the rigid rhythmic thickness of modern style metalcore riffing to produce a sublime effect to enhance the dramatic substance of the song's concept. Like the album as a whole, the guitarwork is consistent to a fault, and the riffs and melodies are not as compelling as previous material. Keyboards provide subtle shading of atmospheric illuminations and vaguely psychedelic accents, effectively arranged according to rhythmic and melodic shapes from guitar. The music moves at an almost unwavering slow to mid-tempo, with very precise and tight drumming in a conventional rhythmic construction, never really increasing or decreasing its motion in any substantial alteration of movement. When they demonstrated more intensity of atmospheric presence and melodic lucidity, as on 1998's Discouraged Ones, this ordinary form of rhythm was supportive and natural in its minimalist framework, but here, when the melodic ideas and atmospheric sense are less profound, this kind of rhythmic repetition is a hindrance to the general sense of motion as related to concept.
"make a brand new vow
in the heat of the evening
the darkness swarms
i was nothing, ever"
A growing profile and increased touring, along with the advancing obligations of adult life, have resulted in a less prolific Katatonia, with Night is the New Day only their second full-length release in nearly seven years. One might also suggest a particular decrease in creative inspiration during this phase of their career. This is a darkly pleasant and easily engaging album boasting a sound that will appeal to fans of the band's work over the past decade or so, but it ultimately lacks a sense of creative purpose and motivation, and for that reason will prove to be less enduring. They do not sound like a band that is still striving to reach the essence of their objective, but rather resting on past developments as if the essence has already been achieved and they keep playing because it is what they do. The album never becomes profound or even mildly penetrating, with its continued investigation of sadness and disconnection functioning more as late-night background music for surrendering the dream to another time.
on February 28, 2010
The first thing that stands out on the first couple of listens is Jonas Renkse's amazing vocals. This partly stems from the fact that he has written nine of the eleven songs by himself, thus rendering it almost a solo album in a sense. This may lead one to think that the songs on this disc are somewhat samey offering little variation in their context. However, that is certainly not the case. The Katatonia sound is still intact here -- this album has such an emotional attachment to it, and its most rewarding moments have been hidden for the attentive listener.
It is only with repeat listens that the rest of the album reveals itself, hence why it seems less accessible than its predecessor, the incredibly amazing The Great Cold Distance. Where the previous album was a display of dynamics focusing on complex rhythmic patterns and nimble drumming, Night is the New Day is a thorough study in pure atmosphere. Tracks may seem rather one-dimensional in the beginning, but that is more likely the result of being engulfed by Renkse's otherworldly singing. This album is his pinnacle from a vocal standpoint, his deep, breathy, sparse vocals take on almost hypnotizing quality on each track, drawing you into the compositions like never before. He has never channeled so much colour and palpable emotion into his songs as he has on this album.
The songs have more resolution and character, and the compositions are more amorphous. The band no longer opts for the crushing quiet/loud dynamics heard on the previous disc. There is no effort to create huge, catchy choruses either, as each track on this disc is informed by pure, hollow emotion. Don't expect any choruses to leap out at you. It's not that there aren't any catchy vocal parts. On the contrary, they are in great abundance here. They have just been built into the tracks without stealing away from the rest of the composition. On "Inheritance", for instance, Renkse delivers the ultimately gripping chorus only towards the end of the composition. He sings: "Let them inherit this fire now | Lest they will forget that we were ever here." This just feels so right in the context of the song as it follows the tense trip-hop beats and precedes Nystrom's beautiful guitar theme -- and yet it stays with you for days on end.
The same thing applies to "New Night" or "The Longest Year", which would be a great representation of the current Katatonia sound. With its ever shifting dynamics (easily the best Katatonia production!), nuanced drumming, sparse yet supremely melodic vocal lines, this is one of their most patient and complete songs in their career. The passage where the analog synth note is held and streteched just after the first chorus is simply spellbinding. There is a wealth of nuance and subtlety to discover here, as the inner-song structures are actually smoother than ever.
This is not to say Night is the New Day consists of tracks alike. "Liberation" marries electronic elements with thick yet organic sounding guitars while "Idle Blood" recalls Opeth circa Damnation for its finger-picking acoustic guitars, harmonized vocals, and depth of the keys. Again, the guitar theme on this song is absolutely masterful. "Forsaker" stands out for its use of heavy guitar riffs and laidback verses, not to mention the great guitar tone and Rhodes piano in the mix.
"Nephilim" is the band's doomiest composition in years, perhaps since Brave Murder Day. Its huge, sludgy cascades of riffs and guitar feedback make it the darkest and most sinister number on the album, but the band prevent it from breaking the album's flow, as they insert weird, theatrical vocal melodies at the end -- I could swear there is a female vocalist singing along with Renkse in the outro, but the CD booklet won't confirm my theory.
Enter The Hunt's Krister Linder appears on the final song "Departer", easily the most moving track on the album. It is a very atmospheric song with an abundance of synth layers and Linder takes over the second half of the song concluding it with utmost emotion.
Kudos to Katatonia for not succumbing to the loudness war, and producing such an album. David Castillo's mix and engineering as well as Jens Bogren's mastering are in one word perfect. The level of detail in the songs is stunning and the album has more character in this respect than any other Katatonia release prior. Also, the artwork and packaging are great. I especially love the jewel case -- it's like Steven Wilson's solo album but comes in a cool cardboard box.
Mikael Akerfeldt certainly wasn't exaggerating when he proclaimed Night is the New Day "the greatest heavy record in the last ten years". Indeed, this is Katatonia's new masterpiece and it is bound to unlock new horizons for them. I can't wait to see what direction they will take with their next album.
on November 12, 2009
Truly amazing! Haunting. Honestly, I think after all these years Katatonia has finally found their niche. This is by far my favorite album of theirs. The opening of this album is truly awe inspiring! I was blown away when I heard the opening riff! One of the coolest metal riffs I've heard in a while. As I normally do, I started listening to this for the first time while doing some circuits homework. After hearing the opening song I soon realized almost an hour had passed and I hadn't done any homework. It captured my attention and I couldn't focus on anything else. This is truly a beautifully depressing artistic masterpiece. The atmosphere completely envelopes the senses and captivates entirely. Obviously Opeth comes to mind, but I hate making comparisons that everyone uses. If I had to make a comparison I would say a mix of Riverside and Paradise Lost. Honestly, I can't find the right words now to describe this album. All I can say is buy it!!! By far my one of my favorite releases of the year.
on February 15, 2010
When Mikael Akerfeldt, the genius behind Opeth, lauds a band, you can rest assured they're going to be good. Even with that glowing endorsement, this reviewer was amazed at how good Katatonia's "Night Is The New Day" is. It's the first Katatonia CD I've owned, and it will not be the last by a long shot.
I don't know what it is about Scandinavia that makes bands so uncompromisingly heavy and brutal, like the legendary Emperor or Mayhem, or a mix of heavy/melancholy that sounds like the band never sees sunlight. For those who like the moodier side of Opeth and Akerfeldt's clean vocals, which are some of the best in any genre anywhere better than the death metal growling he also still does, Katatonia is the place to go. This Swiss outfit redefines the term morose, and layers slabs of very heavy guitar over lush spacey keyboards, and also delights in quiet ethereal passages that move in like a fog on a moonlit night. The vocals are soft and weary, as if Jonas Renske has resigned his fate to whatever abyss he thinks it's plunging. It's very haunting and some might even call it depressing.
But don't be misled. The musicianship is beyond reproach, and the sonic mix at times reflects the ambience of early Porcupine Tree and as stated before, the quieter side of Opeth, especially the underrated "quiet" album "Damnation". But the sound is its own, and never gets out of hand or too proggy for its own good. Katatonia is not a wanker band.
"Night Is The New Day" will also appeal to Pink Floyd fans, especially around the "Meddle" era before Roger Waters started inserting a decidedly twisted bent to the later works. It's a beautiful piece of music that will last for years.
on December 24, 2009
My title pretty much sums up the vibe of the album. It is a great listen but I find that it has more of an appeal for background/meditative music or moods. If you are looking for catchy songs with a lot of dynamics then look elsewhere, but if you want to soak up an hours worth of dark melancholy with some heavy undertones and almost mid-evil chant-like textures with a splash of prog metal thrown in then this is a great find. The textures and layering on this album are gorgeous and my hats go off to the producer(s) of this album. The musicianship is spot on and fits the mood of the album throughout. Drumming is stellar, keys are subtle, guitar is there but not in the forefront and plays a supporting role to the vocals here. I will say I wish the vocals were a bit more dynamic and not so monotone but...I guess that was what they were going for ...like I said it's almost chat-like in its vocal style.
Bottom line: this is a great album, rich and full, layered with emotions of sorrow and melancholy with a heavy edge to it. One of the better albums of the year. Solid 4 stars.
on August 18, 2010
One mark of a ground breaking album is its ability to confound the idea of the mold that it is supposed to fit in. "Night is the New Day" does exactly that. Katatonia have always sort of skirted around what could be considered by most to be truly metal, but this album sets that boundary in stone and manages to be brutally heavy without blast beats and insane speed riffs. Haunting is the most apt description of something that can barely be described in words. Softer Opethian qualities infused with Jonas Renske's eerily soothing vocal offerings leave one wondering just how metal this album really is? But it is so very, very metal my friends and that dichotomy leaves a BIG mark in the world of heavy music. You won't be able to get this album out of your head, it's an addiction. A solid 5 star album and one of the best of 2009.
on November 29, 2009
Puts any so called metal/rock/doom metal/death metal bands to shame! If you are a big fan of Porcupine Tree like I am or any similar band this is as close you would ever get to Porcupine-Tree-caliber-music! My second most favorite band after PT. Interestingly, in the most recent, The Incident Tour of PT they supported PT in their Euro-Leg of the world-wide tour.
Now lets, talk about this album, absolutely amazing from beginning to the end. Kept me on the edge of my seat. I so mesmerized and fascinated by the dark, textured and most melodious music you would ever find which is out of this world! Like I said, they are the closest thing to PT and still very unique and most beautiful in their own rights.
Don't miss this...or you would seriously regret that you did not discover them early enough!!!