on June 1, 2004
Being bored to tears of the American music scene, listening to pretty much only Tool, I came across Opeth last year and immediately bought all of their CDs and have listened to little else for many months. Since then I have been scouring the internet, when I had a chance, hoping to find another Opeth. This has proved far more daunting that I originally thought it would. I have searched for, and listened to, internet samples of scores of bands and just have not found anything that compares to the brilliance of Opeth and Tool. Don't get me wrong, I have found several solid bands in genres such as death metal, gothic metal, power metal, black metal, etc, etc...whatever you want to call them, mostly from northern Europe. But nothing as addictive as the two afore-mentioned bands. But last week I came across Katatonia and thought I had seen an Opeth member wearing one of their T-shirts so of course I had to check them out. I went out and bought Viva Emptiness and it is all I have listened to for a week now. I am a big Cure fan, especially their more depressing stuff, like Pornography and Faith and Disintigration. I liken this to the Cure on steroids. Meloncholy Metal? Whatever you want to call it, it is awesome stuff. Jonas' voice is perfect and the music is fantastically dismal yet dense and catchy at the same time. Check this group out. I must warn though that I have listened to a lot of their stuff now and really only like the latest releases that sound more like this CD. I don't really care a lot for their older death metal material. It is OK but nothing stellar in that genre...and the death vocals are kind of weak in my opinion, but of course after listening to Opeth all other death metal style vocals sound weak I guess. If anyone can growl like Akerfeldt, I have yet to hear them.
on July 10, 2004
This is the first Katatonia release I've purchaced. I am very impressed. "Viva Emptiness" has a very emotional feel to it, and the songs really grow on you. Iwas very sceptical at first listen, but over time, I've come to appreciate this, and hold it in very high regard....
There is no doubt that Katatonia knows how to attract various listeners of different Metal styles. I've been a metalhead for over 20 years now, and I've experimented with almost every scene from Maiden to Rush to Opeth to Motely Crue to The Cure. I'd have to say that Katatonia is a great blend of all types, and if you have an open mind towards different types, you should find "Viva Emptiness" not only unique, but very enjoyable...
on June 14, 2006
My first experience with Katatonia was with Viva Emptiness. I was not sure what to expect, I heard they were similar to Opeth and Anathema. Let me say that this is nothing like either band. I cannot really compare Katatonia to any other band, as they have a sound of their own. They are one of the most unique bands I have ever heard. Criminals is such a powerful song. The lyrics to Evidence almost made me cry when I first heard. This is a really emotional album.
Ghost of the Sun: 10/10
Criminals: 10/10 (My favorite Katatonia song ever)
A Premonition: 10/10
Will I Arrive: 9/10
Burn the Resembrance: 10/10
One Year From Now: 10/10
Walking By A Wire: 9/10
Inside The City Of Glass: 7/10
Total: 121/130 = 9.3/10
Don't hesitate to buy Viva Emptiness if you like Opeth, Anathema or Dark Tranquillity. They have their similarities, but Katatonia is a totally unique band. Recommended.
on March 13, 2008
Katatonia is probably THE most unique band in the underground metal scene, I wish these guys could get more recognition than they do. Their style is a mix between heavy and somber, slow and mid-paced, with mainly clean vocals and mainly distorted guitar, but they use the clean guitars a lot more often than their peers. There is some incredible songwriting on this release, lots of dual guitar work but not what you'd expect. They are as progressive as Tool or Dream Theater, heavy as Venom or "...Puppets" era Metallica, somber like Opeth or Pink Floyd, but also sometimes catchy like Black Sabbath, CKY, Black Label Society or Lacuna Coil. If you like ANY of the bands I mentioned, or bands like Perfect Circle, Rush, even Korn, Godsmack or Disturbed, you will definitely like Katatonia!!
on May 13, 2003
How do you describe this excellent Swedish band?? Metal? Not really, 'cause they transcend that genre, much like other similarly experimental "heavy" bands like Tool, for instance. Gothic? Not really, as they do have a darkness to their music while their vocalist is soaring and melodic. As much as I loved their last (also incredible!) album "Last fair deal gone down", I found the sound to be muddy and one-dimensional - great album bogged down by powerful yet poorly mixed production. This one, though, really raises their own bar to a standard that few "hard" releases I've heard this year can come near. Overall, a very heavy album, but interspersed by lots of quiet, beautifully melodic passages, that then explode again into a wall of sound that is as powerful as anything you're gonna hear out of any band here in the U.S. - the difference is that the heaviness is polished and strangely....non-aggressive! Every song's a winner! One of my top 5 of the year!!
on October 8, 2003
katatonia continues to impress. songs like Ghost of the sun, Criminals, premonition, will i arrive, one year from now, evidence, omerta and the closing, intensely dismal Inside the city of glass, will make you gape in awe. This album is definitely going to stand the test of trends and time. Katatonia's music has gained in layering as their compositions now contain more variation than their previous releases (known for their minimalism). the contrast in the music is more apparent here as one song would have some of the most soothing lines then, blasts back in with frenzied fury (one year from now, will i arrive, evidence). this alternation makes 'viva emptiness' the most varied of katatonia's albums. their depiction of the "urban bleakness" is unique, unparalelled. an inexorable feeling of loneliness and despair gets hold of you the further you go into the music. by the way the album's title is one of the most cynical, disillusioned and ironic i've ever come across.
ever since "brave murder day", katatonia have perfected this particular lyrical style that i could safely call their own; lyrics seem to emanate from a deranged mind, a mind sick of and helplessly imprisoned in an urban labirynth of routine, illusion, false feelings (I can never stress enough on this one!) and deceit. the imagery evoked by the music reminds me of an underground illustrated Belgian publication called "Les Cites Obscures", as well as P. Druillet's "Nosferatu". if you come across these books, i advise you to read them as compagnons to the later three katatonia albums. i honestly prefer this album over "last fair deal..." (even though it's a very, very good album). here it seems that the band has achieved some kind of transition and finally found their sound (the distorted guitars-especially on 'will i arrive'- are overwhelming and the drumming is pure genius!). of the band's LATER-era, i rank this album a definite first place (second is 'tonight's decision' followed closely by 'last fair deal'). i hope some big shot movie producer hears this album and i'm sure we will hear katatonia on some movie soundtrack...
on December 30, 2003
Just picked this up today and have been watching Katatonia since Brave Murder Day. Of course MTV, MuchMusic and general radio will ignore this for their Britney's and the latest cookie cutter stuff from the 'hood. (By the way, I love rap and hip hop...a lot of the unknown stuff is brilliant-i applaud Shakur, Candiria, Ice T and others-sorry i can't get into the stuff that is widely presented to people-especially Eminem(write your own riffs and don't rip off Aerosmith dude). This band here is in excellent form-honing their euro-goth stylings with a bone crushing guitar assault. They are also prone to throw in a few jazz licks here and there to tickle the ear before walloping it in.
But the real treat is the vocal delivery of Jonas P Renske. There's no finesse there-just a pure, broken and distictive wail. I haven't heard a singer project like this since Ozzy. To me Renske is the new Ozzy. The production is stellar here, quiet and clear for diminuendo dynamic and absolutely vicious when the band flips the killswitch. Faves:Ghost of the Sun -intense biting lyrics and memorable hooks and Evidence-unique third relations in chordal structure up the ante in terms of emotional intensity.
So in short-there's music like this "they" (Top 40, MTV, MuchMusic) want your to hear(evanescense, nickleback, puddle of mudd). If you go that far, come a little further and experience the emotional wallop that is Katatonia's Viva Emptiness.
on July 30, 2003
Katatonia has surpassed their last release with an album brimming with musical experimentation. Mixing metal/jazz/fusion and plain old down to earth rock, Viva Emptiness is an exploratory and wonderfully diverse album. Sometimes described as the lost step-child of the incredible Opeth, Katatonia continues to amaze listeners with their intricate arrangements and hard-as-nails lyrics. Highly recommended for fans of Opeth or In Flames.
Will I arrive
Walking by a wire.
on November 16, 2006
"Viva Emptiness", Katatonia's sixth full length album, is really a continuation of its predecessor "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", with a few slight adjustments. Considering how much I love that album, this is a good thing in my book. They took a lot of the elements that worked on the previous album and have spiced things up a little to give "Viva Emptiness" its own identity. At this stage of their career, the Swedes can be labelled as a heavy rock band with elements of metal rather than a metal band with rock influences. Long gone are the death metal influences of yesteryear to be replaced with a much more commercially viable, yet still suffocatingly dreary (in a good way) atmosphere.
So what are these little adjustments I mentioned above? For starters, there's almost a nu-metal feel to some of these tracks. Now don't get me wrong, I'd be pretty upset if Katatonia started sounding like Slipknot and they are a long way from doing so. Yet I can't deny that tracks such as "Wealth" and "Will I Arrive", with there shredding riffs and friendly clean verses bring that thought into my head. But then "Viva Emptiness" is filled with so many variations that I can't really apply that label to much else on the album. It's also noticeable that they have included far more swear words for impact than on previous releases and in general, I feel more anger in these tracks than the normal desolation and loss that pervades most of their material. But this is without a doubt a Katatonia album from start to finish. The vulnerable, almost awkward lyrics remain while Jonas' vocals once again improving. The gorgeous guitar melodies, while used far more sparingly, are still here and the newfound percussion addition of the last album continues in full force. Many bands have copied Katatonia's sound over the years, but none have been able to keep up with their evolution.
So while I have a lot of good things to say about "Viva Emptiness", I must admit that a couple of tracks are just not quite up to their normally consistently high quality. "One Year From Now" and "Omerta" in particular are throw away tracks in my opinion and drop this album slightly below "Last Fair Deal Gone Down". The highlights for me would have to be "Criminals, "Wealth" and "Complicity" along with opener "Ghost of the Sun", but there's over 50 minutes of material to dig into here.
"Viva Emptiness" is another solid album from Katatonia that further evolves their sound towards the mainstream, while never letting go of the intense nature of its content. They are a truly unique band that has miraculously kept the majority of their fan-base while completely, yet gradually, changing their sound over the years to something almost completely unrelated to its humble foundation. The reason they've been able to do this, is due to the natural progression that has occurred. The members have a real understanding of the core themes and components that the fans love and have the integrity to never alienate them while consistently challenging themselves. I thank them for it with every album!
on February 24, 2006
If there's one thing that Katatonia has proven over the years, it's that they are masters of getting their music to have the same bleak, bombed-out urban feel of their lyrics. "Viva Emptiness", their latest opus, takes it to a whole new level. Dark, depressing, and much heavier than its predecessors "Tonight's Decision" and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", "Viva Emptiness" is possibly Katatonia's greatest album. I'm not a fan of their earliest albums, which contained screaming vocals, so I was unsure coming into this one, but this one contains only occasional background screaming, mostly on superb opener 'Ghost of the Sun'. All the way through, this album needs to be experienced, not just casually listened to, for the full effect.
Now for a track by track breakdown:
1. "Ghost of the Sun" (9/10) - This track is a great opener, and sets a great mood for the rest of the album. Minor points off for weak lyrics in one part though.
2. "Sleeper" (10/10) - The second track took a while to grow on me, but now it's one of the best ones on here. Very haunting.
3. "Criminals" (10/10) - Arguably the best track on the album, this was the first track I heard from "Viva" and it's still one of my all time favorites.
4. "A Premonition" (10/10) - Starts out soft and then builds to heavy and then goes down to soft again. Great change of pace track.
5. "Will I Arrive" (9/10) - Very heavy track, but one of my least favorites on the album, which doesn't mean much because it's still very good. This one has a great chorus.
6. "Burn The Remembrance" (10/10) - This track has an almost jazzy feel to parts of it and contains some of the best instrument playing on the album. Great fade out finale.
7. "Wealth" (10/10) - One of the heaviest tracks on the album, this one also took a while to grow on me. Very dark sounding song about loneliness. Excellant.
8. "One Year From Now" (10/10) - One of the softer tracks on the album, this is another nice change of pace track. Also contains a heavy section in the middle to keep listeners on the edge.
9. "Walking By a Wire" (10/10) - Strange track lyrically, but still excellant. This one is heavier and is usually a favorite among listeners.
10. "Complicity" (9.5/10) - I did not like this song at first, but then it grew on me big time. It is relatively heavy and contains the classic line 'he once saw the morning sun'.
11. "Evidence" (10/10) - The album is worth it for this song alone. This is the other of my favorites on "Viva" and is possibly my favorite Katatonia song. Heavy, fade-out ending is awesome!
12. "Omerta" (10/10) - This is a strange song at first listen, but keep listening and you will realize that it's actually one of the best songs on the album. Highly recommended.
13. "Inside the City of Glass" (9/10) - The last track is a pretty heavy instrumental that works up to a certain point. It is dark and bleak sounding and is a great way to end the album, but it's not one of my favorite tracks.
Well, that's it! If you're a fan of Katatonia, you should have this already! If you're a fan of heavy rock or metal in general, this album should be on your 'To Buy' list as well. Keep an ear out for this album's successor, "The Great Cold Distance", which comes out in April 2006. It sounds like it may be as great as this one!