Katatonia

Last Fair Deal Gone Down

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    9
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Whether or not this album's title refers to bluesman Robert Johnson's classic song of the same name, Katatonia is still singing the blues in their own way here, even if their style has nothing else to do with the blues as a genre. Continuing in the vein of their previous release, Tonight's Decision, this is depressing, heavy alternative rock with a notable Cure influence -- Katatonia is not really playing metal anymore here. The production has been sharpened on this album compared to its predecessor, accentuating the quiet verse/loud chorus dynamics the band so often uses, making the loud parts hit harder and the softer parts come through with more detail. Meanwhile, frontman Jonas Renske has continued to grow as a vocalist, showing greater range while also maintaining that worried, defeated delivery. Not many singers can trot out chorus after chorus of woeful lyrics such as "Burn down my house/Stab me in the heart" ("Chrome") and "When you have no one/No one can hurt you" ("Don't Tell a Soul") and make it sound so convincing. Song-wise, there are obvious standouts -- "Teargas," "Clean Today," and "Sweet Nurse" -- but the album is well-paced and consistent throughout, the only real weak spot being the chorus on "We Must Bury You," where Renske reaches a little too hard for the high notes. That's a minor quibble, though; this is an excellent album on the whole: heavy, tuneful, and thick with atmosphere and melancholy.

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