Katatonia

Night Is the New Day

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The latest album from Swedish doom rockers Katatonia, their first studio effort since 2006, is as moody and beautiful as their other latter-day work. The group's career can be marked in two stages based on the condition of singer Jonas Renske's vocal cords -- basically, after the band's first two albums, he developed health problems that prevented him from performing harsh death growls, and ever since the band has moved in an increasingly melodic direction, even covering songs by Will Oldham and Jeff Buckley. It's unsurprising to learn that Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt helped out by performing the harsh vocals on Katatonia's Brave Murder Day album and Sounds of Decay EP in 1996 and 1997, since Night Is the New Day songs "Forsaker" and "Idle Blood" could be outtakes from that band's Damnation or Blackwater Park. Other tracks like "The Longest Year," the hilariously titled "Onward into Battle" (a song this slow and lush would only inspire soldiers to lie down for a nap), and "Liberation" are slightly more unique with their use of programmed rhythms and trip-hop keyboards beneath and behind the crunching guitars. Overall, this is a very beautiful and reflective album, though at this point Katatonia are only notionally a metal band, much more focused on moody (as in Moody Blues) beauty than vulgar displays of power.

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