Katatonia - “The Fall of Hearts”
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Swedish metal act Katatonia is back with a new full length after four years. While I never quite got into the band's earlier work, such as Brave Murder Day or the more recent Night Is The New Day, I absolutely adored Dead End Kings to the point where I even decided to pay more for a CD than I would for an average record, and I haven’t regretted it once. It’s definitely a favorite in my collection. With that being said, I did my best to keep my expectations reasonable going into The Fall of Hearts.
I’m happy to say that it's more of the same, for the most part. Clean vocals soaring over guitars bringing the power and punch with songs like “Serac.” When things settle down instrumentally to create an atmosphere, the vocals either cease or join in very lightly to deliver lyrics that sink their hooks in your head, as in “Old Heart Falls.” While the guitar tone shifts toward a punchier sound, as opposed to their steely bite on Dead End Kings, it works with the soundscapes they create here - although it would have been nice to see them change up their sound, especially after four years.
As the epic closes in on the end, it starts to become arduous. Clocking in at an hour and ten minutes, the unremarkable final third, with songs like “The Night Subscriber” or “Passer,” are harder to get through if you’re starting to feel fatigued. It's not like the band was desperate to hit a run time goal, because with out the final third, the album would sit at fifty five minutes, still longer than Dead End Kings. The songs are very unnecessary filler. As a guy who doesn’t like to have his time wasted, these songs leave the bland taste in my mouth after finishing the album.
In the end, the album is good. As you go on, the quality starts to fall off, but nothing terrible, just unremarkable. If you liked Dead End Kings, check this out. If you were looking for a little progression, it's not here.