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Katatonia – Dead Air

Dead Air
by Neil Cook at 09 January 2021, 10:34 AM

I must admit I know nothing about KATATONIA. I will be totally honest, this is the first time I’ve heard any of their stuff, so I have no point of reference to compare this to.  From my research I found out this Swedish band became KATATONIA in 1991, and in their early days were more of a Doom/Death Metal outfit. After a few stop/starts over time, they developed their sound into a more Melonconic, Gothic, Progressive style, which is not the type of music I would normally listen to.

My review is made harder by the fact “Dead Air”  is a pandemic “live” album.  In other words there is no audience, so no cheering, no interaction, none of the ambient buzz and hum from the crowd in the background, just the band running through a selection of their songs live.  The results are weirdly mixed.  There is no denying the quality of the musicians and the tightness of the band, and the production is stellar, but when Jonas speaks to the non-audience is reminds us how strange the situation and the times are.  Having recently communicated with a musician after their live stream, I asked him how was for them, and his reply was I was really odd, because of the lack of crowd, and their feedback and energy to lift them up.  And whilst I have no point of reference for KATATONIA, I wonder if the same is true?  Also having not heard any of the songs before I could not comment on how faithful, or more importantly what nuances were added in the live versions.

Based purely on an technical level, their sound is crisp and the production is balanced.  The vocals are distinctive and I enjoyed them.  As mentioned before the band are obviously tight, and consummate musicians, and I could appreciate these aspects. With regards to the music itself, I’m afraid I had no real emotional connection to the songs on offer here.  And whilst here were some great stuff on display here, for example I really liked “Ghost Of The Sun” and “Soil’s Song” from disc 1, and “In The White”, Lacquer”, which reminded me a bit of later MARILLION.  Also “My Twin” was interesting, and the slower paced “Unfurl” had some immense, almost bluesy guitar, which I really enjoyed, there was something that prevented me from really warming to them.  Nothing is bad, far from it, but it simply isn’t for me.  Sorry KATATONIA, it is obvious you are good at your craft, but I wasn’t the reviewer for you.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 9


3 Star Rating

1. Lethean
2. Tear Gas
3. Sirein
4. Deliberation
5. The Winter Of Our Passing
6. Ghost Of The Sun
7. The Racing Heart
8. Soil’s Song
9. Old Heart Falls
10. Forsaker
11. Tonight’s Music
12. In The White
13. Leaders
14. Lacquer
15. Omerta
16.  My Twin
17. Unfurl
18. July
19. Evidence
20. Behind The Blood
Anders Nyström - Bass, Keyboards
Jonas Renkse - Drums (1991-1998), Vocals (Lead), Guitars, Keyboards, Programming
Niklas Sandin - Bass
Daniel Moilanen - Drums
Roger Öjersson - Guitars
Record Label: Peaceville Records


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Edited 18 January 2021

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