Friday, June 21, 2024

Katatonia shine in a Sky Void Of Stars

Following on from autumn 2022’s 10th anniversary reissue of Dead End Kings, regarded by many fans as their masterwork and described as ‘sonically immaculate and texturally rich,’ Katatonia have now released the eleventh studio album of their almost thirty-year career,

A career which’s seen them gradually forging a new path away from the nineties gothic-tinged death metal elements in their sound to become what they are now, which is purveyors of dark, brooding, melancholic rock. This transition they’ve executed without compromising the haunting, atmospheric beauty of what they play. In other words, along with bands like Opeth and the late lamented Anathema, they’ve evolved their playing style while remaining true to what it was that fans initially loved about them.

Sky Void Of Stars is an album rich in atmospherics, with emotive soundscapes and with no filler, every track deserving of its place on the album, and the playing is razor sharp. The sonic backdrop created by guitarists Anders Nystrom and Roger Ojersson enables singer and songwriter Jonas Renske, who again wrote all the songs, to weave his melancholic voice all through the music. There’s less of the churning alternative metal riffs which at one time figured significantly in their music, though on tracks like the mighty ‘No Beacon To Illuminate Our Fall’ and the energetic ‘Birds’, they show they can still conjure up power playing.

The tracks on this album are mostly slow to mid-paced, with strong melodies while still retaining the considerable melancholic atmospherics they’re renowned for, giving a dark haunting beauty to their music. From the opening track, the powerful ‘Austerity’, through the quieter less intense songs like ‘Opaline’ and ‘Colossal Shade’, and also tracks like ‘Drab Moon’, which fully embraces their melancholic sound, and ‘Author’, containing some very clever riffing, the detail in the songs is very impressive, building up tension with some melodic playing, before heavier riffs appear.

There’s little if any soloing on this album, and in fact, it’s only on the tracks ‘Author’ and ‘Impermanence’, which is a slow builder but with a powerful middle eight, where there’re any semblance of guitar solos. ‘Sclera’ even contains hints of the Porcupine Tree.

Sky Void Of Stars is melancholy at its best and reveals Katatonia are still in the business of attempting to provide the bridge between metal and contemporary progressive rock.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Following on from autumn 2022’s 10th anniversary reissue of Dead End Kings, regarded by many fans as their masterwork and described as ‘sonically immaculate and texturally rich,’ Katatonia have now released the eleventh studio album of their almost thirty-year career, A career which’s seen them...Katatonia shine in a Sky Void Of Stars