Night is the New Day

Written by: EW on 11/12/2009 15:30:09

It's getting too often now that I fail to be impressed by the albums that arrive with the heaviest weights of expectancy and glorification and its making me wonder - am I harder to please than most, or, do I just not fall for all the pretences and band/label statements that seem to catch everyone else out? With these thoughts ringing throughout I am here to give Katatonia's eighth LP, "Night is the New Day", an honest spin and review based upon the thoughts of a long-time Katatonia fan without the pressure of pleasing band nor label behind me.

I'll start as I mean to go on to you, without mincing my words. I did not like 2006's "The Great Cold Distance" at the time of release and still don't now; an album that seems to be regarded in many circles as, if not their finest, then one of Katatonia's very best works. An album that I believe simply lacks the dynamics and verve of three previous Katatonia outings, all of which I can call with confidence nigh on classics: "Brave Murder Day", "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and "Viva Emptiness". Part of Katatonia's ongoing appeal down the years has been their refusal to be restricted and a willingness to diversify and migrate from record to record. However not since the "Discouraged Ones" and "Tonight's Decision" pairing in 1998 and 1999 do I feel Katatonia have travelled so little between records as I do this and "The Great Cold Distance".

"Viva Emptiness" knocked the melancholy notion, made up of part heavy riffing and part antique-like fragility and emotion, on the head given the continuing movement of feels and tempos right through that excellent album. As I sit here now and listen to the increasingly Opeth-like proggy keyboard/synth structures of Katatonia circa 2009 I simply can't help but feel bored. The Swedes rose to unexplored levels of prominence via songs of depression and sadness cloaked in a warm facade of genuinely sad moments of music but all we have now are songs with this desire and little deeper meaning. Unlike Opeth who have always expertly mixed 'soft' and 'heavy' within the structure of one song, Katatonia take the time to dedicate each song to either one of these tempos, with little variation in style between each. These 'heavy' sections, like "The Great...", come across limp and strangely dependent on a hangover of down-tuned bassy nu-metal inspired riffs, but it is the soft moments of "Night..." that are the real let-down for me. "Inheritance" has it's moments and would be the best candidate as a song to break up two significantly heavier ones either side, but "Departer", "Idle Blood" (which, through the breezy synth backing sounds like a band at peace with the world) and "Nephilim" do not offer significant enough variation to warrant this LP every over-taking other highlighted Katatonia albums in a fight for a place in my CD player.

And so it is with these thoughts I finish another listen-through to "Night is the New Day". The similarities in song structures and song lengths (8 of the 11 tracks are between 4:16 and 4:38 long) are not leaving the lasting impression I was hoping for from a band whose track record stands them impeccably high and so I must depart with my own feelings of sadness and despondency, though not the ones I believe Katatonia were hoping to tap into with "Night is the New Day".


Download: Inheritance, Day And Then The Shade
For The Fans Of: Opeth, Porcupine Tree
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 02.11.2009
Peaceville Records

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