Katra

Out Of Ashes

Written by: PP on 13/12/2010 03:45:42

Puuh, it's been a while since I've reviewed a gothic metal album. In a genre over-saturated by bands and releases that are, frankly, pieces of shit and painstakingly average at best, it's difficult if not outright impossible to look forward to listening to yet another effort in the genre, such is the stigma caused by the 85-90% of identikit bands copying each other album after album. But here, my friends, is an example of what can happen when gothic metal is played right, when all focus is not unfairly placed on the female vocalist who is supposed to carry the whole band despite their lack of songwriting talent. I give you Katra, a finnish gothic metal outfit, and their sophomore album "Out Of Ashes".

On their previous album "Beast Within" two years ago, Katra spent way too much time in imitating Amberian Dawn and Nightwish to have an identity for themselves, not surprisingly given they share nationality with both of those bands. In the two years that have passed since the release of that record, Katra Sulopuro & co have developed their sound and crafted a nifty identity for themselves. The symphonies that so dominated their sound in the past have been toned down to an acceptable level now, giving the rest of the band some space to work with, something they take full advantage of. The guitar riffs are original, the effects applied on their tone are great and mark a difference between Katra and the rest of the genre, and the synths aren't just about orchestral compositions. Instead, they occasionally morph into psychedelic 70s territory, here I'm thinking as far as bands like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, though of course nowhere near to the same extent.

Katra herself has also separated herself from the stigma of being yet another operatic singer, now possessing a more versatile range. Her medium-range singing isn't anything to write home about, but it provides nice contrast to her monumentally good high-pitch moments, such as those on "Delirium" or "Vendetta". The choruses are powerful and own superb melody, the kind that makes you actually stop in your tracks and think "damn that was a good chorus". The highlight of the record, however, is "Envy", which has to be one of the finest gothic metal songs I've heard to date. It starts out with melancholic classical piano and delicate singing, almost like a ballad in a way, but explodes suddenly into a colossal chorus where Katra really displays her best ability as a singer. The melody is simply flawless here. Soon, electric guitars start wailing quietly in the background, completing a Metallica-ballad type of mood to the song, which is finally complemented by strings (violins etc) in just the right timing. These disappear again to give space for a soloing guitar, and basically, I'm sold right here. If all gothic metal sounded like this, the genre wouldn't carry such a negative connotation when mentioned outside its inner circles.

The remaining tracks on "Out Of Ashes" are very good as well, those were merely the highlights I chose to mention from the record. There are lots and lots of variety and originality present, guaranteeing Katra a spot in the highest tier when it comes to anything gothic and female fronted. I'd say this is the gothic metal album of the year with no competition in sight.

8

Download: Envy, Delirium
For the fans of: Lunatica, Theatre Of Tragedy, Trail Of Tears
Listen: Myspace

Release date 29.10.2010
Napalm Records

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