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ALBUM REVIEW: The Fall Of Hearts – Katatonia

As far as pigeon-holing bands goes, KATATONIA are a complicated beast. With the band’s early records being influential in the development of death/doom, latter albums shifted the band’s sound to a cleaner and richer melodic expression. Now, four years have passed since the band’s last studio record, Dead End Kings, and the band are ready to drop The Fall Of Hearts. Album number ten, a landmark record. Does The Fall Of Hearts continue to provide a rich and moving listening experience?

If one is familiar with the sound of modern KATATONIA then you know what to expect; a rich listening experience that whirls the listener through feelings of isolation, despair and rich beauty. The Fall Of Hearts continues this exploration of mood from the first note and throughout the record. Opening track Takeover wastes no time in boasting the rich vocal abilities of Jonas Renkse, who immediately demonstrates his wonderful abilities; rising and lowering his pitch and tone effortlessly. This, backed with intricate guitar work before exploding into a mood-driven riff bursts the song into life. It’s approach is wonderfully melancholic and sets the record off to a great start.

From there, things become more interesting. Perhaps one of the greatest traits to KATATONIA‘s sound is their ability to really explore the intricacy of their genre and their approach to The Fall Of Hearts gives way to some truly special moments. Serein features some truly satisfying lead guitar play from new recruit Roger Öjersson, a characteristic that only reinforces the immersive effect of the band’s style. Similarly, Decima‘s isolated acoustic guitar in the track’s introduction is incredibly subtle before Renkse‘s soft vocals add another level of depth to the track. It ebbs and flows like a flower in the wind, soft in it’s approach and draws the listener in and ensnares you. A truly beautiful moment.

The Fall Of Hearts is complicated in it’s approach, with a lot of the tracks clocking over the five minute mark. This makes the record as a whole, quite a lengthy affair. Serac is a monolith of track, with low and driving bass tones from Niklas Sandin that emulate their flirtation with doom whereas closing track Passer‘s opening is a barrage of double bass drumming and frantic riffs. There are moments like this where the record pays homage to their previous death metal sound without compromising their progress, it’s an incredibly difficult trait to achieve and KATATONIA seem to have achieved this with absolute ease.

From penultimate track Pale Flag‘s subtle guitar notes to the epic closure of Passer, you will feel emotionally drained upon the record’s finale. By album number ten, KATATONIA have refined their sound and the result is a record of true musical quality. It’s subtle in it’s emotional delivery, boasts some truly wonderful musicianship and drains your emotions as it carries you across it’s fields of exploration. It’s a mature record, one that truly reflects just how far the band have come in their career. It’s not perfect, there are moments where it stutters, but that does not detract from the overall experience. Make no mistake, The Fall Of Hearts is a sublime record that shows a band who are masters of their craft.

Rating: 9/10

Katatonia The Fall of Hearts

The Fall Of Hearts is out now via Peaceville Records.

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