For over two decades Sweden’s KATATONIA have been one of heavy metal’s most distinguished and recognised names. Whilst earlier records were pivotal in the creation of the death-doom style of metal, recent records have seen the band evolve their sound to what it is today. On the brink of dropping album number ten, The Fall of Hearts, Distorted Sound caught up with bassist Niklas Sandin to talk about the new album, how the band has progressed since Dead End Kings and future touring plans!
It’s been four years since Dead End Kings. How do you feel the band has progressed in that time?
Niklas: Well the band has progressed in a way due to lineup changes of course. Daniel Lijekvist and Per ‘Sodomizer’ Eriksson are not with us anymore, due to well life changing reasons. Then of course, we did the acoustic things in between, we released Dethroned and Uncrowned which is pretty much a revamped version of Dead End Kings in a more acoustic element and we did an acoustic tour. So there has been some new and different things going on in between the albums so there might be some things you will notice on the upcoming album, I think it’s been progressing to something new and fresh even though you can still hear the same KATATONIA elements.
You just mentioned about Dethroned and Uncrowned, that was quite a distinct change to the overall sound. Has any of that influenced the writing process for The Fall of Hearts?
Niklas: Well, there might be some influences there from that. I don’t want to reveal too much! I think for the first listening experience you should go in on an empty slate, I think it will be like some new movies where you watch it without watching any of the trailers so it can be all new and fresh. Some elements there have been taken onto the new album but of course it is not an acoustic album, there are still the heavy parts.
So with The Fall of Hearts, what was the artistic direction you were wanting to take?
Niklas: In terms of artistic take, I don’t know, I don’t think there was any certain idea behind the album or some kind of concept. Mostly when Jonas [Renkse, vocals] and Anders [Nyström, guitars] are writing it is just ideas that come to them and then that dictates how it sounds. It is all what comes in the moment and then that dictates how the album will sound. That is why it can take some time, it’s not a matter of sitting down and writing a song today or whatever.
And do you think by taking that longer approach it results in a better end product?
Niklas: Yeah, I think that. I think if you push it too much then it just becomes a product. It strays way from the art, it doesn’t come from within. Then it’s not nothing that is pushed out as a product to go out on the road for as long as possible, it should be something that comes to you and that is more true and sincere. It is then further away from the fast-food production chain approach.
It’s quite a significant record, it’s the tenth record for the band. How do you feel it stands up compared to the back catalogue?
Niklas: I think, even for me, it is a grower. It is a lengthy record, there are a lot of long songs that grow on you. It’s not like Dead End Kings and Night Is The New Day that latch on early on. I think it is definitely up there and it has the potential to grow bigger than the others, there are some really strong songs on there and there’s catchy moments, there’s progressive moments. I think it has all the elements of KATATONIA‘s career baked onto one album. I think there’s a little bit of death stuff blended with the recent styles without copying anything from the earlier albums.
I feel that the record feels more sophisticated is the addition of Roger [Öjersson, guitars] with some lead play. What was the decision behind bringing him into the band?
Niklas: Yeah, there’s been solos on previous albums as well but in a way there’s more on the new album and basically, Roger is one hell of a guitar player so it was something we had to use as he really knows how to play and he’s technical and he has pretty much everything you look for and he does it in a really tasteful way. There’s even some solos that border the guitar lick and a solo, it really sits in there with the song.
With the album set to come out towards the latter half of May. Do you have any extensive touring plans in the works?
Niklas: Well we have the normal summer festivals. We are going to play Hellfest, for example, and we’re going to play Tuska in Helsinki and lots of other festivals. When the fall comes we are going to go on an extensive European tour to promote the album further. In august we are going out to South America which is the first time in five years we are doing that. For some reason it never really clicked with Dead End Kings tour schedule to go there. Now we are returning there and I am looking forward to that.
The Fall of Hearts is set for release on May 20th via Peaceville Records.
KATATONIA have announced an anniversary show in London for The Great Cold Distance in October. For information click here.
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