Katatonia ‘Dead End Kings’ Album Review

The last studio album from Swedish doom metallers Katatonia, ‘Night is the New Day’ was considered to be a masterstroke for doom metal. Three years on and Katatonia are back with their latest album, ‘Dead End Kings’.

From the first track it’s clear that this is no break from the mold that Katatonia have established over their 21 year career. Opening track ‘The Parting’ sets the pace with a steady build up of symphonic elements combined with doom influenced riffs and Jonas Renkse’s chilling clean vocals. Where as a large majority of doom metal bands make use of the harsh vocals to set the tone of their depressive music, Katatonia’s purely clean vocal attributes their music to the other side of the doom metal spectrum. It makes it a truly emotional experience.

Yet the clean vocals do not remove any element of the heaviness involved in this album. ‘Buildings’ utilises a heavy riff to set their doom ridden affair combined with a chorus that really stands out on this album. What is subtle about this album which really adds another ingredient to their sound is the use of keys. This light touch really adds another level of depth to the emotion involved with this style of music, it really immerses the listener.

Musicianship is first class on this album, not only is the consistent heavy riffs yet the addition of intricate guitar playing by Anders Nyström really keeps the pace at constant changing levels. This removes any element of repetitiveness from the album thus keeping the listener hooked from start to finish. Each track starts at a different pace and style; ‘Leeches’ starts slow with passionate piano notes and then building to an climatic finish, ‘The Racing Heart’ has an incredible chorus and ‘The One You Were Looking For Is Not Here’ features an incredible combination of Renkse and female singer Silje Wergeland.

By now Katatonia have a very established style behind their music. ‘Dead End Kings’ is no break of this mold, its a continuation of their style. Nevertheless this album is wonderful, it offers that style of doom metal that really immerses the listener and showcases the themes behind Katatonia’s music.

Score: 9/10

Stand out Tracks: Buildings, The Racing Heart, The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here, Ambitions