Melodic, melancholic Swedish metal act Katatonia has been around since 1991, releasing eight studio albums to date, and it’s all been building up to this. The Swedes must have influences, but it’s difficult to pinpoint what they might be: Katatonia is an exception to the metal genre’s rules, entirely devoid of anything screeching, often employing silence or toned down asides, and using vocals in an almost instrumental style. Metal’s not known for its subtlety, but subtle metal is exactly what Katatonia produce.

There are moments – like the intro to “Wild Blood” – during which their music could come from anything from a delicate movie soundtrack to a pop song, but it’s the contrast that makes this album so strong. Opener “Forsaker” has a pounding guitar intro followed by a track that’s dark and dingy throughout, but instantly memorable. There are other tracks that will have your typical metal fan reaching for their Rammstein and complaining about the clear presence of a melody and tuneful, comprehensible lyrics – in fact you could even argue this is metal for people who don’t particularly love metal. Life isn’t about genres, though, and now matter how you define Katatonia’s darkness-meets-light effort, there’s no denying that’s it quite exceptionally good.

Put aside your prejudices about a band’s ability to play quietly and subtly for large parts of the album and still rock. Forget about the need for endless manic, edgy guitars and settle for the madness that leaps from you stereo when Katatonia do occasionally kick off; the contrast is so steeped in melodrama it’s difficult not to love. This is a truly stunning effort, capping an 18-year career with a genuine masterpiece. If you have any love for the softer side of metal, head out and buy it.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Forsaker
02. The Longest Year
03. Idle Blood
04. Onward Into Battle
05. Liberation
06. The Promise Of Deceit
07. Nephilism
08. New Night
09. Inheritance
10. Day And Then Shade
11. Departer

Run Time: 48:40
Release Date: 11.10.2009