The Swedish band of 25 years return after a four year absence from their last studio record, Dead End Kings (2012)/Dethroned and Uncrowned (2013, the brilliant stripped back version of Dead End Kings) was released. This album builds on that album and tweaks it to make a very good album although it is not too dissimilar.
This is quite a melodic album, which is a much different tone to their much darker sound they originated with. Where this is really illustrated is in the second track Serein; the lead guitar drives the song, lyrically and vocally Jonas Renske is at his best and so is the drumming especially in the breakdown. The song really sounds different from what came before, initiating the beginning of the sound that Katatonia are going for, which is heavier in the tones of the guitars harping back to the earlier releases. There is a guitar solo in Serac, to note the Swede’s are not best known for having guitar solos there seems to be one per album, there are at least double that on The Fall of Hearts. But whenever there is; they rule!
There are a couple of tracks, Decima and Pale Flag that build around an acoustic guitar; this was a very promising venture off the back of the outstanding live album Sanctitude (2015). This again added something different with there not being very many acoustic songs in the bands catalogue, it certainly is welcomed. On the special edition, the band add yet another element; a song in their native language. The fact that the band are ready to release songs in their native language that is inter-twinned with the English ones excites me andVakeren is a perfect example why. It is an extremely beautiful song and the fact that I cannot understand the lyrics is almost irrelevant as the song itself transcends any language barrier that pre-existed.
After the line-up changes between the albums (the new drummer: Daniel Moilanen and Roger Öjerssonpicking up the guitar duties), it was only expected that the album would be a little different. This is shown to great effect in Sanction with it kicking you straight in the face from the first second but then cutting out to the less heavy melodious part, then back to the monstrous riff for the chorus. The same goes for Passer it is the most ‘classic’ metal track on the record with it starting off with a fast guitar section and it does not stop with and even has pick slides, those oh so wondrous pick slides. Passer is the closing bookend to the latest chapter in Katatonia’s journey and it is a fine ending.
You are never going to get a cheery upbeat album from Katatonia but their brand of dark, misery laden and saddened saturated sound is an aspect that not many bands do so well. With their tenth studio album, Katatonia do keep it rather safe; with it not being radically different from Dead End Kings but that is what they are very good at. It adds to the catalogue of good songs with Serein, Passer, Serac being the greatest additions.
The Fall of Hearts is beautifully bleak. It is definitely worth adding to your collection.