Katatonia, who need no introduction to the metal populace, are back with their thirteenth album Sky Void Of Stars. They have played out their version of light and dark metal/post-rock since the late ‘90s when they changed from a death/doom unit to one more properly fueled by melody and Jonas Renske’s soft vocal approach.
All of this is felt on opening track “Austerity,”; a fully-fledged somber track with remarkable guitar leads courtesy of Anders Nystrom and Roger Ojersson. “Colossal Shade” pulls in varying levels of dynamics from effects going on in the background, creating an all-encompassing listening experience for all involved.
“Opaline” and “Birds” are gorgeous songs that are begging for live play. Renske soars sublimely, the glimmering shadow off in the distance as the song gets weighed down by furious emotion, taking the listener on a wild ride with no signs of stopping. Katatonia excel at pulling at the heartstrings of the listener, with every song feeling just a bit different than the last.
“Impermanence” features the album’s lone guest in the form of Soen’s Joel Ekelof, providing Renske an avenue with which to pivot, adding a different wrinkle for those that expect Katatonia to be a one vocalist show. “Atrium” blasts out of the gate buoyed by the marvelously technical drumming of Daniel Moilanen, tasteful without pounding your head in, even during the downturned moments where the guitars and vocals take charge. It is easy to marvel just how fresh this band sounds 25 years after making a dramatic stylistic shift, but they just do it.
Sky Void Of Stars is the sound of a band continuing to grow in their own unique way, making albums that sound like Katatonia and nobody else. 13 may be an unlucky number to some, but this newest release from Katatonia is one of the most well-rounded and best albums they have recorded. It’s very early, but it looks to already be a contender for 2023.
(released January 20, 2023 on Napalm Records)
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Watch Katatonia – “Atrium” Video