Title: Dead End Kings
Genre: Dark / Progressive Metal
Release Date: 24th August 2012
Label: Peaceville Records
Surrounded by darkness, Swedish KATATONIA entered a new era when proclaiming 'Night is The New Day' on their last album, released in 2009. The new era also was marked by introducing keys to the band sound, which was previously unheard of. The prominent use of these helped elevating the KATATONIA sound to a new level. There was no mistaking the band found pleasure in using these and would continue to do so on their next full-length adventure which is 'Dead End Kings' opening the gates of secluded, foggy landscapes crowded with unreal creatures and decay. 'The Parting' unlocks the first door and what unfolds on the inside is rather bleak and predominantly sad. It becomes a character study wrapped in sorrow and uprising outbreaks. ON 'The One You Looking For Is Not Here' all force is collapsing and folding turning inwards and into pure melancholy, no harsh sounds no up-tempo beats and more clearly no escape. There is a strong will to protect the status quo in the epic 'Hypnone' where a mysterious puppet-master pulls the strings from a place between life and death. 'The Racing Heart' sends out minor washes over the lands and keeps back as long as it deems right to explode at a surprising point in the middle to create an undertow that drags you right into the all-encompassing atmosphere.
'Buildings' is like fighting your way through a snowstorm while carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you reach the eye of the storm it is only for a little while before it pushes you right back in. This is a song of contradictions, meandering through decaying ambience and progressive moments en masse. Something urges me to use the term "Blues Noir" for 'Leech' and there's no contradiction, rather a cynical metal version of what blues could just as well be. "Sing a song for the ones who never made it" he says in the course of 'Ambitions', those constructions we stumble across in life and which, as all things do, have good and bad sides to them. Suffice to say that this one's about the flip side of the coin, an anthem for the misfits of life. 'Undo You' salutes to the dead and lingers on the pathways other broken souls have walked before us, or perhaps just one special soul we've been searching for all along, a broken ballad of pitch-black emotions. On a record of engaging music like this, 'Lethean' is the one song that is breaking through the barriers full throttle putting out one killer solo on drum patterns encouraging you to nod until you drop.
'First Prayer' doesn't make it easy for you afterwards, slowing down rapidly and covering melodies under static and rough guitar works to become startlingly clear with putting them on the front stage the next moment. Why the guys chose 'Dead Letters' to be lifted as first single is completely beyond me. It isn't exactly the easiest track on the album having so many twists it's going to get you dizzy but an insanely in-ya-face chorus line. The Swedes always have a surprise up their sleeves and are not afraid to put an expected turn to the story's final chapter presenting the way KATATONIA would do a singer/songwriter ballad, submerged in layers inside layers of melody, acoustic guitar and percussion. Above all, it is emitting the disquieting mood of a ghost-story after going completely wrong and jumping off the cliff.
Other than on their previous effort, KATATONIA place a strict emphasis on atmosphere on 'Dead End Kings'. Everything is constructed in a way that serves its exactly orchestrated purpose in the sonic world specially created for this album. It seems to be a world with only an entrance that shuts right after stepping in. Once that has happened you have to get accustomed to the environment in order to survive. The band doesn't make that matter a hard task to achieve this time. You have to work your way through the sound. All is heavier and m ore desperate than before, even cynical. The first self-produced album raises the bars pretty high and only time will tell if the fans will acknowledge 'Dead End Kings' for the milestone it is, because more than anything else this album needs time to settle with you.
01. The Parting - 4:52
02. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here - 3:52
03. Hypnone - 4:07
04. The Racing Heart - 4:06
05. Buildings - 3:28
06. Leech - 4:23
07. Ambitions - 5:09
08. Undo You - 4:56
09. Lethean - 4:39
10. First Prayer - 4:26
11. Dead Letters - 4:27
12. The Act Of Darkening - 5:55
Jonas Renkse – lead vocals
Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström – guitars, backing vocals
Daniel Liljekvist - drums, percussion
Per "Sodomizer" Eriksson - lead and rhythm guitars
Niklas "Nille" Sandin - bass