01. The Birthday Massacre - Superstition
02. Aeon Sable - Visionaers
03. NFD - Waking The Dead
04. Whispers In The Shadow - Beyond The Cycles Of Time
05. Order Of Isaz - Seven Years Of Famine
06. Saigon Blue Rain - What I Don't See
07. Kalt - The Invisible
08. Merciful Nuns - Meteora VII
09. Alcest - Shelter
10. The Stompcrash - Love From Hell
01. The Parting
02. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here [feat. Silje Wergeland]
04. The Racing Heart
08. Undo You
10. First Prayer
11. Dead Letters
Katatonia are back with their ninth studio album. When the time comes for these masters of melancholic rock or metal sounds every fan of theirs is expecting a masterpiece and Katatonia don't disappoint, never. Since their album Discouraged Ones and even before on their more extreme albums Katatonia mastered their sound that comes in its most formidable form right here, right on this album. Of course, many of their past fans will miss the metal parts as they are in minority here. Katatonia, since Discouraged Ones, have gone in the direction of crafting emotional, melancholic and yet complex sounds, more common with prog rock, goth and 70's music than with their origins of doom/death metal. This band actually cannot be counted as the follower of any genre, they are co-creators of it, similar to their country mates Opeth, thus having a huge group of followers and giving inspiration to many new bands on the market.
On Dead End Kings Katatonia offer a lot, and I mean really a lot once you dive into the sounds of those eleven tracks present up here. We can enjoy in catchiness that was so elaborated on Last Fair Deal Gone Down or on Viva Emptiness, in melancholy that was perfected on previous effort Night Is The New Day and in complexivity that was heard on The Great Cold Distance, plus a lot more. Dead End Kings is a strong album, songs can be counted as a stand alone tracks or as parts of one entirety. If somebody was afraid how the band will deal with itself after the departure of long term members Norrman brothers, they already proved that they can cope with this matter on their amazing live appearances. Sodomizer on guitar and Niklas with bass have shown that the trusted position in the band is much deserved. Jonas with his distinguishable emotive voice and Anders's trade mark gloomy guitar riffing are one of a kind. Then, with wonderful and at parts bombastic Daniels drumming everything derives into a subtle form of majestical rock music. On this album there are no stand alone hits, like it was "Teargas", "Evidence" or perhaps "July", but rather memorable parts in each of the songs included on this work. Dead End Kings is not an album that could be grasped with first listen, it needs your full devotion to flourish in it's fullness. Since the opener "The Parting" with it's masterful string and cello layers, crushing wall of sound in its chorus, everything wracked by a huge amount of melancholy, make us aware that this is not an ordinary record, yes, none of Katatonia albums are. Guest female vocals from Silje Wergeland (The Gathering) on "The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here" forms a delicate duet with Jonas and delivers shivering emotions on this calm mellow track. Melodic, haunting and highly captivating emotions on atmospheric "The Racing Heart" are what you'll need to survive through the approaching winter. Its chorus is something among the best that Katatonia ever did and it brings some memories to "Tonight's Music" from Last Fair Deal Gone Down and I must mention its fade-out conclusion which is amazing. Progressive, most metal kind of a song must be "Buildings", where all Katatonia qualities of making strong tracks comes on the surface. Piano touches that beautifully enriches the sound in "Leech" or even more in "Undo You" adds another dimension to Katatonia sound. Nice drive of "Lethean" will certainly take you on the amazing journey into fogy landscape full of sorrow and lost hope. Guitar riffs and solo in this one are breathtaking. "First Prayer" on the other hand offers a lot of resemblances with 70's prog and atmospheric sounds, everything combined so well with classic Katatonia sounds. The last track "Dead Letters" is heavy, intensively alternative and it gives the need for more. The sound is throughout rich, with a lot of additions from keyboards and other sample sounds under domain from guest Frank Default, from sophisticated and almost gothic atmospheres to progressive elements. Depressive and thoughtful lyrics show the superb sense for poetry from Jonas. Melancholy and gloomy atmospheres are what is present all over the album, like on everything that this band ever did. Production for Dead End Kings was done by main members Jonas and Anders themselves, yet it gives to their music another special, deep note and kind of warmth.
Still, Katatonia remains one of a kind rock group, modern and at the same time classy. With each new album of theirs there comes a question: what more? Katatonia can do more, each time, the limits of creating wanders in rock or metal music are not reached yet and those Sweds are proving this. With each listen there is a lot to discover in its waste assortment of sounds and overall complexity. Dead End Kings is one hell of an album and it deserves the highest possible rating.
Review written by: T.V.