Published on Saturday, 25 June 2016 19:16
Album title: The Fall Of Hearts
Release date: 20 May 2016
Label: Peaceville Records
03. Old Heart Falls
08. Last Song Before The Fade
10. The Night Subscriber
11. Pale Flag
The undisputable masters of melancholic rock/metal are back with their tenth studio album, but this time with a little twist. After their in 2012 released masterpiece Dead End Kings, the band went through some line-up changes and in between they released Dethroned & Uncrowned which was exploring the more ambient and progressive elements of Dead End Kings creating new moods and textures, and finally last year they came out with a fantastic acoustic live album Sanctitude. Both of those two releases in a way illustrated that Katatonia are moving towards more and more progressive sound, something like Opeth and Anathema already did before them. Now, here's a big fan of Katatonia writing this review and consider also that their albums like Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Viva Emptiness and Night Is The New Day are among my top 30 albums of all time, but nevertheless, somehow this new offering from Katatonia left me surprised and I needed many spins to grasp everything that it offers and finally to accustom to a rather more choppy compositions.
After the first song from the album was revealed, "Old Heart Falls", I was in such an expectation to hear the rest, but after many consequent listens this one remains my favorite on this album, it's the only song up here that offers that kind of soul shaking accesible melancholic catchy rock with deep depressive lyrics that I admired in Katatonia's past offerings since their Discouraged Ones album on. On The Fall Of Hearts the captivating popy melodies that made the tracks flowing and catchy in the past are in the most part replaced by more progressive segments. Gothy elements are almost gone. I'm not the one who wants to bash the band because of their slightly new direction, contrary, I welcome such changes, because bands like are Katatonia already showed everything and more in the past with their timeless classics and I simply can't ignore the fact that the band needs to move on. So, maybe if you are not the one who knows every Katatonia song by heart them probaly you won't notice such a change in their direction, their essence after all remains the same.
The Fall Of Hearts is still sounding like Katatonia and nothing else, it's a dark album and I certainly welcome the fact that the band boldly came back with heavier guitars here and there, for example on the great opener "Takeover", on groovy "Last Song Before The Fade" or in the closing one "Passer". The sound is based on heavy impactful yet compact rhythmic line with many dramatic twists and turns. The Fall Of Hearts has more than 65 minutes of playing time and there's so much going on, especially in the first half of the album, where the new album continues where Dead End Kings kinda left off. Beside before mentioned "Takeover" and the beautiful "Old Heart Falls", also "Serein" with poignant yet heavy riffs, depressive semi acoustic "Decima", rhythmically very strong and complex "Sanction" or above all the dramatically vibrant "Residual" with some impressive percussions and transcendental chorus will satisfy both, the old fans of the band and those more demanding listeners.
Jonas Renkse with his remarkable unique warm voice that cuts deep into the listeners soul once again sweeps with the competition and is most responsible that this album still sounds so very melancholic in the first place. The mood is not set so high like we were used from Katatonia in the past because of very complex and here and there teared up song structures, but it's with use of many acoustic elements, atmospheric keys, classical instruments and quite a few interesting electronic samples that Katatonia make their sound even more intriguing and rich. I was also impressed by some mesmerizing guitar leads played by recently recruited guitarist Roger Öjersson (Tiamat), just listen for example to "Serac" and you will find it out why, and if I'm already at this special song, be attentive to some elements that reminds to David Bowie's last album Black Star.
With all that said, my conclusion is that The Fall Of Hearts is an album that should be heard as an entirety, it might be a difficult listen though, but if you are just a bit of a sonic adventurer you might discover many hidden elements that slowly unveil to the devoted listener. The production is impressive, self-produced by Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse, while the mixing and mastering duties were carried out by who else than Jens Bogren. The Fall Of Hearts is an album that is pushing the musical boundaries beyond anything acceptable in metal music and I'm sure that with this album Katatonia will only find new fans in the sector reserved for the likes such are Anathema, Antimatter and of course Opeth, Porcupine Tree and also Steven Wilson to name a few. If buying the album than try to get any of special deluxe editions because some nice bonuses are included into the set. If only there would be one or two more songs in the vein of "Old Heart Falls" or perhaps "Residual" than my rating would be much higher.
Review written by: T.V.