Review Summary: A roaring hybrid of Gothic/Doom Metal done to perfection.
Although Katatonia has completely revamped their sound in the more recent years, far from where they started at, they had in my opinion, created a masterpiece with their 1996 Opus, "Brave Murder Day". Back when they had harsh vocals in the mix, Katatonia played a Doom Metal hybrid wrapping around a solid Gothic Rock foundation, relying less on Jonas's clean singing and more on harsh screams. Unlike "The Great Cold Distance", Katatonia had produced longer songs with much more detail and adding various elements unseen from recent times towards the music.
One reason why this might be Katatonia's popular albums is because of Mikael Akerfeldt's contributions to this project. I can say that once again, Akerfeldt delivers a fine performance, delivering all the harsh vocals on this album with remarkable passion. Jonas Renske had taken a backseat towards Katatonia's sound early, providing minimal opportunities with his clean voice. Although his voice isn't primarily featured throughout the disk, he does an excellent job when given his opportunity to shine. The track, "Day" features all clean vocals courtesy of him. This is also a track where the guitarist's shine as well, laying down repetitive melodic riffs capable of entrancing the listener upon listen. Although the riffing is never really heavy or technical at any point , it is done extremely well in providing a dark atmosphere for the vocals. Blackheim and Norrman paint a bleak picture of depression and melancholy with repetitive riffs that never get to the point of boring the listener. On this album, Jonas is the bands drummer, singing as well as providing a solid foundation of the band with his assortment of drum fills and double bass.
" Brave Murder Day" can be summarized as having basic Gothic Rock riffing merging with Death Metal growling. As much as I would like to say that Akerfeldt's performance is the standout here, I'd be lying. Hand's down, this goes to Blackheim and Norrman for creating such beauty with their instruments. Tempos remain slow to mid throughout, keeping balance, and never sacrificing speed for subtlety. Blackheim manages to create highly infectious melodies with ease as Norrman holds down the rhythm of the music. The lack of heaviness is made up with tight musicianship and songwriting. Many instrumental sections peak their way through, giving room away from the voice towards the music itself. Mikael Akerfeldt has a fine performance here. Adding his powerful roar to perfection, somewhat offsetting the rock vibe into something darker. Drumming is never fast here, Jonas just provides the background with basic rock patterns. That's not to say that it is bad in any way, just that they don’t stand out as much as the other instruments. Bass cannot be heard much as it is drowned out for the most part.
All in all, Katatonia have created an essential album for the Gothic/ Doom Metal genres. Heavy on the atmosphere, complete with mesmerizing guitar melodies and harsh/clean vocals executed to perfection, Katatonia have created an album for the ages. Since their early days towards the future, they have managed to create a masterpiece on such a level where they will never come close to again. Anyone into the darker and more melodic side of Metal should find this a very enjoyable album. This in my opinion is a perfect album describing a sharp and crystal clear image of sadness.
Blackheim – guitars, bass guitar
Jonas Renkse – drums, clean vocals
Fredrik Norrman – guitars
Mikael Akerfeldt – death vocals
Strong vocal performance from Jonas and Mikael
Excellent Guitar work
Length of songs might turn some off.
Bass is nonexistent