In 1996, Katatonia recorded what is definitely their masterpiece, Brave Murder Day. Notable for the fact that this was the point at which Renkse was no longer able to sing in the guttural style (Opeth's Mikael ┼kerfeldt took care of that), the album also marked a new chapter in the band's sound overall. Gone were the black metal aspects of their earlier work, and the doomier aspects were set aside for a leaner, higher tempo -- yet firmly metal -- dynamic. In fact, Brave Murder Day is the most thorough and accomplished (first-phase) release from the band, and a true favorite of mine. The music is simple, almost trance-like gothic metal topped with ┼kerfeldt's signature shouts and growls; it's a real delight! There are also quieter moments on tracks like "Day" which showcase a nice touch and a warm balance to the album. These softer spots never really hint at the band's coming genre shift, and unlike later outings, there are no borderline alternative rock moments on Brave Murder Day, which is actually a good thing. Consistent and committed to its gloomy theme, this 1996 offering represents the metallic high-water mark from an ever-evolving group.