In 1996, Katatonia recorded what is definitely their masterpiece, Brave Murder Day. At that point, drummer and co-founder Jonas Renkse was no longer able to sing in the guttural style (Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt took care of that), yet the album marked a new chapter in the band's sound overall. They were no black metal elements, 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 release from the band, and a true favorite of mine. The music is simple, trance-like gothic metal topped with Akerfeldt's signature death 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 alt-rock moments on Brave Murder Day, which is actually a good thing. Consistent and fully realized, this 1996 offering represents a young band reaching its creative peak.