The very beginning of a band’s career is an interesting area to witness. They’re fresh out of nowhere, releasing their raw, untamed sound on the world. Regardless if the beginning starts good or bad, it is one of the most important steps in the band’s progression, without a doubt. Katatonia are more known for starting with the slow-paced Dance of December Souls, a harsh taste of the then-infantile world of doom. They did, however, release a demo not many people have heard that got them signed, and strangely enough does not follow many characteristics of their debut, aside from Without God, which was also released on December Souls.
According to the band, Jhva Elohim Meth, a quote from Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”, means God Is Dead. Though, aside from Without God, the focus of the lyrics is despair and loneliness, with some black metal influence in both the music and lyrics. The music itself is very reminiscent of Paradise Lost’s first four albums; at times it sounds like they want to tribute the band. The riffs are very straightforward, but have that certain aura that Anders Nystrom later develops. It’s a sort of mystical attribute, further brought together with trickling keyboard effects. The intro and outro of the demo are perfect examples of this, and spurts of this atmosphere are thrown in throughout the three main songs.
Hearing The Northern Silence after anything off December Souls will probably surprise you, due to its fast pace and prominent bass line. Palace of Frost is similar in tempo, but uses more guitar effects. Jonas also uses his first clean vocals on The Northern Silence, and they actually sound pretty good and controlled. His growl, on the other hand, is just as maniacal as on December Souls, less controlled, and less intelligible.
This is an exciting release for Katatonia, as it showed their audience they had numerous paths to take, and indulged in atmosphere in a way unlike any band at the time. However, they had much room for improvement, which they constantly expanded upon with future releases. Nonetheless, the demo serves its purpose as a foundation for one of today’s most exclusive bands, and is worth the observation of fans to further understand the band’s inauguration into the metal scene.