Katatonia
The Fall of Hearts


4.0
excellent

Review

by Benjamin Kuettel STAFF
May 25th, 2016 | 927 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A more ambitious vision and clearly renewed purpose sees Katatonia at their finest in years.

Katatonia have achieved legendary status in the realm of Swedish heavy metal, with an evolution not dissimilar to English counterparts Anathema and Paradise Lost. One element that has remained intact throughout their various transformations is their masterful use of atmosphere, even if the compositional component has been largely streamlined by now. The Fall of Hearts is thankfully a largely adventurous offering, moreso than anything the band has recorded in many years. This latest by the morose quintet features plenty of surprising songwriting choices, including some of the their most bold musical explorations in quite some time. “Serac” navigates a maze of musical styles, bringing to mind bands like Opeth. The softer sides of bands like these are a large influence on …Hearts, sounding more akin to the latest releases by Riverside or Votum than their historical contemporaries My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost.

Progressive rock influences have always been present for Katatonia, but never quite in the vein seen here. Never before has the band sounded so comfortable and, well, right playing this style of music. The doom and gloom that makes up the marrow of Katatonia’s sound is now seen through a new, more conceptual framework executed magnificently. Album opener “Takeover” is a prime example of this. It begins abruptly with dreary, melodic guitars over Jonas Renkse’s crooning of days melting into nothingness, before suddenly transitioning into tribal drumming and technical guitar playing. The song keeps contorting and transforming as it goes along, repeating the emotionally resonant intro section at just the perfect time. This restless and breathtaking introduction to the album serves as a statement for what to expect from the rest, which is ultimately a more evolved and purposeful Katatonia.

The melodic, subtle verses and exploding choruses in nearly every song made for solid releases until now, but …Hearts takes this formula and turns it on its head. Straightforward, simple songwriting avenues are not wholly abandoned, as “Serein” and “Shifts” provide plenty of the more immediate thrills that fans of more recent outputs have come to expect, but they are no longer the main stylistic backbone of the band’s sound. Katatonia have more than proven that they can do no wrong no matter what they set out to do, though after a legendary existence, this musical shift is a welcome change. It expands on the brilliance of moments like the extended bridge of “First Prayer” from Dead End Kings for more than just a song or two per album. It allows for a full exploration of what has merely been hinted at in the past, and given the band’s more mainstream leanings in recent times, makes for a fresh take on a well-established sound.

Frontman Jonas Renkse has long been a highlight of Katatonia, and the more ambitious songwriting in …Hearts allows for his range to reach even farther than before. “Residual” in particular sees his voice blending with the guitar tones for some truly powerful moments. He is able to hit more emotional punches than before as well, including the previously mentioned “Takeover,” as well as “Decima.” The latter begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar melody with flutes intertwining together for an enchanting display over Renkse’s gentle yet heart-wrenching vocals. Renske carries the whole song alongside the impressive instrumentals, including newcomer Daniel Moilanen on drums. He does an admirable job keeping things interesting, fitting in well with the album’s more progressive songwriting.

…Hearts is indeed the band’s most sonically expansive release in over a decade, allowing for each band member to display their instrumental prowess in freshly creative ways. The spacier, lighter direction taken with Night is the New Day is still retained, with dynamic pianos and a pleasant ambience ever-present throughout the album’s staggering length. Being nearly seventy minutes in length, …Hearts is the band’s longest release since Dance of December Souls from over twenty years ago. It amazingly keeps the momentum going throughout the entire run time; the more impassioned and epic vision thankfully does not wear thin or drag at all. While many recent releases have ran out of steam as they went on, …Hearts ends on a high note with the closing trio of songs. These serve to exemplify the album’s variety, with “The Night Subscriber” featuring some of the most impressive drumming and guitar riffing of the album. The naturalistic lyrics, meditative guitar, and mellotrons of “Pale Flag” hearken to the more contemplative moments of Opeth, and “Passer” closes the album with a punch, being a high-octane metal epic with guitar leads and soloing galore.

There is nary a wasted moment within …Hearts, and sees Katatonia weaving gothic melodies into ever-changing dynamics for a versatile, magnificent record of depth and memorability. Soothing, contemplative soundscapes transition to bursts of energy at any moment, showing a band unafraid to still take risks far into their career, culminating in years of effort. While the band could have gone even farther in places, and maybe cut a song or two, The Fall of Hearts further establishes Katatonia as masters of their craft, always achieving, changing, and exploring.



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user ratings (570)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (4)
To come within the limits....

Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
"I'll rise to other heights now"...

jalexander311 (4.5)
The "Dead End" Kings rule their kingdom with an iron fist...

Brendan Schroer (5)
Weightless gravity, abstract sorrow......



Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2016


18058 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stream here: http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/katatonia-entire-the-fall-of-hearts-album-available-for-streaming/



For anyone interested, here's some bonus tracks I saw posted on another review:



Wide Awake in Quietus (iTunes bonus track): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJDEvBR2ZHY

Vakaren (digibook bonus track): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQJVBtaiN6M

Sistere (vinyl bonus track): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkSk2rrUklY

Digging: Mree - The Middle

Artuma
May 25th 2016


30109 Comments


brave murder day rocks but everything else i've heard from these guys is kinda meh

review is as hyperbolic as i could've expected from talons

Hellscythe
May 25th 2016


3244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hey I posted those, cool

this is the best review for this so far

Digging: The Twilight Sad - It Won/t Be Like This All the Time

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2016


18058 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Hellscythe!

ZippaThaRippa
May 25th 2016


10467 Comments


Lot of funky progressive things going on here

Egarran
May 25th 2016


8680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They should only release albums in late autumn. These vibes don't gel with summer.



It sounds great, though.

Tunaboy45
May 25th 2016


16702 Comments


Great stuff, definitely need to check this out.

SacredSerenity
May 25th 2016


694 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have to check this one out

Mongi123
May 25th 2016


20077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta agree with art about the hyperbolic part, but this is extremely well written man, well done.



Just can't wrap my head around this one.

DoctorDoom
May 25th 2016


2987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for sure. I agree that Katatonia give off a huge autumn vibe but oddly enough I usually go on a huge Katatonia kick around this time of year, so release was perfect for me.

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
May 25th 2016


4920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I bet this is similarly boring as the one before it. In no rush to check it out whatsoever.





But a nice review.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2016


18058 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys, there are a few songs here and there that're solid but don't do much for me. I decided to take out a lot of the hyperbole, and changed the tone of the ending paragraph.

teamster
May 25th 2016


3733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not to avoid the review entirely - but thanks for mentioning Votum , arguably my AOTY so far. ...New Day is my favorite Katatonia album , let's hope their is a tint of that album in this one. Kings was a bit of a letdown for me. Great review and thanks.

EvoHavok
May 25th 2016


7677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mind pos. Sweet read, Talons! We needed a positive review from a red title.

"...New Day is my favorite Katatonia album" Same here.

Digging: Swallow the Sun - When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light

DungeonBoy
May 25th 2016


5456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review! I really enjoy this album. Right now it's sitting between a 4.0-4.5, but I hope it ends up on higher end with repeated listens. You really hit the nail on the head with your review. I agree that there are only a couple straight forwards tunes on this, and a majority of the songs are rather complex in structure and shifts that become more clear with repeated listens.

Digging: Flying Horses - Reverie

blacklightjer
May 25th 2016


443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man, besides Serein, this album has completely failed to grab my attention. It's as if Katatonia forgot to record the guitars and what's left is a meandering, mid-tempo goth rock album that never really shines or impresses.



I felt the same way about Dead End Kings but then learned to love it so hopefully after a few hundred spins it will grow on me, cause right now it's a very average 2.5-3.

DungeonBoy
May 25th 2016


5456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In my experience with this, keep listening to it and it will grow.

DoctorDoom
May 25th 2016


2987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The guitars are more subtle than in previous releases where it's been the main attraction. However this doesn't effect my opinion on the record. Really good atmosphere.

CamiloG
May 25th 2016


2473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review man! This definetly needs several spins in order to grow.

LachesisV
May 25th 2016


1 Comments


Best review of the album I've read yet, and I agree.



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