Katatonia
Discouraged Ones


3.0
good

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (108 Reviews)
January 6th, 2017 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The glint of a new dawn.

Sometimes the intended path simply isn’t sustainable. Katatonia barely got off the ground before facing such a reality. Key to this was Jonas Renkse losing his ability to maintain harsh vocals after Dance of December Souls, resulting in the use of Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) for Brave Murder Day’s harsh leads. However, Akerfeldt was more of a temporary placation for the band so that they could take the time to pull something else together. What followed was an effective nail in the coffin for Katatonia’s death metal elements, from the aggressive instrumental work right down to the growls and lyrical themes. The album in question, Discouraged Ones, thus holds a distinct honor as the first Katatonia album to show audiences a heavy doom rock style that would, over time, become the band’s defining sound.

One doesn’t even need to hear the album to suspect that Discouraged Ones will depart from its predecessors; the more colorful artwork and greater number of tracks are practically giveaways on their own. When “I Break” opens the album, however, that’s when we realize just how far the shift in direction has gone. Bizarre as it initially sounds, the new formula comes across as rather promising. Brave Murder Day’s repetitive nature hasn’t been completely abandoned, the production seems fuller, and Renkse’s clean vocals, though imperfect, do sound mostly sufficient. Rounding out the entire package is an utterly hazy atmosphere, like a sickly fire sprinkling its sparks in the fog of a frigid winter day, constantly suggesting that nightfall is imminent. Likewise, “Cold Ways,” the album’s longest track (around 5 minutes), makes an effective use of dispersing calm, mostly natural lulls amidst a high-driven song.

Being so sickly in nature, one might expect this particular chapter in Katatonia’s discography to embrace and explore its newfound conditions. However, Discouraged Ones is an album that weeps and withers in its own morose state, offering much of what it has at face value. The repetitive guitar playing, though effective on Brave Murder Day, feels vacuous here. It starts out as a minor grievance but steadily turns the album into a tragic tire. Since the guitars are beefed up in volume, they feel that much more integral to the music. Yet when their role comes across as so simple and compressed, it’s difficult to become invested. Providing more (but shorter) tracks undoubtedly plays a part in this struggle, considering any build-up and payoff in any individual song is short-lived, leading to a collection of less-than-memorable moments. Furthermore, when several songs resort to similar, unremarkable patterns, it’s easy to quickly lose interest in the first place.

The final solidification of Discouraged Ones’ faulty nature is Renkse’s singing, both in execution and implementation. His performance is frail and comparable to a whimpering adolescent, if only due to being so undeveloped. On the off chance he raises his voice, the creaks not only show, they dominate. It reaches particularly awkward heights during the chorus on “Relention,” where a muffled effect comes in, as if to distort or otherwise shut out his presence. To that end, Renkse’s vocal performance on Discouraged Ones is, in and of itself, a fitting metaphor for the entire album; you can pick up on the potential, but it has a ways to go.



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user ratings (486)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2017


1007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I had this on constantly before and after shifts at work for the past week and a half, hoping to get something more out of it. But the more I listened, the less I looked forward to reviewing it. Seems the album is well received wherever I look, so hey, what do I know?

Limoncello
January 6th 2017


21 Comments


Good review. Yeah definitely one of Katatonia's more underwhelming albums, although it was the dawn of a new sound for these guys. I do like the atmosphere and production of this album, and I like the vocals more than you do. Have a pos!

manosg
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2017


10580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really enjoyed the write up, Xeno. pos.



This was my first Katatonia album in the form of a copied cassette I borrowed and never returned. So the fact that I had never checked their previous stuff at the time, certainly played a role along with the sentimental value of course.

Digging: Travelin Jack - Commencing Countdown

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2017


7603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Song structures are same-y throughout, but the album's monotony sticks with you.



Good review.

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

Sabrutin
January 6th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's good to have reviews with varied opinions, especially in this case. This album is often seen as Katatonia's masterpiece but it's very far from one in my opinion. You explained why well enough. Though personally the overall atmosphere works very well and the vocals carry enough memorability and character to make the album a great experience. There are some curveballs here and there too, like the second half of Last Resort, the instrumental piece, or Gone. My favorite tracks are I Break and Distrust.



By the way, have you heard the Saw You Drown EP? That's the album with which Katatonia fully moved into clean singing zone. It also features the (10 and a half minutes long) Scarlet Heavens, which is the most goth rock song they ever composed, interesting take on vocals by Renkse.



Also shout-out to Limoncello for having that username. I could really go for a limoncello right now

Digging: And Also The Trees - (Listen for) the Rag and Bone Man

KILL
January 6th 2017


80846 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

better than their later shit

72haha72
January 6th 2017


476 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This is still my favorite Katatonia record. Songs like Cold Ways, Nerve, Stalemate, Deadhouse, I Break, Saw you Drown, are all among Katatonia's best songs in my books. No other Katatonia album sounds quite like this one. I think Renkse's underdeveloped vocals work out perfectly with the raw and repetitive nature of the music in this album. It's probably Katatonia's gloomiest record.

Sabrutin
January 6th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Surprised by not seeing Distrust there. I'd say Discouraged Ones, Tonight's Decision and LFDGD are their peak gloom-wise (my favorite of these is LFDGD). They never recaptured the hopelessness of these albums in my opinion. NITND comes close though, it's arguably their most oppressive effort, actually makes sense that some people even find it boring

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2017


1007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Limon: I can definitely see how people would enjoy the album more than me, it just didn't manage to work enough magic on me.



@manosg: Glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes heading into an album completely blind can bring you some great surprises. For me, getting recommendations on YouTube has basically replaced stumbling upon used treasures at FYE, but every now and again an enticing CD will show up there.



@Sabrutin: One thing that I'm happy to see is that there seems to be a fair amount of variety in people's favorite Katatonia album. I think the only albums I've never seen a single person call their favorite are TD, TGCD and NITND. I just think that shows how much a single Katatonia album can speak to any given person. I almost never listen to EP's, which I should probably change real soon, especially since my BMD copy came with the SOD tracks.



@72: I wouldn't say it's their gloomiest, but it does make a strong case. I am glad you like it so much, it's always great to find an album you can be enamored by. I think having a sound unlike other Katatonia albums is an aspect all of their albums have more than one might think, even if some borrow heavily from others. But that's all the more reason their entire catalog is so interesting to look at.

Sabrutin
January 7th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"the only albums I've never seen a single person call their favorite are TD, TGCD and NITND"

Strange, TGCD is a very popular choice. It's their fan-favorite classic, together with VE. Sputnik doesn't like to talk about TD for some reason, despite the high avg. NITND is pretty loved, I'm sure I saw a few users calling it their best (for good reasons, I'd say, though it's not my favorite).



"EPs"

Katatonia has the habit of putting out some very nice EPs (and "glorified singles"). Especially in the early discography. For example, I consider For Funerals to Come to have some of their very best material with harsh vocals.

This is the Scarlet Heavens I mentioned before. Pretty interesting in my opinion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R5akvZkvpk

Flugmorph
January 7th 2017


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0



Sounds of decay is one of the best eps in doom metal yo

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2017


1007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It's undoubtedly popular, especially with how often its tracks appear on setlists. But I usually see people name their favorite album as BMD, LFDGD, VE and DEK.



That was interesting. Has a frail, empty sound, really dig the guitar melodies. The vocals are downright ghoulish, reminds me of the one or two tracks I've heard by Type O Negative.

72haha72
January 7th 2017


476 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Tonight's Decision is probably overlooked because it's sandwiched between their best albums. It has great songs and Renkse was clearly stepping up his game, but the musicianship is slightly weaker than Discouraged Ones and Last Fair Deal Gone Down.

Sabrutin
January 8th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In my view TD is a clear attempt at stepping up in quality but ended up having less character than its predecessor, and it feels more tiresome to sit through. However it offers more catchy hooks and arguably it sounds more crushing. DO and TD are about on the same level for me

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2017


1007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I gotta say, I thought this was difficult to review and that I'd have an easier time with TD, but it's proving to be way more challenging.

72haha72
January 17th 2017


476 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I wrote a sputnikmusic review for Tonight's Decision about 9 years ago, I remember it took me a while to get started. I was 18 when I wrote it, though (besides, English is not my native language). I think it's my least favorite Katatonia album after Dance Of December Souls.

Flugmorph
January 17th 2017


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ye its their least good album fo sho

Sabrutin
January 17th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That opinion triggers me tbh

Flugmorph
January 17th 2017


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very sad

Sabrutin
January 17th 2017


4555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fits the band



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