Katatonia
Tonight's Decision


3.5
great

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
January 12th, 2017 | 34 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wilted, yet blossoming.

Katatonia effectively became a different band after releasing Discouraged Ones in 1998. Their departure into a lighter shade of doom music could be considered a fresh start--a quasi-debut, if you will. To that end, Discouraged Ones was par for the course: ripe with raw, untapped potential. Listeners wouldn’t have to wait long for a follow-up, however, as Tonight’s Decision was released a mere 16 months after its predecessor. Considering what became of both albums, we could view pre-turn-of-the-century Katatonia as a student turning in an initial rough draft, only to immediately hand over a different, edited version for the same assignment.

Unlike Discouraged Ones, which practically barged open with repressed angst, Tonight’s Decision lures and unfolds in a state of collected melancholia. This is a decidedly quieter affair, with backdrops of stillness amidst a surprising abundance of fun hooks and rhythms. Even at its heaviest, Tonight’s Decision hardly reaches the same overt persona; the production feels more refined and in favor of evenly balancing each member. Although guitars still drive home most of the album, they feel more punctual and less overbearing, allowing the other instruments to feel like they have a place. This extends to vocalist Jonas Renkse, who made some notable improvements in such a short span of time. While his overall pitch still borders on awkward levels, his deliveries are carried out with an air of confidence and conviction. Everything combines to create a catchy overall presence, reaching a particular high on the radio-friendly riffs of “In Death, a Song.” Moments like these, taken together, ultimately make Tonight’s Decision the most accessible and (arguably) easygoing Katatonia album. Want further proof? The album’s penultimate track is a cover of Jeff Buckley’s “Nightmares by the Sea,” whose banging chorus borders on being too conspicuous for its own good, which may be due to the songs it’s sandwiched between.

Not to be overtaken by borderline-upbeat moments, however, Katatonia retain their despondency by infusing a more mellow touch into their framework. Part of the band’s overarching appeal has been their duality of bleak themes and alluring music, so the decision to include less of a droning effect from song to song was only inevitable. Similar to how Brave Murder Day’s slow, chilling moments kept things varied and interesting, Tonight’s Decision frequently breaks the pattern for more than a few seconds at a time. “A Darkness Coming” uses its first two minutes to woefully demonstrate this, pulling us in with a delicate grasp before the music picks up, tightening its grip. Thanks to this injection of variety, the more familiar-sounding moments from Tonight’s Decision stand out and leave a stronger impression. Both “Had To (Leave)” and “Black Session” take the band’s established method of repetition to craft a slow build-up, with the former bestowing a chilling climax halfway through before resuming the entrancing pattern. These moments work so well not just because they’re closer to the band’s roots, but also because they’re clearly distinguishable from the surrounding tracks. As they say, variety is the spice of life.

If any expression encapsulates Tonight’s Decision, it would be that it’s a cautious step in the right direction. Katatonia were still trying to find a groove that they could work with and grow from, which helps explain their dabble into gentler waters here. They were still exploring the gamut, but had much more to discover before setting a new stone in their foundation. Tonight’s Decision modestly peeks into certain corners, curious but not quite ready to commit to its shiny findings.



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user ratings (521)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
72haha72 (3.5)
Pretty interesting album to be honest...

Cravinov13 (4)
...

Altmer (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2017


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Going in, I thought this album would be a cakewalk to review. It ended up being more challenging to find the words for than DO. Either way, I definitely prefer this to DO. Favorite track is "Had To (Leave)" followed by "Black Session."

renegadestrings
January 12th 2017


1523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Your reviews are really well written, and comparing this to a student's edited rough draft is wildly accurate. This truly is a more somber, better-executed version of Discouraged Ones. Still, this and DO were steps down from BMD in my opinion. It wasn't until LFDGD and Viva Emptiness that they really bloomed. Excited to read your next, undoubtedly well thought out, review.

Sabrutin
January 12th 2017


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos'd as usual. Comparing this to a student's edited rough draft is indeed wildly accurate [2]



The progression from DO to LFDGD is commendable. This is the middle ground, where they try to upgrade things. I'll quote myself from the other thread: 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.



It does feel like "depressive pop rock" at times. My highlights are... basically everything except the cover song, my absolute favorite is probably Right into the Bliss (intro!). I'll add the reissue bonus No Devotion too. Idk maybe I don't really want to place it on the same level as DO, but something always stops me from upping the score

pizzamachine
January 12th 2017


14240 Comments


Very nice review bro. I'll check this out.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2017


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Appreciate the kind words!



@Ren: Definitely agree with the BMD sentiment. Admittedly, it's a different beast from DO and TD, but its existence is enough to make one long for something similar in quality. LFDGD should be an interesting album to dig into.



@Sab: Funny thing about that line is that when I wrote it, I thought back on all the times I turned a paper/test in myself only to realize where I messed up or could've made an even better case. I will say TD made a strong first impression before quickly wearing off, but then eventually won me over again. I actually lose a bit of interest from "This Punishment" through "No Good Can Come of This." The songs are still fun and catchy, but they don't strike me the same way as most of the other tracks.

pollastrerostit
January 13th 2017


46 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review! Although it is something entirely different, I think DO is definitely on par with the older material and far better than Tonight's (and than anything they've done after with the possible exception of VE)

Sabrutin
January 13th 2017


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn I think that the way This Punishment transitions to Right into the Bliss is one of the most memorable moments in the discography haha. Had to (Leave)~A Darkness Coming is my favorite stretch in the album (makes more sense in my mind because I consider the 13 tracks version). Anyway you're already absolved by bringing this album to discussion on Sputnik for once

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2017


2611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review man, just one thing to note:



as Tonight’s Decision released a mere 16 months after its predecessor



I think this sentence needs "was" in between "Decision" and "released".



As for the album, I remember liking it back when I gave it a listen some five/six years ago, but I'd certainly need to revisit it for a clearer verdict. However, "Black Session" has remained one of my favourite Katatonia songs, if only for its strange sense of charm throughout.

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2017


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@linguist: You are correct, good sir. Nice catch. If you enjoyed "Black Session" I think you'd like "Had To (Leave)" with another listen. The entire album strikes me as the kind that you listen to, enjoy for what it is and quickly move on from. But then you crave a little something familiar, but also faintly different. That's when I could see myself spinning this album again.

Ocean of Noise
January 14th 2017


10676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably the weakest Katatonia album imo. Still enjoyable though.

Digging: After Forever - Exordium

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2017


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'll get back to you on that lol

Sabrutin
January 14th 2017


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can take this over 3-4 other albums personally

King_Smithy
September 19th 2017


292 Comments


I remember losing a job around the time I was getting into this album...still kinda hard to listen to.

"I'd like to try to live my life again. I'd like to see where I was going wrong."

Sabrutin
September 24th 2017


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this is a tough one. LFDGD is the one with which I have the connection that makes it hard to listen to it, but this is no joke either. This is arguably the most crushing album in the discog guitar-wise. They tried to get heavy with Viva Emptiness but the bleakness in this one feels real, whereas I can't say the same for VE

McNamara
September 24th 2017


87 Comments


This is the only Katatonia album that I just never listen to. Not sure what it is, but it just never really became a regular in the rotation. Just feels flat for the most part.

BlackwaterPork
September 24th 2017


4390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

whatcha tongue sonny, this here is a great album

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2017


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I don't listen to this nearly as frequently as my favorites, but I'll still take it over DO, VE and even LFDGD more times than not, despite the awkward vocals.

Sabrutin
September 25th 2017


6373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Full spin in 3

2

1



(No Devotion and Fractured included)

Hawks
January 19th 2018


73550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jamming this one now on my Katatonia discog binge. Crazy how even their "worst" album still rules. m/

Digging: Erang - Kingdom Of Erang

Darius the Great
January 19th 2018


20837 Comments


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