Review Summary: A journey through 30 years of memories.
Once upon a time, somewhere in the Scandinavian sea, a certain tour manager had the bright idea to ship a bunch of metal bands on a cruise filled with alcohol to the brim. Needless to say, this eventful adventure wouldn’t be remembered for the music, but for the good times that were had, and the bonds that were strengthened. At the time, none of them couldn't have imagined that one of those bands were about to sail further, much further than an ethanol fueled vessel would ever do. History wanted that one of those bands, one hailing from Sweden, and waving a strange name like Katatonia, would become one of this reviewer's favorite acts, partly thanks to a long-term relationship going full meltdown, while the Swedes orchestrated it with a record aptly titled The Great Cold Distance
The ascending raven in the cover of this compilation is no coincidence either. The band has seen a steady rise from their first disastrous live performances to the impeccable shows they are capable today, with their music style traversing different phases and identities. Jonas and the rest of the band have always professed their love and respect for metal gods Judas Priest, which explains the shout out to the Screaming for Vengeance
cover found in the design for this compilation, although the cover of "Night Comes Down" included on this package belongs to Judas Priest's 1984's Defenders of the Faith
, and not to the winged LP previously mentioned. Little details and turbulent lore aside, it's fair to say that Mnemosynean
doesn't contain anything that was out of reach before. Every track included here has been released previously, either as part of The Black Sessions
, which their label, Peaceville, released in 2005, or as bonus tracks on any of the anniversary editions, reissues, and EPs released by the label during all these years.
But the fact is that Katatonia has turned 30 this year since their inception, and that calls for a celebration. The package itself is beautifully designed, with one edition containing three white vinyl in a gatefold LP or a double CD digipack format for those who embrace the digital age. The track list is generous too, with a total of 27 cuts that tell the story of the band backwards, starting with "Vakaren" and "Sestere", which belong to The Fall of Hearts
sessions, and ending with the ten minute epic "Scarlet Heavens", from a reissue in 2007 of their third full length Discouraged Ones
, and a few remixes and reinterpretations of some of their classics like "My Twin", "Day and Then the Shade" or "Idle Blood" by artists like Frank Default or Krister Linder.
It is true that unreleased material would have been ideal to spice things up, but the way these songs have been packed and presented makes for a good excuse for fans of the lads from Stockholm and vinyl collectors alike to justify the shopping. I personally had forgot about most of the material included here, and it's been a pleasure getting re-acquainted with it, especially with those songs that belong to the mid-late era, namely "Second", "The Act of Darkening", from the Dead End Kings
period, "Ashen" and "Sold Heart", which were recorded during the Night Is The New Day
studio sessions and last but not least, "Displaced" and "Dissolving Bonds", which were to be found in a vynil reissue of The Great Cold Distance
. Their early and distinct phase is also amply represented by tracks like "Fractured" and "No Devotion", from their fast romance with goth which resulted in Tonight's Decision
or "Sulfur" and "March 4", which were part of the Teargas
EP and contemporary to their acclaimed Last Fair Deal Gone Down
, the album where their style began to shape up as we know today. Sadly, there are no tracks pertaining to their early 90s doom era.
If the release of City Burials
last year signified the end of their ominous hiatus with a fantastic record, Mnemosynean
serves as a reminder of the constant evolution of a truly special gathering of musicians that still have much to offer, so raise your cups, ladies and gentlemen, here's to 30 more!