Katatonia
Sky Void of Stars


4.2
excellent

Review

by Dewinged STAFF
January 20th, 2023 | 244 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forever Young. Forever Night.

When I was a small misbehaving buck, my parents used to soft lock me in a dark room for a few minutes as a sort of punishment. It was terrifying. As years went by, this practice continued, and I found that dark room increasingly comforting, to the point that I would make a mess just to have an excuse to be left alone there with silence and a wandering mind as my only company. At one point, I even thought I had superpowers because I could almost see in the dark... Aaah, the treasures of youth.

As an adult, the shadows became synonymous with peace of mind. Rooted on this strange practice, I started to develop the habit of listening to music in a dark room too. It's something I haven't done recently, as life puts you in situations when doing this would only make the people around you afraid for your sanity, but there are a few special occasions and a few special bands that demand the dark room treatment, and Katatonia is one of them.

I know many people reading this will understand the piercing emotion of that first contact with Katatonia: mine was “My Twin”. The way their songs crawl into your system can't be compared with anything else, it's hard to put into words, but it’s something truly special. The feelings they conjure are as cryptic as Jonas Renkse's unique lyricism. A few notes in and you're instantly hit with a stream of blissful melancholy, of uplifting sadness and now, after so many years in the company of their music, of much welcomed nostalgia.

This is a band on their 13th album with more than thirty years of releases and exhaustive touring cycles. In spite of it all, Katatonia has always pushed through the odds and have emerged victorious on the other side, usually with an amazing record as proof. The short hiatus of 2017, on the other hand, was the only time I personally thought that it was the end for them, and once again they returned with City Burials, an album that saw them rejuvenated, but also maturing their sound and pacifying the flames of old with newfound serenity. With Jonas Renkse taking the reins not only as a songwriter and composer, but also putting his emblematic voice at the forefront of Katatonia's music and after taking the plunge from Peaceville to Napalm Records, the band has once again summoned the mysterious forces that guide them, and it feels like they had never left.

Sky Void of Stars is a step beyond City Burials in that same direction, where maturity tames their everlasting flame, but this time looking over the shoulder and reaching even further into the past. "Austerity" hits like thunder out of a clear night sky and it feels instantly familiar. The opener could fit into Night is the New Day or in any of the other pre-hiatus releases. It's short and sweet, combining the intricate drum patterns of a very settled Daniel Moilanen with the battering riffing of Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson. The same ghosts of the past appear on the next track, "Colossal Shade", channeling The Great Cold Distance's energy like twenty years haven't gone by for the Swedes.

Things take a slight turn with "Opaline". I'm most certain that sections like the chorus will take time to sink in, but once they do, they will be impossible to cast away. This first section of the album is rounded up by the fast-paced gothic rock of "Birds", which leads to what I feel is the weakest link of the album. "Drab Moon" is not a bad song per se; It builds on a great nocturnal atmosphere, and Jonas' subtle harmonies are complemented gracefully with Nyström and Öjersson's guitar spells but it's somewhat sluggish, and it halts the album's momentum abruptly. On the other hand, the following "Author" quickly picks up the pace, featuring one of Jonas' greatest vocal melodies in the album and much of the superb work that's been done on this album's production.

The waning quarter of Sky Void of Stars includes several moments that ought to be highlighted. Jonas' heartful singing in the somber quasi-ballad "Impermanence", which also features Soen's Joel Ekelöf, the austerity and moody temper of "Sclera" and finally "Atrium", which is the undisputable highlight of the album for me and one of the best songs Katatonia have produced in a long time. The vanilla version of the album closes with "No Beacon to Illuminate Our Fall", a six-minute progression that lead the album to its end with robust resolve, but the special edition includes a bonus track titled "Absconder" that is worth considering, since it blends their most modern sound with the majestic heaviness of an album like Dead End Kings.

With Sky Void of Stars, Katatonia have managed to recapture the essence that made them sovereigns of the progressive metal scene, marrying the gloom wizardry they unearthed at the turn of the new millennium with the soothing wisdom that emanates from their latest compositions. It's the same magic that beckons me to the dark room once again, and there we meet like old friends relishing the past and dreaming of the future, because if something is clear after Sky Void of Stars it’s that Katatonia still has plenty to share, and the night is forever young.




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user ratings (166)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
TerraIncognita (3.5)
Katatonia don't reinvent their own wheel, but they have improved it at least....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Big thanks to Captain Ahab a.k.a. MiloRuggles for the clean up and the goth makeup!



Rejoice Katatonians, they're back, in love with this album.



"Atrium": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB24-hVZ88k

"Austerity": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTj41rDTgBw

"Birds": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ILWPwc4KaY



swallowtales
January 20th 2023


533 Comments


hmmmm I wonder if I should try this. I really like everything up to The Great Cold Distance, but I tried both Dead End Kings and The Fall of Hearts and didn't get into them at all.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Not even Night is the New Day?



I'd say you'll like some songs, how do you feel about the singles?

swallowtales
January 20th 2023


533 Comments


Haven't given Night is the New Day a shot or heard any singles from this until now - I usually tend to almost always just listen to albums without anything that comes out beforehand, which is probably weird.

Just gave Atrium a crack, not sure it's going to be the one to turn it around for me, though I just started Night is the New Day and the first song is pretty cool. Maybe it's everything after that album that won't do it for me, who knows.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

If you like The Great Cold Distance there's a good chance you like NITND. After that they started ti simplify the prog little by little and went increasingly softer.



I do like everything they've ever done but that period will always be my favorite (TGCD and NINTD)

Underflow
January 20th 2023


5292 Comments


Looking forward to hearing this

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


46785 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

gonna check this soon. their bonus tracks always go so hard and probably shouldn't be bonus tracks



beautiful review but that goes without saying

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


17517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Easy 4/5 album. May even be a bit of a grower.

Fade2Black
January 20th 2023


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I could tell just by the singles that this album was gonna slap. Very, very good on first listen!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thank you Row!



"Very, very good on first listen!"



It's a grower!

ArteNovecento
January 20th 2023


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. Interested to hear this one. The Fall of Hearts and City Burials never had much staying power with me, but I love Great Cold Distance and Night is the New Day.

Shemson
January 20th 2023


3309 Comments


Excited to check this today, glad to see it’s already being well received!

cloakanddagger
January 20th 2023


565 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I have good first impressions for this album but I'm letting it sink in first. I found fall of hearts very boring on first listens but that album has really grown on me since, and I suspect it'll be a similar story here.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thank you cloak, it took some time for me too. I've had the promo for like 2 weeks, listened almost daily. At first I wasn't very impressed bu the middle tracks but Author first kicked in and the rest is also growing, especially Opaline. I'm still not entirely sold on Drab Moon and the closer (not the bonus track, which is awsm.)

KrillBoi
January 20th 2023


234 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Looking forward to spinning this, singles suggested they are back on track.

gravityswitch
January 20th 2023


1425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very pleasant first listen, I found it similar with The Fall of Hearts in term of melodies and pacing.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2023


17947 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I'll be checking this soon

OverSlyZed91
January 20th 2023


255 Comments


What? Fall of Hearts is far superior in every way.

KrillBoi
January 20th 2023


234 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is miles above City Burials already halfway through, great stuff!

Shemson
January 20th 2023


3309 Comments


Agree with the general first listen feelings
Feels better than City Burials with more in common with Fall Of Hearts melodically

Disappointed there are no duets though with female vocals - those have been a treat on recent albums



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