Katatonia
Sky Void of Stars


3.5
great

Review

by TerraIncognita USER (11 Reviews)
January 23rd, 2023 | 10 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Katatonia don't reinvent their own wheel, but they have improved it at least.

Quantifying a Katatonia release was a lot easier through Night is the New Day. Through their first eight albums, it felt like each release was a significant leap forward. It was a period of constant exploration, expansion, and refining of the band’s sound, and it made each release feel exciting and fresh. With the release of Dead End Kings, though, Katatonia dropped the exploration and expansion, and settled on simply refining. As a fan, it squashed any pre-release anticipation I might have had for the subsequent albums. It also made the albums themselves less exciting because it felt like I had already heard it before, and better, on previous releases. Worse, though, beginning with Dead End Kings it felt like the band lost their remaining fire, and were simply content to putter around lethargically. Granted, there was still enough to enjoy from each release because they weren’t objectively bad, but they weren’t essential either. So, where does that leave Sky Void of Stars?

If you’ve heard any of the pre-release singles, you should already be aware Katatonia still isn’t exploring or expanding their sound. Those songs are the same gothy dark rock with subtle prog flourishes they’ve been doing for years. On the other hand, Sky Void of Stars is one of the best refinements of their sound in quite a while. The most important of these refinements is the return of the energy levels that have been lacking since The Great Cold Distance (Night is the New Day is excellent, but energetic it is not). Opening track, “Austerity”, immediately benefits from these renewed energy levels; delivering a heavy track that is more playful with the prog elements because it is not hampered by sluggish tempos. Other notable tracks that make good use of the band’s renewed energy levels are “Colossal Shade”, “Birds”, and “Author”, all of which are able to be more creative with their rhythms and dynamics. Of course, Katatonia haven’t suddenly become this heavy, proggy, metal band; there are still plenty of slow atmospheric songs, but these have been refined as well.

If there is one thing Katatonia has been good at since the beginning, it’s creating a dense poignant atmosphere. Songs such as “Impermanence” capably deliver a strong melancholic atmosphere (as multiple Katatonia songs have done before), but it stands out due to its diverse sound, strong melodies, and a catchy chorus. In all honesty, the additional dynamics and enhanced prog influence a lot of these mellower songs contain is all it took to make songs that would have been unremarkable on the previous three releases into something compelling and interesting. As stated above, this in no way should imply that Katatonia have started experimenting with their sound or that Sky Void of Stars sounds like anything other than the fourth iteration of Dead End Kings, but it is better and that must count for something.

Katatonia are on autopilot. They’ve found their cruising altitude, steadied the course, and are seemingly content to stay that course. There’s nothing on Sky Void of Stars that you haven’t heard from the previous few releases, but it is a better version of that sound. Katatonia’s songwriting has improved immensely due to the inclusion of a more diverse range of tempos, more capable prog elements, expertly crafted atmospheres, and a catchier direction overall. While the pre-release tracks didn’t cause me to actually anticipate this release, and the songs themselves are crafted from the same formula Katatonia have been using for the last decade, this is a better version of that formula making Sky Void of Stars the first compelling Katatonia release in quite some time.



Recent reviews by this author
Soilwork OvergivenhetenAt the Gates At War with Reality
Iced Earth Live in Ancient KourionNe Obliviscaris Portal of I
Queensryche Queensryche EPIced Earth Dystopia
user ratings (166)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Dewinged STAFF (4.2)
Forever Young. Forever Night....



Comments:Add a Comment 
TerraIncognita
January 23rd 2023


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's good, just not original even within their own discography.

Tundra
January 23rd 2023


7539 Comments


Its adequate gothic metal, nothing more special beyond that

TerraIncognita
January 23rd 2023


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's a little harsh, ha ha. These guys were really good for awhile, and I'd say this is a return to form for them.



Willie
Moderator
January 23rd 2023


19319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Katatonia and Riverside are both bands I had written off after a series of boring albums from both of them, but they both surprised me with Friday's releases. Neither of them are really doing anything different or even doing much beyond their boring albums, but the changes were enough.

Darkwatch025
January 23rd 2023


381 Comments


I love all Riverside albums and the new one is no different for me, but the new Katatonia album is definitely better than the last one.

Tundra
January 23rd 2023


7539 Comments


Let me take that back and say this is very good for gothic metal, I'm just not the biggest fan of gothic metal personally. This also sounds a lot like Ghost to me

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2023


9927 Comments


"Birds" is Paradise Lost/Cure metal.



— [Night is the New Day] […] energetic it is not

I humbly beg to differ, it’s the epitome of energetic.


After a cursory listen and unlike previous 2-3 Katatonia albums, it’s safe to say that this album prompts me to grant it more listens.

Willie
Moderator
January 23rd 2023


19319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

That's a start, ha ha.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2023


28867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Really good review! I slightly disagree with some of it but all your points are fair and really well argued.

Willie
Moderator
January 23rd 2023


19319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I wasn't expecting total shit because their last album was pretty good too, but the two before it were kind of mind numbing.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2022 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy