Brave Yester Days
is a compilation album (name being a pun off their famous album Brave Murder Day
) jam packed on two discs the ‘greatest hits’ of Katatonia’s rare discography of EPs (from their first EP up to Saw You Drown
) and the full length albums Brave Murder Day
and Dance Of December Souls
. The two disc set chronicles Katatonia’s years before singer Jonas Renkse (a.k.a. Lord Seth) blew his voice and was unable to use harsh vocals and the years with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt (a good friend of Katatonia) on harsh vocals. The twos CDs work together as one whole album, and the production quality is rather amazing considering the songs are taken off rare EP releases. The compilation package is perfect for any new and old Katatonia fan and is a good way to get into death/ doom metal (it’s how I did anyways). Here are some of the highlights of Brave Yester Days
Disc One Highlights
The first disc of Brave Yester Days
is jam packed with some of Katatonia’s heaviest material, and has tracks ranging from epic tracks thirteen minutes in length to short filler tracks. Without God
is the first non-filler track on the album and kicks off with some harsh roars over some heavy, grooving guitar riffs. The growling is nothing amazing, considering Jonas Renkse was never that good a growler, the song still has a strong atmospheric flow to it and the guitar work throughout is amazing. The keyboard backdrop is also a nice touch to the song. The only real downside to this track is the lack of any good clean vocals (which Jonas Renkse is much better at doing). The next track, Palace Of Frost
is also an exceptional track for it’s opening riffs and thick atmosphere of soft guitar over heavy guitar riffs and mystic keyboard synths. AGain, the only real downside to this track is Jonas Renkse’s harsh vocals, which sound more like a pissed off yell half the time (which is ironic sense he is singing depressing lyrics)
Gateways Of Bereavement
is a very powerful, epic track that delivers some more well performed growls over some acoustic guitar strums overlapped with heavy electric distortion. The song has a very progressive feel to it, and ranges from sheer brutality to softer, doomy atmospheric music. The thirteen minute epic, Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)
is another great, progressive song fueled with dark, haunting atmospheres and crushing guitar riffs over above average growls. The song also hints some clean vocals in it amongst it’s softer, more mellow moments, but they are almost always interrupted by some harsh roars or heavy, progressive riffage. A more softer, epic track is Black Erotica
, which starts with soft guitar strums and atmospheric keyboard ambiance. The song’s heavier riffs are not crushing heavy like the previous two tracks, and have a very soft, mellow groove to them. The growling is nothing amazing on the track, but the atmosphere and musical progression of the song is beyond amazing.
The last of the epic tracks on the first disc is Funeral Wedding
, which delivers some mellow yet heavy guitar and bass riffs over soft drum lines and brutal harsh singing. The song once again shows Katatonia’s ability to create a very atmospheric, progressive feel as they change from fast grooves to slow, depressing riffs. The (mostly) instrumental track For Funerals To Come
is another standout for it’s brilliant mellow guitar work and beautiful keyboard ambiance and synths. No harsh vocals to old back the smooth flow of the song’s atmosphere, but the presence of haunting clean vocals gives the song even more power. It’s too bad the track is less then three minutes long.
Disc Two Highlights
This is the part of Brave Yester Days
in which Opeth fans will get to enjoy hearing Mikael Åkerfeldt as he does all the harsh vocals on the disc (which is a relief, since Jonas Renkse is not a very good harsh vocalist). The first noticeable track is the upbeat riffs and brutal roars of Rainroom
. The song’s atmosphere is very dense and the growling is suburb (cause it’s Mikael Åkerfeldt!). The song keeps a good, heavy flow to it before the first breakdown of melodic guitar strums enters and Jonas Renkse comes in with his beautiful clean vocals. Overall the song is the perfect example of what Katatonia was at their peak. Nerve
is the next stand out track on the album for it’s constant grooves and soft singing as the drums kick in. The song does not contain a lot of harsh vocals in it, but is still a good, heavy track with thick atmospheres and powerful guitar and bass grooves.
Saw You Drown
is a good, depressingly heavy song that features some powerful dynamic guitar riffs and beautiful clean vocals. By this point, the harsh vocals are very rare, but the songs still keep their hard hitting tunes and crushing guitar atmosphere. The only epic track on the second disc is Scarlet Heavens
, which is another fast paced song with some great atmospheric synths and keyboard work and some very catchy drum lines. The song has some great musical background and powerful atmospheres and great clean singing. The songs overall feel is some of the best progressive doom metal on the entire compilation. Overall, the second disc is held back more mainly due to it’s very poor production quality for most of the songs.
-- Great atmospheres and musicianship.
-- Beautiful instrumentals.
-- Great lyrics.
-- Disc 2 features Mikael Åkerfeldt!
-- Jonas Renkse is not a good harsh vocalist.
-- Bad production for a lot of the songs.
1. Midwinter Gates (Prologue) (4/5)
2. Without God (5/5)
3. Palace Frost (4.5/5)
4. The Northern Silence (3.5/5)
5. Crimson Tears (Epilogue) (4.5/5)
6. Gateways of Bereavement (4.5/5)
7. Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl) (5/5)
8. Black Erotica (4/5)
9. Love of the Swan (3.5/5)
10. Funeral Wedding (4.5/5)
11. Shades of Emerald Fields (4/5)
12. For Funerals to Come (5/5)
13. Epistel (3/5)
1. Murder (4/5)
2. Rainroom (5/5)
3. Nowhere (3.5/5)
4. At Last (3/5)
5. Inside the Fall (4/5)
6. Untrue (3.5/5)
7. Nerve (4.5/5)
8. Saw You Drown (4/5)
9. Quiet World (3.5/5)
10. Scarlet Heavens (5/5)