Rating:
8.0
Katatonia - Dance Of December Souls
14 December 1993


01. Seven Dreaming Souls
02. Gateways Of Bereavement
03. In Silence Enshrined
04. Without God
05. Elohim Meth
06. Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)
07. Tomb Of Insomnia
08. Dancing December
09. Midwinter Gates (Prologue) [2007 Re-Release bonus]
10. Without God [2007 Re-Release bonus]
11. Palace Of Frost [2007 Re-Release bonus]
12. The Northern Silence [2007 Re-Release bonus]
13. Crimson Tears (Epilogue) [2007 Re-Release bonus]


Sorrow. Despair. Darkness. The essence of Katatonia and the inspiration behind their debut album, Dance Of December Souls. An album so dark, so morose, that no smiling face or joyful soul could hope to escape its effects. It's here where Jonas Renkse (aka Lord J.Renkse) and Anders Nystrom (aka Blackheim) took the foundation of Paradise Lost's classic Gothic album and injected it with even more darkness and misery.

Indeed, it was in fact that album that Anders has stated was the main inspiration for the direction of Katatonia's music. He also makes no secret of the fact that Gregor Mackintosh has made the biggest impact on his playing, something very evident with just one listen to Dance Of December Souls, as the mournful guitar harmonies that characterized early Paradise Lost is utilized here by Blackheim to its' fullest extent.
But Katatonia are not a carbon copy of the UK doomsters, as they are more concerned with enveloping the listener in total hopelessness and bleak misery, making for songs that at times reach and exceed the fifteen minute mark. The intro, "Seven Dreaming Souls," should have been titled "Seven Screaming Souls" as that is what you hear. Anguished souls agonizing for salvation from the endless pits of darkness soon crashing into "Gateways Of Bereavement" and its sorrowful strings and despondent spirit. Lyrics of emotional decay and mournful longing screamed out in agony by Renkse in a manner that leaves none in doubt as to this man's sincerity. You know he feels this. Never has there been a vocal performance this tortured, this agonizing. The man is basically pleading for deliverance, desperately longing for some sense of hope in a world all too bleak to withstand.
"In Silence Enshrined" is a lovelorn cry of sadness picking up in tempo half way through aided by some nice atmospheric guitar work and Renkse's unpredictable drumming. Admittedly not a very accomplished drummer, his playing is at times a bit awkward, yet he never attempts something that is beyond his capabilities and does manage to make things interesting at certain times. "Without God," a song that seems to be a fan favorite from this album, sees Renkse screaming forth blasphemies such as "Your fucking God is dead, and shall forever be!" and "A dawn without your fucking God!", playing into the black metal tag that is applied to this period of the band. Now I must say that I have never considered Katatonia to be a black metal band, but one cannot deny the influence that this genre has had on the band's sound. When they were still in their demo days, they often were seen wearing corpse-paint and bullet belts and though that image was scaled down considerably by the time they released this album, its traces can still be heard mainly in the vocals, which at times are pure black metal screams. This is what set Katatonia apart from other early 90's doom/death bands like Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. Where those bands had roots in death metal, Katatonia were more rooted in black metal, making for an album that was far bleaker than any of the doom albums of that time. "Elohim Meth" is a clean guitar instrumental accompanied by the sound of rain showing that the band could be just as effective with a mellower approach, if not more so than their standard fare.

My personal favorite from this disc is "Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)," where Blackheim's sorrowful harmonies along with the tortured cries of Renkse make for a hypnotizing combination. This lengthy journey into despair features every aspect of Katatonia's presentation, from the harsh black metal screaming to the acoustic moments, and stands as the most impressive track here. No lyrics are printed for "Tomb Of Insomnia" for some reason, but the song is another lengthy expression of misery, beginning with a more traditional doom approach and ending in total anguish with Jonas screaming desperately "Sorrow embrace my heart, so I can sleep." The ending instrumental "Dancing December" hints at the darkwave influence the band have always been vocal about, Blackheim's harmonies in this piece reminding of The Cure's more ethereal moments.

Along with bassist Israphel Wing, Renkse and Nystrom released one of the darkest albums to ever be recorded. Produced by Dan Swano at Unisound studios, this is an absolute must for any fan of dark atmospheric music, even if Jonas recently described this album as an "hour of shit". For people who have just gotten into Katatonia and have not heard this album, proceed with caution, for this hardly resembles the Katatonia of today, yet it's interesting to see how they have evolved from this stage to their current incarnation. Unforgiving bleakness.


Band profile: Katatonia
Album: Dance Of December Souls


 


written by Allen | 18.09.2003


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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vhaldemar - 13.02.2007 at 20:01  
a perfect album ...
Basso - 13.02.2007 at 20:46  
incredible album well worth a rating even above 9. Awesome indeed...
Xtreme Jax - 14.02.2007 at 15:44  
An excellent album thats for sure. Deserving of 9 or more thats for sure.
iaberis - 10.03.2007 at 08:28  
Very good music, although I'm not used to Katatonia sound like that, since I prefer their later sound, it's a really good album. It took me quite long to get used to these kind of vocals...
Uirapuru - 13.05.2008 at 08:22  
just listened to this album.. never heard of katatonia before.. and i liked... since im a great fan of atmospheric music.. its not bad at all.. best song: Without God.
CalebWilson - 12.08.2008 at 14:40  
I F***ING LOVE THE VOCALS. SO PENETRATING.

I had goosebumps all the way through Velvet Thorns. Read the lyrics, they're really powerful.
the napalm rain - 20.12.2008 at 09:15  
Sadness, Sorrow, Desperation, Loneliness, Depression

Doom=Katatonia
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 16:27  
I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...
Anyway, cool album. It doesn't actually bring out sorrow and misery, there are a lot better albums for that than this one, but the guitars are amaizing and they really do have that hypnotizing effect especialy with the vocals. And, there is like 8-9 different riffs (oftenly more) for each track! Amaizing!
8.5-9 from me.
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.02.2009 at 17:18  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 16:27

I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...




Look at the date this review was published
Mr. Doctor - 11.02.2009 at 17:19  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 17:18

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 16:27

I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...




Look at the date this review was published


And why it's not alowed?
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 18:09  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 17:18

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 16:27

I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...




Look at the date this review was published

2003... Your point is?
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.02.2009 at 18:12  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:09

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 17:18

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 16:27

I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...




Look at the date this review was published

2003... Your point is?


If I remember correctly we (the staff) decided on the matter of song by song reviews one or two years later so in 2004 or 2005
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 18:16  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:12

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:09

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 17:18

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 16:27

I thought song-by-song reviews are not allowed on MS. They didn't let me do that kind of a review...



Look at the date this review was published

2003... Your point is?


If I remember correctly we (the staff) decided on the matter of song by song reviews one or two years later so in 2004 or 2005

Now, how was I supposed to know?
And why did you disallow those?
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.02.2009 at 18:20  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:16


Now, how was I supposed to know?


Supposed to know what? That song by song reviews aren't allowed? That can be found here in the FAQ.
Or that at the time of this review it was still allowed?
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 18:26  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:20

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:16


Now, how was I supposed to know?


Supposed to know what? That song by song reviews aren't allowed? That can be found here in the FAQ.
Or that at the time of this review it was still allowed?

The second thing. I tried to pass up a song-by-song review myself (Theogonia by Rotting Christ), and found out that you really mean that. What I wonder is, why?
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.02.2009 at 18:28  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:26

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:20

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:16


Now, how was I supposed to know?


Supposed to know what? That song by song reviews aren't allowed? That can be found here in the FAQ.
Or that at the time of this review it was still allowed?

The second thing. I tried to pass up a song-by-song review myself (Theogonia by Rotting Christ), and found out that you really mean that. What I wonder is, why?

Song by song reviews usually become too long and boring. It doesn't add anything to a review. We like to keep the reviews between 250 and 500 words
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 18:32  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:28

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:26

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:20

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:16


Now, how was I supposed to know?


Supposed to know what? That song by song reviews aren't allowed? That can be found here in the FAQ.
Or that at the time of this review it was still allowed?

The second thing. I tried to pass up a song-by-song review myself (Theogonia by Rotting Christ), and found out that you really mean that. What I wonder is, why?

Song by song reviews usually become too long and boring. It doesn't add anything to a review. We like to keep the reviews between 250 and 500 words

But it's neccecary sometimes. I mean, some Brutal Death or Black albums sure as hell don't need it (as you can't tell one track from another) but when an album like Theogonia comes along, you just can't review it well without the use of song-by-song.
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.02.2009 at 18:33  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:32


But it's neccecary sometimes. I mean, some Brutal Death or Black albums sure as hell don't need it (as you can't tell one track from another) but when an album like Theogonia comes along, you just can't review it well without the use of song-by-song.



Believe me every single album on this planet can be reviewed well without the use of song-by-song.
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 18:34  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.02.2009 at 18:33

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:32


But it's neccecary sometimes. I mean, some Brutal Death or Black albums sure as hell don't need it (as you can't tell one track from another) but when an album like Theogonia comes along, you just can't review it well without the use of song-by-song.



Believe me every single album on this planet can be reviewed well without the use of song-by-song.

Well, yeah, but what good is a review like that? It can never fully explain the music.
Mr. Doctor - 11.02.2009 at 18:49  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:34

Well, yeah, but what good is a review like that? It can never fully explain the music.


And a song-by-song review can fully explain the music?
Nah, the only wait to understand is to listen to the music.
Slayer666 - 11.02.2009 at 19:04  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.02.2009 at 18:49

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 18:34

Well, yeah, but what good is a review like that? It can never fully explain the music.


And a song-by-song review can fully explain the music?
Nah, the only wait to understand is to listen to the music.

And how do you know weither it's your kind of music or not before listening to it? You need a lenghtly song-by-song. Of course, it's not needed for many albums, but there are some that so despratly do need it.
Mr. Doctor - 12.02.2009 at 17:29  
Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 19:04

And how do you know weither it's your kind of music or not before listening to it? You need a lenghtly song-by-song. Of course, it's not needed for many albums, but there are some that so despratly do need it.


I think you can make a review of any album without even talking about every single song. Giving some sort of explanation of the overall feeling, performance, each instrument, production, originality and etc,etc...
Slayer666 - 12.02.2009 at 18:17  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 12.02.2009 at 17:29

Written by Slayer666 on 11.02.2009 at 19:04

And how do you know weither it's your kind of music or not before listening to it? You need a lenghtly song-by-song. Of course, it's not needed for many albums, but there are some that so despratly do need it.


I think you can make a review of any album without even talking about every single song. Giving some sort of explanation of the overall feeling, performance, each instrument, production, originality and etc,etc...

Yes, yes, yes. That can go for about 92% of albums out there. What about the other 8%? Songs on some albums are so different from one another, they don't even create the same feeling, instruments may be completely different or at least used completely different etc.
Mr. Doctor - 12.02.2009 at 22:35  
Written by Slayer666 on 12.02.2009 at 18:17

What about the other 8%? Songs on some albums are so different from one another, they don't even create the same feeling, instruments may be completely different or at least used completely different etc.


Nothing is impossible. There's always a pattern in an album... Otherwise... It would be a REALLY inconsistent piece of music.

And if you want another explanation to why those kind of reviews are not allowed here is because they are waaaaaaaay to long and boring to even care.
Slayer666 - 13.02.2009 at 00:12  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 12.02.2009 at 22:35

Written by Slayer666 on 12.02.2009 at 18:17

What about the other 8%? Songs on some albums are so different from one another, they don't even create the same feeling, instruments may be completely different or at least used completely different etc.


Nothing is impossible. There's always a pattern in an album... Otherwise... It would be a REALLY inconsistent piece of music.

And if you want another explanation to why those kind of reviews are not allowed here is because they are waaaaaaaay to long and boring to even care.

Care about what?
rageing atheist - 13.02.2009 at 01:38  
I personally dislike song by song reviews because they may spoil the album for me prior to hearing it. For example I do not want to read from an album review about unexpected changes during the course of the album, I'd rather hear them firsthand. I'd like reviews to give me a general idea about the music and maybe also of the concept of the album, nothing more.
Mr. Doctor - 13.02.2009 at 18:22  
Written by Slayer666 on 13.02.2009 at 00:12

Written by Mr. Doctor on 12.02.2009 at 22:35

Nothing is impossible. There's always a pattern in an album... Otherwise... It would be a REALLY inconsistent piece of music.

And if you want another explanation to why those kind of reviews are not allowed here is because they are waaaaaaaay to long and boring to even care.

Care about what?


...This is getting off topic but if I really need to to explain something that I don't need to explain:

What I wanted to say is that a person who suddenly see a song-by-song review that is very fucking long. They will just don't care of reading it. And that's a probem frm the staff and so on.
Powerslavex - 02.06.2009 at 23:25  
The first time I've listened to Katatonia, and what an epic album i'm totally shocked by this album it deserves a 10
Powerslavex - 05.06.2009 at 23:05  
Made in heaven 10
Slayer666 - 05.11.2010 at 17:05  
Good lord, this is awesome. I know it's stupid to comment on it again after having done so many times before, but shit, this is the single greatest Doom album ever to grace our ears. I don't see how it can be topped, ever.
"Velvet Thorns" is a 14 minute piece of pure sorrowful, mesmerizing perfection, and it alone is worth the entire album. This is the only release by any band that I can listen to again and again and again, and don't get tired of for a second.
Pankar95 - 06.05.2011 at 20:46  
Underrated doom metal masterpiece
Mr. Doctor - 13.05.2012 at 18:55  
Written by Slayer666 on 05.11.2010 at 17:05
but shit, this is the single greatest Doom album ever to grace our ears. I don't see how it can be topped, ever.


I think you mean "My ears" instead of "our ears". You might think this is the best doom metal album ever but I believe many would beg to differ.It's a fantastic album and all, but to me it doesnt even compare with other albums which I believe embrace far more of what Doom Metal can do. Like Warning, Candlemass or in the extreme part of the spectrum, Esoteric for example. To me this album doesn't cover enough ground to really deserve a "best of genre" tag..... At most it would be a "Best black/doom" which is something I could probably agree at this point.
Slayer666 - 17.05.2012 at 19:47  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 13.05.2012 at 18:55

You might think this is the best doom metal album ever but I believe many would beg to differ.


Ugh, yea. Like...duh. I've no doubts about it. The way I wrote that post served to illustrate how much I love the album, not to state how everyone feels the same way.

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