Katatonia - Discouraged Ones review


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Band: Katatonia
Album: Discouraged Ones
Release date: April 1998

01. I Break
02. Stalemate
03. Deadhouse
04. Relention
05. Cold Ways
06. Gone
07. Last Resort
08. Nerve
09. Saw You Drown
10. Instrumental
11. Distrust
12. Quiet World [bonus]
13. Scarlet Heavens [bonus]

It's albums like Discouraged Ones, Katatonia's third full-length recording, that have me questioning the act of writing about music. There are just no words that could give complete justice to an album like this. No amount of persuasive adjectives or descriptive analysis could ever truly define what Katatonia's music has become and the effect it has on me. In any case, the band has taken the minimalist approach first showcased on their previous album, Brave Murder Day, even further into the realms of hypnotic repetition.
This "less is more" concept has by now become the major theme for Katatonia's songwriting approach and it has reached full effect this time around. While other bands attempting to express themes of depression and melancholia within a metal framework embellish their material with female vocals, symphonic keyboards and overblown orchestral maneuvers, Katatonia do the opposite. The sound is very stripped down and devoid of clich? elements that define their peers, allowing one to succumb to a hypnotic trance the likes of which does not let go until the final note is played. The biggest change in the band's sound is in the vocal department, as they are all delivered in Jonas Renkse's clean, somber tone.

Musically, the songs have become shorter and even simpler than before, with Anders Nystrom's now trademark weeping guitar melodies laid over a usually mid-paced rhythmic foundation. New bassist Micke Oretoft gives the band a permanent fixture at the position, which has been vacant since the For Funerals To Come EP (1995). It is really not all that different from Brave Murder Day, as had that album been done with all clean vocals and shorter songs, not to mention a much thicker and heavier production, the progression would not seem so drastic. Jonas's vocals are very reminiscent of The Cure's Robert Smith, delivered in a despondent manner that is deeply convincing of the man's emotional state. His lyrics are simple and honest, yet shrouded in themes of emotional isolation and seclusion from the outside world.

Songs like "I Break," "DeadHouse," "Nerve" and "Saw You Drown" could have only been born from a spirit that carries with it much sadness through a life of slow motion silence. "Cold Ways" is the one that really hits home with me, with Jonas's impassioned cries of "...must carry on one last time, cannot end what has begun..." and it's chorus of "...in your eyes you're alive, but in my eyes you're a lie...." "Gone" is the closest the band gets to gothic tragedy, a short yet soul-piercing number that speaks of unfulfilled dreams and false hope. The simply titled "Instrumental" explores a serene, tranquil atmosphere, a soul soothing venture decorated by Anders's fragile solo which takes it to its' final silence. His solo in "Distrust" is similar and is one of the highlights of the album for me.

Never has a metal band expressed melancholy like this. Taking inspiration from the shoe gazer scene, along with The Cure and Red House Painters, Katatonia do not abandon their metal roots. They know exactly where they come from. What they have done that very few bands from the metal world have managed to find success with is take influence and inspiration from non-metal genres and effectively incorporate them into their own sound without forsaking their true essence.

Isolation, solitude, and the desire to not want to be a part of the outside world. The stillness of night. The heaviness of lonely silence. These things are the essence of Katatonia and Discouraged Ones is the soundtrack.

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: 15   Visited by: 167 users
24.12.2006 - 06:37
This album is KILLER and i completely agree with your review. Funny that at first listen I wasn't that impressed. Then i got depressed with life, and realized this IS the soundtrack for depression! Beautiful haunting atmosphere and beautiful vocals/lyrics.
Open your Mouth to my Bloody Reign!
25.12.2006 - 17:56
Xtreme Jax
Beautiful last paragraph

This is one of my favourite albums. seems to fit the mood just perfectly when I'm a bit down, but quite in any mood. The lyrics are beautiful, and with compliments given by the vocals just adds a most overwhelming atmosphere.

This album is pure art.

Hellcunt Smurf
15.02.2007 - 18:22
One of the best albums ever made:banger2:
12.03.2007 - 14:00
Advice Troll
Very good album. Its one of my favourites from Katatonia... I liked this change in the vocals, the clean vocals go better with the music than the earlier death growls...
Bitch! Please
14.03.2007 - 03:52
Bitch Boy
You perfectly described the whole feeling of the album. Good review
06.04.2007 - 13:08
Account deleted
An album for Suicide
17.12.2008 - 23:55
the napalm rain
Never and ever, no band can ever make an album like this even Katatonia.... Every person that listens to Discouraged Ones can take it personally.

Each song is showing the damages which life made
15.01.2009 - 19:48
I don't enjoy the vocals SO much but I have to tell that this album is trully great. The music is really miserable and emotional. Showing the pain-side of life... Also the review...
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
01.03.2009 - 03:40
I ain no expert with this band, but I'm streaming some songs from this album right now. It actually really relaxes me . Sounds like a great record to fall asleep to or smoke reefer to
27.03.2009 - 14:33
Maybe the vocals are kind of weak but the atmosphere of the album compenses anything. "Distrust" one of my favorites!
26.05.2009 - 10:01
Liver Failure
Beautiful album, represents the new direction on Katatonia sound, less doom and more emotional and melodic. Highlights: I Break, Deadhouse, Last Resort and Saw You Drawn.

Never has a metal band expressed melancholy like this. Taking inspiration from the shoe gazer scene, along with The Cure and Red House Painters, Katatonia do not abandon their metal roots. They know exactly where they come from.

That was very well written, completly agree.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
08.11.2009 - 05:20
It's great to see that people love this album as much as me hehe. A complete masterpiece
01.10.2010 - 18:57
Account deleted
This album hurts.
20.01.2011 - 11:27
Last Resort is by far my favorite on this one... However, the repetition you're talking about, I found it relatively boring, and dragging. Most songs are great, and on their own I'd give them a higher rating, but as an album, I can't give it more than a 7...
22.12.2012 - 03:43
Secundum Filium
I love this album, it's one of my absolute favorite releases from Katatonia and it just never gets old. This is the soundtrack to the miseries of life we all must strive to overcome. The atmosphere throughout is haunting.
Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe (Lao Tzu).

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