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Katatonia - Sky Void Of Stars review



Reviewer:
6.0

201 users:
7.93
Band: Katatonia
Album: Sky Void Of Stars
Release date: January 2023


01. Austerity
02. Colossal Shade
03. Opaline
04. Birds
05. Drab Moon
06. Author
07. Impermanence [feat. Joel Ekelöf]
08. Sclera
09. Atrium
10. No Beacon To Illuminate Our Fall
11. Absconder [bonus]


I have a sort of on-off relationship to Katatonia. You know, the one where you break up for half a year and then against all odds decide to try again, and again, and again. After Dead End Kings... something happened. They lost me. And they still have. It had been a long time coming, but gone were the glorious doom riffs and so-catchy-it’s-not-even-funny choruses, and instead Katatonia entered yet another experimental phase. A more laid-back, electronic, mellow-proggy phase that simply did not click with me. A thinner, too alternative-sounding production that failed to bring forth the majestic gloom and doom of previous albums. “Alright,” I said to myself, “perhaps The Fall Of Hearts and City Burials are the Discouraged Ones and Tonight’s Decision of this new Katatonian phase, and third time’s the charm?” It’s just that, it took them yet another uneven album, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, to finally reach that sweet, sweet spot that Viva Emptiness hit - like a shotgun pellet rain of poisoned absinthe straight through the chest, with the band surfing on a wave of blood all the way to Dead End Kings.

I know, I know, I haven’t even started talking about the actual album in question yet, but there was a point to that entire history lesson. If you don’t get the point, read it again. If you don’t see the same pattern as I do, think again. I fully respect Katatonia as musicians, and I respect that they are willing to try something new, but what I don’t respect is an album that sounds so flat, hollow, and static that the music on it, that’s supposed to be lush, melancholic, and heavy (even if not in the traditional “heavy metal” sense), just floats by without making an impression at all. Listen, I have no qualms at all about Katatonia having changed their style, I have no qualms at all about them not being particularly metal anymore, and I have no qualms at all about the sort of moods they are going for here, but songs are supposed to have hooks. Katatonia used to have verses and choruses that you simply couldn’t get out of your head even with a nuclear-powered screwdriver turned up to eleven. Not even the singles, "Birds" and "Atrium", have anything particularly memorable about them. Sky Void Of Stars has a few standout moments, such as the brassy synth hook on “Opaline” and the gorgeous chord progressions and anthemic guitar solo on “Impermanence”, and the Viva Emptiness-worthy “Atrium”, but even on "Atrium", the vocal lines just float in the void, supported by… not much at all, I’m afraid, because here comes the next big problem: the god damn sound, man.

There is no dynamic range to anything, and even when the songs manage to carve out an identity of their own with a cool part here or there, it all just blends together into a slow-to-mid-paced caricature of something that could have been good, but simply isn’t fun to listen to at all. Take “Author”, for instance, which contains just the sort of excellent metalli-melancholic riff I used to love this band for. I’m not supposed to have to imagine a theoretically good riff actually sounding good! Take the last song, “No Beacon To Illuminate Our Fall”, and try to remember it 10 minutes after the album is over. In fact, put on a random section of the album and try to guess which song it is. See? You can’t. Now, bring to mind a few of the actually good riffs I’ve mentioned, and imagine that the music actually sounded good as well. Then we’d have one half of a mostly decent album, at least. Why couldn’t they just have opted for a production job like the expansive, crushing sound on Night Is The New Day? Why do they have to ruin music like this? I can barely hear the guitar! Is this a joke?

Hence the history lesson in the beginning. I am for the love of all that is unholy hoping that the pattern repeats and that this will be their final tryout album before they realise what they need to do to get their shit together again: write songs with parts you can actually remember, and buy the biggest boot you can find, put it on, and then aim it straight at whoever decided “this is the lame production we want” and kick him or her straight out the nearest fire exit. Then write one of your sad songs about it and do it right the next time.

The performances and the originality cannot be denied on Sky Void Of Stars. Every musician does their job flawlessly and no other band sounds quite like this, but the songwriting won’t go down in any history books and the production makes everything simply dull. I’ve opted for using only integer ratings from 2023 onwards, so on account of aforementioned historical pattern I will give Katatonia the benefit of the doubt and round upwards to “average”.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 8
Production: 4





Written on 15.01.2023 by 100% objective opinions. Integer ratings only. 7.0 means it's a good album.


Comments

Comments: 48   Visited by: 269 users
15.01.2023 - 15:02
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
To me this band once was brave murdered in a day... I keep trying get into, but all after that album are rubbish and worthless to listen... Same for an Anathema.... Stop playing new music please.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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15.01.2023 - 15:04
JoHn DoE

Written by Bad English on 15.01.2023 at 15:02

To me this band once was brave murdered in a day... I keep trying get into, but all after that album are rubbish and worthless to listen... Same for an Anathema.... Stop playing new music please.


Just because you dislike them, that does not mean they have to stop making music.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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15.01.2023 - 15:29
Shmelevod

>> I respect that they are willing to try something new

With all respect, but 24 years of monotonous bitching after releasing two decent albums does look to me as "trying something new".
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15.01.2023 - 15:33
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Shmelevod on 15.01.2023 at 15:29

>> I respect that they are willing to try something new

With all respect, but 24 years of monotonous bitching after releasing two decent albums does look to me as "trying something new".

I am referring to their stylistic shift after Dead End Kings, which has indeed been "trying something new" regardless if you see both styles as monotonous bitching.
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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15.01.2023 - 15:49
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Bad English on 15.01.2023 at 15:02

To me this band once was brave murdered in a day... I keep trying get into, but all after that album are rubbish and worthless to listen... Same for an Anathema.... Stop playing new music please.

It's been nearly 30 years since that album was released. Get with the times, old man.
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"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
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15.01.2023 - 16:36
Shmelevod

Written by Netzach on 15.01.2023 at 15:33


I am referring to their stylistic shift after Dead End Kings, which has indeed been "trying something new" regardless if you see both styles as monotonous bitching.


Then my previous comment is irrelevant, my bad. No matter how many spins I give to it, I didn't recognize any stylistic shift in their later work. Katatonia is one of those bands I just can't get focused on while listening
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15.01.2023 - 17:27
A Real Monkey

Written by Troy Killjoy on 15.01.2023 at 15:49

Written by Bad English on 15.01.2023 at 15:02

To me this band once was brave murdered in a day... I keep trying get into, but all after that album are rubbish and worthless to listen... Same for an Anathema.... Stop playing new music please.

It's been nearly 30 years since that album was released. Get with the times, old man.

30 years and it’s still their only album worth caring about.
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"Change the world. My final message. Goodbye."

~Last words of Harambe, seconds before he was shot, according to child he shielded from gunfire
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15.01.2023 - 17:52
Rating: 7
ThomasBryant

Written by Bad English on 15.01.2023 at 15:02

To me this band once was brave murdered in a day... I keep trying get into, but all after that album are rubbish and worthless to listen... Same for an Anathema.... Stop playing new music please.


Not enough of that hallen and screamon hu. lol I'll say the first two albums are awesome Discouraged Ones to Dead End Kings. Last few albums after that haven't grapped me the same way. I hope I like this a bit more then the last.
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15.01.2023 - 19:44
Rating: 10
prnzokoshiroltra

I totally see where every differing opinion is coming from here (well, maybe not the paraphrase of 'fuck everything after Brave Murder Day' xD don't get me wrong - I *still* favor BMD over all subsequent releases - and loved Renske's tortured, throat-destroying vocals on the DoDS debut effort)

I was extremely, cantankerously disgruntled with Dead End Kings at first... but the repeat listens of it got less n less frustrating - as a subtle emotional layer began to reveal itself... hard to explain - but hard to ignore the 'hidden' majesty of it that I seemed to finally perceive... either that, or it was subconscious trickery - psy-warfare from Lord Seth & Blakkheim n their goddamn'd rhythm section counterparts!! I burned all my Katatonia shirts then immediately ordered fresh replacements. and a hat. both former & latter of the previous sentences have no basis in reality - but neither do I. touche, self! N. E. Wheyz.

The Fall of Hearts seemed to capitalize on this (imaginary?) emo-layer and was a much more immediate listen than DEK... TFoH is easily one of my favorite Katatonia albums.

then came Scrape the Lacq,.. I mean, City Burials. like Radu, I singled out that amazing single as a sign that grander, evolved Katatonia was komi... coming. Ahem. it was not to be - but still a solid, if uneven, effort (that I guess was a retooled version of what-would've-been Jonas' 1st solo album [no, the collab with Pineapple Thief dude does not koun... count. ah-ah! 2 Sesame Street bitchslaps!] )

another great, esoterically evocative, intelligence-drenched review from Netzach, regardless. doesn't matter whether I agree or not - as I said at the start of this comment: I see validity in all 3 or 4 arguments. and the acidity of humidity within this entity's vicinity. the epitome of my idiocy. times infinity. turn on your anti-rhyme filter. you rock, MS. not my own MS. it's not like Netzach owes me money - this is different. and I shall surely cry.

last 3 records spun
--------------------------
Venuvian - Lost
Necrodeath - Singin' in the Pain
Turmion Kätilöt - Omen X
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No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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15.01.2023 - 19:51
Rating: 8
DarkWingedSoul

Ehhh, there goes my hopes again, after ahab and obituary....
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15.01.2023 - 20:02
Rating: 10
prnzokoshiroltra

Written by DarkWingedSoul on 15.01.2023 at 19:51

Ehhh, there goes my hopes again, after ahab and obituary....


Katatonia & Ahab I get... but what's wrong with new Obituary? you're not one of them 'The End Complete should've been the complete end!' types are you?
----
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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15.01.2023 - 20:13
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by prnzokoshiroltra on 15.01.2023 at 19:44

another great, esoterically evocative, intelligence-drenched review from Netzach, regardless. doesn't matter whether I agree or not - as I said at the start of this comment: I see validity in all 3 or 4 arguments. and the acidity of humidity within this entity's vicinity. the epitome of my idiocy. times infinity. turn on your anti-rhyme filter. you rock, MS. not my own MS. it's not like Netzach owes me money - this is different. and I shall surely cry.

last 3 records spun
--------------------------
Venuvian - Lost
Necrodeath - Singin' in the Pain
Turmion Kätilöt - Omen X

Thank you. I'm glad I don't owe you any money! You might like this one more than I did. The songwriting is just part of the problem, it's really the production that bothers me. Glad you checked out Omen X, that was a fun one, eh?

Written by DarkWingedSoul on 15.01.2023 at 19:51

Ehhh, there goes my hopes again, after ahab and obituary....

Well, give it a shot anyway, you might see it differently than me, but the singles released so far are by far the best songs and even they don't cut it for me.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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16.01.2023 - 00:46
24emd

Ah... noob here. What is the best album to start with from their alt-rock era? I've listened to a lot of their songs but never bothered with a whole album.
----
"Perception and fact, all the same: the truth's what you feel..."

Unpopular opinions is my middle name.
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16.01.2023 - 00:53
JoHn DoE

Written by 24emd on 16.01.2023 at 00:46

Ah... noob here. What is the best album to start with from their alt-rock era? I've listened to a lot of their songs but never bothered with a whole album.


My favorite is Discouraged Ones. Excellent gothic-doom IMO.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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16.01.2023 - 00:54
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by 24emd on 16.01.2023 at 00:46

Ah... noob here. What is the best album to start with from their alt-rock era? I've listened to a lot of their songs but never bothered with a whole album.

The Great Cold Distance would be my recommendation.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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16.01.2023 - 01:02
24emd

Written by Netzach on 16.01.2023 at 00:54


The Great Cold Distance would be my recommendation.


Written by JoHn DoE on 16.01.2023 at 00:53


My favorite is Discouraged Ones. Excellent gothic-doom IMO.



Thanks, I'll check both
----
"Perception and fact, all the same: the truth's what you feel..."

Unpopular opinions is my middle name.
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16.01.2023 - 02:49
skurk

I agree with the review and I've only heard the singles. Have not listened to them since Night Is the New Day. Not really been sure why, but it was probably a wise decision.
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16.01.2023 - 17:22
Rating: 10
Duck Dodgers

The problem with Katatonia is that they changed their genre in such a smooth and unannounced way that people did not realise it. Comparing for example the new tracks to Tonight's decision you can see that long ago they used to be gothic rock (not even metal) while now they are progressive (but not in the raw Dream Theater way). If these exact same new songs were released by Porcupine Tree...all the prog fans would be raving. Even in their MS page they are labeled as "alternative rock" which is not accurate. Personally, I liked the first 3 tracks because there was so much going on in there that I had to go back several times to decipher what is happening. Not everyone's cup of tea I guess.
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16.01.2023 - 18:15
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Duck Dodgers on 16.01.2023 at 17:22

The problem with Katatonia is that they changed their genre in such a smooth and unannounced way that people did not realise it. Comparing for example the new tracks to Tonight's decision you can see that long ago they used to be gothic rock (not even metal) while now they are progressive (but not in the raw Dream Theater way). If these exact same new songs were released by Porcupine Tree...all the prog fans would be raving. Even in their MS page they are labeled as "alternative rock" which is not accurate. Personally, I liked the first 3 tracks because there was so much going on in there that I had to go back several times to decipher what is happening. Not everyone's cup of tea I guess.

If this were released by Porcupine Tree, I'd have the exact same opinion. This is barely progressive anyway, it's more ambient rock akin to Anathema, perhaps. And with a really shitty production job and very average songwriting. I'm not comparing their later material to their previous as much as I'm spotting a pattern in their discography, I'm sorry if that was a bit unclear in the review. There's nothing in these songs to catch my attention, except a few places where it MIGHT have caught my attention if the sound weren't so terrible.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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16.01.2023 - 21:10
Tuonelan

Jonas' vocals have been sliding ever further into reverb and autotune land for a while now. it used to be that you could hear his breath and grit, and the vocal lines were shorter and almost halting in the quieter parts, while the harder parts sounded pained. TGCD had that a lot, and you could still hear it in the mix as of NITND. I don't hear as much Jonas in his vocals anymore, and that leaves it feeling less grounded for me. The music is lovely, the lyrics are evocative, but it's all wrapped in too much processing to really hit me in the gut like it used to.

If lovely and evocative are what you are looking for, then this will probably be another great album for you. I prefer the less polished past.
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Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
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16.01.2023 - 22:15
omne metallum

You don't like Discouraged Ones? This is why we can't be friends
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Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
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16.01.2023 - 22:17
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by omne metallum on 16.01.2023 at 22:15

You don't like Discouraged Ones? This is why we can't be friends

Eh, it's okay, but nothing like what followed.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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17.01.2023 - 18:33
Soreption

Never cared for Dead End Kings or Discouraged Ones - the former because it has their most uneventful songwriting, and the latter because it sounds extremely homogeneous.

Love everything else in their discography, albeit I will admit that City Burials was a huge stepdown after the incredible Fall of Hearts.

Super stoked for the new one!
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18.01.2023 - 14:30
Rating: 10
prnzokoshiroltra

Here's my totem pole Katatonia rankmongering jackassery order if it proves interesting to anyone. or even if it doesn't -

1.) Brave Murder Day
2.) Last Fair Deal Gone Down
3.) The Great Cold Distance
4.) Discouraged Ones
5.) The Fall of Hearts
6.) Night Is the New Day
7.) Dance of December Souls
8.) Viva Emptiness
9.) Dethroned & Uncrowned
10.) Tonight's Decision
11.) Dead End Kings
12.) City Burials

as with most of my highly favored bands/artists - I regard the albums at the very bottom to be very good - it's more like the first half is so outstanding that they take precedence over the rest
----
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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20.01.2023 - 13:44
Rating: 6
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by omne metallum on 16.01.2023 at 22:15

You don't like Discouraged Ones? This is why we can't be friends

It's their second worst album. But please don't shoot.
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20.01.2023 - 15:28
Rating: 7
musclassia

Katatonia have always been a band for me that's 75% of the way to being a band I really like, but is just missing something important to push them beyond 7/10 territory, bar a few exception songs such as In The White (in my head, I had Tonight's Decision down as one of their best albums, but I went back to it earlier today and while I like the instrumentation, the vocals were just killing it for me, which is the same issue that I always had with Discouraged Ones). For this one, I thought it continued the road to recovery from the really offputting Dead End Kings, not sure if it's Fall Of Hearts level, but I preferred it to City Burials
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20.01.2023 - 16:41
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by musclassia on 20.01.2023 at 15:28

Katatonia have always been a band for me that's 75% of the way to being a band I really like, but is just missing something important to push them beyond 7/10 territory, bar a few exception songs such as In The White (in my head, I had Tonight's Decision down as one of their best albums, but I went back to it earlier today and while I like the instrumentation, the vocals were just killing it for me, which is the same issue that I always had with Discouraged Ones). For this one, I thought it continued the road to recovery from the really offputting Dead End Kings, not sure if it's Fall Of Hearts level, but I preferred it to City Burials

Funny, I really prefer Dead End Kings to anything of their later output. Especially the production was much better back then, this new sound doesn't "sell" to me at all. I don't see the point of it.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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20.01.2023 - 23:52
omne metallum

Written by Daniell on 20.01.2023 at 13:44

Written by omne metallum on 16.01.2023 at 22:15

You don't like Discouraged Ones? This is why we can't be friends

It's their second worst album. But please don't shoot.



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Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
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23.01.2023 - 01:31
thisempty

Never have I disagreed so strongly about a review. And that's totally fine.
What upsets me is that the reviewer gives opinions as facts.
Things like: "perhaps The Fall Of Hearts and City Burials are the Discouraged Ones and Tonight’s Decision of this new Katatonian phase, and third time’s the charm?” It’s just that, it took them yet another uneven album, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, to finally reach that sweet, sweet spot that Viva Emptiness hit"
In 1 single sentence he says the fall of hearts, discouraged ones and lfdgd are bad albuns? Not even tonight's decision is a bad album. There are no bad katatonia albuns, just different ones.
Then he complains about the lack of catchy chorus and that the songs don't have hooks, yet he considers lfdgd as an uneven album. We're talking about the most catchy katatonia album here, this is ridiculous.

"If you don’t see the same pattern as I do, think again."

I don't have to think again because there's no pattern to see. You see it, others don't.

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23.01.2023 - 08:43
Redel

Written by thisempty on 23.01.2023 at 01:31

What upsets me is that the reviewer gives opinions as facts.

But he says in his personal text "100% objective opinions".
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