A new Katatonia album should always to be savoured, treasured and respected for the uniquely innovative musical entity it invariably proves to be. Of course, just like any band, these Swedes are not for everyone, but those who've hooked onto their ever-progressing aesthetic will know precisely what I mean by that opening sentence. 'The Fall of Hearts' is no exception. And like all great, original art, it's a genuine grower. There's no immediacy in sell-out mimicry here; Katatonia are not a band to re-tread a path of familiarity where they regurgitate tried-and-tested melodies and ideas to instantly hook you onto their tunes in the laziest of ways. Certainly not. Rather, their compositions, and the sonic reification of each of them, is music that needs time to digest to fully appreciate the essence of its magnificence. Again, 'The Fall of Hearts' is no exception. The music's instantly likeable during the initial couple of listens with its door ajar just enough, to allow initial accessibility. However, it's only on each subsequent listen that the door widens more and more, and the music's latent depths and charms are fully revealed over time. Like I said already, such albums are to be savoured, treasured and respected. These are the works you'll still be listening to, and enjoying, years from now... and, maybe, still discovering and rediscovering new depths. And it's remarkable that a band can still sound so innovative and fresh on what is their tenth album.
While 'The Fall of Hearts' is complex, both emotionally and compositionally, we're talking subtle complexity. The songs never draw attention to their complex nature; there's an incredibly natural flow to all the music... which is remarkable when you consider some of the time signature changes that constitute the tracks, and the variance in emotions that are expressed in each of the song's affective twists and turns. Like all of Katatonia's best works (of which there are now many), 'The Fall of Hearts' offers up a sonically compelling journey... if you let yourself go and allow yourself to be taken on an emotionally rich ride. And it's a journey that's characterised by an expectedly melancholic core, but with divergences into glimmers of optimism, bursts of heavy aggression, and moments of gentle reflection and introspection, with an overwhelming sense of sublimity throughout. This album's sonic beauty is boundless.
Performances and production are top notch. A fine sounding album, the production and mix have captured and conveyed the band's musical prowess perfectly. Notably, Anders Nyström's range of guitar sounds (and ever-interesting, wide fretboard vocabulary) are magnificent, and create and accentuate the songs' moods with masterful ease. Jonas Renkse's beautiful voice is as strong as it's ever been; weaving vocal melodies and inflections both with impressive ease and allure through the innovative instrumentations. Newcomer Daniel Moilanen on drums is a fine replacement for Daniel Liljekvist, and achieves a wide ranging, natural flow to his stick work, while Niklas Sandin, now well established as Katatonia's bassist, delivers some subtly inventive and assimilative playing.
I've been listening to 'The Fall of Hearts' repeatedly in the weeks leading up to its release, and my score has gradually increased from a 7.5/10 to a perfect 10/10... that's how much of a grower this new one is. But I had faith in their music. I always have had. And I reiterate my opening sentiments - Katatonia's music needs time for its maximum affects to nurture, nourish and enlighten your very being. I now feel better for it. Thank fuck for this most seminal of bands and their continued integrity and musical ingenuity.
THE FALL OF HEARTS
Review by Mark Holmes
20th May 2016
1) Takeover; 2) Serein
3) Old Heart Falls
4) Decima; 5) Sanction
8) Last Song Before the Fade
10) The Night Subscriber
11) Pale Flag
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"A new Katatonia album should always to be savoured, treasured and respected for the uniquely innovative musical entity it invariably proves to be... 'The Fall of Hearts' is no exception."