So Katatonia recently released their latest album The Fall of Hearts, and I figured I would write a bit about my first impressions of it. The album hasn’t been out for long, so my opinion is pretty likely to change over time.
Katatonia have been my absolute favourite band for years now, so every new release of theirs is pretty much an instant pre-order for me. They are probably the only band I could say up until now don’t have any songs I don’t like, which is saying a lot considering how many albums they have released since way back in 1993. Unfortunately I don’t know if I will be able to say that any more, as the latest offering definitely has a couple of tracks I just can’t get into (yet), but who knows.
Not to say the album is bad – far from it, actually. I think in the long run it will be a favourite of mine overall, considering how varied the tracks can be while still remaining (mostly) great, compared to the previous few albums where they definitely had a very specific formula/style going (not that this is a bad thing if it’s done well, which it was).
Old Heart Falls, which was released a few weeks prior to the album as a lyric video, I’ve had a bit more time to ‘digest’ as such. Instantly this track reminds me of their last effort Dead End Kings, and likely wouldn’t sound at all out of place if it was placed on that album. The one thing that sets the track apart from that style though is the chorus, which definitely harkens back to their early to mid 2000s stuff. Initially I didn’t think much of the chorus, but it has grown on me a fair bit (though still feels kind of out of place compared to the rest of the song).
The album starts off in the worst possible way for me with Takeover, a very ‘progressive rock’ style offering. Prog rock is something I’ve always disliked for the most part, and a few bands I’ve loved in the past have moved to this style over time, putting me off them completely. Not to say I can’t see why they do it, and why people like this kind of music, but it really isn’t for me. So, you can imagine my disappointment when first firing up the album and hearing this. Since then I still haven’t been able to get into this track, though it has a few cool parts to it, overall it’s much too ‘prog’ for my taste, and kind of feels like it goes all over the place. Similarly, later in the album there’s Serac, another prog rock number that I’ll skip more often than not. While many other tracks do have some prog-ish elements, these two go all the way with it, so I can’t help but feel they are pretty out-of-place on the album, and would do better as bonus tracks or something.
The low points of the album, though, are more than made up for by several amazing tracks. Serein is certainly a favourite of mine from this album (and probably the last few as well). It’s a bit more upbeat than their usual, even reminding me a bit of Amorphis at times (you can find an official lyric video of this song on YouTube). Then we have Decima, the obligatory Katatonia ‘soft & melancholic’ track for the album, similar to Idle Blood and The Racing Heart from the previous two albums. Last Song Before the Fade is another easy contender for my favourite of the album, or any of their releases, really. In the vein of Serein it is a bit more upbeat, and has a chorus that is both immense and memorable. The Night Subscriber again is another strong one with a haunting chorus that’ll get stuck in my head for days (in a good way), and Passer is a near perfect closer for the album, which I feel has just the right blend of that modern Katatonia sound and the prog elements they are trying to introduce.
So overall I’d say while there are a few duds, this is still a great Katatonia album, and with most songs still slowly growing on me could shape up to be a real classic. Despite some poor initial impressions it looks like they get to keep that ‘absolute favourite band’ status of mine :P