Album Review: “Night Is The New Day” by Katatonia

I first learned about Katatonia when their vocalist, Jonas Renkse, appeared on Ayreon’s 01011001.   The great aspect of Ayreon projects is Arjen Lucassen, arranger, producer, performer and mastermind, brings together amazing performers from around the world for each of his rock operas.  On 01011001, I found Renkse’s vocals mesmerizing and haunting, which led me to do research and ultimately discover Katatonia.  Upon doing further investigation, I  discovered Katatonia’s musical style had morphed from extreme black and doom metal to a more progressive, atmospheric and lyrical style.

I was given the opportunity to listen to Katatonia’s Night Is the New Day , their eighth studio album scheduled for US release on November 10, 2009.  The album was already released in Europe on November 2.   The band continues with their more melancholic, dark sound throughout the new album.

In Night Is the New Day, Katatonia layers progressive rock, folk music, and doom metal.  Their music is propelled by catchy motiffic grooves over polymetric rhythms.  Renske’s smooth vocals add beautiful melodies over a river of sound that alternates between crunch and clean guitars, supported by synthesized atmospheric textures.

In a video posted on Revolver, Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström (guitarist) discuss some of their musical influences that can be heard in Night is the New Day, which include Red House Painters, Fields of the Nephilim, The Cure and Jeff Buckley – giving insight into the musical complexity of Katatonia.

The album opens with “Forsaker,” which starts with a headbanging riff, shifts into a clean melodic section, and finally returns back to the opening riff.  The Red House Painters inspired, “Idle Blood,” is a wonderfully crafted song which reveals Katatonia’s folk influences.   “Liberation” is another song that sticks out, illustrating how Renske’s gentle and mesmerizing vocals flow between the heavy and clean.  “Nephilim,” named after the Fields of the Nephilim, is a mixture of a slow, heavy Black Sabbath riff and an Opeth ballad.   The album concludes with the hauntingly beautiful, “The Departer.”

I can’t say what the typical Katatonia fan should expect since I am still becoming acquainted with band.   For any heavy metal/progressive rock fan seeking a well-crafted album, Night Is The New Day will not disappoint.  This is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long, long time.

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