Katatonia – Dead End Kings

After the masterpiece that was Night is the New Day, I knew it would be difficult for Katatonia to top that album. With Dead End Kings, they attempt to do just that. After hearing the first single Dead Letters, I lowered my expectations considerably. Dead Letters was still a good song, but it just did not do it for me. It begins with some chugging Tool-like riffs and has some heavier moments that are counteracted by softer parts. But this was to be the last song on the full Dead End Kings album, so the question still remained as to how the rest of the album would hold. Dead End Kings opens with The Parting—a song that opens with grand orchestration, then settles down to a slower pace followed by bursts of energy. The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here features guest vocals from The Gathering’s Silje Wergeland. This song plods along at a slow pace that has some thick bass, but Wergeland’s vocals are not as prominent as I had hoped and are barely heard in the background. Hypnone is a slightly heavier track that has quite a bit of atmosphere and some nice guitar work. The Racing Heart is one of the better tracks on the album and one of the more melancholic tracks Katatonia has written in a while. It is a fairly slow paced song with piano and trip-hop-ish electronics by Frank Default and intermittent bursts of heavier guitars. Ambitions is another depressing song that is soaked in atmosphere, especially during the bridge of the song. Buildings is one of the more metal tracks on the album with plenty of crunchy riffs and drums coupled with more of Frank Default’s electronic interludes. Lethean is another of the metal tracks and has a tasty solo by Per Erickson. Leech changes the style a little bit with an interesting piano melody and a jazzy feel in the guitars. Undo You is an acoustic track and the lyrics interestingly make references older Katatonia songs, such as In Death, A Song off of Tonight’s Decision. First Prayer is another decent song that has quite a bit of metal in it. However, much of this album feels like songs that could have been left over from the sessions that crafted Night is the New Day. Much of the songs on Dead End Kings are quite good, but there are several that feel like more of the same. For most bands this may be acceptable, but Katatonia has always been a band where no two albums have sounded the same. It seems Katatonia has entered a phase of stagnation, although it would be a great sound to stagnate with. Dead End Kings should please Katatonia fans, particularly those who enjoyed the previous two albums, and those who enjoy melancholic and atmospheric metal should find much to enjoy as well.

Genre: Alternative Metal, Depressive Rock
Country: Sweden
Label: Peaceville Records
Release: August 27, 2012

1. The Parting
2. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here
3. Hypnone
4. The Racing Heart
5. Buildings
6. Leech
7. Ambitions
8. Undo You
9. Lethean
10. First Prayer
11. Dead Letters

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