Music / Katatonia

Katatonia is a Swedish metal band formed in 1991 by two friends in Stockholm. Since then, the band has moved through a variety of changes, both musically and lyrically, while maintaining their somber, depressive tone.

The principal men behind the band are, vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström. Usually Anders writes the bulk of the music and Jonas the lyrics.

They are good friends with Opeth.

The debut album displayed the themes of sadness and loss, through a lot of mystical and grim imagery, alongside with anti religious statements. The mystical edge and satanic imagery, disappeared alongside the pentagram logo on Discouraged Ones, to be replaced with more introspective lyrics. Depression, loss, and other dark themes remained. With Viva Emptiness more abstract lyrics came around, and are now seemingly a staple.

Anders says they are a "happy sad band."

On June 18th 2012, the official forum was closed with no further explanation.

The current members are:

  • Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström - guitar
  • Roger Ojersson - guitar
  • Jonas Renkse - vocals
  • Daniel Moilanen - drums
  • Niklas "Nille" Sandin - bass

Studio album discography:

  • Dance of December Souls (1993)
  • Brave Murder Day (1996)
  • Discouraged Ones (1998)
  • Tonight's Decision (1999)
  • Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)
  • Viva Emptiness (2003)
  • The Great Cold Distance (2006)
  • Night Is the New Day (2009)
  • Dead End Kings (2012)
  • The Fall of Hearts (2016)

This band provides examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Birds show up in a lot of the albums' artwork.
  • Call-Back:
    • "The Parting" has the lyrics: "We have to walk along the wire." Viva Emptiness had a song called "Walking by a Wire."
    • "The One You Are Looking For is Not Here" also takes its title, from a line in "Walking by a Wire."
  • Careful with That Axe
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In "Wait Outside."
  • Cover Version: They covered singer songwriters Jeff Buckley and Will Oldham.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Don't Tell a Soul," "Brave," and the list goes on...
  • Doom Metal: The bulk of their material, along with Gothic Metal.
    • Death / Doom: Their first two albums were this, and solidified them as one of the genre's Trope Codifiers.
    • Alternative Metal: Displays elements of this in their latest albums.
  • Downer Ending: Several songs, most notably the upbeat sounding "Omerta" in which the narrator is arguably poisoned.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Their first few releases were black metal tinged death / doom albums, in the vein of Bethlehem, before they made a full Genre Shift, to their more famous current sound.
  • Epic Rocking: "Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)" clocks 13:56 and "Tomb of Insomnia" 13:09.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Discouraged Ones track "Instrumental" is... Well, an instrumental.
  • I Am the Band: Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström.
  • Lighter and Softer / Genre Shift:
    • From Discouraged Ones onward, with their Death / Doom Metal approach, shifting towards a Gothic Metal / Alternative Metal one. Last Fair Deal Gone Down really cemented their current sound.
    • The "Dethroned and Uncrowned" remixes of Dead End Kings, are very much softer, though considering the mood, not much lighter.
    • The Fall of Hearts starts to veer into Progressive Rock territory.
  • Mood Whiplash: Subverted with "Omerta." While it sounds like a upbeat alternative rock song, in contrast to the rest of the album, it really isn't.
  • Murder Ballad: "Murder," obviously, "We Must Bury You," and "Sweet Nurse." An abstract song about corpses on windmills, a bullying turned murder event, and a case of euthanasia respectively.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: From blackened doom and death/doom to alternative rock to progressive metal. Almost all traces of harsh vocals are gone by The Great Cold Distance, though.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: "We Must Bury You." Doubles as a Murder Ballad.
  • Precision F-Strike: Shows up a few times, most notably on, the Dance of December Souls version of "Without God."
  • Shout-Out: The album title Last Fair Deal Gone Down is a reference to a delta blues musician.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The 10th anniversary remaster of Viva Emptiness, adds vocals to the previously instrumental "Inside the City of Glass." Word of God is that it was always intended as a vocal song, they just didn't have enough time left in the studio, to record vocals for it.
  • Take That!: "Passing Bird" makes stabs at emo girls pretending to be depressed. Anyone seriously down would want to get better, not stay there to get attention.
    • Given that Last Fair Deal Gone Down was released, when emo pop was still largely in its infancy, it was probably targeting, mall goths and nu-metal kids, both of whom were prone to much the same thing.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Endtime" has the world end in fire.
  • Title Drop: "The Itch" contains the line: "The great cold distance."
    • In "Hypnone," one of the lyrics goes along the lines of: "Tomorrow is so long / The Dead End King is here."
    • "I Am Nothing" has the line: "I have to get on with this / It's a decision for tonight."
  • Wild Mass Guessing: The inlay of the jewel case versions of Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance, sparked a lot of discussion among the fans, for featuring a snippet from an IM conversation, and a cockroach respectively.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Especially on The Great Cold Distance.