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Music / Katatonia

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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. Not related to the defunct British alt rock band Catatonia.

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)
  • City Burials (2020)
  • Sky Void of Stars (2023)

This band provides examples of:

  • Album 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."
  • 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."
    • "Undo You" has two, paraphrasing the title of their EP For Funerals to Come as "for only our funerals to come", and additionally lifting the line "in death, a song" from the track of the same name from Tonight's Decision.
  • Careful with That Axe
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In "Wait Outside."
  • Concept Album: All of the songs on Viva Emptiness are tied to crime in one way or another.
  • 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.
    • Progressive Rock: Most of their albums are prog-tinged to a certain extent, but The Fall of Hearts dives headfirst into the genre.
  • Downer Ending: Several songs, most notably the upbeat sounding "Omerta" in which the narrator is arguably poisoned.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their first few releases before they made a full Genre Shift to their more famous current sound were Black Metal-tinged death / doom albums in the vein of Bethlehem.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Endtime" has the world end in fire.
  • Epic Rocking: "Velvet Thorns (of Drynwhyl)" clocks at 13:56 and "Tomb of Insomnia" 13:09, and they're far from the band's only examples.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Discouraged Ones track "Instrumental" is... well, an instrumental.
  • Genre Shift: 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.
  • I Am the Band: Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: City Burials is easily the most metallic album they have recorded since their death/doom era, with multiple doom metal songs, more uptempo riffing and far more frequent guitar solos, and a more energetic vocal approach from Jonas Renkse.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • 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.
    • While a large majority of their work (especially after Brave Murder Day) has had some prog elements to it, The Fall of Hearts dives headfirst into progressive rock/metal 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.
  • 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."
  • Spiritual Successor: October Tide could be considered one to their early death/doom metal work; it has a similar style and contains or has contained several former or current Katatonia members.
  • 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 mallgoths who base their identities around being depressed, but have no intention of getting better because they like the attention.
  • Titled After the Song: Last Fair Deal Gone Down is named after a song by the seminal Delta blues musician Robert Johnson.
  • 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.