Sound — 8
You'd think after spending almost two decades channelling the densest of gloom Katatonia's bank of ideas might be running a bit dry that said of course, creative frustration alone could easily inspire another song or two. It's unfair to mock though, because since their humble beginnings in 1991 the Swedes have grown in sound and stature. Night Is The New Day' follows up The Great Cold Distance', a modern-sounding and modern-looking blockbuster, and while the spotless self-production has made a return, Night...' is a different beast indeed.
Not as indebted to the power of the single as many Katatonia albums have been, this album seems more like a further exploration of each facet of misery they've unearthed over the years. Apocalyptic chugging in Forsaker', downbeat reflection in Departer', so-Opeth-it-hurts tunecraft in Idle Blood'...pretty much all bases are covered. The album isn't brimming with obvious singles-to-be, yet there are hooks aplenty; one of the great strengths of this album. As any listener will know a massive chunk of Katatonia's identity comes from vocalist Jonas Renkse, but here he is in many ways the thread of continuity from song to song while the rest of the instruments explore different avenues. It's an interesting thing to try and pin down though, as the expressive guitar style of Anders Nystrm doesn't change either, it merely applies itself to the mood of each song. Frank Default provides keyboards and other programmed things which play a big part in constructing the atmosphere of, among others, two of the album's highlights: The Longest Year' and Inheritance'.
Lyrics — 9
Listening to this band's output over the years has been like reading a journal monitoring Jonas Renkse's progress as a singer - from the uneasy pitching of Day' and I Break' right up to the present. It is safe to say that this new album marks his most assured effort yet - each song is considered and approached differently based on its dynamics and its emotional relevance. Avalanches of suffering are invoked on Nephilim', but the next phase is never more than a few minutes away and before you know it the album has reached its swansong, the fantastically depressive Departer'. The thick darkness that emanates from the words is a suitable companion to the music and, indeed, Travis Smith's excellent artwork. The thematic images of red and of fire (central in many songs, at least featured in others) turn out to be yet another connective for each track and are very effective as contributors to the overall lyrical quality.
Overall Impression — 9
Night Is The New Day' is, in just about every way, a bloody good album; in fact it is the only Katatonia album that I would say is consistently so throughout. Highly melodic yet deceptively dissonant at times, this albums many tunes will each find their own place as you listen more and more the very best of them might even take a permanent residence the area of your head where My Twin' and Teargas' have previously resided. Absolutely one of the big releases to be taken into consideration when metal's contributions to the year 2009 come to be revisited.