Sound — 8
First off, I'm writing this review because I was not satisfied with the other two (no offense, UG Team). I believe every band should get the praise/critique they deserve. And exposure. Katatonia deserves a lot of praise and even more exposure. They are so unique in the metal world, and constantly developing. Their beginnings included death metal growls and stories about eery places. They have progressed so much, and their music is the one benefiting from it. "Forsaker" is the opening track and it begins with a series of chunky guitar riffs that crescendo until they hit full volume. This may put off longtime fans, seeing as the guitars seemingly resemble something from hardcore, but Jonas Renske quickly comes in and brings the trademark sound of Katatonia. His vocals are so unique and diverse, he changes between bleak, up-beat and something else in-between. Katatonia does stray into the mainstream territory, as usual, but not so much to off-put fans or lose credibility from the extreme metal community. This is why Katatonia's fan base is so wide and varied. In spite of these mainstream elements, each song will have a section why they are accepted by the extreme metalheads. Yet, there is no growling present on the whole album. It's the drums and guitar that do it, with constantly heavy guitar and spot-on drumming. The first thing I thought when listening to this album (specifically "Idle Blood") was how much it sounds like Opeth. This is likely due to the two bands' vocalists' friendship (if that made any sense), and each band have influenced each others' recent work. But these Swedes' style can't be shaken, and this whole album is immersed in this style. Although none of the songs reach five minutes, save for "Departer", they have a very lengthy feel to them. This is because of the spacey and almost cosmic feel that the album has, and because you're so immersed in Jonas' voice. Also, they have a strong base in doom metal. But, unlike doom metal, the songs aren't slow but they are just not hurried. They want the listener to take their time listening to the album so they can experience it how it was meant to be. I would like to see some growling in the album, but that may throw off the whole mood.
Lyrics — 9
Katatonia is all atmospheric. They want you to feel how they feel. And that's why the lyrics are such a strong presence in their work. The lyrics translate a feeling of depression and hope at the same time, as does the music. The lyrics follow the musics, with depressing lyrics during the slow, miserable parts and slightly more uplifting during the louder, upbeat parts. This gives a really full, well rounded experience for the listener.
Overall Impression — 10
Does it compare to other albums or artists? Certainly, Opeth. No, I'm just kidding. These guys don't compare to any other artists, not even their own albums, because they are constantly progressing and constantly changing. And getting better. With the perfect mix of melancholy and hope, Katatonia provides a unique listening experience almost unrivaled in today's music industry. Get this album.