When you look back at your own old reviews, you sometimes cringe at what and how they were written and you would love to revisit them and either change things or completely re-do them, but there are so many releases out there that are still waiting for attention that you put it off. Well, from time to time you still get the opportunity to go back and start new, as in the case of KATATONIA’s legendary “Brave Murder Day” album, which has been re-released by Peaceville Records in a nice DigiPak with liner-notes by none other than Blakkheim himself.
Following on the heels of “Dance Of The December Souls” “Brave Murder Day” would grow into a defining album for the Swedish band, which would continue on to pursue more Gothic and even Alternative tinged terrains in the future, but this 6-track album is a true master piece of melancholic Gothic Doom/Death Metal that would place KATATONIA firmly on the Metal map as one of the forerunners of the Swedish scene. The elements computed on this album were yet unheard of in the scene, at least in the way that Nyström and Renkse put them together.
Not just is there a very melancholic and sad undertone in each of the songs, but the way that the at times almost fuzzy guitars, the glum leads and almost suicide-inducing atmosphere came together, met with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s gruff voice created a unique sound that clearly defined KATATONIA as the innovators they still are known as. Take opening “Brave”, which in itself could be viewed as fairly repetitive, both in rhythm and also the guitars, but it is exactly this repetitiveness that is the key to the uniqueness of this album, especially when the melodic lead guitar is layered over the Alternative-influenced strummed fuzz of the rhythm guitars, as can be seen in the following “Murder”.
Another important element is the use of dissonances within the songs, which completely break up the flow of the song, but through the harmonies surrounding them, somehow manage to hold the compositions together, giving them an at times almost schizophrenic feeling. This is very evident in just mentioned “Murder”. The very quiet “Day”, though, which consists of undistorted guitars, Renkse’s clear voice and some light rhythm only, shows a completely different side of KATATONIA and was a herald for the stylistic changes to come, while “Rainroom” emphasizes the at times hypnotic repetitiveness of the guitars in another classic track from the Swedes’ days of old, up to the hammering double-bass towards the end.
And as a bonus we get the three songs off the limited and long sold-out EP “Sounds Of Decay”, featuring the same line-up as “Brave Murder Day”, so including Åkerfeldt. This EP was the last link to the “old” sound before moving on into the melancholic Rock regions and was met with rather mixed reactions, “Nowhere” is pretty much in sync with “Brave Murder Day”, while both “At Last” and “Inside The Fall” already hint at the new musical direction, albeit with only growled vocals.
Overall I can just re-iterate that “Brave Murder Day” is a definitive Metal classic and bears a unique and defining sound that sent KATATONIA on a completely new direction in their evolution, which in my opinion does not reach the sheer grandeur of this album, but this still stands as their monument.
(Online November 22, 2006)