There's only one thing better than being blessed with an early sample of one of your most anticipated releases by one of your favourite bands, and that's having it meet all of your expectations.
Despite becoming a fan of KATATONIA a little late, I quickly immersed myself further into their sonic melancholy, and proceeded to experiment with their older material, which I found to be, at the very least, on par with their current material, but at times, vastly superior. Although I still find myself incapable of committing myself to either of their styles, I can say with some certainty that "Sound Of Decay" and "Tonight's Decision" are my two favourite pieces of work KATATONIA have ever put their name to.
And now, I find myself sitting here, with a three song tease of the new album. Due to recent comments by the band, I expected something different, something heavier, but I never expected it to be this heavy. I don't mean to say that KATATONIA have become some brutal Death Metal band, but the guitars have definitely gotten some added crunch to them, so much so, that it initially detracts from the melody lines that KATATONIA is known for. While I did take a little while to get used to, they began to grow on me, and the three songs seem to be more focused than I thought upon my first listen. The heavier guitars also mark a new era for KATATONIA, as the new sound is significantly different from previous albums.
Jonas' vocals, although less despondent than on previous albums, can still be pegged as one of the highlights of the disc. It is clear that Jonas is becoming more and more confident with his voice. However, there are also some backing screaming vocals on "Ghosts Of The Sun", which, while well in the background, are very effective.
My only complaints are concerning the lyrics. I always felt that many of Jonas' lyrics represented very specific events that one could seemingly apply to a similar event in their own life. However, this time around they seem to be more ambiguous, and less effective. I believe this passage from "Criminal" will illustrate my point:
We came back to our house
I didn't take it as a promise
Always thought it was a lie
He went to far, the fucker
It's no like I owe him money
This is different
This leads me to my second point, which is the increased use of swearing in the vocals, as it isn't only limited to that one stanza. While it doesn't bother me when other groups swear, I always felt it was terribly out of place on a KATATONIA CD, even though they would limit themselves to approximately one or two times per disc. I feel slightly disappointed that it seems to be more of a regular occurrence on this one.
The three song teaser remains just that, a tease. Without hearing the whole album, it's hard to judge whether or not this album will be thoroughly enjoyable, or whether some of the complaints I had will only be amplified by the other songs on the disc. It does, however, serve its purpose, as I am very interested in hearing the full album. (Online May 29, 2003)