Like said in my review of the advance single "Ghosts Of The Sun", I had lost my interest in KATATONIA after their brilliant "Brave Murder Day" album in 1996, because of the change of style and all. I didn't have big hopes for "Ghosts Of The Sun" and after several repeated listens it dawned me that this was the indicator for me to return to the circle of KATATONIA fans. So my hopes for "Viva Emptiness" were pretty high.
And just like the single this is not an album that you can listen to two or three times only and then write the review, because it definitely needs time, quite a bit of time in fact. But what strikes from the get go is the fact that the Swedes have added quite some power to their songs again, something that the last two albums dearly lacked in my opinion. OK, the electronic elements and human played drum loops still are not my cup of tea, but the atmosphere and melodies that KATATONIA weave around the listener are something truly to be beheld.
When a song like the opener "Ghosts Of The Sun" brings us nice crunchy guitars and a few gruff vocals again, then fans of the KATATONIA of old will definitely listen up again, just like the excellent, ever shifting "Criminals". But then a song like "Will I Arrive" strikes in between, very modern and alternative, with very own melody and vocal lines, which make my ears try to close on their own accord, the melodies in the chorus are very nice and all, but the surroundings are so not for me, I'm sorry. Also distorted vocals like in "One Year From Now" do not hit my taste, which is a pity as the sombre mood of the song is something very good indeed.
Yet if you add songs like "Burn The Remembrance" or the closing "Inside The City Of Glass" to the already mentioned two at the beginning, you get wonderful and beautiful songs that inevitably suck you in. So yes, I am back in the circle of KATATONIA fans, but those mentioned elements and songs that do not work with me make it a pure "I like it" thing, not an "I love it"! (Online April 2, 2003)