KATATONIA are a band that I never really gave a fair chance to, as after hearing only a few tracks off "Tonight's Decision" and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", I quickly wrote them off as bring and bland. I was unimpressed by what I had heard and therefore refrained from digging any deeper into the band's prior material. It was at about this same time that a friend played me KATATONIA's earlier "Brave Murder Day" album and the "For Funerals To Come" EP. Well I must say that I was quite in shock at the superb quality of the dark OPETH-esque Metal found on these releases as it sounded nothing like the material I had heard on the previously mentioned albums.
Well for one reason or another, whenever a band releases a new album, I often see it as a good time to give the band in question another chance, and that is exactly what I did with KATATONIA's latest batch of moody Alternative Metal songs known as "Viva Emptiness".
After hearing a few samples, I quickly threw out all of my preconceived notions regarding this band and promptly made a trip to the local mall to quickly acquaint myself with the newest addition to my CD collection. Since I am unfamiliar with KATATONIA's previous releases save for "Brave Murder Day" and "For Funerals To Come", I will not make any comparisons or deal with the band's progression. All I can do is share my feelings regarding the quality of music found on "Viva Emptiness", and I must say that quality is something that never comes into question when listening to this CD. As I mentioned earlier, KATATONIA play a unique brand of emotionally driven Metal/Alternative Rock. While many may dismiss KATATONIA for not being a traditionally "Metal" band, I must reiterate that Metal or no Metal, this album is captivating from beginning to end. Opener "Ghost Of The Sun" welcomes the listener with its dark atmosphere and undeniable heaviness. For those seeking further heaviness, there is a good amount of it found on such tracks as the aforementioned "Ghost Of The Sun", "Evidence", "Wealth", and "Walking By A Wire". For brooding melodies, and catchiness, look no further than the exceptional "Criminals", the haunting "One Year From Now", and the somewhat upbeat "Omerta". Take all of these songs and surround them in a sombre atmosphere, and you've got an excellent album that grows on you with each listen.
With this as my stepping stone, I will now go back and re-evaluate KATATONIA's previous works that I so quickly disregarded; I just hope that they are as good as this album. Darkness, melody, atmosphere and accessibility: all of these can be found on "Viva Emptiness", so toss aside all unwarranted judgements, and allow yourself to experience this emotionally driven collection of songs. You owe it to yourself to do so. (Online June 2, 2003)