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Katatonia - Brave Yester Days (8,5/10) - Sweden - 2004

Genre: Gothic Doom Metal
Label: Century Media
Playing time: 73:17/56:59
Band homepage: Katatonia

Tracklist:

CD 1:

  1. Midwinter Gates (Prologue)
  2. Without God
  3. Palace Of Frost
  4. The Northern Silence
  5. Crimson Tears (Epilogue)
  6. Gateways Of Bereavement
  7. Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)
  8. Black Erotica
  9. Love Of The Swan
  10. Funeral Wedding
  11. Shades Of Emerald Fields
  12. For Funerals To Come
  13. Epistel

CD 2:

  1. Murder
  2. Rainroom
  3. Nowhere
  4. At Last
  5. Inside The Fall
  6. Untrue (Previously Unreleased)
  7. Nerve
  8. Saw You Drown
  9. Quiet World
  10. Scarlet Heavens
Katatonia - Brave Yester Days

There is only one other band that I can think of that is equally as bleak and doomy as fuck next to MY DYING BRIDE and that is KATATONIA. What Century Media has done here is really unique. They didn't just smack together a two-disc set of songs that represented the band on the Century Black label back in the day when their CDs were licensed to CM from various labels before KATATONIA jumped to Peaceville. Owner Marco Barbieri who runs Century Media in the U.S. helped put together a package that will be more than worth picking up.

 

Not only do you get choice cuts from the usual suspects of “Brave Murder Day“, “Dance Of December Souls“ and the mini CD of “For Funeral Hearts To Come“, but he has gone out of his way to include the whole demo of “Jhlva Elohim Meth“ that started it all for the band along with two tracks from the War label compilation, the entire “For Funeral“ EP as well the entire EP of the long out of print “Sounds Of Decay“ and the out of print “Saw You Drown“ EP from “The Discouraged Ones.“ I know! All of you so called fans that abandoned the band by “Discouraged Ones“ want to get this because this was what you revelled in, right?

 

The CD packaging is nice. It comes with a nice booklet with photos never seen and the track listing is broken down by album titles so there is no confusion as to what came from where. I never heard the band until “Discouraged Ones“ and worked my way up and down to get everything that this band has done. I now get to hear the “Jhlva” EP and boy is it bleak as hell. There is no chance of hearing any happy beats anywhere. Jonas who went by the name of Lord Seth in the beginning had this evil screaming Black/Death Metal vokills that will make your skin crawl. Each track on this demo is raw, primitive and ugly. This was the way this genre once was. Next up are two tracks from “Dance...“, which include “Gateways Of Bereavement “ and “Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)“ This is slow with sludgy guitars that slowly torture you and work their way into your brain. This is nothing short of pure depravity here.

 

We then work our way to two tracks from the War compilation which include “Black Erotica“ and “Love Of The Swan.“ “Black Erotica“ has been long out of print and makes its way back here. This track is slow, but there is just a hint of melodic guitars that keep things moving. You will also hear some acoustic guitars that blend in well with this genre of music. Jonas’ vokills get really low and growly with “Love Of The Swan.“ There are some guitar melodies thrown in here, but this is still bleak and depressing as sin. Disc one wraps up with the complete EP of “For Funerals To Come“. What, you don't have this? You have no excuse now not to have it. We now enter disc two with two tracks “Murder“ and “Rainroom.“ “Murder” is a great track because even though the band was still depressing, Blackheim added more up beat and catchy riffs, but at the turn of the hat, he can really bring them to a halt practically. The drums had improved as well. They went from one slow hit per hour to a more consistent beat. They picked up the pace dramatically here even though the track is still packed with Doom and eerie atmospheres. This is quite addicting and catchy. The same could be said with “Rainroom.“ Great tune here as well and guest vocalist includes Mike Akerfeldt from everyone's favourite band. If I need to tell you who, then you shouldn't be listening to this music or you can do some homework at your expense.

 

Now we dive into the long out of print “Sounds Of Decay“ EP. Still dark and hopeless music, but the band incorporate more melodies and picked up the pace 10 fold. There are more musicians here like the addition of Fred Norman and more guest vokills from Mr. Akerfeldt. We come to a close with the “Saw You Drown“ EP. Many people frowned because they went for a more gothic feel and the vocals were now clean and were going to stay this way from here on out. I have to say that I like this album. I don't really see “Discouraged Ones“ as a Gothic release. It's filled with what I would call morose sounds. It's very melodic and clean, but the atmosphere keeps it bleak and sad. With each release, you could tell that the band was experimenting with sounds more and leaning to a more alternative sound all together. It would be with this album that the band would drop the whole Doom Death vibe and go for a more alternative sound with all the releases after this one, but still be depressing as fuck. At least with this EP reissued on here, you get the bonus b-sides of “Quiet World“ and “Scarlet Heavens.“

 

This is a must for any fan and well worth your money. This release is much more than a must have in your collection. Everyone went to great lengths to cull up the entire out of print EP's and singles and put the usual 1 to 2 tracks from each full-length release. You get it all here as well as a nicely detailed booklet with fully printed lyrics to sing along to your favourite tune and full credit details including who was in the band, etc. The pictures on here are really nice looking and you would immediately think that Travis Smith did them, but sadly. no. They hired someone else. The pics look like Travis' work, but it's not. The best part of the packaging is that the band used their original logo. Kick ass! Must have!! (Online July 11, 2004)

Joe Florez



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