The growth of KATATONIA bumped into fast forward speeding ever since Normann, Renkse and Nyström got a steady line-up and became a real band. Their records are being licensed over to Jim and Frank, labels trying to reissue old albums without permission, touring schedules grow with each passing album, collector items drop from the sky as if the band were the next KENT or PORCUPINE TREE and skyrocketing demands for a new album ought to put some pressure on them, everybody wants a piece of this unique band. So now they’ve got Peaceville releasing a double disc compilation in addition to the concert DVD originally due on the band’s first DVD, which now has been postponed because of unsatisfactory material at present time.
“Brave Yester Days” mostly covered the antique Doom Metal origins of “Dance Of December Souls” and “For Funerals To Come”, albums that I never really cared about, no doubt the songs have something good in them but they sound dry, a re-recording of those albums and I’d be interested. “The Black Sessions” is the ultimate KATATONIA collection for the person who got into their music around “Discouraged Ones”, most of the great songs are there so it’s a safe buy for the hardcore fan. Like said, the material is really good but personally, I think a few classics are missing here, how come “Distrust”, “Relention” and “A Darkness Coming” were left out, those are some of their best tracks, I’m shocked!
The real reason I got this box set was because of the six b-sides and “Wait Outside”, a killer unreleased track from “Viva Emptiness”. These songs are about as good as your standard KATATONIA track, especially the despair ridden “Sulfur” and its bleak guitar harmonies. So yeah, good tracks with typical arrangements but I can understand why they weren’t used in the end, they lack a certain punch.
The DVD is a simple concert played in Poland. You’ll never guess where they shot the concert… in Krakow… the place where live DVD’s are created with the same boring crowd and hyperactive cameras, mysterious. It was cool to see the band in action, they don’t move around much which is why the clinical deliverance of classics like “Teargas”, “I Break”, “Tonight’s Music” and “For My Demons” creates a very moody atmosphere. The show is closed with the grand “Murder” featuring Jonas Renkse on growling vocals and Nyström on blackened shrieks, a very cool performance! The drumming is a real standout; Daniel Liljekvist puts so much energy into his playing when he’s not giving the camera the finger.
Fans will have no reason not to get this one… so get it already! (Online June 21, 2005)