Yeees! CATAMENIA are back! It shouldn’t be a big mystery that I am a huge fan of the Finns, basically ever since their debut “Halls Of Frozen North“ seven years ago. Between the last masterpiece “Chaosborn“ and this sixth long player “Winternight Tragedies“ there’s been quite some commotion in the Finns’ camp, the two founding members Mika Tönning (vocals) and Timo Lehtinen (bass) are no longer with them, for that they have former WRATHAGE fronter Olli-Jukka “OuJee“ Mustonen and Mikko Heppo-Oja on bass on board.
And the sextet from Oulu once more is masterly making the split between staying true to themselves and musical evolution and also in 2005 are among the best melodic Black Metal bands of this planet. The cover fully stands in the tradition of the previous works, with a grim wolf, so to say the band’s mascot, a bleak winter landscape illuminated by a cold full moon, the mood is set and when the music starts, then as a fan of the style you almost automatically fall under the spell of CATAMENIA.
“The Heart Of Darkness“ once more underlines that a crystal clear, powerful production, majestic melodies and keyboards can have their place in Black Metal, not least if they are as well executed as in this case. Compared to the many cold Black Metal bands out there CATAMENIA’s keyboards give the sound a certain warmth, which stands in quite crass opposition to OuJee’s harsh vocals, yet setting a very genre-atypical contrast. Additionally they also show themselves variably in the rhythms, blastbeats meet fat double-bass and on top of that they also break the intensity down with well placed breaks and when in the chorus suddenly some clear vocals sound (as on the previous album courtesy of Kakke Vähäkuopus) it becomes very evident that we have another masterpiece in front of us.
And we have not even reached the second track, maybe the best composition that the Finns have concocted so far: “Verikansa“. On this killer track CATAMENIA for the first time combine their Black Metal with some Viking Metal, yes even some traditional Metal riffing finds its way into the song, before everything culminates in a big Viking choir, very epic and majestic, wow! Also “Iced Over” brings in the traditional riffing and good clear vocals in a very variable song, here they show that they do not fear to spice up their own sound with some previously unheard of elements.
A similar quality also is offered to us by the mid-paced “The Crystal Stream“ and the very powerful “My Blood Stained Path“, where we also get a few female vocals in the chorus’ background, while the Finnish “Perintö Pohjolan“ is a lot more aggressive, yet balanced with more measured passages, just to close things off with the quite good SATYRICON cover “Fuel For Hatred“.
Once more CATAMENIA will cause a rash with all traditional Black Metal purists, but that should not keep any open-minded fan of paying a visit to this wild bunch, because they without a doubt have reached the quality of “Eskhata” again and stands in the fore front of the epic and hymnic Melodic Black Metal! (Online July 10, 2005)