“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” (Anders Nyström, Katatonia)
Revered masters of melancholy for nearly 30 years, Katatonia have always pursued a profound emotional connection with their music and those who listen to it. Formed in Stockholm in 1991 by now vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström, this most free-spirited of modern metal bands have taken a slow and steady but endless fascinating journey from primitive beginnings in the extreme metal underground to their current status as darlings of both the metal world and the progressive rock scene.
From early attempts to channel their sorrow like seminal 1993 debut Dance Of December Souls and its much lauded follow-up Brave Murder Day (1994) through to post-millennial masterworks like Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001) and Viva Emptiness (2003), Katatonia’s ever-evolving sound and utterly unique atmospheric identity has cast its spell over generations of music fans, culminating in a recent run of flawless records and ever-more celebrated live performances that few modern bands could hope to match. Most recently, the Swedes’ tenth full-length album The Fall Of Hearts (2016) was universally acclaimed and seemed to herald a long-deserved surge of popularity and prominence: acknowledgement, perhaps, that Katatonia have clicked into yet another higher gear.
But for all the momentum generated by their story so far, the band surprised their legions of admirers by taking an unexpected break from Katatonia, following the conclusion of the last album’s tour cycle. Joyously, 2020 brings the news that they are not only back, but newly armed with arguably their finest album to date, the enormously vivid and powerful City Burials.
“After the whole tour cycle was over, we decided to have a little bit of a break,” explains Renkse. “It was the first time we’d ever done that with Katatonia. We’d been doing the band for such a long time we thought we might all focus on something else for a while, to see if we still have the drive and the hunger to do Katatonia. As it turned out, we all missed it very much. It’s been a good thing, because it really showed us that Katatonia is a very crucial part of our lives and we need to move forward with it.”
Although diehard fans will instantly recognise Katatonia’s amorphous but unmistakable atmospheric imprint, City Burials is yet another example of how this band are in an exhilarating state of perpetual evolution. This time round, Jonas Renkse has written the vast majority of music and all of the lyrics, resulting in a record that is perhaps even more personal to the singer than previous efforts. Nonetheless, he assures us all that the band’s collaborative instincts are as strong as ever.