Katatonia - _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_
by: Pedro Azevedo (
As the brilliant title track opens the _Teargas_ EP with its _Sounds of Decay_-like guitar work and heartbreaking chorus, one is likely to have a strong premonition that _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_ may turn out to be a significantly superior album to its full-length predecessor _Tonight's Decision_. The preview EP then goes on to unveil its two exclusive tracks: first the equally emotional "Sulfur" (also rather reminiscent of the _Sounds of Decay_ and _Discouraged Ones_ era guitar-wise), and "March 4". _Teargas_' playing time of less than 15 minutes will most likely seem claustrophobically short as you play it over and over again waiting for _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_ to become available. And then the remaining 50 minutes of music Katatonia have to offer this time (including a repetition of "Teargas") will stare deep into you and challenge you to repeat the mistake you made by allowing the EP to sink its claws into your heart. Katatonia have always had a knack for producing records that have all the potential to become something of a soundtrack to a period of one's life, and they have done so again with _LFDGD_ -- much more so than with their comparatively less inspired _Tonight's Decision_. _LFDGD_ is of course in the same vein as the _Teargas_ EP, although a few of its tracks deviate more from what you might expect from Katatonia. "We Will Bury You" is based on an electronic rhythm section, and, even though it isn't a bad song, the chorus does become rather annoying with time. "Sweet Nurse" is highly unusual both musically (almost cheerful to begin with, even if perhaps sarcastically so) and lyrically. Also, after a few seconds of "Clean Today" you may be expecting a half-growled shout of "Jump!!" rather than the relatively typical Katatonia riff that follows. This brings me to the new drummer, Daniel Liljekvist, whose style is rather different from what I expected. Nonetheless, he is clearly a talented drummer and was probably partly responsible for the enhanced and increased dynamics found in _LFDGD_, which features a hard-hitting drum sound and Katatonia's trademark thick guitar backdrop (occasionally enhanced by a touch of violin-like synth). Even catchier than _Discouraged Ones_ while every bit as emotional and musically more intense and dynamic than that first record of their clean vocal era, _LFDGD_ is an outstanding return to top form for Katatonia. Renske's vocals are better than ever and truly remarkable, even if occasionally somewhat sweeter than might be ideal (which is especially true of Nystrom's backing vocals). _LFDGD_ contains a considerable amount of material worth a 10 out of 10 on its own, and is one thoroughly listenable, enjoyable and affectingly emotional record.
(article published 3/13/2001)
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