Katatonia - _Viva Emptiness_
by: Pedro Azevedo (
Present day Katatonia is clearly a more evolved musical entity than a
few years ago. Where _Viva Emptiness_ has a crunchy, polished
production, an older album, say _Brave Murder Day_, had a relatively
weak one with artificial-sounding drums. _Viva Emptiness_ presents
multiple musical approaches, much more varied than, for instance,
_Discouraged Ones_. Furthermore, Jonas Renkse sings with a seemingly
ever-improving voice, and the band's instrumental quality seems to
have equally improved. The point I'm trying to make is that _VE_ has
all that, but a lot of the time it fails to convey as much feeling to
me as Katatonia's previous releases. This is not to say _Viva
Emptiness_ is a mediocre or sterile album, or that I can't stand the
more radio-friendly path Katatonia have taken -- see my 9 out of 10
review of its predecessor _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_ for proof. If
anything, _Viva Emptiness_ actually sounds heavier than _LFDGD_
overall, although usually in a rather mainstream-ish way. The main
problem on _Viva Emptiness_ is that in exploring new rhythms and
string work, Katatonia have forsaken most of their trademark
emotional guitar style. They have sought other means to express the
emotion that has always been part of their music, and on some
occasions they succeed brilliantly: the final sections of "A
Premonition" and "Evidence", the chorus of "Walking by a Wire" and the
Dolorian-like closer "Inside the City of Glass". Most of the time,
however, _Viva Emptiness_ fails to make the kind of impact I hoped
for, though it may be a consistently great album from a musical point
of view with all its clever tricks and varied time signatures.
"Omerta" and most of "One Year From Now" are downright annoying, and
there are more average tracks leaving me indifferent than on previous
albums of Katatonia's clean vocal era. Overall, _Viva Emptiness_ is
still definitely worth your money if you liked _Last Fair Deal Gone
Down_, but I can't help feeling mildly disappointed. On a side note,
if the mainstream somehow ever noticed Katatonia, these guys really
could become huge.
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