Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Record Label: Peaceville
Release Date: August 27, 2012
Dead End Kings continues Katatoniaís gloomy musical path by treading in familiar ground. Sounding similar to past two releases The Great Cold Distance and Night is the New Day, Dead End Kings takes the best of both albums and throws in some lighter Prog for good measure. At first listen the album comes off as a letdown, featuring some slower melodies and a song or two that doesnít quite take hold with the listener until the fifth or sixth listen. "The One You Are Looking for is Not Here" is one of these songs. A lighter track from the album featuring harmonies from Silje Wergeland of the Gathering fame, the song features a beautiful chorus and very well written verses.
Dead End Kings features a similar formula in many songs quickly switching from sweeping, dense atmospheres to crunchy guitar riffs that make for excellent headbanging. The best examples of this would be the mighty "Buildings" and the excellent bridge of "First Prayer".
The album hits its peak on the fourth track, "The Racing Heart". It is an emotional, beautiful song with a really gorgeous chorus that only gets better in the final moments of the song when the track itself dials down the hardness and features only some light simplified music and Jonas Renkse's trademark singing only to be backed up by a higher toned harmony. This is the best part of the album.
On to the negative side of the album, "Dead Letters" feels more like a mash-up of clips of different songs that were thrown together. How this track was chosen as the main single is beyond understanding. "Dead Letters" isnít a total loss, the bridge is really groovy featuring excellent synth work from Frank Default whose contributions to this album are particularly grand. Could we please get this guy an official spot on the Katatonia line up already?!
In conclusion, the album really is a grower. Donít write it off on the first 2 or 3 listens. Only "The Racing Heart", "The Parting", and "Undo You" really grabbed me right off the bat, the others soon followed suit. Is it their best work? I still prefer Last Fair Deal Gone Down and Night is the New Day but it certainly is wonderful and their most ambitious material to date.