Album Review: Katatonia - Dethroned and Uncrowned

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I had always anticipated my response to the sounds of a metal album to be the sort that evoked physical pain, rather than emotional joy. I'm not referring to a headache here - more the pulsating migraine type that only a strong dose of Co-codamol could cure.

Lucky for me, Katatonia are an interestingly progressive band. Following my first taste of 'Dethroned and Uncrowned', I can only hope that the band's most recent progression toward a softer sound welcomes more fans than it alienates. At the risk of offending hardcore heavy metal fans, hearing this genre of music stripped back from its heavy elements to reveal a raw ambiance, is quite the refreshing relief.


Katatonia have nine studio albums under their belt and are frequently defined as the masters of pain and sorrow. The more I listen to this album the more I am able to justify the truth in this acclaim. 'Dethroned and Uncrowned' caught me on a bad day - which is quite possibly the best kind of day for this genre of music. When you're down and don't want to be uplifted, Katatonia takes you on a journey into the darker corners of your soul. If you're experiencing summertime sadness and feel like hiding under the dark realms of your bed sheets, listen to this album while doing so.


Guitarist and founding member Anders Nystrom didn't lie when he commented that the album would live up to its title. As promised, the drums and guitars have been 'Dethroned and Uncrowned', leaving us haunted by hypnotic melodies and stunning vocals. For me the most impressive element of this album is its lyricism, something I had anticipated would be lacking given my preconception that metal music is nothing but noise. Seemingly, Katatonia are rebelling beyond the confines of their named genre and the result is both magnetic and intriguing. The final track on the album 'Dead Letters' became my instant favourite with its opening line 'fixation, eternal void, my dreams are getting darker and darker' - delivered by vocals that demand to be felt upon a backdrop so eerie you find your spine is tingling in twisted joy.


Other highlights on this album worthy of a mention are 'The Racing Heart' and 'Undo You', which left me completely disembodied from any original interpretations I had of metal music. Track seven 'Ambitions' stirs so much emotion that I could go so far as to drop it into my 'heartbreak' playlist on iTunes. Utter brilliance. Granted, I started out a little wrong. 'Dethroned and Uncrowned' is less of a migraine than it is a small headache and has the ability to bewitch you with an inner darkness you never knew you had. A true diamond in the rough.


Hayley Thompson

Music and writing make me happy, so I write about music.


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