Album Review: Katatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned

98847Katatonia has been in the music business since 1991; formed in Sweden they started under a much heavier and grittier format though they still inspired a somber yet, doomy feel.  Over the course of their career they evolved to create music, as I like to describe, as songs that allow your mind to travel.  It’s a bit dark and often gloomy, but calming and soothing at the same time.  Vocalist Jonas Renkse’s haunting vocals are a perfect fit for the style of music Katatonia creates.  Though they can still be quite heavy at times, enough to inspire some crowd movement, their somber-sounds have a reverse effect on me and often my mood around for the positive.  On the 10th of September, the masters of melancholy release Dethroned and Uncrowned, the (remixed) follow-up to 2012’s Dead End Kings.

Dethroned and Uncrowned takes all of the heaviness out of Dead End Kings.  Well, mostly.  Instead, they add additional instrumentation such as a wider breadth of acoustic guitars, keys, and occasional female vocals.  If you already own Dead End Kings then you know how the album starts.  Subconsciously, I waited for the big opening crash of The Parting, but it never came.  Despite being excited to hear this release, it did take a song or two to prepare my mind to hear these songs in a different, new light.

With a few exceptions the songs lack prominent drumming, but focus attention on the addition piano and other musical elements.  Buildings places a heavier emphasis on piano while The Racing Heart, a song that was already quite slow and moody, is one of the few that featured at least some drums.  Leech expands the range of sound and incorporates strings and piano.  Renkse’s vocals are strong on this song as well almost in the same tone as they original version.

Katatonia did a superb job of giving Dead End Kings a fresh sound while staying true to the original music.  Ambitions, for example, still feels like it’s going to hit hard despite lack of drums and prominent bass.  The way the band played acoustics while Jonas kept his voice strong you can hear the song build up, but where you expect the (original) song to crash and be heavy it never comes.  However, you still feel the power of the original song even in this stripped down acoustic form.

Instead of simply being “stripped” down, Katatonia added other elements to expand upon what they have already done.  It’s easy to strip down a song as far as I am concerned, but to rework them individually while still leaving them instantly recognizable to fans is another thing.  With an emphasis on acoustic guitars and Jonas’s vocals mainly, the songs captivate if you allow yourself to be absorbed by their haunting nature.  Dethroned and Uncrowned is a nice exploration of how a Katatonia song can transform not only in physical form, but how it stimulates the brain as well.

Release Date:  10 Sep 13

Record Label:  KScope Records

Nationality:  Sweden

Favorite songs on the album:  The Racing Heart and Ambition


About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on September 9, 2013, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hmmm, they really reached the mainstream area. Sounds like a combination of two main money making procedures: the Tour-Edition-releases just a few month after the initial record release and the Remix-album, which in this case is – of course by pure chance – is much softer. Even if it isn’t bad it’s not quite a way to get my sympathy… (which they surely don’t have to care about)

    • Oh God not the “M” word. I can see where it might seem like that, but Katatonia is far from mainstream especially in the U.S. They are too moody for the radio here. No one knows how they are here (except Katatonia fans) and even if they went on a headlining tour, they would only sell the smallest venues in the biggest cities. Dead End Kings has been out a little over a year, so this is a good time to remix an album which Katatonia has never done before. As far as doing DVDs, lot’s of bands do that, some more than others and I dont think they do it for money because only metal fans will buy them. Why? I presume metal fans like to watch live shows more than any other music fan. I believe Katatonia has one called Live Consternation. Personally, I like the new take on these songs, but I would hardly think they are doing it for the money. Katatonia isn’t big enough for that and I am sure DVD sales will hardly pay the bills. A Katatonia set, done well, is a great live performance. check this out out.

      • I’m a fan of their music as fear as I know their music and I didn’t say anything in general against them. It’s just what popped into my mind when I say the release and the addvertisment.
        Here in Germany Katatonia are quite big since Night is the new day. They reached Top 20 in the charts, are covered by the biggest Indie zine Visions and can play in front of 2000 and more people. That might explain a different perception. But as said: Nothing against the band, I grant them their success.
        Also Dethroned may be the exception, but I really don’t know any good remix album. Impressing video.

      • Oh, I know you weren’t saying anything negative about the band. That’s cool they hit the charts in Germany. Here in America it’s not likely to happen…at the very least not in the Top 20. People here are tone deaf and have no taste. I do not normally gravitate toward a remix album, but in Katatonia’s case I like it. Sometimes I do wish metal were more out in the spotlight in America. But, as long as stupid young girls are going to show their ass cheeks…metal will just be (mostly) underground and only known by metalheads.

  2. Yeah, I have to agree that a “softer” sound doesn’t always equal more mainstream or more radio-friendly. If anything, you might argue that the original versions of the songs on Dead End Kings are catchier/hookier than the reworkings on Dethroned and Uncrowned.

    Having said that, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying Dethroned and Uncrowned. If you’d have asked me what I wanted from a new Katatonia album before Dethroned… was released, I’d have said I wanted them to go in a slightly heavier direction for their next album. And in fact, if you asked me now, I’d still say I want them to go slightly heavier for their next album. But I’m glad Dethroned and Uncrowned exists.

    • Thanks for coming by. I too, look for a heavier album when the time comes. When I first heard D & U was coming, I didn’t know it was a remix album. I thought nooooooooo, it’s too soon it wont be good (if it was a new album). But, when I got wind of what was in store for us, I thought cool…something to hold me over until the new stuff comes. I do like the heavy side of Katatonia and after several albums of displaying a more somber and haunting feel I do hope we get treated to some rocking stuff.

      When it comes to remixed albums, I would have fucking died if Katatonia did dubstep remixes. Makes me cringe to think about that. I like what they did. I think to use mainstream was probably not the right word, but definitely more accessible to those who not rock!

  3. Intrigued by the Katatonia clip. I only have a couple albums of there’s but listened to a fair bit via YT and I’m impressed by their attitude and how they keep moving forward with their sound. Might pick up D&U if I have a few spare quid. It reminds me of how another fave band of mine, Marillion – not very metal, but… – produced an album of ‘reinterpreted’ material a few years back – not bog-standard ‘stripped down’ or remixed versions but bona fide reinventions that breathed new life into the songs with unusual instruments and arrangements. Example:

    Also, for fans of Katatonia, have you heard Jonas Renkse’s recent collaboration with The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord ‘Wisdom of Crowds’? It’s interesting to hear Renkse’s voice and words in a very different musical setting;

    • I did hear Wisdom of Crowds. I haven’t had a chance to check out the whole thing, but a clip was featured here some time ago. I don’t know much about Marillion, but those you posted have an old-school prog vibe. Weren’t they at the High Voltage festival a couple years ago…if my memory serves me? I like that Katatonia simply didn’t strip it down and leave the drummer hanging. Bands do that a lot and give the poor drummer a tambourine or something and call it new. Katatonia took it to a new level which I appreciated. I am glad you like it, I think you would enjoy it if you get around to picking it up.

  1. Pingback: Album Review: Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts | A Metal State of Mind

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