Album Review: Katatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned
Posted by Reggie
Katatonia 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.