One does not have to be catatonic to listen to Stockholm’s Katatonia, but an appreciation for doom and gloom would certainly help. The band was formed in 1987 as a black metal band in the vein of Celtic Frost before disbanding. The group reformed in 1991 and released the Jhva Elohim Meth demo in 1992. This demo was recorded by Dan Swanö at his Gorysound Studio and was issued on CD by Vic Records. The band obtained a recording contract with local label No Fashion and issued its debut, Dance Of December Souls, in 1993. The album featured several demo songs and was recorded by Dan Swanö again.
The band would next sign to Italy’s Avantgarde Music and issue the For Funerals To Come EP in 1995, followed by Brave Murder Day. The band had found time to issue a split single with Primordial in the meanwhile though. Brave Murder Day’s American edition, via Century Media, featured the 1996 EP as a bonus. Guitarist Fredrik Norrman would be recruited to join the band following a time in October Tide with Renske. The band would go on hiatus for two years and emerged in 1998 with atoned down sound on Discouraged Ones. The press loved the change of direction. The Swedes would switch to Peaceville, but Avantgarde would take a last stab at making money off the band by issuing the Brave Yester Days compilation, which featured an unreleased track. Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth – who would also be part of Bloodbath with Renske later - participated on Discouraged Ones and would mark the band’s toned-down sound.
The band would recruit not one, but two, new members in 2001 in the form of Mattias Norrman and drummer Daniel Liljekvist. The Great Cold Distance was recorded at fascination Street studio. The band supported this album live in Russia. Katatonia’s live performance at Germany’s Summerbreeze open air festival 2006 was released as a double disc live album and DVD entitled Live Consternation on May 28th of 2007. The band announced Night Is The New Day as the title for its next album, which is out on October 19th through Peaceville Records. Katatonia lost the brothers Fredrik Norrman and Mattias Norrman in autumn of 2009. To fulfil touring obligations filling in for Fredrik on guitar were long-time guitar technician and also guitarist of Bloodbath Per 'Sodomizer' Eriksson while Niklas 'Nille' Sandin was filling Mattias’ shoes. Full-time replacements were being sought. Katatonia released an EP, called The Longest Day, on March 15th, 2010 through Peaceville Records. In addition to the already released title track by the same name, the EP featured a previously unreleased song called Sold Heart, a remix of Day And Then The Shade and Idle Blood. The disc also featured a video. The band lost two guitars and other equipment due to theft in St. Paul, Minnesota in September of 2010. Katatonia was celebrating its twentieth anniversary with five gigs in Europe in May dubbed the Last Fair Day Gone Night - An Evening With Katatonia tour 2011. 2011’s edition of Madrid Is The Dark Festival was taking place on the 08th, 09th and 10th of December at the Old School venue in Getafe, Spain. Katatonia was taking part. Katatonia would play the Last Fair Deal Gone Down album in its entirety followed by a 'best-of' surprise set during its headlining US shows. The band was also opening for Opeth. Katatonia’s December 12th, 2012 show in Stockholm would feature several former members. Fredrik and Mattias Norrman would appear on bass and guitar. Additionally, Guillaume Le Huche (Israphel Wing) and Krister Linder would also be on stage. Katatonia picked Dead End Kings as the title for its new album, which was due on August 28th, 2012 through Peaceville Records.
The band has toured with Moonspell, Amaran, Finntroll, Opeth and others. Katatonia and Opeth would tour North America in October of 2012. Opeth and Katatonia arranged a North American tour scheduled for the spring of 2013. Katatonia’s Dethroned And Uncrowned was out in the summer of 2013 through Kscope, Peaceville's imprint. After three years of service Katatonia asked guitarist Per 'Sodomizer' Eriksson (also in Bloodbath) to leave in the winter of 2014. Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief and Wisdom Of Crowds) was guesting with the band. Drummer Daniel Liljekvist left Katatonia in the spring of 2014 to concentrate on his family and day job. Katatonia would release a four-disc DVD/CD Last Fair Day Gone Night on September 15th, 2014. It was recorded during the band's 20th anniversary shows in 2011. The band announced a new DVD, called Sanctitude, out on March 31st of 2015 through Kscope. In late 2015, Katatonia made drummer Daniel "Mojjo" Moilanen a permanent member of the band. The band was working on a new album for 2016. Katatonia released its next album, The Fall Of Hearts, on May 20th 2016 through Peaceville. It was the follow-up to 2012's Dead End Kings. Katatonia announced in 2017 that due to "recent issues and injury” the band would go on a short-term hiatus following the completion of rescheduled shows in the Baltics and Russia in February and March of 2018. Shows elsewhere in Europe were cancelled.
KATATONIA - BRAVE YESTER DAYS - AVANTGARDE/CENTURY MEDIA
Katatonia has a country and its name is Melancholia. What an appropriate title for this retrospective double-CD that Avantgarde has issued for Katatonia. The discs feature the band's music from 1992-1998 - including the Brave Murder Day era music - and even features rare songs not readily available elsewhere. Having all but ignored Katatonia in the past, it is good to see (hear) that the band is not a My Dying Bride/Anathema clone. There certainly are wimpy moments throughout the songs, but the bulk of the material is doomy, forlorn and wretched darkness with growled vocals on disc one and Bauhaus-styled clean vocals on disc two. Although in either case the music is intense and guitar-oriented. The package features lyrics and interesting photography. - Ali "The Metallian"
KATATONIA - THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE - PEACEVILLE
The title of the newest Katatonia album, The Great Cold Distance, obviously betrays no changing of mood or disposition with the despondent lot from Sweden. Much like its predecessor Viva Emptiness Katatonia remains a solitary figure hunched over in the corner and burdened by the dismal reality of day-to-day life. There is some crushing guitar chords and simmering angers bubbling between songs, but those are surrounded by the band’s more eminent sadness.
Where the band has changed, albeit slightly, is the move towards a more mainstream sound, a more modern sensibility, a more alternative flavour and a crisper production.
Guitars, often strumming lightly, background melodies, melancholy, enraged voice feeling down and a sadness as vast as Siberia are the parts that make the sum that is Katatonia.
The music aside, Peaceville’s lame attempt at dissuading the online propagation of this album needs a mention. Peaceville is rather like George Bush’s fascist cabal. In that universe everyone is guilty until proven innocent and even those in the latter group will not find respite. Each and every song is marred, diminished and interrupted by an annoying voice-over announcing the name of the song and the band. Marketing 101 folks, treat your customer (in this case the journalists) like gold and ignore your inclinations to resolve larger issues at the expense of your customers now. It is a detriment to the reviewers’ ability to hear this album out when every minute a voice interrupts the music. - Ali “The Metallian”
KATATONIA - LIVE CONSTERNATION - PEACEVILLE
This live CD also includes a DVD version of the concert recorded at Summerbreeze Open Air in Germany. A proficient, easy going and comfortable looking quintet play eleven songs. Four of the featured, Leaders, Soil’s Song, Deliberation and July, are from the Swedes’ latest studio album The Great Cold Distance but the band go back as far Discouraged Ones’ Cold Way and Tonight's Decision’s Had To (Leave) and Right Into The Bliss. Otherwise the emphasis seems to be on 2003’s successful and acclaimed Viva Emptiness in Ghost Of The Sun, Criminals, Wealth and Evidence. Production-wise Live Consternation comes close to losing its live feel in both the audio, where the sound is too clean, and the visual aspect, where there are unnecessary video effects. As with all releases, which do not offer new songs, this belongs to the curious and above all hard-core fans of the band. - Anna Tergel