KATATONIA – Dead End Kings

KATATONIA - Dead End Kings
  • 7/10
    KATATONIA - Dead End Kings - 7/10


Peaceville Records
Release date: August 27, 2012

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Once upon a time, the Swedish band Katatonia was one of the originators of the death/doom Metal genre. Formed in the early ‘90’s by lead singer Jonas Renske and guitarist Anders Nystrom, their piercing sounds were filed with death vocals and heavy toned down guitar riffs. After a few years however, Katatonia evolved into a much more progressive and sonic style sound with smooth vocals and entrancing melodies. Their ninth full length album, Dead End Kings, is yet another step forward of the bands evolution, as they have now produced their most atmospheric and progressive sounding album to date.

As usual, the distinctive and superb vocals of Jonas Renske are the star of the show. All of the compositions revolve around his vocals and ability to provide emotional and melancholy imagery on all the tracks. His brooding vocal style is a cross between Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore. As such, the current musical musings of Katatonia combines many elements of those same two bands. Katatonia presents a progressive style with a borderline Doom Metal feel that includes several facets of electronic sounds.

Dead End Kings is essentially and extension of their 2009 release Night Is The New Day, which was their first album to feature a more emphasized role of keyboards and synthesizers. One slight difference with Dead End Kings is the musical undertones might be slightly more subdued on this album. The guitars certainly take a back seat as there are few tracks featuring a defining guitar riff. It is obvious the talents of guitarist Anders Nystrom is not being used to his fullest, he pretty much plays filler parts here and there to make this a somewhat credible “metal” album, with limited heavy or extreme properties.

To say the least, this album is extraordinarily mellow, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The package as a whole is very smooth, emotive, and melodious. The compositions are written and performed with superb precision. The captivating quality of Renske’s hypnotizing vocals is extremely awe inspiring. The amount of professionalism is extraordinary. One of the best examples of this can be found on the track “The Racing Heart”, featuring a moving acoustic introduction that evolves into a stirring and rousing chorus line. This track is also a good example of the limited usage of guitars, as there is very little used during the entire song.

Arguably the most “metal” song on Dead End Kings is the final track “Dead Letters.” This song has a great heavy, progressive guitar riff and probably the least amount of keyboards. Although not their best composition on the album, it does provide some insight into just how heavy Katatonia can be; if they wanted.

This is the evolution of Katatonia; Dead End Kings from a musical and materiality standpoint is a really great album. It’s dark, moody, and emotional. If one can deal with the lack of heaviness and an overdose of synthesized melodies, then it’s truly a fine piece of work.


  • Sean Meloy

    Sean Meloy was a reviewer, interviewer and DJ here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Iowa , USA. By day he is a straight laced, buttoned up, number crunching accountant; armed with his portable calculator. All other times he is a hard rocking Metal head! He spent many hours listening to records and 8-tracks with his father. Classic bands such as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton just to name a few. His father bought him his first record, Kiss Alive II, at age 6. By the time he reached his teens he was discovering all the Classic Metal of the 1980’s; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, etc. He became a huge fan of the Thrash Metal of the time as well; Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, and Overkill. During the 1990’s he experimented with the Grunge and Hard Rock. However, by the time the millennium came he found himself going back to his roots and rebuilt the music collection he started in his teens.

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