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Katatonia - Dead End Kings CD (album) cover

DEAD END KINGS

Katatonia

 

Progressive Metal

3.78 | 43 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
3 stars It took me a while to warm up to the previous album "Night Is The New Day" because of how mainstream some of it was, but in the end it became a solid 4 stars and one I enjoy a lot. That's the album Mikael Akerfeldt said was possibly the strongest metal release he's heard in the last 10 years. "Dead End Kings" sees the band going further down the commercial road but this time it's too far for my tastes. Sure there's lots to like but overall 3 stars is all I can give it. Big changes in the lineup as well for the first time in many years as the Norrman brothers(guitar/ bass) have left the band to be replaced by Per Eriksson and Niklas Sandin respectively. So still a five piece with a three guests helping out with percussion, keyboards and vocals including THE GATHERINGS Silje Wergeland who adds the vocals. Travis Smith has out-done himself with some outstanding art work that I've spent quite a bit of time enjoying. Love the bleak themes Travis uses and the use of trees and crows especially. It might be his best with the band even better than the cover art and the art in the liner notes from the "Black Sessions" compilation recording.

"The Parting" opens with strings and orchestral sounds as vocals then a powerful sound kick in. It's brief though as reserved vocals, strings and drums take over, piano as well. The powerful and mellow are contrasted throughout. "The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here" is laid back but with a powerful undercurrent at times. Silje guests on vocals here but just accompanying Jonas unfortunately. We get strings and piano here as well. An okay tune. "Hypnone" opens with strummed guitar and piano to start as the drums and bass kick in, riffs follow. It settles when the vocals arrive. An emotional chorus and the title of the album is quoted in the lyrics in this song.

"The Racing Hearts" is a commercial, almost ballad-like tune but man it's emotional. Jonas sounds like Seal on this one strangely enough and I almost feel guilty liking it(haha). It's more powerful on the chorus but what a gorgeous track. "Buildings" might be the heaviest track on the album. I like the bass in this one. "Leech" opens with piano and atmosphere as reserved vocals join in followed by drums. I'm not too into this until that melancholic solo guitar arrives. So good and it reminds me of the guitar on OPETH's "Damnation" album. It turns heavy then themes are repeated including that melancholic guitar solo. Nice.

"Ambitions" is a killer for me because of the lyrics. Too close to home(gulp). The vocals are emotional along with the lyrics and I do like the more powerful sound after 1 1/2 minutes. "Undo You" features plenty of piano and it does get a little heaver at times but I'm not into this one. "Lethean" and the following 2 tracks end the album on a high for me. This one is powerful right off the hop but it settles when the vocals arrive and contrasts will continue throughout. A ripping guitar solo 3 minutes in has me smiling.

"First Prayers" is interesting lyrically as I've enjoyed reading them over and over. This one kicks some ass as well which I appreciate. Check out the minute long instrumental section starting 2 1/2 minutes in. "Dead Letters" is a great way to end the album as we get some desperate sounding spoken vocals to start as the sound builds. Jonas starts to sing as it settles back then it kicks in hard again. Nice. I can't get over how much the piano sounds like PORCUPINE TREE later on, it makes me feel good every time I hear it.

Not since the first time I heard "Tonight's Decision" have I been so disappointed over a KATATONIA album. But when a band changes their sound as KATATONIA have done a few times over their careers your going to lose and gain fans. By the way I don't own the next album by these Swedes because it's basically an acoustic version of this record and I've made it known many times that unplugged or acoustic albums do little for me.

Mellotron Storm | 3/5 |

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