Following the release of 2016s The Fall Of Hearts, Swedish Alt legends Katatonia hit the road teamed up with American screech artists Ghost Bath and fellow Swedish metallers The Great Discord. So what’s a bird to do on Motorhead Day on a Monday night eh?! Hit the M5 to Bristol and hot tail it to The Marble Factory!
A striking building surrounded by redevelopment sites, car/van hire and a variety of other outlets The Marble Factory stands dominating its territory. A newly refurnished venue – transformed from a former skate park to a careful constructed venue with the capacity to host 550, just a stones throw from Bristol Temple Meads, a perfect location for attendees in the South West and surrounding areas. Upon entering the venue, from its darkened room to its exposed beams, Yes! This is a perfect setting for the nights show.
As I made my way close to the stage a vision of an androgynous dark phoenix captured my eye; a vision reminiscent of 80s icon Toyah Willcox – it was hard to look away from the rhythmic trance of Fia Kempe, the lead vox of the opening band The Great Discord [3/5]. Described as Progressive Death Pop, I was intrigued by what they what they offering… Despite a few tech issues with the sound, I was impressed by the unmovable perseverance of the band to continue their performance. Their 2015 release ‘Duende’ explores the darker aspects of human emotion, if you are looking for a stage performance with some powerful female vox and proggy rhythm – Whilst this isn’t usually my kind of thing… If this sounds good to you… ‘I Dare You’ to give this emotive bunch a whirl.
Next up, a band that create a fantastic conversational debate… quite the Marmite band if you will. Having gained notoriety for the pranks of their first release leading people to believe they were in fact from ancient China, causing quite the music media storm; these post black metallers are gaining more and more spectators with their beautiful black metal influenced music, combined with an unusual and unique vocal style that is haunting reminiscent of the asylums from years now past.
My first impression of Ghost Bath dawned on a chilled Sunday morning at Bloodstock Festival 2016, the opening music was powerful and then an explosion of what sounded like the tortured soul from within an asylum, with every soul wrenching scream rippling through the campsite – I was bemused as to what on earth I was missing! (if you were there…you know what I am talking about)
So, it was the night that surely would uncover what I had missed! Excited and apprehensive for what was coming…. I have to say they delivered! From the carefully staged positions to the simultaneous head swooshing, the performance was hypnotic and enchanting. Opening with ‘Thrones’, from their recent 2017 release ‘Starmourner’ it really set the stage for a melancholic feel that you cant help but to be lured into and captured in its web. Closing with the appropriately named ‘Golden Number’, Ghost Bath [4/5] threw themselves into it and took the crowd with them, a stampede of thunder charges straight from the stage into you before the dulcet melody soothes you and the band one by one exit the stage, leaving the observer with the rhythm of the consonant keyboard closing the show with grace. Okay, I admit it, I was enthralled!
With new the latest design cladded tshirts in hand…. Man was I ready for the main attraction! ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ is a true testament to the bands ability to rejuvenate and step forward carrying their darkness in a poetic and transient light for all to bask within. With heavy riffs and experimentally progressive layers with beautiful synth this release is not one to be refuted!
Having only witnessed them at festivals, I was super indulged at the privilege to witness the mighty Katatonia [5/5] in their glory at their own show.
As smoke cascaded from the stage across the crowd, with gentle keys teasing the eagerly waiting fans, Katatonia entered the blue lit stage bursting straight into The Last Song Before The Fade, of their tour album The Fall Of Hearts, quickly followed by an old favourite Criminal, from their 2003 release Viva Emptiness.
Often criticised for a shy performance, Katatonia were anything but. With a hearty OOOO bellowing across the PA – they had arrived! With back up vocals and hefty riffs enhancing the characteristic delicate vocals of Jonas, the delivery was mesmerizing. As the audience joined Jonas just over half way through the set, all in unison to sing together for Ghost Of The Sun, there was a real sense of unity in the crowd that was so unique.
An epic fifteen track set comprising of their new material spliced with listeners favourites from ‘Viva Emptiness’, ‘Dead End Kings’, ‘The Great Cold Distance’ and ‘Last Fair Deal Gone Down’. followed by a three track encore as a reward that featured the intimate ‘My Twin’, ‘Leathen’ and closing as the Night Devoured on ‘July’ – I can honestly say they were incredible and everything I dreamed they would be; I for one cannot express how much I am looking forward to their new era now it has dawned.
Katatonia hold a very special place in my heart putting together music that smash you straight in the feels and words that speak volumes. They continue to grow, recreating their music and expressing emotions that many listeners identify with and are appreciative to share. Formed in the early 90s by Jonas Renske, vox and Anders Nyström, guitars and bass, as a studio based Death Metal ensemble, Katatonia have truly undergone a metamorphosis that has seen them hibernate in ’94 and awake more powerful and deliver more than ever anticipated, with a career spanning close to three decades.
Recognised for never being afraid to step outside of the traditional Metal Genre restraints and changing their early sound with their releases ‘Discouraged Ones’ and ‘Tonight’s Decision’, they cemented their new sound which saw them move forward ready for the new millennia with delicate clean vocals against deep progressive melodies and go onto release four more albums with this line-up.
Shortly after their 2009 release of ‘Night Is The New Day’, Katatonia rocked their first line up change, thankfully for all their followers – the band were far from their initial vision and were determined to continue. Recollecting themselves and exploding back into the scene with support from session musicians to continue with further recording projects that saw re-workings of previous EPs and continue to perform live performances; one of which the spectacularly haunting acoustic set (and a personal fave) recorded in the Union Chapel, ‘Sanctitude’.
Both on record and in the flesh, Katatonia are a phenomenal band and this show was truly moving to see. With a humble bow Jonas Renske, Anders Nyström, Roger Ojersson, Niklas Sandin and Daniel Moilanen concluded the evening, leaving a feeling of contentment. Katatonia, ‘This Night Belonged To You’.