‘The Fall of Hearts’ by Katatonia (no, not the ‘Mulder and Scully’ Catatonia that is spelt with a ‘C’) is the eagerly awaited tenth studio album from the Swedish dark progressive rock/metal band. Formed in 1991 by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström, the band’s first two albums were more death/doom metal but over the years they have added more progressive traits to their work, resulting in the sound they have today.
Not knowing anything about the band, “progressive” would have been the word that could have turned me away. I have never hidden the fact I am not a big prog rock/metal fan but this was the factor that made me want to review this one even more. I was not disappointed.
At sixty-seven minutes long, the twelve tracks, although separate songs in their own right, fit together perfectly, and with ease. Creating an eerie and melancholic atmosphere whilst at the same time, not appearing too depressing. The haunting vocals of Jonas Renkse have such depth, he literally brings the excellently written lyrics to life. The guitar work switches effortlessly between heavy riffs and delicate picking, using both electric and acoustic sounds. The drumming from new drummer Daniel Moilanen, is intensive yet not overpowering. Add into the mix the orchestral keyboard sounds from Nyström and you have a progressive masterpiece that is well written and extremely well played.
With hints of Opeth, Tool and Porcupine Tree, and just a pinch of Riverside thrown in for good measure, they can be classed as one of the best of their genre. The album as a whole is complex yet remarkably easy to listen to and obviously contains some immense musical talent and ability, all of which complements the others impeccably. For me, the whole sound is brought together by the vocals, Renkse’s voice soothing and tender yet powerful enough to get you right in the heart.
I have seen this album being likened to the journey depression can take us on and the light at the end of the tunnel and I would say this was a very fair representation. There is a much laid back ambience to the album and, although I listened to it in my car to and from work, it would be more suited to a dark room, lying on the bed, eyes closed with the rain lashing at the windows.
I admit, I am a traditional heavy metal gal, often casting aside the technicalities and intricacies of progressive music but I am glad I did not throw this album to one side. Even if you are not a great fan of prog music ‘The Fall of Hearts’ will grow on you and I will definitely be listening to it again…..in a dark room, lying on the bed with my eyes closed and raining lashing at the window!