KATATONIA - Dead Air Digipack CD & DVD
Performed live at Studio Gröndahl, Stockholm, Sweden, 9th May 2020.
Recorded, mixed & engineered at Studio Gröndahl
Comes in a 8-panel Digipak with clear trays and 16-page booklet.
Releasing a live album without an actual audience is a rather strange idea but then again, it fits with Katatonia's elegiac rock sounds. The Swedish quintet offers twenty songs with a total running time of just below one hour and a half. It focuses on its more recent outputs, including live versions from songs of the last studio album City Burials that have never been played in front of an audience due to the ongoing pandemic. As strange as this may sound, this release has coherent flow, offers diverse facets of the band's moody soundscapes and would also be an excellent introduction to anything this band has been doing over the past twenty years.
In this context, the band's more vibrant songs really manage to shine and offer some welcome changes from the group's rather slow-paced style of late. ''Teargas'' convinces with a catchy chorus, emotional guitar solo and vibrant rhythm section that make it stand out by a mile. ''Ghost of the Sun'' has a thunderous gothic metal atmosphere with chaotic rhythm section, heavy riffs and psychedelic chants. ''My Twin'' develops a nearly hypnotizing sinister drive that oscillates on the thin line between depressive rock and gothic metal.
The new songs blend in very well and continue the band's unique depressive gothic rock style elaborated throughout the last decade. ''The Winter of Our Passing'' has an interesting contrast between precise but dynamic rhythms and otherworldly and mysterious guitar melodies and vocal lines. The thoughtful, psychedelic and melancholic ''Lacquer'' is a little bit quieter and should mostly please fans of the group's contemporary soundscapes. Album closer ''Behind the Blood'' on the other hand ends the record on a high note as it is on the more energetic side with heavy but melodic guitar play that works better in this live context than on the studio version.
In the end, Katatonia's Dead Air isn't just a filler record to replace a canceled tour but as creative as previous recent outputs like the symphonic reinterpretations on The Great Cold Distance (Live in Bulgaria with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra), the live album recorded in a chapel entitled Sanctitude and the acoustic versions of the Dead End King record called Dethroned & Uncrowned. Katatonia might be the most ambitious, creative and experimental gothic rock band of the last decade in that regard. Katatonia's Dead Air might also be the group's most vibrant record in more than a decade and should please fans of the more recent material and fans of the early years of the new millennium alike.