Sumptuously sullen and progressively roving, 2012’s ‘Dead End Kings’ saw Katatonia on spectacular form, largely due to straying substantially from their metallic roots. With many in recent years dampening their youthful aggression for some altogether more expansive climbs, this Swedish quintet have taken one step further with ‘Uncrowned And Dethroned’, which re-imagines last year’s effort into a a starkly unadorned selection of intriguing explorations. And it works marvelously.
Fully exposed, these tracks display in their naked essence a beauty which is born quite simply from a exquisite song writing know how. So gorgeous are the lulling sweep of ‘Dead Letters’ and the aching strains of ‘The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here’ that they couldn’t sound further from akin to anything capable of a modern metal outfit.
Melodies abound, ‘The Racing Heart’ a particularly demure example of intertwining grandeur and opener ‘The Parting’ built on some touchingly opulent hooks, yet coupled with this a certain grasp of instrumental enterprise, scattered liberally on the record’s acoustic foundations, does much to keep ‘Uncrowned And Dethroned’ from becoming in the least stale. Indeed, ‘Undo You’ benefits from trimmings of mellatron amble, whereas elsewhere lashings of piano, synth and cello enrich the tracks with a delicate garnish, allowing the room to adsorb us through some unfettered sentiment, with just the added endowment of orchestral elegance.
Every bit as heart wrenching as its counterpart, ‘Uncrowned And Dethroned’ is an all the more courtly affair in that its majestically ambiance is not only fully realised, yet so carefully mapped out and executed it’s apparent the band’s hidden depths have been plumbed unconditionally. As seductive and inspiring as any record in living memory, ‘Uncrowned And Dethroned’, much more than riding the coat tales of ‘Dead End Kings’, is in its own right a dignified example of Katatonia‘s wondrously gifted flair.
Written by Tony Bliss