ALBUM REVIEW: Katatonia – City Burials

Release Date: April 24th 2020
Label: Peaceville Records


It’s been four years since Katatonia‘s last album, ‘The Fall Of Hearts’, and their progression to more progressive rock territory from their death metal roots is long completed at this point.

They more resemble a band like Leprous at this moment in time, and after a return from their hiatus, fans will definitely be excited for their new offering, ‘City Burials’.

‘Heart Set To Divide’ tries to invoke some emotion and some atmosphere which makes for a decent start, and it builds into a hulky section midway through. ‘Behind The Blood’ is also a decent mid-tempo number, but unfortunately in what will continue across the record, it doesn’t really deliver any awe-inspiring moments, which is all the more frustrating as Katatonia have undeniable talent. ‘Rein’ is one of the highlights though, as there’s more of a seismic shift and a better demonstration at both aspects of their sound.

‘Lacquer’ attempts to tug at the heartstrings, and features a processed backbeat. It’s well-done and well-performed as always, but there’s no real moments where it feels like the songs have a proper lift. The overly-polished production, as well as the lack of attack with Jonas Renkse‘s vocals set the record back considerably in terms of impact.

All the time you can see what Katatonia are aiming for, but more often that you feel like something’s missing. ‘Vanishers’ is meant to be emotive, but it simply plods along rather than incites anything.

Generally, this only really leaves you wanting to point out things that happen rather than feeling something. There’s nothing offensive on here, but striving for everything sounding polished, well-played and in time over everything else leaves so much to be desired. ‘City Glaciers’ attempts to be a moving epic, especially in its closing stages, but it once again feels flat and lacking.

It’s clear that Katatonia have evolved strongly from their death metal roots, and progression of this kind is innately a positive, but this album drags on for a lot of its length, and rarely goes anywhere. Frustratingly, the better cuts are near the end; ‘Neon Epitaph’ brings forward a Tool-esque groove, and ‘Untrodden’ certainly has its moments.

‘City Burials’ is perfectly passable, and fans will no doubt enjoy it, but it begs the question as to how long sizeable metal bands can keep getting away with churning out dull, perfunctory records like this, denying more exciting bands of the limelight and a shot at major festival slots, all due to their stature?