There’s no denying the Katatonia DNA present within October Tide. However, as each band progresses, they become very different from each other. Though both share doom as the foundation of their music, October Tide have maintained death metal as their main building block for their albums. “Winged Waltz” is no exception.
While I did enjoy “Tunnel of No Light,” I never felt like it was better than “A Thin Shell” which was amazing. Part of the issue for October Tide has been the revolving door of vocalists over the years. The band started life as a side project for guitarist Fred Norrman and Katatonia main man Jonas Renkse. Their debut was the last death vocal for Renkse who made way for Mårten Hansen on “Grey Dawn.”
The band was then revived in 2010 when Fred Norrman left Katatona and he enlisted Tobias Netzell as the vocalist. Then current vocalist Alexander Högbom replaced Netzell for “Tunnel of No Light.” So the good news for “Winged Waltz” is that Alexander Högbom is STILL THE VOCALIST! That’s a first for October Tide and I think one of the reasons for this album being so good is that Högbom sounds more confident and delivers a powerful performance!
Musically, October Tide are as doomy and as heavy as they have ever been. The main thing that I’ve noticed is that Fred Norrman’s riffs are more memorable and even more melodic than ever before. The main riff for “Nursed by the Cold” is a prime example. That riff is one of the best he has ever written. And the key is that it is such a strong melody against a heavy backdrop (vocals included).
As I mentioned before, the vocals are really strong. Vocally, Högbom reminds me a little bit of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s harsh vocals, back when he did them! “Swarm” is a perfect example, full on harsh vocal with tons of power. Even the riffs have an Opethian vibe at times (“Reckless Abandon” for example) which is why this album feels more prog death metal than October Tide have been before.
If you’ve liked October Tide before, “Winged Waltz” is a must for you. If you’ve ever been curious what could have happened if Katatonia never experimented with gothic metal or dark prog, “Winged Waltz” is the pitch black nightmare that could have been.
2. Sleepless Sun
3. Reckless Abandon
4. A Question Ignite
5. Nursed by the Cold
6. Lost in Rapture
8. Coffins of November