After a (thankfully) brief hiatus, Katatonia got back in action with a tour to honor the 10th anniversary of “Night is the New Day” in 2019. So naturally the next step was a new album and that’s something I always look forward to. And once again, Katatonia do not disappoint! “City Burials” is quintessential Katatonia with more metal muscle than the last two albums yet still a ton of atmosphere that they’ve come to be known for.
“The Fall of Hearts” was a bit more overtly prog rock than anything that the band had done prior so there was no need to clone that album. So on “City Burials,” there’s songs like “Behind the Blood” that’s about as straight forward metal as Katatonia has ever done. But then the band have songs like “Lacquer” and “Vanisher” that drip with synths and style which wouldn’t sound out of place on the previous albums. Both of those tracks are definitely favorites.
“City Burials” does a great job of not only acknowledging Katatonia’s classic sound but also adds a new wrinkle here and there to it. “Rein” is one such song. The chorus is classic Katatonia while the guitar line on the verse is that nuance that I’ve not heard before. Katatonia know how to be subtle…especially when there’s a shitload of layers there are well. Hiding in plain sight? Something like that.
In addition to the songs mentioned before, “The Winter of Our Passing” also uses synths but more to drive the song along. Throbbing a bit. Then you get that BIG chorus as well. This one will sound great live…whenever they get to play live again. Just another really great song.
While the album is called “City Burials,” the files that I received were tagged as “City Glaciers.” I like that as a title. But there is a song called “City Glaciers.” You are probably tried of reading this but yes it’s another GREAT song. Katatonia is almost upbeat on this album! Well, okay they are upbeat for Katatonia. “City Glaciers” sounds like a band that’s rejuvenated. That’s really true for this whole album. The hiatus seems to have served them well.
What don’t I like about the album? Wow I can’t think of much really. “Lachesis” is a tad brief and solemn but it’s still a nice piece. “Behind the Blood” is a little bit too 80s metal at times but again, I like the song. There are just better tracks on the album than that one. The shapeshifting “Neon Epitaph” is a good example of that. Any time the second to last song on an album is great, the album is great. Try that out on albums that you love.
I’ll admit that I am very partial to Katatonia but as most people who know this site know, I am even harder on bands that I love. My expectations are VERY high for a band like this. If this album was “just okay,” I would rip it to shreds. But they have done it yet again. “City Burials” is as good as ANYTHING the band as done and underscores that Katatonia are without question still a force to be reckoned with.
1. Heart Set to Divide
2. Behind the Blood
5. The Winter of Our Passing
7. City Glaciers
10. Neon Epitaph
Release Date: 24 April 2020