Having already established themselves at the forefront of Sweden's rising doom-metal scene alongside contenders such as Paradise Lost and Anathema, Katatonia had defined all albums prior to Discouraged Ones with sludge-like, yet driving metal rhythms and the tortured wails of vocalist/drummer Jonas Renske. Yet after growing tired of the scene they were performing in, Katatonia risked alienating their entire fanbase at the expense of music which came off not quite as brutal. This album is probably the smartest decision in Katatonia's career up to this point, and would be the future reference of the new sound of Katatonia, one employing clean vocals, more interesting musical ideas, and overall just better production and music.
Discouraged One lacks any rhythmic complicity, with every song being played in standard 4/4 time, set up in verse/chorus/verse structures, and every chorus depending on simple barre chord strumming patterns. But complex rhythm changes would not be a primary focus for this dark Swedish outfit until Last Fair Deal Gone Down and Viva Emptiness. What Discouraged Ones is concerned with is building a unique and gloomy atmosphere, focusing more on Jonas Renske' newfound vocal style and overly depressing lyrics. This is perfect music for a cold autumn night by the fire, pondering regrets and lamenting lost loved ones.
Just about every track will sound almost identical to the untrained ear on the first few listens, but once the album is given time the subtle differences start to appear and the beauty of this recording really starts to stand out. Of note is the track "Saw You Drown", which lyrically depicts a tormented man drowning his unsuspecting lover, as well as the appropriately titled "Instrumental", which shows that guitarist Anders Nystrom can actually play fast and hold an interesting solo over beautiful mellotron voicings. Technically it's not the best Katatonia album, but atmospherically it cannot be beat.