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This review is from: Viva Emptiness (Audio CD)
EDIT: This is a review for the 2003 original edition, not the 2013 remaster that has just dropped through my letterbox and will be getting reviewed in due course.
This album is a masterpiece. Straight up, no questions, there it is. It's that good. I've been a fan of Katatonia since Discouraged Ones, but this rules them all. But before this review gets lost in a grey rain-cloud of superlatives, perhaps I better explain why.
For me, Katatonia have always been about the feeling of isolation and separation you get from being alone in a decaying urban wasteland, surrounded by people but with no one actually there. The feeling of wondering through deserted streets at 3 in the morning, over cracked pavements and past graffiti strewn walls, with no direction or purpose. Every album they've done has conveyed this feeling more effectively than the last, but the music has always had something about it that connected.
With Viva Emptiness, it doesn't so much connect, as plug directly into your spinal column and overload your nervous system with a perfectly constructed soundscape to your disenchantment. But, it does so in a way that is both beutiful and uplifting.
"Stop with the metaphors and tell us what it sounds like" I hear you cry... Well, it's heavy. The dissonant guitars are still present, but Katatonia have experimented with texture more effectively than on LFDGD, and there is a lot more in the way of melody here (albeit in the same way as LFDGD). There are a few electronic augmentations here and there, but for those recoiling in horror at this notion, it's mostly background and adds amazingly to the overall sound. No synthy bleeps here, just some really effective use of loops and modern production techniques. There is a huge amount of variety on display here too, from the ridiculously heavy, to fragile, to bleak, to light, more than any other album. The lyrics are much more succinct as well, nowhere more so than on the masterful "criminals", and "evidince". There is a much more vivid quality in the lyricism here than on past releases, and in some songs it obtains a narrative quality that reels you in and insinuates itself in your head.
There are too many good points about this album to go through here, and almost no bad ones. This album rules. Buy it, you won't regret it.