Black Sessions Box set
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
everything to like about this collection as it is the very best of katatonia, swedish doom metal kings!, bonus is the live DVD in Krakow, you could not go wrong buying this cd as an abridged way of adding as much Katatonia to your metal collection without buying every single release from this band, but as for me i bought it to complete my collection and for the DVD, if you like these guys try Day Light Dies also a great band from the USA but similar in some ways.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I like "Brave Yester Days" (a similar collection of early material) so much because it contains all the songs from now out-of-print EP's and singles and condenses them into a handy listening experience. It has the songs from full-length albums too, but only one or two from each album.
For this collection, there is not nearly enough "unreleased" material that Katatonia has done in these years to include on it. Honestly, there doesn't need to be two CD's of material. They throw half of "Tonight's Decision" on here (7 songs), three-fourths of "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (7 out of 11 songs), five songs from "Discouraged Ones" and six songs from "Viva Emptiness." Now, I'll agree that there are so many good songs on these albums that it's hard to pick one or two favorites but that's why I (and any fan should) have the original album to listen to.
On 2 CD's there are 30 Songs.
2 are from "Tonight's Music" EP.
2 are from "Teargas" EP.
1 is previously unreleased from "Viva Emptiness" sessions.
That makes 5 that are unreleased or were only on EP's.
The other 25 are all on the albums mentioned above.
So in reality I'm spending money on one CD that I already have all the songs on originals, and one CD with only 25 minutes of music that I don't have. It is just a bunch of extra fluff so the record company to make more money. They could have at least waited to release this until "The Great Cold Distance" came out 9 months later and included the songs from the singles from that album. That would have been enough to make a double album I think. One may ask, "Then why did you go ahead and spend money on it?" Well, I didn't sit there and study the tracklisting before I bought it. I saw some songs I wasn't familiar with and some that I was. I also am content for buying it simply for the few unreleased songs anyways because Katatonia is one of my very favorite bands, and of course, the DVD is a little extra bonus. Dedicated fans will probably buy this reguardless (and most likely, have already - I waited a long time) so I would assume mostly casual fans or people just getting into the band are reading this and I would not particularly recommend it to either. Both casual and brand new fans are only getting five new songs that they can't get anywhere else and they really should eventually buy the four albums outlined here anyway.
I would also like to point out all the tracks are in completely random order, which I personally don't like... I would like to see how the band's sound has changed throughout the years by having the songs in order (just like on "Brave Yester Days").
As for the actual quality of the previously unreleased / EP only songs, they are pretty much just as good as any Katatonia material; nothing exceptionally outstanding for the band, but nothing to scoff at either. "Sulfur" is probably the best "new" song, and one of the band's longer songs; starting off with a very melodic, atmospheric clean riff and harmonization for a good minute and a half, before being bombarded with heaviness, switching between very mellow versus and quite powerful and melodic choruses, like many of their songs. This is a very good quality track that would have fit right into "Last Fair Deal Gone Down."
On a good note, the packaging is really nice, there's a booklet with all the song lyrics and tons of Travis Smith artwork. Each CD lists, all the songs, their length, and what albums they're from, all contained in a nice quality "box."
The DVD is pretty good; decent cinematography, except for a few montages which have extremely quick cuts that are almost dizzying. Jonas could be a little more interactive, he doesn't look too excited to be there. Maybe he's always like that; it would explain the mood in the band's general sound... who knows. Near the end the band announces their last song is "Evidence," and when they are done the crowd urges them to continue, and they do so and add in "Deadhouse" and "Murder" which must have been somewhat a surprise. These last two songs seem to be the most energetic for both the band and the crowd and "Murder" is a much more appropriate ending to the set.
The sound quality is pretty good; I don't have any complaints about it. The set list is nice, very well-rounded, they've got at least something from each full album out at the time except "Dance of December Souls" which isn't surprising.
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Live DVD's in the first place; they don't have too much replay-value. I would rather have a live CD so I could listen to it anywhere instead of having to watch it (or at least, have a computer or DVD player nearby to listen to).
So, to sum up, a decent box set for dedicated fans, not something I would particularly recommend to new or casual fans, too much "fluff" from old albums unnecessarily making a double-disc set, and a pretty good live DVD.
Which brings us to the second half of the release, which is Katatonia's first official live documentation, featuring a performance in Krakow, Poland during the promotional tour for Viva Emptiness. The band performs a varied set of music from the four albums which Black Sessions encompasses, and even close on a surprising number with Brave Murder Day's Murder, Jonas Renske despairingly howling his way through one of the bands best doom metal numbers. Unfortunately the performance isn't quite as satisfying as I was expecting, although the band hit every note perfectly. Renske rarely leaves his microphone stand during the performance, nor do any of the band members really interact with the audience or more importantly, with each other and sadly, they just look bored throughout the set. The audience, who is the most uninterested and boring group of fans I've ever laid eyes on, certainly wasn't contributing to the vibe either. The performance is filmed quite well however, although the cameras fall into the trap which many live DVDs often lose value from, the views shifting too quickly for anyone to get a clear look at what any of the musicians are playing. One track which is sadly missing is Sleeper, which I wanted to see strictly for Daniel Liljekvist's monstrous drumming, but his middle finger to the camera during the end of the live set is almost worth the loss. At least they play Burn The Remembrance.
One cannot forget the creepy, haunted artwork which spans the collection's book either, the cover of which seems to signify the end of this latest era for the band, the ghost-like businessman who has adorned previous album artwork lying buried beneath a pile of rocks, his hat hanging on a stick above him. Apparently Katatonia mean to move forward from this imagery with The Great Cold Distance (which I have yet to hear.) As for seasoned fans, one of which I am, the set is still worth the purchase, even if you already own Last Fair Deal Gone Down and Tonight's Decision, the reissues of which include all the unreleased tracks included here aside from Wait Outside. You still get a collection of the bands most commercial friendly songs, an unreleased track, and a live performance for the fairly high price, and in my opinion is worth it no matter what your status with the band. For a greatest hits collection actually worth purchasing, as well as a document of one of the lyrically darkest, most original bands on the rock scene today, get Black Sessions. It will be a must-have one day, when this band is gone and finally appreciated.
This is a great way to introduce someone to the band, should be interested.
The live DVD gig in Poland is also very good, where the band puts on a very tight show.
Recommended to all fans.
But what most fans will be interested in is what rare and unreleased tracks are on here as well as what the quality of the live DVD is. As for rare material, there is only one previously unreleased track which is "Wait Outside". This track was recorded in the "Viva Emptiness" sessions and is a fairly decent one too, although nothing to get too excited about. There are also two tracks that were released as bonus tracks on the slip-case reissue of "Tonight's Decision". These tracks are titled "No Devotion" and "Fractured". These tracks are of less value and I think it was correct to leave them off the original release of that album. Finally, they have included both the "Teargas" and "Tonight's Music" EPs in there entirety, which are difficult to get your hands on these days. The two original tracks on the "Teargas" EP are excellent, with "Sulfur" being a particular highlight. The two original tracks on the "Tonight's Music" EP are not really very good, which is a shame since the title track is one of Katatonia's greatest moments. So, in general, there are only a few bits and pieces on here to get excited about, and for those (like myself) who already own the albums and EPs, there's almost nothing.
Which brings me to the DVD. Now don't get me wrong, Katatonia are a wonderful band. One of my favourites in fact! But they just don't seem to be able to recreate the atmosphere of the studio albums when performing live. Jonas in particular doesn't have any energy on stage and his vocals are a little lacking. The sound in general is decent enough and the tracklisting is also ok. There isn't much here for fans of their early material which is expected since they've left that sound far behind. I don't have too many complaints about the DVD, but can't say I found it tremendously exciting. I doubt I will watch it very often at all.
Overall, I'd recommend "The Black Sessions" only to the completists out there that have to have everything the band releases, or the casual fan that wants a blueprint of Katatonia's output without collecting all of their albums. Then again, if you don't have the "Teargas" EP, try tracking it down or purchase this compilation for that alone. There's still an awesome array of quality tracks on here, but in my opinion, it just doesn't contain enough unreleased and rare material as the "Brave Yester Days" compilation, which is a tad disappointing.