Katatonia – Dead End Kings

By Raymond Westland

When it comes to fusing moments of fragility together with sullen heavy parts few do it better than Jonas Renkse and Co, better known as Katatonia. These Swedish formation started out as a doom/death metal band, but along the way they shed their death metal roots, much like Anathema and The Gathering. However, Katatonia has always maintained a certain metallic edge to their music, with albums like Viva Emptiness (2003), The Great Cold Distance (2006) and Night Is The New Day (2009) being some particular poignant examples/ Let’s see how the band fares on their new album, entitled Dead End Kings…

When it comes to overall cohesiveness The Great Cold Distance and Night Is The New Day are tough acts to follow. The new Katatonia album starts confidently with “The Parting” and “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here”. Both songs could easily been featured on the previous album and especially the electronic effects and progressive undertones are noticeable. Silje Wergeland (The Gathering) really manages to deliver a delicate touch on the the second song. Melancholy kicks into full gear with “Hypone” and “Buildings”, two of the stronger tracks on Dead End Kings.

Fragility has always been an important component in the overall Katatonia sound. However, things become too bitter sweet for my taste on “Leech”, “Ambitions” and “Undo You”. Keys, electronics and Jonas Renkse’s most delicate vocals are the key ingredients here. Katatonia has never been the harshest metal band around, but this is a serious dent in an otherwise fine and solid record. Luckily things improve on “Lethean” and “First Prayer”. The heavier parts are more dominant here. Dead End Kings ends with arguably the best song on the album in the form of “Dead Letters”.

The production chores of Dead End Kings are skillfully handled by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström themselves, with some additional assistance of David Castillo (Opeth, Draconian). He’s responsible for the powerful mix of this album.

The melancholic musings of Renkse and Co aren’t as convincing as on the three previous albums I’m afraid. Dead End Kings certainly has its moments of greatness, but for some reason I expected a stronger and more consistent album. Better try next time gents!


Dead End Kings will be released August 28th on Peaceville Records

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.