Vergil's profile picture

Published by


Category: Music

Katatonia Primer


Katatonia are a Swedish alternative metal band formed in 1991. Over the years, they have explored a number of genres ranging between death-doom metal, black metal, alternative metal, gothic metal, gothic rock, progressive rock, progressive metal. Despite these often dramatic differences in style over their many albums, they are best-known for their melancholic atmosphere incorporated in every song. I started listening to Katatonia last year, around April maybe, and they quickly cemented themselves in my top artists of all time. I believe they were somewhat popular in the early-to-mid 2000's among metal fans, but have dropped in popularity since, so I hope to inspire my friends here and anyone reading this blog post to give them a try.

Below I will outline every major release with the genres, release date, some songs I enjoy, an embed, and any extra thoughts. I encourage you to listen to anything that strikes your fancy and I would love to read any thoughts you have!

Dance of December Souls:

Released: 1993

Genres: Death-Doom Metal, Melodic Black Metal, Gothic Metal

RYM Rating: 3.70 / 5.0

Best Songs: In Silence Enshrined, Without God, Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)

My Thoughts: I admit it took me a while to get used to the vocal style here, but now I genuinely think this is one of the best Katatonia releases. I think this is a beautiful piece of doom metal, and the screamed vocals really hit home that sense of pain in every single song. The roars in Without God are one of my favourite bits of vocals of all time.

Brave Murder Day:

Released: 1996

Genres: Death-Doom Metal, Gothic Metal

RYM Rating: 3.83 / 5.0

Best Songs: Brave, Day, 12

My Thoughts: This is one of Katatonia’s most highly-acclaimed releases, and one thought of as their best by those who prefer the harsh vocal era of the band. The vocals in this album, save for the clean vocals on Day, were actually done by Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. I think this is one of Katatonia’s strongest releases in terms of quality and atmosphere, but it lacks the rawness of the previous album that made it stand out so much to me.

Discouraged Ones:

Released: 1998

Genres: Gothic Metal, Doom Metal, Shoegaze, Alternative Metal

RYM Rating: 3.70 / 5.0

Best Songs: Deadhouse, Distrust, Scarlet Heavens

My Thoughts: This album marks the end of the use of harsh vocals by Katatonia, due to the damage to the vocalist’s vocal chords. I personally think this album is one of the most beautiful in the discography, and I love the ethereal atmosphere accompanying the melancholy lyrics, clean vocals, and the slow instrumentals. I love the shoegaze influences where the guitars almost drown out the vocals. The final track on the album, Scarlet Heavens, plays an ode to Katatonia’s goth and post-punk influences, namely Fields of the Nephilim. They never played another song in this style which makes it all the more special to me.

Tonight’s Decision:

Released: 1999

Genres: Gothic Metal, Alternative Rock, Doom Metal, Alternative Metal

RYM Rating: 3.50 / 5.0

Best Songs: For My Demons, Nightmares by The Sea, Black Session

My Thoughts: Not much to say about this album, but it did mark a beginning of Katatonia’s brief departure from ‘pure’ metal, incorporating some more mellowed out tracks with more rock influence. I especially like the cover of Jeff Buckley’s Nightmares by The Sea, I’m biased of course but I think Katatonia captures the mood of this song perfectly.

Last Fair Deal Gone Down:

Released: 2001

Genres: Alternative Rock, Alternative Metal, Doom Metal, Gothic Rock

RYM Rating: 3.70 / 5.0

Best Songs: Teargas, I Transpire, Dispossession

My Thoughts: I LOVE this album, I think this and the two that followed are Katatonia’s best era, it’s got that perfect mix of early 2000’s alt metal with still so much focus on their doom and gothic metal roots. If I can’t decide on something to listen to, I go straight to this album.

Viva Emptiness:

Released: 2003

Genres: Alternative Metal, Gothic Rock

RYM Rating: 3.65 / 5.0

Best Songs: Ghost of The Sun, Sleeper, One Year From Now

My Thoughts: This album is much heavier than the last two and I think it carries on the vibe really well. I don’t have much to say about it, since it isn’t one of my favourites, but it definitely holds up.

The Great Cold Distance:

Released: 2006

Genres: Alternative Metal, Doom Metal, Gothic Metal

RYM Rating: 3.73 / 5.0

Best Songs: Leaders, Deliberation, My Twin, honestly the whole album

My Thoughts: A fan favourite, and my favourite as well! I would definitely recommend this one as a starting point, especially if you’re already interested in alternative metal from this era since I think it builds on it super well and will introduce you to a more chilled out version of the doom metal genre. I love the almost shoegaze-y mood with the loud guitars, and I think every single song is amazing in its own right. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this album.

Night is The New Day

Released: 2009

Genres: Alternative Metal, Gothic Metal, Doom Metal

RYM Rating: 3.56 / 5.0

Best Songs: Forsaker, Nephilim, The Longest Year

My Thoughts: Bear with me for these next two albums because I’m not the fondest of them and don’t have much to say. It is similar in mood/style to The Great Cold Distance, and is not a bad album at all, but I could never get super into every song on here.

Dead End Kings:

Released: 2012

Genres: Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock, Progressive Metal

RYM Rating: 3.42 / 5.0

Best Songs: Hypnone, Leech, Ambitions

My Thoughts: Here’s where Katatonia’s prog era begins, the fan reaction is pretty evident from the following dramatic drop in ratings. I’m personally not huge on this era, save for The Fall of Hearts, but if you’re not a fan of doom metal this may be up your alley!

The Fall of Hearts:

Released: 2016

Genres: Alternative Metal, Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal

RYM Rating: 3.49 / 5.0

Best Songs: Takeover, Old Heart Falls, Last Song Before The Fade

My Thoughts: I think here is where their prog music peaked; it’s actually one of my favourite Katatonia albums. If you’re interested in softer, prog rock-led music with clean vocals, this will be perfect. All of Katatonia’s new releases are in this style, so you’d be joining in at the perfect time to get more of this stuff from them. On a sort-of related note, I love the album cover so much, I adore the bird motif Katatonia have used throughout their career.

City Burials:

Released: 2020

Genres: Alternative Metal, Progressive Rock, Art Rock

RYM Rating: 3.26 / 5.0

Best Songs: Heart Set to Divide, Behind The Blood, The Winter of Our Passing

My Thoughts: It’s not bad on its own, but compared to other Katatonia releases I’m not a big fan of it at all. I don’t have much else to say honestly.

Sky Void of Stars:

Released: 2023

Genres: Alternative Metal, Progressive Metal, Gothic Metal, Alternative Rock

RYM Rating: 3.29 / 5.0

Best Songs: Austerity, Opaline, Atrium

My Thoughts: I haven’t listened to this enough to write anything too detailed, but I really enjoyed this album! I think they improved on their songwriting and their technical skill so much with this one, and I appreciate the return of some of the gothic metal elements that were lost during the start of the progressive metal journey. It’s a really good return of the band, and I’m excited to see what’s next in store.

4 Kudos


Displaying 1 of 1 comments ( View all | Add Comment )


Raastad's profile picture

I've just listened to the songs that you've listed down on your blog, and they are amazing! The guitar riffs are so powerful and the drums are just insane. The vocals are perfect. I definitely need to check out more of their work. Thank you so much for the recommendations!

Report Comment