Ideally for a band to mature it is essential that their material and musicianship strengthen with each release, yet at the same time not stray too far from the original sound they created. A delicate mix always at play and no easy feat either I might add. Whether it seems that way to you or not you condescending bastard let’s face it if they write the same fucking record over and over while at the same time proclaiming that they are staying true to their fans and their sound but offer up nothing bearing any sort of succession in their writing abilities, then ultimately their plight is fucking useless. I’m not a fan of listening to the same record over and over even though I just put 5 different disks in by the same artist. (Hmmm, maybe Slayer) Now on the other side of the coin, if a band drastically changes its sound then the outcome is generally always detrimental and the statement “natural progression” just isn’t going to work with me either. I fucking hate this saying and I fucking hate the outcome. (In Flames, Soilwork, Machine Head, Metallica, Anthrax and let’s not forget Your Momma!) Now, why all this talk about progression and the lack of it as well? Well the band at hand for today’s reviewing session embodies the perfect cycle of sound expansion and development but still is the same band sound-wise that I have come to thoroughly appreciate with each and every release. Katatonia’s Viva Emptiness quickly proves this band has matured musically but also feeds off of their original sound the whole way throughout the album but thoroughly monopolies on the strengths of previous endeavors. Maturity through immensity and emotion, Viva Emptiness finds Katatonia trudging through heavier terrain than they’re normally accustomed to, yet still leaving the darkness and melancholic bliss well in tact. And also let’s not forget that Jonas Renkse consistently uses words like FUCK and SHIT throughout their tunes without sounding convoluted and or juvenile, much like my reviews wouldn’t you say, you fuck? Strangers to Katatonia and their music should quickly rectify the problem and reach into those deep fucking pockets, pull out some cash and explore this stellar release. With a sound that travels from a mid paced and for lack of a better labeled genre, harden rocked apathy to an emotionally driven darkened reflection of when times were bleak and really they’re only going to get worse my friend. Viva Emptiness blends the ugly with the even uglier then drops the motherfucker in a martini shaker and then proceeds to pour out some of the most blackened yet beautiful music that will not and cannot be forgotten. I would definitely not consider Katatonia fully gothic metal but they do equate to the general consensus of gothic metal. Now what the fuck does that mean? Well let me tell you! If you do consider them gothic metal then they are indeed genre leaders. If you don’t then they are hard rock heroes in my perfect world of when the word rock actually meant something and didn’t make me want to blow chunks and/or bitch slap the first innocent bystander. This is the music that should be blasting from your ear friendly niche-box hard rock station that has no clue what real musicians should actually deliver. Katatonia are truly in a league of their own, and with no offense to Peaceville, but when they do sign to a better suited label from a financial standpoint to represent them they will make their mark with integrity still in tact and compromise never even mentioned.
Bottom Line: Viva Emptiness for its genre is almost the perfect record. With piles of disks almost blinding my monitor as I type this I still find myself spinning this album over and over. It’s been a long time since I have come across an album with this much staying power and strangely enough it’s still not letting up. While listening I can’t help but want a stiff drink only to amplify the beauty and ultimate potent emotion. Katatonia have completely outdone themselves with Viva Emptiness and quite simply “It Haunts My Dreams.”