Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 5/5/2004
Brave Yester Days
posted on 6/2004 By:
Finally, a compilation of worth! After a decade of consistently strong releases, Katatonia should not need an introduction, but for those who still haven’t made time for the band, a very brief history lesson. Katatonia defines the word “bleak”. They paint dark soundscapes of despair and desperation. “Doom and gloom” fits them just fine. Anders “Blackheim” Nystrom and Jonas Renske formed the band in 1991, releasing a demo Jhva Elohim Meth…The Revival, which set the pace for the legendary doom-death release, Dance of December Souls. This was followed by an EP and the equally legendary Brave Murder Day album, which continues to inspire bands today. A pair of EPs followed, the last of which (Saw You Drown) hints at the dramatic change of style to the dark rock band that they are today. After a slightly rocky transition, each successive release is better than the last, but that doesn’t concern this review and this release.
So what does this release have to offer? Well, Brave Yester Days is a double-album, so there’s definitely plenty of music, although I don’t believe any of it is re-recorded or re-mastered. The first disc contains that earliest produced demo, two tracks from Dance of December Souls, two from the WAR compilation, and the entire For Funerals to Come EP. The second disc contains a couple from Brave Murder Day and the entire Sounds of Decay EP, both feature Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) on lead vox. These are followed by an unreleased track and the Saw You Drown EP in its entirety. Basically, this has all of the hard-to-find early material in one place, along with a few samples from their full-lengths. In essence, it’s a full retrospective of their early days, showing where this fine band came from. With the exception of the last few songs, everything on here has harsh vocals, and is dire as hell.
The songs are in order by release date, so you can take a trip through time and start right at the beginning. The earliest demo has a slight black metal feel to it (while still being doomy and dark), although the songs are remarkably fluid for a first demo. The production is passable as well, and that’s a common trait on all of these various songs – production that works well for the material. A brief piece of “Palace of Frost” contains possibly the only thrash riff Katatonia has ever written, so that’s something of note. On the whole, that demo reminded me of Opeth’s Orchid album. The rest of disc 1 has a more slick sound, full of morose melodies and subdued growling vocals. The BMD songs are great, but then again, the entire album is. The Sounds of Decay tracks are cut from the same cloth as the BMD songs, but just aren’t quite as strong. On the unreleased track and the Saw You Drown tracks, you begin to get a taste of the direction they were headed in that ultimately led to the all-clean vocal, lighter style heard on 1998’s Discouraged Ones.
This collection isn’t the best introduction to Katatonia for an uninitiated listener, but it would be ideal for someone who digs the newer material and is curious about the past. The demo and EP songs are of high enough caliber to allow this release to stand on its own, and for a devoted fan like myself, it’s a must-have for the collection.
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