Katatonia is one of those bands that a complete evolution of their sound over the years. Evolution of a band’s sound is a natutal progression, but when there is a drastic change in a band’s sound, you take notice. Fans new to Katatonia would probably not believe what their old stuff sounded like. When I think of drastic changes by metal bands (in a good way), I think of six bands, Amorphis, Sentenced, Paradise Lost, Anathema, The Gathering and Katatonia. All of these bands have arguably improved their sound by experimenting with new sounds. As a side note, I am not sure which Amorphis sound I like better because both are pretty damned awesome.
On to Katatonia and their latest release, Dead End Kings. It still feels odd to hear their new releases. Not sure why, but it just does. Dead End Kings seems to even take a lighter approach overall in comparison to even their most recent releases. I really do not want to say that it is a bad thing that they are doing, because the songs are good, but they do start to all sound the same after a few listens, and more importantly, they are really not doing anything to put their stamp on the songs. Listening to the songs, they could really have been written by a dozen other bands and we would not know any differently.
I hate to think of Dead End Kings in these terms because it is a fine album, but Katatonia seems to have fallen into that black hole of not really metal and not really rock. Of course, with each new release, they lose a few more of their die-hard fans. On the other hand though, they are gaining just as many, if not more, fans that are beginning to recognize that Katatonia has some serious talent for writing beautiful, melodic songs.
Overall, the album is very solid, albeit a tad monotonous though. If the album was a little edgier, I would be more forgiving of the monotony, but hold Katatonia to a higher bar than your typical band, so you want them to challenge us musically and they are just no longer doing that. I will continue to listen to, and enjoy Dead End Kings as I hope that others do as well. I just fear that they are falling into that black hole of oblivion with metal fans.