Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Katatonia - Night Is The New Day

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've[2] never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful[3].

Tonight's album is one that, for those of us with the compulsion to categorize and classify everything, is a real monkey wrench in the works.



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Katatonia

Night Is The New Day

Musical Genre: Progressive Metal (maybe, it's complicated)
Running Time: 48 minutes
# of Tracks: 11
Particularly noteworthy songs: The Longest Year, Idle Blood, Liberation, Departer

This album gave me a devil of a time when it came to filling in the "Musical Genre" field - Wikipedia simply classifies it as "Alternative Metal", and while that might be technically accurate, it's only going to give you a remarkably misleading impression; bands like Cold and Seether are classified as 'alternative metal' after all, and this is nothing at all like those.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - you probably aren't familiar with Katatonia in the first place, so background is in order! Katatonia is a Swedish metal band formed in 1991 by vocalist/then drummer Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström - their initial releases were notable for their bleak melancholy and despair, essentially making them forerunners of the modern day Doom Metal sub-genre. An accident wherein Renske somehow blew out his vocal cords left him unable to perform the harsh growls typical of Doom Metal after their first album was released however, so Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt performed the growling vocals on their next two releases, and the band has moved to a softer overall sound after that; each subsequent release has shifted them further away from their Doom Metal roots.

Which brings us to this album, which I would consider Katatonia's masterpiece and yet cannot properly categorize - it really defies any neat classification into a sub-genre of metal. In point of fact, Night Is The New Day (and by extension Katatonia itself) is only nominally metal at all, and as an album it really challenges the listener's established notions of just what it means to be a metal band, and damn if it's not bleakly beautiful in the process.

The lyrical content at least hearkens back to their roots as a Doom Metal outfit, as it is rather dark and moody. Yet the vocal delivery itself is quiet, contemplative, and utterly melodious; never strained and never strident, it's practically the definition of "mellow". Coupled with the intricately layered and alternately heavy/soft backing instrumentals, the result is somber and sweeping - session performers contributions of keyboards, strings, and exotic instruments like the theremin have produced a sound that's hauntingly ethereal one moment, or subdued and intimate and yet otherworldly the next. Critics have lauded it for "showcasing beauty and despair in equal amounts", and they're not wrong.

I would go on, but I've quite honestly exhausted my ability to keep finding new ways to describe that which is very hard to describe - you really need to listen to it for yourself. Which you can do by clicking on the embedded YouTube video below - the power of Gildan compels you!


While I first ran across this album a while ago and instantly took a liking to it from the snippets I'd heard, I didn't actually get around to acquiring it until fairly recently, so it (and Katatonia) spent a lot of time just "on my radar". Somehow during that interval I never made a very obvious connection though, one that I really should have noticed before listening to the album's opening track recently made me say "Hey wait a minute" to myself: Jonas Renkse was one of the guest vocalists on the latest Ayreon album 01011001, which I absolutely adored. Somehow knowing that makes me love this album even more, heh.

Let's see... yep, I'm pretty much out of things to talk about, so I guess it's time to bring another entry of the guide to a close - as always I welcome any comments you might have, and I'm always open to suggestions on what to talk about next, yes sirree!

That last bit was quite obviously a lie, but don't let that stop you from futilely suggesting things anyways if you are so inclined.

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Penumbra - Seclusion
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Beyond Twilight - Section X
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Myrath - Desert Call
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Certainly true of the average person on the street, but there's always the possibility that as a member of The Escapist you have indeed heard of some of the various bands I review, in which case you get a (metaphorical) high five.
[3] Whether that's always the case is debatable, as these articles of mine generally don't receive a great deal of comments or views - but that's okay, since I write mainly to amuse myself. Feedback, while nice, is merely an optional extra.

Excellent review. Well written, no major grammatical errors that I'd noticed, and it's the perfect length for a music review, I'd say. I also really like the way that you structure the review, as it's very pleasing to the eyes.

As for the music itself, I quite like the song you chose to use in the review. As soon as I saw "Progressive Metal", I immediately thought of Tool (my favorite band) and the comparison certainly wasn't very far off. I'll definitely have to give them more of a look when it isn't 3 A.M.

SniperWolf427:
Excellent review. Well written, no major grammatical errors that I'd noticed, and it's the perfect length for a music review, I'd say. I also really like the way that you structure the review, as it's very pleasing to the eyes.

Why thank you, though can't take all the credit for the layout as I did originally "borrow" it from Stranger of Sorts' music review thread (back before he started messing with it and switching things up), albeit with quite a few modifications.

As for the music itself, I quite like the song you chose to use in the review. As soon as I saw "Progressive Metal", I immediately thought of Tool (my favorite band) and the comparison certainly wasn't very far off. I'll definitely have to give them more of a look when it isn't 3 A.M.

I'm glad to hear that - it's always nice to get confirmation that these articles I write are achieving their intended purpose (introducing receptive audiences to music they didn't know about before), so thanks for posting to tell me that!

Great review of a briliant album. I liked the introduction of the band and easy to follow. Ever since I bought the album, I've been addicted to listening to it.

Wrathful:
Great review of a briliant album. I liked the introduction of the band and easy to follow. Ever since I bought the album, I've been addicted to listening to it.

I've lost track of how many times I've gone through the album now, but it's a lot, heh. Glad you enjoyed my review.

Ooooo now this is pretty good. Now I have to juggle listening to this, all the suggestions for my reviews and all the ones coming up I'm not telling anyone about.

Damn you

Well written, you seemed a bit strained when trying to describe the band but then again I probably wouldn't have done any better at that.

Can I just say you're changing my life one thread at a time.

Stranger of Sorts:
Ooooo now this is pretty good. Now I have to juggle listening to this, all the suggestions for my reviews and all the ones coming up I'm not telling anyone about.

Damn you

You're welcome!

HSIAMetalKing:
Can I just say you're changing my life one thread at a time.

Just so you know, I'm going to hold you responsible when my ego manifests itself and begins a bid for world domination. Seriously though, that is an immensely affirming thing to say to someone, thanks for making my... *looks at the time* apparently very early morning!

 

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