Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts

Often, when you look back at things, two phenomena which seemed unconnected were actually just two instances of a third, unknown actor. Thus, even if they seemed to be related or following on each other’s footsteps, we couldn’t know at the time that something more was beneath the surface, a direction or reason guiding their disparate trajectories. With the release of Katatonia’s latest album, The Fall of Hearts, it has become apparent that this is the case with their previous two releases. While Dead End Kings and Dethroned & Uncrowned were obviously connected, the second being an acoustic rendition of the first, it appears that their relationship is much more than just causal. The Fall of Hearts consolidates these three releases into a new chapter in the life of Katatonia, coalescing the styles found on both into an album.

You see, Dethroned & Uncrowned was much more than just an acoustic covers album, or so we have been saying for a while now. The fact that a lot of the instruments and vocals were re-recorded, the differences in composition and the complete feeling that the album had, led us to view it as a separate release. The Fall of Hearts confirms that, as it blends the style heard on that album with the one of its progenitor. Thus, it is an album which continues to dig into the acoustic elements of Katatonia’s dark themes while incorporating plenty of heavy moments. This makes The Fall of Hearts an outstandingly complex and subtle album, one which requires multiple listens before you can crack its bleeding, aching heart. In the stead of the more straightforward approach that once informed Katatonia albums, this one ducks and weaves, fades and returns, runs and then is still.

I Am Noah – The Verdict

Sitting behind a screen and pulling apart a piece of art is easy. Critics that ascribe difficulty to smashing keys in the name of reviewing music in particular, you suck. Taking an art form that requires time, effort, money and creativity and rendering it down into 500 words of “this was good but this sucked” will always seem harsh. Harsh and necessary. I Am Noah’s The Verdict is the exception that proves this rule. For every swell of appreciation that this record gives, there’s a counter move that disappoints aggressively. The effort put into the crafting of this record is unquestionably greater than the hours dedicated to picking it apart but’s still not been a routine piece. A mixed bag, for great want of a better term.

Heavy Rewind – Falling Into Infinity

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the 90’s. During it, or so the legend goes, culture was preoccupied with the breaking down of things, with stark realization that the world which past generations had been promised would not come to be. In the east, the hazy dream of Sovietism, always tinged with the darkness of reality, had just collapsed. In the west, war and economic distress was the rule of the day. In music, all of this was expressed in song. Grunge, nu metal, death metal, harsh noise, dark rap and more were all birthed in the cultural fires which made the 90’s go.

Progressive metal, often deemed a “brighter” genre by forgetful generations comparing it to today’s heavier arrangements, was also informed by these trends. It dealt mostly with mental breakdown and disease, social disaffection or escapism, preferring the technicality and promise of musical alchemy to the realities of current music. Thus, we have Falling Into Infinity. What was to be Dream Theater’s break-away moment, their capitalization on the name they had made themselves with previous releases, ended up as a failure, commercially and critically. While the band’s opinion has always been unclear, with some voices lauding it while others claimed malicious influence and pressure from the label, it is certain that the fans reacted badly to some of the more approachable tracks.