Review 1538 : Katatonia – Sky Void of Stars – English

The legend of Katatonia continues.

After debuts under the name Melancholium, the Swedish band led by Anders Nyström (guitar, Bloodbath, Diabolical Masquerade) and Jonas Renkse (vocals, Bloodbath, ex-October Tide), accompanied by Niklas Sandin (bass, Lik, ex-Sodomisery), Daniel Moilanen (drums, Runemagick, ex-Heavydeath, ex-Lord Belial) and Roger Öjersson (guitar, Tiamat) announced the signing to Napalm Records, as well as the release of Sky Void of Stars, their thirteenth album.

The album opens with Austerity, a haunting track that lets a majestic dissonance meet a more energetic and heavy basis as well as soaring but intense vocals, creating a catchy wall of sound. The diverse influences beautifully blend as they lead us to Colossal Shade, a heavier track which lets a dark groove enchant us as the band develops heavy sounds coupled with soothing vocal parts, then Opaline places some heady keyboards before hazy melodies surface again. The track is very soft but still rhythmic thanks to the Post-Rock roots, and it will be followed by Birds, a heavier but also more energetic composition which contrasts with the heavy and dark sound. The chorus is especially heady, and it will give way to the quieter but equally hypnotic Drab Moon on which the Progressive influences are the most important, as well as the keyboards parts in the background that give it a soaring touch. Author follows with an omnipresent quietness, which will be regularly broken when the rhythmic bursts into fire, while remaining in this heady and soft atmosphere which will intensify at the end, then Impermanence goes back to the heartbreaking Old School leads. The atmospheric basis perfectly blends with melodies and vocals, then the whole thing calms down leaving room for Sclera, which sometimes offers quietude that animates it heavy and majestic riffs. Atrium takes over with mysterious leads the band had chosen to unveil the album’s release, and which are relatively effective in developing hypnotic sounds before letting No Beacon To Illuminate Our Fall slowly bring forth its haunting harmonics. The soothing tones explode with more complex patterns on this long track, and then Absconder will come to offer us a last fix of heavy and majestic riffs to close the album with this rich mix of dark and soaring influences.

With each album, Katatonia reveals a new shade of its personality, coherent and complementary to the others. Sky Void of Stars bewitches us with its airy melodies, fascinates us with its majestic sounds, then hits us with its heavy riffs. A true breath of fresh air.


Version Française ?

Few questions with Niklas Sandin, bass player of Katatonia.

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Katatonia without using the usual music “labels”?
Niklas Sandin (bass): I would introduce myself as an admirer of music, and a vessel that music can reach other people through. And I have the pleasure of being just that in an orchestra that portrays emotions and the inner battles we all have. This in a non direct way where the listener can identify themselves in the lyrics… perhaps in what they have gone through themselves.

Sky Void of Stars, your thirteenth full-length, will be out early next year. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Niklas: If you don’t count the record Dethroned and Uncrowned, this album makes the 12th in the discography. And it´s quite surreal to think that the band has made so many albums, making up a vast and big catalogue. And I am of course very thrilled to, once again, be part of Katatonia’s history. And it’s a record that I strongly believe in, all the way back since I heard the very first pre production material. 

How would you sum Sky Void of Stars up in only three words?
Niklas: Dark instant classic.

How did you deal with the composition process for this album? Were there any changes with the previous one? What about its name and artwork?
Niklas: It was very much the same on this record as the previous. But the big difference was that it was written during a pandemic. Something that might have colored the album in a way. Some describe that the song sounds hopeful, and it is something that reflects the current mood in the band. We really look forward, with excitement, for the future that lies ahead.

What inspires you to create your music? Same question for the lyrics. Do you feel some evolutions compared to the previous records?
Niklas: It can be lots of different things that inspire Katatonia to continue putting out music. Experiences, pop culture and other artists, musicians and bands. Just as we all, as humans, get inspired on a either conscious or subconscious plane. There can be things that seek into the music, and get noticed by others before the ones playing it recognize them. 

How did you pick the firsts singles to unveil to introduce your new album?
Niklas: That’s always a hard thing to do. You want to give the audience something new that will give them a sense of what to expect further on the record. The first one is especially hard to choose, since that´s the first new material people have heard in years. But I think we made a good choice with the singles for this record. And also keeping the fans on edge, never to know what to expect of the next song to be unveiled. 

You will be back in Europe in 2023 for a co-headline tour alongside Solstafir, what can we expect from this tour?
Niklas: People can expect a very keen and hungry band. Since playing live for people is something that fuels us. Something that got taken away during the past couple years. So we will, as always, play very honest shows, since we will be exactly where we’re supposed to be. And where whe thrive as a group. And it’s a great package, together with Iceland’s Solstafir and American’s SOM

Do you have more plans for the band’s future?
Niklas: We will take a week’s break after coming home from the European tour, and then we will play a festival in Denmark. After that we will embark on a South American tour. Something I can´’ wait for. Since I do live in a dark and cold Sweden during the winter months. A nice cocktail in the Sao Paulo sunshine sounds just about perfect right now. 

Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Niklas: We haven’t really discussed that or vented it as a group. But it came up in a conversation I had a few weeks ago, and it made me reflect on collaborating with Lady Gaga. She seems to be one of those artists who do music on the same terms as Katatonia. That it should be with the outmost integrity, and not to please anyone, making the music into a product. But to still be able to call it art. 

Last question: with which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Katatonia and three other bands!
Niklas: That is a very hard question to answer. But I would probably pick FINK, Agent Fresco and Niia. It would be a very diverse, beautiful and musically rich evening.

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Niklas: I will end as always to tell all the people to keep on rocking, and the kids to stay cool in school!

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