KATATONIA - The Fall of Hearts

My apologies, members of the press.  I wanted to have this review up sooner, but I've had nagging stomach issues.  Shitting.  Shitting issues.  I haven't been resting well either, so physiologically, I've been wracked with spoilage.  Emotionally, I've been in a low place. It's almost as if my heart...has fallen--fuck, you'd think I could clef a better segue.  Yes, clef, CLIFF.  Obviously, I'm building up to a piece on moody alt-metal.  What else could I be talking about?  As it happens, I'm categorically connecting to Katatonia's latest LP.  The Fall of Hearts came out earlier this year, so yes, I'm fashionably late on recounting its splendor.  I'm a wee bit late on discovering Katatonia as well.  Someone please smack my forehead.

I knew of them.  I knew of their ties to Opeth, one of my favorite bands of all time.  I liked a song here and there.  But it wasn't until recently that I discovered them.  The difference (to me anyway)?  I actually took the initiative to comb through their back catalog and, y'know, learn the Katatonia gospel.  A device clicked within me.  I still haven't heard every set released by these sullen Swedes, so I can't definitively say that Hearts is their paramount work.  I can't even say it's their best since so-and-so.  I've developed a druthers for their post-2000 material, but it's too fresh to contrast/compare.  All I know is that if I had it, I'd screw a chimpanzee.  Wait, strike that from the record...all I know is that it's really, really good.  There.  Much better!

Hearts does extend the parameters of 2012's Dead End Kings. The songs are longer and more involved.  You could actually say that in comparison to most of the band's recorded output since the 90's. Hey, I compared!  I hate to meld musical ligaments, but Katatonia recall Tool more on this album than any other in their history (don't pretend they haven't been approximated to Tool, however unfairly). Hearts is progressive hard rock at its finest. Opener "Takeover" is rooted in a gibbous, irregular time signature that is beautifully countered by a blistering solo courtesy of Anders Nystrom.  Want to hear something crazy?  SUPER crazy? "Takeover" is one of my least favorite tracks.  As a matter of fuck, I skipped it the last time I popped my vinyl pressing into...um, Spotify.

Okay, YouTube.  Fine, I don't own a computer.  I'm in a library right now.  I'm homeless.  I had rats for lunch.  I pissed on a slut last night. Just because!  I don't mean to mock the homeless; it's just that I was looking for a spot to modulate the classic "pissed on a slut" joke. Pardon?  What could be considered the main singles?  Well, you have "Serein," a straight-ahead rock jaunt with a driving chorus.  "Old Heart Falls" would be the radio hit if that were a possibility.  It has grown on me.  Speaking of growths I should have looked at, the mid-chunk of Hearts has grown on me.  At first, tunes such as "Decima," "Sanction," "Last Song Before the Fade" and "Shifts" blended together into a samey nodule of the mopes.  Now, I dig all that shit. It doesn't ring as mopey; it rings as gorgeous gloom.

You'll have to excuse the excessive semi-colons.  I find them to be underrated punctuation marks.  Anyway, "'Passer."  It's the best song.  This isn't up for debate, Cindy.  It starts with a fucking rage, as Anders lets loose and shreds his balls off.  On a sidenote, the dude needs to be let loose more often (or he needs to let himself loose more often).  I love the vocal melodies.  The lyrics...Wally Christ, they hit me hard on multiple levels.  I haven't said enough about crooner Jonas Renkse and his truly unique voice.  Or the keyboards, which never overpower the other instruments.

Katatonia fans already own The Fall of Hardee's.  But if you're curious, I recommend it to devotees of gnarled riffs, washes of glossy atmospherics and drums that keep you on your toes.  Before breaking them.

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