Rating:
9.5
Katatonia - Brave Murder Day
1996


01. Brave
02. Murder
03. Day
04. Rainroom
05. 12
06. Endtime
07. Funeral Wedding [1997 re-issue bonus]
08. Shades Of Emerald Fields [1997 re-issue bonus]
09. For Funerals To Come [1997 re-issue bonus]
10. Epistel [1997 re-issue bonus]
11. Nowhere [2006 re-issue bonus]
12. At Last [2006 re-issue bonus]
13. Inside The Fall [2006 re-issue bonus]


After the release of their debut recording and proceeding EP, Katatonia was put on a short hiatus by its' founding members, vocalist/drummer Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders (Blackheim) Nystrom. It was during this hiatus that the two would indulge in their individual side projects, October Tide and Diabolical Masquerade. With October Tide, Jonas would focus on the gothic/melancholic aspects of Katatonia's sound, while Diabolical Masquerade saw Anders exploring a more black metal approach with slight gothic overtones. When the two got back together to refocus on their main band, it was without original bass player Le Huche and with a newly acquired second guitarist, Fredrik Norrman. And it was refocusing that indeed took place, as the band's second album, Brave Murder Day, would see a reinvention of sorts for Katatonia, one that would be a second birth for the band and a foundation from where they would build upon with future endeavors. The most noticeable aspect of Brave Murder Day as compared to earlier material is the simplistic structuring of the songs. Katatonia have condensed their ideas and have utilized the "less is more" approach. The six songs that make up this album are all built upon simple rhythm foundations, over which weeping guitar harmonies are laid over minimalist musical themes. This is strikingly effective and often leaves the listener in a hypnotic trance. It's a more streamlined Katatonia, without the meandering and sometimes aimless wandering of the past. These compositions are strategically designed to pull the listener in and confront them with their loneliness, come face to face with life's darkness and to analyze their inner pain. It is a study in melancholy. Jonas's lyrics are just as the music; simple yet effective. Much improved over his words from the debut, these lyrics are from the heart, naked and honest. Bleak and deeply introspective:

"I saw it end long before it ended,
life itself turned pale and ended,
I saw you cry out acres of your image,
life itself does not heal me"

After the recording sessions of October Tide's Rain Without End album, Jonas lost the ability to produce screaming vocals. His throat received damage from the most tragically despair-ridden screams ever recorded. Enter Mikael Akerfeldt, vocalist/guitarist of fellow Swedes Opeth, who was asked to perform all harsh vocals on the album while Jonas handles all clean vocal sections. Being a long time friend of the band, Mikael accepted the offer and like the true vocal god that he is, delivered the words with flawless conviction. This guy must have an extra set of lungs somewhere in his body, as he possesses the ability to hold a scream for an amazingly long period of time. Even just listening to him scream the word "not" in "Brave"'s line "wherever you are, i am not" nearly gives me an aneurysm. "Brave" is an over 10 minute opener that features some of Anders' most impressive moments to date, managing to create the most beautiful yet heartwrenching melodies I've ever heard come from a guitar. This song defines what Brave Murder Day is all about and in so doing, is the perfect opener for the album. Probably the most popular track from this album among fans is "Murder", with its' straightforward, driving rhythm and heavily Paradise Lost influenced guitar harmony. But I prefer the pure gothic/darkwave direction of "Day", a song that perfectly and completely portrays an aura of total isolation. This song leaves me paralyzed, as I observe the stillness of everything around me. Life moves in slow motion without sound, and I am but a spectator watching from my window in my lonely room. Jonas's vocals are as despondent as his words. Words from the disenchanted. Words that speak of pale days and a gray life..."Rainroom" picks things right back up with a driving rhythm and Mikael's grievous growls, silenced by a clean guitar break which sets up a cleanly sung section by Jonas..."like a slow scenery i'm losing all my faith, in lifeless motion you're walking like you're dead", and back to its' original theme. In nearly every song there are moments of quiet clean guitar breaks that act as moments of introspection, providing a deeply contemplative atmosphere that reeks of profound solitude. No more effective is this than during "12", which possesses such clean guitar breaks that give me the same feeling as that of "Day". Everything is still and motionless and the silence is deafening. The track's closing moments are spellbinding, with a breathtaking guitar melody setting up a monumental yet tragically sorrowful ending:

"I cannot breathe
I am losing life
the moon paints the skyline blue
she died so beautiful..."

The opening moments of final track "Endtime" are again a soundtrack for moments of isolation. Quite honestly, this is the most beautiful expression of emotional decay through clean guitar I've ever heard. Absolutely mesmerizing. The song eventually takes on the sound of imminent doom, perhaps a sound track to the final breath of life from a world whose demise is long overdue. Brave Murder Day is an elegant expression of emotional decay, complete with images that reflect such decay throughout the CD booklet. Produced by Dan Swano at Unisound Studios, the sound is thin and low, especially the drums, which sound very much like a drum machine. I usually have to turn the volume up on my stereo for comfortable listening volume, as it's lower sounding than the average album. But somehow this fits the theme of the album. I can't imagine any other production being more appropriate for this music, as it has a strange appeal that gives off a cold, rusty vibe. This is perfect listening for rainy days and gray evenings, and it's during these conditions that Katatonia's music is most effective. Life is pain.


Band profile: Katatonia
Album: Brave Murder Day


 


written by Allen | 18.09.2003


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Belphegore - 09.11.2007 at 12:36  
a really good album...a good buildup for Katatonia's latest releases:)
lazarus - 01.04.2008 at 22:20  
I concur with you, one of the best death-doom album that has been recorded, my favs are Day and 12 (I like Akerfeltd's voice on this song).
Uirapuru - 26.05.2009 at 10:24  
It is sure a decent album, but the rate is way exaggerated. The worse album from Katatonia without a doubt, the harsh vocals doesnt fit their music so well, that makes ''Day'' and ''Rainroom'' the best song in the album IMo. Tracks too long also gets boring after sometime.

Anyway, this is a good step leading to their latest material, which are perfect to me.
Powerslavex - 07.06.2009 at 21:31  
Once again i was blown away by katatonia an epic album 10/10
Marcel Hubregtse - 08.06.2009 at 01:12  
Written by Uirapuru on 26.05.2009 at 10:24

... The worse album from Katatonia without a doubt, the harsh vocals doesnt fit their music so well, that makes ''Day'' and ''Rainroom'' the best song in the album IMo. Tracks too long also gets boring after sometime.
...



Your comment just shows how SUBJECTIVE musical taste is. Because to me and MANY other people this is by FAR their best album. And for us the SO-CALLED long songs (hell, have you ever listened to songs clocking in over 20 minutes?) aren't boring at all. And the harsh vocals (which aren't that harsh at all, just some sot grunting going on their) fit PERFECTLY here.
Uirapuru - 08.06.2009 at 03:16  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 08.06.2009 at 01:12

Written by Uirapuru on 26.05.2009 at 10:24

... The worse album from Katatonia without a doubt, the harsh vocals doesnt fit their music so well, that makes ''Day'' and ''Rainroom'' the best song in the album IMo. Tracks too long also gets boring after sometime.
...



Your comment just shows how SUBJECTIVE musical taste is. Because to me and MANY other people this is by FAR their best album. And for us the SO-CALLED long songs (hell, have you ever listened to songs clocking in over 20 minutes?) aren't boring at all. And the harsh vocals (which aren't that harsh at all, just some sot grunting going on their) fit PERFECTLY here.


I don't know.. I have always consider this kind of vocal harsh. It is not along the whole album, but this grunting, like you said, did not please me.
And 10 or 8 minutes are long songs compared to the other albums.

The old opinion stuff again. What can we do?
INÆRIS - 22.10.2009 at 03:59  
Favorite Katatonia album by far Favorite tracks: Brave and Murder.
I love everything about it. the drones, Mikael's voice, the beautiful haunting guitars, flawless.
Jaeryd17‍ - 12.02.2013 at 01:00  
Excellent review for a great album. There is not much else to be said; this review says it all.

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