Rating:
9.0
Katatonia - Viva Emptiness
24 March 2003


01. Ghost Of The Sun
02. Sleeper
03. Criminals
04. A Premonition
05. Will I Arrive
06. Burn The Remembrance
07. Wealth
08. One Year From Now
09. Walking By A Wire
10. Complicity
11. Evidence
12. Omerta
13. Inside The City Of Glass


Katatonia's third album Discouraged Ones was a brave turning point for the band. It distanced the band from the black metal tag that shackled them, and allowed some more subtle influences to creep into the mix. Both 2000's Tonight's Decision and 2001's Last Fair Deal Gone Down seemed to build upon their strengths as musicians and the fine art of crafting songs, and clearly showed the bands growing skills in both atmospherics and the ability to project the depths of human despair without losing hope.
Both Jonas Renkse [vocals, guitars and programming] and Anders Nystrom [guitars, keyboards and programming] spent the early part of last year with their other project Bloodbath [Resurrection Through Carnage] before reconvening in their hometown of Stockholm with fellow Katatonia members Fred Norrman [guitars], Mattias Norrman [bass] and Daniel Liljekvist [drums and percussion] to begin work on the Sweden's sixth studio album.

Katatonia themselves claimed that Viva Emptiness would take on a harder edge than their previous few efforts, and opener ?Ghost Of The Sun? proves that they weren's leading fans astray with false hope. The guitars are certainly a dominant feature, while Renkse's melodies and vocals are as tortured and mesmerising as they ever were. The back up screaming through the chorus and the female chant around the halfway mark are both stunning effects. ?Sleeper?, ?Will I Arrive? and ?Wealth? are all surprisingly heavy solid upbeat guitar driven numbers, and provide an ingredient that has been missing on the last couple of releases. But for all the number of tracks that show the band is still capable of creating heavy music, there's the trademark depressing anthems of emotional suffering. The best examples are clearly audible through ?A Premonition? and ?One Year From Now?. The percussive brilliance featured on ?Burn The Remembrance? is impressive, while the acoustic tinged aggression of ?Omerta? was not what I was expecting from them. The Nick Drake/Jeff Buckley influences are still imbedded within Renkse's songs, but perhaps not as obvious as previous releases.

Viva Emptiness is one of Katatonia's strongest releases to date. The combination of the album title, songs, atmosphere and cover [from the legendary Travis Smith] makes this the perfect Katatonia release.


Band profile: Katatonia
Album: Viva Emptiness


 


written by Justin | 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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iaberis - 10.03.2007 at 07:36  
Very good album. It may be one of their best too.
Bitch Boy - 10.03.2007 at 23:45  
I also think this one is the best. I liked the review.
__Az__ - 16.05.2007 at 16:01  
yeah, I agree, great album... One of their best definately... Dont rate it higher than their latest effort though...
Piro - 24.12.2007 at 20:18  
I also really enjoyed Viva Emptiness. Thought it was a bit too gothic/rockish at first, but still enjoyed the hell out of it.
Damnated - 25.12.2007 at 02:20  
this album really grew on me in the last weeks. can't stand their other 'goth-rock' albums, though.
BloodTears - 25.12.2007 at 13:20  
This an excellent album. The whole mood of the album is coherent. Its rather depressive in a beautiful way. They were always emotional with their lyrics and sounds but this was their highest jump. And they werent about to stop here.
Paradox0 - 09.02.2008 at 20:25  
I;ve been masturbating over this album for the past 3 weeks, and it just seems to get better and better with each listen. Its such an incredible album with so many little subtle twists and turns in each song that the album itself is very unique, yet at the same time maintaining a great amount of accesibility that even casual metal listeners will dig it.
There are so many parts of songs which sound like there going in one direction and then seem to vear into something I wouldn't expect things to go, as well as the many weird paces of the songs themselves. 10/10
Mr. Doctor - 08.12.2008 at 21:45  
Pure Emptiness indeed. It definitely grew on me when I heard it today. Awesome album. I gonna buy it
Ragana - 26.01.2009 at 18:07  
Few songs are too catchy and I can't resist (like "Ghost Of The Sun" or "Evidence"), but it's not a bad album although after ~4th song it becomes too boring to listen. That's how it is with these soft albums.
Andresopeth - 27.03.2009 at 14:31  
An album which expresses Coherence among songs, every one of them is a part of an all. An album that has to be listened from the beginning to the end.
Deadmeat - 17.05.2009 at 16:44  
This album is very good although i prefer older Katatonia more..
Italics - 18.05.2009 at 06:45  
Katatonia's best work to date IMO. I don't know what it is about the album, but it puts me to sleep (in a good way!)
Deadmeat - 18.05.2009 at 09:13  
Written by Italics on 18.05.2009 at 06:45

Katatonia's best work to date IMO. I don't know what it is about the album, but it puts me to sleep (in a good way!)

it's true! i've felt it to!!!
Slayer666 - 10.08.2009 at 11:29  
I don't know, this just seems too strong for a Katatonia release.... It doesn't have that atmosphere the early works did. Or, maybe that is just me.
Luneth - 19.02.2011 at 01:51  
Didn't really like it...maybe a few more listens...
InnerSelf - 19.02.2011 at 02:15  
Written by Luneth on 19.02.2011 at 01:51

Didn't really like it...maybe a few more listens...


You should, because I did not like it at the first couple of listens
it is strange actually because you would think that this is an easy album to get into but it is not , probably because it's variation
Luneth - 19.02.2011 at 02:41  
Written by InnerSelf on 19.02.2011 at 02:15

Written by Luneth on 19.02.2011 at 01:51

Didn't really like it...maybe a few more listens...


You should, because I did not like it at the first couple of listens
it is strange actually because you would think that this is an easy album to get into but it is not , probably because it's variation


Not only that, I haven't really heard much of their old stuff, not enough to understand the change in direction/appreciate it.
InnerSelf - 19.02.2011 at 02:52  
Written by Luneth on 19.02.2011 at 02:41

Written by InnerSelf on 19.02.2011 at 02:15

Written by Luneth on 19.02.2011 at 01:51

Didn't really like it...maybe a few more listens...


You should, because I did not like it at the first couple of listens
it is strange actually because you would think that this is an easy album to get into but it is not , probably because it's variation


Not only that, I haven't really heard much of their old stuff, not enough to understand the change in direction/appreciate it.


Katatonia's greatness comes from these shifts through different genres and approaches. you should really listen to everything they have done
Ozman - 19.02.2011 at 13:37  
Written by InnerSelf on 19.02.2011 at 02:15


it is strange actually because you would think that this is an easy album to get into but it is not , probably because it's variation


weird. I found it an extremely easy album to get into. Actually their easiest to get into for me.
InnerSelf - 19.02.2011 at 21:01  
Written by Ozman on 19.02.2011 at 13:37

Written by InnerSelf on 19.02.2011 at 02:15


it is strange actually because you would think that this is an easy album to get into but it is not , probably because it's variation


weird. I found it an extremely easy album to get into. Actually their easiest to get into for me.


What I meant was that even though it is very accessible but it took a while for me until I fully appreciated it as it is "in my opinion" the best of their post-Brave Murder Day era
Ozman - 19.02.2011 at 22:49  
@innerself for me it is also their best of their post Brave Murder Day era and strangely enough I fully appreciated it upon first listen whereas the others took longer and the last two I still find their worst and most boring by far.
InnerSelf - 20.02.2011 at 13:46  
Written by Ozman on 19.02.2011 at 22:49

@innerself for me it is also their best of their post Brave Murder Day era and strangely enough I fully appreciated it upon first listen whereas the others took longer and the last two I still find their worst and most boring by far.


I think their worst is Tonight's Decision the vocals were horrible and the music was very boring , but the latest two were pretty solid especially The Great Cold Distance "which I know you among others hate " but I really enjoyed it
the last album might be a bit dodgy at times but it is still good
!J.O.O.E.! - 21.02.2011 at 15:49  
Yeah I've listened to Tonight's Decision and Last Fair deal a lot over the years and I've never really been all that into them, they are quite clumsy in terms of songwriting and the Renkse's vocals are seriously undeveloped. Though I didn't like the last two albums very much for a long time I've learned to see that they're actually pretty good records and it may or may not be the result of studio tweaking and polish but the vocals are much improved.
InnerSelf - 22.02.2011 at 12:24  
Renske's vocals might be the highlight of the last two albums and the improvement was great. the thing that I find strange is that his vocals were good on Discouraged Ones but then sucked in Tonight's Decision, I still find that puzzling
Slayer666 - 22.02.2011 at 15:55  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 21.02.2011 at 15:49

Yeah I've listened to Tonight's Decision and Last Fair deal a lot over the years and I've never really been all that into them, they are quite clumsy in terms of songwriting and the Renkse's vocals are seriously undeveloped. Though I didn't like the last two albums very much for a long time I've learned to see that they're actually pretty good records and it may or may not be the result of studio tweaking and polish but the vocals are much improved.

What does "clumsy in terms of songwriting" mean? I don't understand what you meant to say by this, please explain.
Mr. Doctor - 22.02.2011 at 16:03  
Written by InnerSelf on 20.02.2011 at 13:46

I think their worst is Tonight's Decision the vocals were horrible and the music was very boring , but the latest two were pretty solid especially The Great Cold Distance


Holy shit someone thinks like I do!
Well.. I haven't heard their latest yet so I can't talk about that one but I find Tonight's Decision to be very boring with just a few tracks that are worth it to call the album "good" but it's a very "meh" kind of good if you know what I mean. And yes... I find "The Great Cold Distance" to be better than TD
And I ALSO agree with what you wrote about the vocals. I absolutely LOVE Discouraged Ones, it's in my top 3 easily from their discography and I think the vocals were perfect there... So I don't understand why I think the vocals sucked in TD (although I do think they were good again in LFDGD.
!J.O.O.E.! - 22.02.2011 at 16:13  
Written by Slayer666 on 22.02.2011 at 15:55

Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 21.02.2011 at 15:49

Yeah I've listened to Tonight's Decision and Last Fair deal a lot over the years and I've never really been all that into them, they are quite clumsy in terms of songwriting and the Renkse's vocals are seriously undeveloped. Though I didn't like the last two albums very much for a long time I've learned to see that they're actually pretty good records and it may or may not be the result of studio tweaking and polish but the vocals are much improved.

What does "clumsy in terms of songwriting" mean? I don't understand what you meant to say by this, please explain.

That it isn't very effective i.e. the songs aren't very good because they were treated with clumsy songwriting approach and have awkward elements which in the end doesn't sound all that great, parts of songs sound forced and unnatural too. Viva Emptiness is a much more cohesive and well constructed record.
Slayer666 - 22.02.2011 at 16:22  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 22.02.2011 at 16:13

Written by Slayer666 on 22.02.2011 at 15:55

Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 21.02.2011 at 15:49

Yeah I've listened to Tonight's Decision and Last Fair deal a lot over the years and I've never really been all that into them, they are quite clumsy in terms of songwriting and the Renkse's vocals are seriously undeveloped. Though I didn't like the last two albums very much for a long time I've learned to see that they're actually pretty good records and it may or may not be the result of studio tweaking and polish but the vocals are much improved.

What does "clumsy in terms of songwriting" mean? I don't understand what you meant to say by this, please explain.

That it isn't very effective i.e. the songs aren't very good because they were treated with clumsy songwriting approach and have awkward elements which in the end doesn't sound all that great, parts of songs sound forced and unnatural too.

Hmm... As I've stated countless times, this I do not agree with. TD surely isn't as tight and well-polished as Viva or The Great Cold Distance, but it has a soul, it has emotion. While listening to TD, I can clearly picture the whole setup: murky, stormy weather, a man sad to leave his town, etc. (don't want to get too emotional here ). When listening to Viva, the only thing I can picture is a couple of guys in the studio, trying to make a record that will sell good.
!J.O.O.E.! - 22.02.2011 at 16:29  
Written by Slayer666 on 22.02.2011 at 16:22


Hmm... As I've stated countless times, this I do not agree with. TD surely isn't as tight and well-polished as Viva or The Great Cold Distance, but it has a soul, it has emotion. While listening to TD, I can clearly picture the whole setup: murky, stormy weather, a man sad to leave his town, etc. (don't want to get too emotional here ). When listening to Viva, the only thing I can picture is a couple of guys in the studio, trying to make a record that will sell good.

That's "sell well" ;]

I've tried the two records prior to this one numerous times over the past 6 or so years and they've never gelled with me. They have good songs but they also have some rather poor ones. Viva represents the band at a comfortable level of craftmanship and style; they knew what they were doing on this one.
Slayer666 - 22.02.2011 at 16:38  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 22.02.2011 at 16:29

Written by Slayer666 on 22.02.2011 at 16:22


Hmm... As I've stated countless times, this I do not agree with. TD surely isn't as tight and well-polished as Viva or The Great Cold Distance, but it has a soul, it has emotion. While listening to TD, I can clearly picture the whole setup: murky, stormy weather, a man sad to leave his town, etc. (don't want to get too emotional here ). When listening to Viva, the only thing I can picture is a couple of guys in the studio, trying to make a record that will sell good.

That's "sell well" ;]

I've tried the two records prior to this one numerous times over the past 6 or so years and they've never gelled with me. They have good songs but they also have some rather poor ones. Viva represents the band at a comfortable level of craftmanship and style; they knew what they were doing on this one.

Oh, screw, I knew there was a mistake in there somewhere.

IMO, Renkse definitely knows what his doing on Viva (his vocals really are awesome), but I can't say the same for Nyström.
To each his own, as always.
InnerSelf - 23.02.2011 at 00:02  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 22.02.2011 at 16:03

Written by InnerSelf on 20.02.2011 at 13:46

I think their worst is Tonight's Decision the vocals were horrible and the music was very boring , but the latest two were pretty solid especially The Great Cold Distance


Holy shit someone thinks like I do!
Well.. I haven't heard their latest yet so I can't talk about that one but I find Tonight's Decision to be very boring with just a few tracks that are worth it to call the album "good" but it's a very "meh" kind of good if you know what I mean. And yes... I find "The Great Cold Distance" to be better than TD
And I ALSO agree with what you wrote about the vocals. I absolutely LOVE Discouraged Ones, it's in my top 3 easily from their discography and I think the vocals were perfect there... So I don't understand why I think the vocals sucked in TD (although I do think they were good again in LFDGD.


I totaly understand wht you're talking about , it is "good" just because it is Katatonia I think a sort of fanboysim from our side
LFDGD has some of Katatonia's greatest songs but also has some strange not-so-good moments. and the thing that makes me say that Viva is their best work from the new era is that it had much of the old elements "in terms of song writing" plus the new elements making it a masterpiece.

@J.O.O.E : Agreed and Agreed
saw_you_drown - 10.05.2011 at 02:29  
With a few minor changes and rearrangements this would be my favorite Katatonia album -- and that is saying a lot!
saw_you_drown - 10.05.2011 at 02:35  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 21.02.2011 at 15:49

Yeah I've listened to Tonight's Decision and Last Fair deal a lot over the years and I've never really been all that into them, they are quite clumsy in terms of songwriting and the Renkse's vocals are seriously undeveloped. Though I didn't like the last two albums very much for a long time I've learned to see that they're actually pretty good records and it may or may not be the result of studio tweaking and polish but the vocals are much improved.


Ok, Katatonia is responsible for writing "We Must Bury You," an obvious misstep in composing and an unfair test and failure of Jonas' vocal range. Other than that, Katatonia are without question among the premier songwriters in hard rock/metal. These guys find more talent and soul under their couches than 10 Children of Bodoms combined.
!J.O.O.E.! - 10.05.2011 at 02:56  
Written by saw_you_drown on 10.05.2011 at 02:35

Ok, Katatonia is responsible for writing "We Must Bury You," an obvious misstep in composing and an unfair test and failure of Jonas' vocal range. Other than that, Katatonia are without question among the premier songwriters in hard rock/metal. These guys find more talent and soul under their couches than 10 Children of Bodoms combined.

...That's not the most pertinent of examples though is it really?
saw_you_drown - 14.05.2011 at 10:12  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 10.05.2011 at 02:56

Written by saw_you_drown on 10.05.2011 at 02:35

Ok, Katatonia is responsible for writing "We Must Bury You," an obvious misstep in composing and an unfair test and failure of Jonas' vocal range. Other than that, Katatonia are without question among the premier songwriters in hard rock/metal. These guys find more talent and soul under their couches than 10 Children of Bodoms combined.

...That's not the most pertinent of examples though is it really?

That was in fact the most pertinent example. You challenged both vocals and songwriting, and I searched my itunes (where i have every track they have ever released), and found exactly one example that supported your claim.
!J.O.O.E.! - 14.05.2011 at 12:36  
Quote:
Written by saw_you_drown on 14.05.2011 at 10:12

...That's not the most pertinent of examples though is it really?

That was in fact the most pertinent example. You challenged both vocals and songwriting, and I searched my itunes (where i have every track they have ever released), and found exactly one example that supported your claim.

Regardless, CoB is an extremely random choice as they're nothing like Katatonia, even if you were just exercising hyperbole. I love Katatonia but I don't agree they're premier songwriters, almost all of their albums are prone to a number of weak filler tracks, they're far from infallible. I've learned to appreciate their past couple of records but that's mostly as an appreciation of their sound and improved vocal tone and performance, rather than songwriting.
BeastOfMetal456 - 29.07.2011 at 01:55  
I'm surprised Criminals got no mention here... D:
!J.O.O.E.! - 29.07.2011 at 13:39  
Written by Guest on 29.07.2011 at 01:55

I'm surprised Criminals got no mention here... D:

Damn straight. Probably my fave Katatonia song.
Slayer666 - 29.07.2011 at 17:08  
Written by Guest on 29.07.2011 at 01:55

I'm surprised Criminals got no mention here... D:

Me too. IMO, only the first 3 songs + Evidence and Omerta are worth something on this album. The rest is a yawnfest.
Mr. Doctor - 30.07.2011 at 01:23  
Criminals is indeed one of their bests ong. The chorus is so fucking catchy is ridiculous.
BeastOfMetal456 - 30.07.2011 at 01:40  
Written by Slayer666 on 29.07.2011 at 17:08

Written by Guest on 29.07.2011 at 01:55

I'm surprised Criminals got no mention here... D:

Me too. IMO, only the first 3 songs + Evidence and Omerta are worth something on this album. The rest is a yawnfest.

Haven't heard all of them really. Only Criminals. Probably my best song of the week.

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