January can often seem like a bit of a bleak month – what with the terrible weather and coming after the hustle and bustle of Christmas – so trust those gloomy Swedes in Katatonia to provide us with the perfect soundtrack for those long, dark rain filled nights with their second, post hiatus release, Sky Void of Stars.
If you’re already a fan of Katatonia then you’ll know that their albums are best experienced with no distractions. They create music that you should fully immerse yourself in; allowing the emotion of the songs to wash over you…. and Sky Void Of Stars is no different.
Stating off with “Austerity” – probably one of the most immediate songs on the album – it’s clear that everything is as it should be in Katatonia‘s world. As one would expect, the production is pristine, each instrument is given room to breathe, and it only takes a minute before Jonas Renske hits us with the first of numerous sublime chorus’ that work their way into your head and stay there for days.
“Opaline” is an early album highlight, a slow burner that takes it’s time before coming to life nearly four minutes, in and is followed by the high octane “Bird” – or high octane by Katatonia standards, at least!. The likes of “Drab Moon” and “Impermanence” maintain the high standards while “No Beacon Left To Illuminate Or Fall” is an absolute masterpiece and the perfect way to finish the album. Probably the most traditionally ‘metallic’ track on Sky Void Of Stars, “No Beacon Left To Illuminate Or Fall” goes through multiple tempo changes and even the odd blast of double bass.
It’s safe to say that with Sky Void Of Stars Katatonia have managed to maintain their lofty standards. This is an album bereft of flab, none of the songs outstay their welcome and some of the interplay between Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson is fantastic, whilst the vocals of Jonas Renske drip with emotion. If you were to force us to find a fault, then it’s probably that the songs stick rigidly to a formula (as has been Katatonia‘s way for a long time now)… but when it works so well, who really gives a damn!
If you’re not a fan of Katatonia by now, then it’s hard to know if this album will be the one to convert you. However, the rest of us have an absolute peach of an album to help us through these dark winter nights. 9/10
Katatonia‘s Sky Void Full Of Stars was released on January 20th, 2023 via Napalm Records