More than twenty years have passed since the release of Dance Of December Souls and Katatonia are still here to delight the ears and the palate of connoisseurs with their eleventh full length, The Fall Of Hearts. I must premise that, in the new millennium, my relationship with the band of Nyström and Renkse has been rather controversial, considering the highest moment of their parabola the two albums released at the end of the last century, Discouraged Ones and Tonight’s Decision (without forgetting of course the value of the debut album and the subsequent Brave Murder Day) while since Last Fair Deal Gone Down ours, in my opinion, had partially lost that naturalness in proposing songs capable of merging melody and melancholy admirably. The Swedish band has never failed, however, the ability to effectively represent the discomfort of a tormented psyche, and has thus followed in time a series of works of good quality but emotionally not up to my favorites: the feeling has always been that Katatonia consciously renounced to the proposition of linear tracks, covering them rather and enriching them at the level of details, thanks to an execution and a production always masterful, but showing a sort of reluctance in developing the melodic cues that flashed from time to time. The Fall Of Hearts seems instead to push decidedly towards those “ancient” solutions, and it’s immediately clear while listening to the first couple of songs, the opener Takeover that, while maintaining the trademark of Katatonia of the new millennium, has a catchy refrain, and especially a spectacular Serein, one of the most direct and effective songs composed in the last three decades. But it’s a bit in all the work that the award-winning company Nyström / Renkse doesn’t hold back in letting the melodic flow spontaneously, as it happens even in a more elaborate and syncopated song like Residual or in the robust Serac; beyond the obligation to report in some way the content of the work, mentioning some single song risks not to do justice to a tracklist of rare balance, in the sense that there are not really weak points: Katatonia continue undaunted to offer us their painful visions, thanks to a sound that, as only the greatest happens, is unique and perhaps inimitable. The voice of a Jonas Renkse more and more convincing singer of a subtle yet penetrating malaise, ferries us along a dozen tracks that never seems to decrease in intensity during the work presenting, indeed, two other magnificent episodes in the final couple Pale Light, soft ballad semiacustca, and Passer, song “katatonian” par excellence. It’s possible that, after more than a decade with a blocked line-up, the rotation of musicians that followed in recent years around the fulcrum Nyström / Renkse has, however, brought new impulses to a band capable of exhibiting so crystal clear their value, releasing one of their best records when realities from the equally long history often appear faded copies of what they were. And this, if the notes were not enough to prove it, is an unequivocal sign of greatness.

2016 – Peaceville Records