After a short hiatus these erstwhile Swedes have returned to the fray, though I daresay nobody noticed they were actually gone. Personally, I lost track of them in the early-noughties around the time of “Viva Emptiness”. It was around this period that the once-fledgling doomsters fully embraced the introspection of progressive rock, but in doing so became a bit of a yawn-fest.
“City Burials” continues the laid-back lounge-rock journey that Katatonia embarked on nearly two decades ago. There are fleeting glimpses of the urgency from earlier in their career amongst the soft progressive melodies, whilst the simple percussion flexes some faux aggression in between passages of navel gazing.
Where Katatonia do excel is in conveying a sense of isolation, courtesy of Jonas withdrawn and shy vocal style. Sadly, I’m not convinced that’s what listeners need right now; Peaceville may have dropped a massive bollock by not delaying the release of this album for a couple of months (they certainly cocked up by embargoing the press kit until the day of release), at a time potentially less emotionally draining for fans of this style of music.
As shown on stand out tracks such as “Behind The Blood” and “Flicker”, Katatonia remain accomplished songwriters and performers. However, whilst certainly a mature and polished affair, overall “City Burials” is a rather dull, uninspiring and frustrating listen for these particular times.