Night is the New Day

Katatonia are influential. Make no mistake about it, this is an act that knows all the right moves and has been a leading entity throughout the years despite their change in sound and musical contemplation. The sheer emotion that circumvents their music is undeniable and with 2009’s Night is the New Day, Katatonia shatters the mold to expose what is arguably their best release to date.

The band has always leaned heavily towards an accessible, dare I say mainstream, sound that sits very well with both extreme metal fans and the rock world. Night is the New Day displays an evenly balanced mixture of heaviness, forward thinking, and melancholy, with some slight electronic moments. The sound on this record is mature and complete with a towering gray aura.

“Forsaker,” opens this CD with an excellent single that bears a dark, heavy atmosphere, accompanied by the bands signature somber verses. The drums hit hard through this song with some scattered timing that brandishes Katatonia’s will to experiment.

“The Longest Year,” brings the despondency. There are moments on this record that are not for the weak hearted. The beginning minute of this song is something I have rewound over and over again. It is beautiful. Along with the angelic guitar playing Jonas Renskse’s voice is a huge part of why Katatonia sound so deep.

From the beginning, Katatonia and Opeth have always played off each other and have had similarities along the way within their music. The association is even more prominent on Night is the New Day (“Idle Blood,” “Departer”) in my opinion. As Opeth progressed with their sound over the years it seems Katatonia has been on the same path. The progressive nature of bands like Porcupine Tree, have become staples in both Opeth and Katatonia’s music and this record is sprinkled throughout with these similarities.

The CD ends with “Departer,” an unbelievably dejected piece that comes close to bringing tears. Krister Linder (Enter the Hunt) gives a beautiful performance as a guest vocalist on the second verse of the song and helps make this an excellent closer. Progressive tinges of Opeth and Porcupine Tree are evident halfway through this song as it breaks for an instrumental interlude.

A book could be written (literally) about Katatonia’s career and achievements. They have stood directly in the face of metal and forced an unconventional sound that has sparked numerous outgrowths over the years. They have never really disappointed and if they keep this momentum up, it is only a matter of time before a larger audience finds out about one of metals best kept secrets. If you are a fan of the band then this CD is a no-brainer. If you have never heard Katatonia before this is an excellent place to start. Night is the New Day will be high upon many year end lists including my own.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
December 1st, 2009


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    excellent review Stiffy – this album has been a real grower – very challenging at times but that keeps me spinning it long after other albums have run their course

  2. Commented by: Biff Tannan

    Great album….and youre right, Gaba…it is absolutely a grower. I love the sombre mood on this album. Interestingly, the only songs I don’t like are Idle Blood and Departer! Well, Its not that I don’t ‘like’ them, its that I think they are the weakest.
    Idle Blood sounds like Damnation era Opeth (I don’t want to hear Opeth on a Katatonia album, I want Katatonia!)….very uninspired and bland. Departer is good until the guest vocallist appears. Jonas’ vox were perfect on this song…why ruin it? I think the guest vocalist is terrible. He sounds exactly like Danny Cavanaugh on the few Anathema tracks he sings on…very weak and laughable. It makes me cringe listening to it…very cheesy. Takes away from the mood….just my opinion though.

    Great album overall. Much, MUCH better than The Great Cold Distance.

  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    funny Idle Blood is one of my favorite tracks even if it does sound exactly like Damnation. But I love that album and Opeth so no surprise there.

    My fave tracks: Forsaker, Idle Blood, Onward Into Battle (love that chorus) and Nephilim is haunting despite being really odd. I think their first single (Day and Then the Shade) has a nice verse but a really weak chorus.

    Catching a big latter-day Depeche Mode vibe off the album as a whole as well.

  4. Commented by: Stiffy

    I’ve read reviews where people said it drug in the middle. I couldn’t disagree more. Obviously, from what songs you guys like and the ones I like, we have covered the album. All the songs have something to offer. No fillers in my opinion. #1 album for me

  5. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I think it’s a bit more obtuse/abstract than their previous albums. No straightforward “hits” like Sweet Nurse or the like. A densely-layered affair which rewards the patient listener with it’s intricate treasures once the songs gel. I don’t like to give bands numbers but it will definitely end up in the good ol’ year-end list. Nice review, Stiffer.

  6. Commented by: Biff Tannan

    Gaba- I think my favorite song at the moment from the album is “The Longest Year”… GREAT fucking chorus on that one. I am also very fond of “Nephilim”….its very,very doomy and could have fit easily on their ‘for funeral to come’ ep. I only wish there was a bit more going on lyricaly in the song. I also really like track 5….. the chorus is great, reminds me of the ‘Tonights Decision’ era.

    I also REALLY like the electronic/trip hopish drum beats on a lot of the songs.

    I love this band so much, glad I wasn’t dissapointed.

  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    funny, Longest Year took me a long time to get used to, it’s such an oddly assembled song. I love the sound of it of course but the songwriting just seemed more, as Cynic said, obtuse than on previous albums. GCD and Viva are much easier albums to listen to.

  8. Commented by: Stiffy

    The beginning of “The Longest Year” is my favorite part. I must admit it is strange when it kicks in. Goes from depressing to happy.

  9. Commented by: faust666

    hmm.. the first line should have simply read ” Katatonia are teh suck”.

    Well written review though…

  10. Commented by: Biff Tannan

    I’ve always hated the constant comparisons to Opeth when people speak of Katatonia. Besides both being Swedish, Akerfeldt singing on B.M.D. and the For Funerals to Come ep and the bands being friends, I see absolutely no similarity. Musicall, they are very,very different. I think Katatonia has loads more talent that Opeth. Katatonia actually writes SONGS. Opeth continues to churn out the same boring prog-y riffs, followed by a haphazard acoustic break with absolutely no transition/songwriting between the two.

    I DO like Opeth, but I think that band’s best days are LONG behind them (Still Life), while Katatonia are continuing to grow and expand their craft with each release. Opeth have been treading water for nearly a decade now. Katatonia out do them at every level, except commercially. Seriously people, quick swinging on Opeth’s balls.

  11. Commented by: gabaghoul

    don’t care what you say, Opeth has been my favorite band for 12 years now and they never cease to delight and amaze. I love every one of their albums, and although yes their songs do sometimes feel patched together, they always seem to flow so naturally despite all that.

    I am a big Katatonia fan too but they are completely different beasts for me and I wouldn’t even consider Katatonia in my top 5 bands.

    different strokes.

  12. Commented by: gabaghoul

    btw “don’t care what you say” wasn’t meant to be dickish.

  13. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I like Katatonia just a tiny lil bit more than Opeth but both of their evolutions have been a joy to behold. Very few bands have never put out a bad record in their careers. Even legends have one or two duds staining their discography, yet Opeth and Katatonia never cease to amaze me with each release. There’s nothing wrong with them influencing each other sometimes. C’mon, Biff, tell me Idle Blood doesn’t sound Opeth/Porcupine Tree-ish with a straight face. I dare ya.

  14. Commented by: timshel

    I’ve yet to see a reviewer mention that Jonas is credited in the CD booklet with writing almost all of the songs for this album while Anders is credited on only “Forsaker,” “Onward into Battle,” and “Idle Blood.” I think the change in songwriting style is really noticeable on this album compared with Katatonia’s past work. It’s interesting, too, that Anders co-wrote “Forsaker,” as it’s the only track that strongly recalls the band’s past two albums. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think Anders has a better ear for melody and pop-perfect tunes than Jonas. Some of the riffs on this album are sort of unimaginative, almost lazy, and some of the songs feel unfinished. Maybe it’s supposed to signify some kind of resolution that is withheld; this album is pretty dark after all, I guess. But if you took away all of the electronics on this record, I’m not sure it’d be all that interesting…

    I can’t wait to hear/see Katatonia perform these songs live. I think that would prove the strength of the songwriting (or lack thereof).

  15. Commented by: gabaghoul

    tim –
    I think you just nailed why this album has not been clicking for me like the others. although I do like it and keep coming back to it, for the most part it just feels… off.

    I hadn’t made the connection that Anders didn’t handle a lot of the writing this time, and that also explains why the three tracks he did write are the ones I like the best.

  16. Commented by: timshel

    Gaba, I have had the same problem with this album as well — I keep listening and listening, but it truly does feel “off”. “Viva Emptiness” and “The Great Cold Distance” both had strong themes that helped to hold them together and make them cohesive, powerful statements. This new one feels a bit aimless. Jonas has penned some incredibly poetic, even painterly, lines here, but the words are so abstracted that their meaning seems secondary to their sound. Words become placeholders. I think that’s disappointing. One of the things that excite me about Katatonia is that they were beginning to invent entire narratives with each album: music, word, and visual art worked together to create a completely immersive artistic experience. This new album just doesn’t do that for me. Maybe I was demanding too much, eh? I mean, it’s still a good album after all…

  17. Commented by: gabaghoul

    that’s funny, I felt that thematically and conceptually it holds together pretty well – mostly because the overall emotional tone is so uniformly bleak. haven’t paid much attention to the lyrics yet though.

  18. Commented by: Biff Tannan

    “btw “don’t care what you say” wasn’t meant to be dickish” I didn’t take it that way….I just read it with a Cartman voice anyways !

    “C’mon, Biff, tell me Idle Blood doesn’t sound Opeth/Porcupine Tree-ish with a straight face. I dare ya.” It absolutely sounds like an Opeth song, and that’s why it’s my least favorite on the album, by far ! Not because I don’t like some Opeth, but because I want to hear Katatonia, not Opeth on this album!

    All in all, its a great, sombre album. My only wish is that there was at least ONE really catchy track, ala “Teargas”, “Right Into The Bliss” or “Deadhouse”. The closest thing to that on this album is the 5th track..can’t remember the name, too lazy to look it up !

  19. Commented by: stiffy

    Wow after that string of comments I think the review can be taken down. LOL! You guys did better than I.

  20. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Nah, I like your reviews, Stiffer. Seems like I’m talking to a down-to-Earth friend who’s describing an album to me. All of you have different styles but I haven’t found a single reviewer whom I dislike. The only one I normally disagree with is Jodi. She does write well, though. Just a matter of opinion. Best site for metal reviews by far imo.

    Biff: Gotcha. I like Opeth a lot, so that Opethonia/Katpeth amalgam sounded quite amazing to mine ears. To each his/her own, I guess.

  21. Commented by: JK

    Yeah I heard the Opeth in it but I saw it more as Jonas tipping his hat to his buddy Mike more than anything else.

    Amorphis’ Skyforger also has an ‘Opeth’ tune on it. You know what they say about imitation…

  22. Commented by: Mars

    Weak music, weak album. It’s very sad.

  23. Commented by: Zaybones

    Just because certain bands have similar sounds, does not mean they are imitating. Besides, most bands regardless of genre, sound a lot a like these days anyway. You could say Porcupine Tree sounds like Opeth, or vice versa, but the fact is, neither of them are trying to “sound” like the other. It just happens that way sometimes.

  24. Commented by: bast

    just got this, one of my top favorite bands, this did nothing to change that.

  25. Commented by: BrutaLeviathan

    I was never a huge fan of Brave Murder Day; I think it’s pretty boring actually. I thought this band’s finest hour was Viva Emptiness, and this album has done absolutely nothing to change that. I may be in the minority, but I find this to be one of Katatonia’s worst albums. Btw–anybody else think that kicking off the first song with a one-note breakdown was a bad idea?

  26. Commented by: Julian Hansen

    The first three songs, are absolutely, breathtaking. I used to think the opener was the best, but Idle Blood and The Longest Year tops it for sure. I have not delved through the whole album enough yet to make a final decision, but the first three songs, are among the most pretty dark music i´ve heard.

    if you have a thoughtful melancholic side, there´s a big chance you will click with this, Renkses voice is just Mezmerising, i like that he phrases his words quiet american actually, the “daRRkness” thing, absolutely brilliant idea, and imo he can´t overdo it. But Iddle Blood and The Longest Year so far is just above brilliant music. Sadly, I think they went a bit out of idea creatively after this album.

  27. Commented by: stiffy

    Interesting reflecting on this now after 8 years. I think 2016’s The Fall of Hearts would have been a great successor. They did become flat to me after Night is the New Day.

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