Stockholm band KATATONIA (from Greek. "katatonos" - mental disorder with predominance of motive injuries ) is one of the most outstanding on the extreme-scene. Their music is not the one to be referred to any direction, it is somewhere between doom, death and black. The atmosphere of melancholy, despair, sometimes so close to suicide, flowing viscous melodies, abundance of acoustic and key tunes make their music to be similar to doom. But at the same time, here's enough place for agression, high-speed guitar playing, peculiar to black. Although the musicians themselves deny any bond of their opuses with above-mentioned style, where the "absence" of melody and antichrist lyrics are immanently inherent to. KATATONIA misicians are not caught in an endless loop, they grow up, develop their skill and their music develops with them...
Originnaly the band was founded in early 1987 by thirteen-year-old Anders Nyström ( Sombreus Blackheim ), who played guitar, bass-guitar, later keyboards and Jonas Renkse ( Lord Seth ), who played drums, later guitar, had distinctive harsh growling & was the author of most lyrics. At that time they played music congenial to early BATHORY. But the band soon split up, left nothing considerable.
In early 1991 guys met again and reorganized the band, which was now called KATATONIA. Then they start working at their personal sound which made the band famous among the underground public. In June 1991 at Gorysound Studio was recorded the first demo "Jhva Elohim Meth" ( can be translated as "God is dead" ), included three following compositions:
1. Without God
On this release melodic black/death was dominating. This work was rather deeply appreciated by both critics and ordinary listeners.
In the middle of 1992 KATATONIA, preliminary put out one more demo "Beyond The Stand Sky" which music was like on the previous one, recorded their first mini "Jhva Elohim Meth... The Revival" at Unisound Studio for dutch "VIC Records":
1. Midwinter Gates / Prologue
Dan Swano from EDGE OF SANITY came forward as producer (he produced the band up to 1998). He is also known by his work with such coryphael as OPHTHALAMIA, OPETH, DARK FUNERAL, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, MARDUK and many others. Music of this opus was practically the same as on previous demos with the exception of apparent gothic influence of english PARADISE LOST.
In early december 1992 KATATONIA staff was replenished with bassist Guillaume Le Huche (Israphel Wings). And now as a trio the band signed a contract with No Fashion Records and recorded at the same Unisound Studio a full-length album "Dance Of December Souls":
1. Seven Dreaming Souls ( Intro )
This was a burst! Gothic tunes became more expressive, but this didn't spoil the album, this made their music sound more fresh. "Dance..." is being heard without taking a breath, the beautiful atmosphere made by keyboards, original stertorous-snarling-tearful vocal somehow cast a spell over you. This KATATONIA release is by right considered to be one of the best albums of 1993, and the song "Without God" have become a real extremhit.
Before the debut LP have died down, in 1994 the band signed a contract for issuing several albums with italian Avantgarde Music, who reissued '92 mini right away and gave way to the next release. This was MCD/EP "For Funerals To Come":
1. Funeral Wedding
which was published in 1994. Here musicians go on working at their sound, they made it more melodic and still more gone deep into the forests of gothic. All four tracks are splendid. In "For Funerals To Come" Renkse is singing with clean vocal - this is a distinctive dark ballade. The last song is also very interesting. It is a set of noises, different sounds & small scraps of melodies, which can be listened to both normal and reverse side. With this 'epistle' the musicians wanted to show, as they say, the end of the world. Either they succeed or not - I won't judge. What is also good in this album... All its songs have never been anywhere reissued.
After publishing "For Funerals To Come" Israphel left the band, but the duet was remaining duet for a short time, and soon the second guitarist Fredrik Norrman was taken in KATATONIA. Trio began to prepare new material, but it was revealed Renkse has lost his ability to sing with growling death vocal, and however they tried to get these roars out of him - nothing of the kind came out. Therefore for performing distorted vocal parts was invited Mike Akerfeldt from OPETH, acquainted with members of KATATONIA since remote 1990. Mike, who posess excellent scream-growl vocal and known for us as well because of his work with EDGE OF SANITY on their "Crimson" album, has appallingly done his work. Issued in the middle of 1996 "Brave Murder Day"
thanks to Akerfeldt's voice, obtained really new sound. It is hard to describe it in words, better listen it yourself. But the song "Day" is worthy of note, this is ballade per se, executed by clean electric guitar (leading instrument here), it is filled with atmospheric sorrow to the most abysmal depths, and one more thing: this is the only song on this album, where all vocals belong to Renkse.
In the same year KATATONIA together with their brothers PRIMORDIAL recorded split-EP, which included song "Scarlet Heavens". This track is virtually 100% gothic with Renkse's clean vocals.
Fellows were so indescribable pleased with the sound of "Brave Murder Day" and Mike's vocal, that they suggested him to record together one more release. This work became mini "Sounds Of Decay"
issued in 1997 by identical Avantgarde Music and under the guidance of identical omnipresent Dan Swano. All three songs of this EP have never been previously published, they fluently continue (and accomplish) the theme, started on "Brave Murder Day".
After such a productive cooperation, Mike concentrated all his might for making music in his native band OPETH, and guys from KATATONIA negotiated a contract with Century Media, engaging to keep bands interests overseas. They have also changed logo and affiliated bassist Micke Oretoft, who helped the band in 1996 during liveset "Brave Murder Day". And hence Jonas Renkse besides drumming and wailing in microphone has begun playing axe. And now, in summer 1997 as a quartet the band sat down at Sunlight Studio to record new material. This time in producers capacity stepped forth Tomas Skogsberg (he had worked earlier with GRAVE, ENTOMBED, AMORPHIS, DARK THRONE, DISMEMBER, CEMETARY, LAKE OF TEARS, AT THE GATES and many others), because former Dan Swano concluded with producer activity referring to his as thought 'lack of experience' and bad equipment of his Unisound Studio. In January, before publishing full-length album, KATATONIA have issued limited to 1500 copies EP "Saw Your Drown":
1. Saw Your Drown
destined, as the band says, for superfans & collectors. This mini consisted of 2 tracks to be issued in future full-length album, one not included in it and an old one - "Scarlet Heavens". The LP has appeared a little later. It was called "Discouraged Ones":
1. I Break
For many this album may seem to be a little (or much) poppy, but this is, my friends, only semblance. This album can be called one of the most depressive nowadays. Probably the simplicity of songs construction, their compactness (verse-chorus), clean, sorrowful, almost weeping Jonas' vocal (by the way, some ideas with recording & mixing were brought by Mike Akerfeldt), imbued with despair lyrics, a kind of tranquil & indifferent guitar sound make the third album like this. And again, KATATONIA have broudht into the world something unique, something lying amidst gothic doom and hell knows what else!
Some words about KATATONIA members' side projects: Blackheim & Renkse played in their common project OCTOBER TIDE; Blackheim - in his own project DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE; together with guys from THRONE OF AHAZ he has till recently played in BEWITCHED; together with Dan Swano & someone else they have organized a band called BLACK DEATH.
Translated & corrected by Mr Mozart