Live Review: Katatonia + møl + Sunless Dawn – Voxhall – 10.11.2017
Katatonia, who are currently touring around Europe, performed at VoxHall yesterday night. The show was a pleasant reassurement that the band are still successfully rocking their unmistakable sound. The warm-up acts for the Swedish progressive metal powerhouse were selected quite suitingly too. In a way, they are revisiting and reinterpreting some of the styles Katatonia have been throug in past three decades with their dramatic, melodic, sorrowful and fluid approach to death and black metal, and for the nearly two decades – progressive metal.
Melodic attack of Sunless Dawn
Progressive death metallers from Copenhagen, rapidly rising band in DK, the winners of Wacken Metal Battle in 2016. So far, Sunless Dawn have a 14 min 33 second single Sovereign, which appears to be constructed around a backbone of melodic death metal that that is also slightly reminiscent of early Katatonia (melody-wise also October Tide, one of the side-acts of Katonia‘s two core members in the past) among other influences. Sunless Dawn occasionally spice up their heavy riff infused harmonies with the syncopic approach to the rhythm or dreamy down-tempo soundscapes. Yesterday during Sunless Dawn‘s performance the sound, (or at least in the area upstairs), was a bit noisy and overly saturated with high frequency, which was a bit pity knowing how important the low tones are in the sonic experience of Sunless Dawn, which is not normally the case in the venue. Other than that, the band exhibited honest effort to making an impact and connecting to the crowd and seemingly doing their best in exploiting probably the sharpest angles of their work thus far.
Dreamy møl’s drive
After starting out with Sundrowned, the opening track of their EP, black metal driven shoegazers møl constructed the story of their performance by interchangeably performing the older and the new pieces. Although the odds of sound, especially in terms of the volume of the vocals and one of the guitars, was not in møl’s favour during the first two tracks, it continually grew better from there. The pieces of the bands upcoming album, which are one level up in comparison to the older ones as it comes to technique, complexity, layering and, consequently, loudness and intensity, translated into more driving impact to the public. Moshing, for example, wouldn’t necessarily be imaginable during their earlier pieces of the band, yet deemed quite appropriate during the new ones, also more suitable for a more energetic stage presence.
Katatonia: triumphant progressive romantics
Katatonia opened their performance with Last Song Before the Fade, from their newest studio album The Fall of Hearts (2016). Although the vocals is not the strongest Katatonia‘s assets, Jonas Renkse‘s singing had some nice backing from the guitarists Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson, along with the crowd which frequently knew the words of the melodic passages very well. I would darely assume that for a real fan of the Swedish progressive rock/metal outfit, their emotional show at Voxhall must have been trully memorable.
That being said, it got me thinking whether the band, if only approached the loud music context of this day and age without the nostalgia factor in play, would be sufficiently powerful as an attention-grabbing live act, in spite of their re-inventive latest record. I‘m not talking about running around the stage, pointing fingers or showing devil horns which would be way too remote to the essence of Katatonia, known for mournful and reserved aura in their on-stage behaviour. To be completely fair, the issue appears to be lying in the impression that a great deal of the dynamics, vocal nuances in record doesn‘t seem to perfectly translate in live shows.
Nevertheless, Katatonia truly deserve the attention they get not only as a result of their past records that are frequently quoted as weighty influences of some of the best acts in the progressive metal style and far beyond. The band manages to maintain their relevance by releasing critically acclaimed records and increasingly experimental quality of while maintaing their distinct sound that still appeals to the audience consisting of both the individuals who likely grew into Katatonia‘s music a while ago, as well as a narrover niche in the younger listeners who might appreciate the band‘s more recent work.
The issues with the sound during the first two acts were a little distracting, however, yesterday‘s night at VoxHall was truly worthy of attention of anyone appreciating quality progressive metal as well as interested in quickly rising and talented local acts. (4.5/6)