Whatever your opinion on Katatonia
’s softer direction, you cannot possibly say that this change was expected. Brave Murder Day
showed the band moving away from their blackened doom roots into more melodic and melancholic territories whilst the Saw You Drown
release saw the band drop all semblance of extreme metal together in favor of a stripped down, atmospheric yet still incredibly gloomy alternative rock approach. Discouraged Ones
is the first full length from Katatonia
that shows their alternative direction in its fullest. Far
removed from the metallic hymns of Brave Murder Day
or the trudging lifeless dirges of Dance of December Souls
, Discouraged Ones
is one of the first steps into radio friendly territory, and yet whilst this lacks the raw atmospheric intensity of their two previous albums Discouraged Ones
is a highly emotional album and one that I strongly urge all readers to listen to.
Perhaps the best way to describe Discouraged Ones
is soft doom metal. The opening riff of Stalemate is suitably doomy and dreary and packs a lot of emotional impact. The essence of the doom genre has been a constant within Katatonia
’s sound and whilst the band has mellowed out in favor of a more depressive rock approach the atmosphere has remained consistent. The musicianship in itself is significantly doomy, with songs being slow-mid paced with hopeless vocals and languid, perhaps almost droning guitar lines. The melodies themselves are very simple, with Katatonia
creating only a small handful of melodies for each song. Jonas
Renkse presents a more refined and more mature vocal approach than that of Saw
Your Drown yet he still sounds suitably depressed and hopeless. His vocals carry an air of world weariness and hopelessness, his voice drones on with very little variation between tempo, pitch or intonation. His highly simplistic vocal approach works well, with the song Gone being a notable highlight where his vocals enter into a new territory altogether as he sounds completely tired and worn out of the toils of everyday life. Mixed in with the simplistic yet poignant lyrics and Discouraged Ones
becomes a lament for depression.
It does seem fair to say though that each song is quite similar to the one that came before and the one that follows. Each track has the same verse-chorus-verse format with notable exceptions being Gone which is far less rigid in terms of structure and the instrumental. Yet despite the relative similarity each song exemplifies, the songs never feel tiring. The atmosphere is really what sells this album, being suitably dreary and hopeless and conjuring images of a bleak and rainy urban landscape. The overall simplicity is by far the most important aspect of extrapolating the powerful atmosphere that this album delivers. Songs are suitably monotonous with very little variation between drum patterns, guitar work and vocals. It seems that this monotonous delivery allows Katatonia
to hammer the thick, depressing atmosphere into the listeners head. The atmosphere never lets up on this one, remaining a constant monochromatic darkness throughout. And
whilst such imagery may conjure disgust with certain readers, I find the monochromatic atmosphere to be highly beneficial to the overall composure of the music. The songs drone on and on until they weave themselves into your head until you find it impossible to remove these suicidal hymns from your psyche.
is a very bleak album, from the pure anguish of Gone to the melancholy undertones of Instrumental, Discouraged Ones
is an album that locks the listeners emotions in a vice grip and refuses to let go. From the hopeless, drawn out vocals, to the doomy, perhaps even lifeless guitar lines, Discouraged Ones
carries on with what Katatonia
are good at; creating sad, emotional music with a powerful atmosphere. Of course this lacks the metallic intensity of their early career yet I will argue that the softer and stripped down approach of Discouraged Ones
makes the music all the more effective. Impeccable in its beautiful simplicity, Discouraged Ones
remains as one of the purest representations of depression.