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Katatonia: Brave murder day

13/08/10  ||  Butt-Beard

Introduction

I’ve heard people refer to this album as the start of a genre called metalgaze. Now if that isn’t the worst term for a genre ever then what is? This is pure fucking doom. Atmospheric, morose, gloomy, and a whole bunch of other doom associated adjectives. Katatonia hit an early peak here, discovering a unique sound that would not be imitated by many (Rapture is the only one I can think of).

Some fans were extremely disappointed after Katatonia decided to explore more alternative yet equally dark areas after releasing the “Sounds of Decay” EP (which was basically the counterpart of “Brave Murder Day”). Personally I believe that after creating a masterpiece like this, there was nothing left for them to achieve in this genre, so they decided to pursue more depressing music with all clean vocals, distinguishing themselves from hundreds of other bands that stagnated and released disappointing albums. It would be best to think of Katatonia in two phases: their earlier doom-death period with albums like “Dance of December Souls” and “Brave Murder Day” as well as several EP’s, and their more recent stuff which is more rock based.

“Brave Murder Day” is by far my favourite Katatonia release, and I’m certain I’m not alone in that.

Songwriting

10. The music has a tendency to put the listener in a trance like state. Using simple yet effective lead guitar melodies, and harsh misanthropic vocals as the central instruments, “Brave Murder Day” gets its hallmark sound because of its use major and minor chord contrast. Or in layman’s terms, sad leads happy rhythm guitar. The drumming, bass, rhythm guitar and other effects provide groundwork for everything else, creating a wall of sound reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine.

I’m pretty sure I’m not mistaken when I calculate the amount of riffs per song ranging from two to five. A band like Necrophagist could never utilize a song with two riffs properly, but Katatonia churn out five of them (“Day” just has a showering of clean guitars) that paint a picture of death in your head. They string them out quite well, and yes they go on and on but somehow I don’t really get tired of them. The first track may be ten minutes, but it’ll feel short since the same pattern is repeated and the riffs begin to blend in sequence. The sound isn’t evil, but remorseful, mournful, and of a forlorn guilt that will go unresolved since such is now in the time of death.

You see that dead bird? There? On the cover? The one that’s NOT drenched in purple monochrome because I like the digipack cover better? Let that sum up the album for you: dead, dreary, decayed, reflective, and melancholic.

Production

8. Thin as the razor you’d use to slit your wrists after listening to too much of this (not that I ever get enough), but…used musically. A testament to Katatonia’s song writing. A good production fits the music and this definitely does. Apparently this album was written completely in the studio, perhaps causing the minimalistic characteristics more out of necessity than intention. The sound seeps in through the speakers like a ghost. Not as great a production on “A Blaze In The Northern Sky” but absolutely fitting Katatonia’s songs.

Guitars

9. The cold fact is that the guitars don’t need to go beyond their simplicity, since this method works. The result of Blackheim and Norrman’s doomy minor over major playing style has brought into the fold an atmosphere worth keeping and a state of mind worth (re)visiting. Hearing “Brave,” “Rainroom,” and the intro to “12” are experiences rather than riffs. Fantastic stuff.

Vocals

8,5. Åkerfeldt was one of the best decision they made regarding this album; before you go on about how much he sucks, realize that the music is as far from Opeth as you can imagine. He merely handles growling duties, sounding tortured, mutilated, gutted, and very complementary towards the general tone of the album. Renkse provides the clean vocals, which are rather strange compared to his later performances. He handles it rather subtly though, since they only appear on “Day” in their entirety and in rare occasions elsewhere. It’s suitable for the music on display, but the album could have been characterized perfectly without them as well. He’d focus them much more on subsequent albums, but compared to the growls they only play a minor role in the outlook of things this album wishes to resurrect.

Bass

5. Anyone who listens to a song from “Brave Murder Day” and says “Yo, I really dig that bass line” is a liar.

Drums

7,5. I’m particularly fond of the double bass, which sounds beefy and addictive, very organic. However, the cymbals and toms on the original sound vastly inferior, since they’re very thin, metallic, and hollow sounding. I can’t say that much about the remastered version.

Lyrics

8. Morose, deathly, gloomy. Think of some more adjectives that are doomy, these lyrics fucken work.

Cover art

9,5. Perfect fucken cover. Fits the music and the atmosphere.

Logo

8,5. Back when Katatonia had a logo… it was badass.

Booklet

N/A I left it somewhere

Overall and ending rant

As much as I suck as conclusions, let’s just end it with me telling you to check this album out. You don’t have to buy it, but at least give it a listen… and then buy it. There aren’t plenty of bands that play this style of doom, “Brave Murder Day” is a unique album.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Avantgarde Music
  • Website: www.katatonia.com
  • Band
  • Jonas Renske: clean vocals, drums
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt: harsh vocals
  • Blackheim: guitars, bass
  • Fredrik Norrman: bass
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Brave
  • 02. Murder
  • 03. Day
  • 04. Rainroom
  • 05. 12
  • 06. Endtime