Tonight sees the third in the series of gigs that have become known as the ‘Summer of Slaughter’ at the Limelight complex.
To be honest, while I had been cognisant of the name Katatonia for around a decade, I had not been overly familiar with their music, which existed by and large on the periphery of my musical radar. In fact, I paid much more attention to the side project of two of the band members – the black metal supergroup Bloodbath.
All that changed a few months ago, when Belfast’s own ‘Mr Metal’, James Loveday, announced that he had attracted this seminal Swedish outfit to a local stage.
Katatonia, in fact, have been around for almost two decades, releasing eight albums in that period. The band was formed in Stockholm by childhood friends Anders Nystrom and Jonas Renske (who were born less than a month apart, trivia fans) in 1991, and released their acclaimed demo, ‘Jhva Elohim Meth’ (please don’t ask me to translate) around a year later. This led to a one-off deal with the legendary Swedish No Fashion label, which resulted in their debut album, ‘Dance of December Souls’, released – suitably enough – in December 1993.
Just as things looked like they were starting to take off for the pair (who recruited additional musicians on an ad hoc basis for recording and live purposes), they then embarked on a move which was to become somewhat of a distinguishing feature of their career – they took a break.
Finally, having recruited guitarist Fred Norman, the band returned to recording in early 1996, emerging back onto the scene with ‘Brave New Day’ later that year.
Over the next decade, and between various side projects (it’s a feature of the Swedish death metal scene that even the biggest acts have members who are in a number of different bands), the band released albums – and contributed to various compilation efforts - at fairly regular, by their standards anyway, intervals, inking a deal with Peaceville Records along the way (1999). All of this culminated in the album that well and truly catapulted them into the international limelight – 2006’s ‘The Great Cold Distance’. Following extensive touring the band then, yes you’ve guessed it, went into hibernation again (well, it’s cold in Sweden!).
They emerged again last year with the long-awaited and highly acclaimed ‘Night Is The New Day’ – described by non other than Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt as the “heaviest album of the year”: but, opinion is subjective and there are many who would argue that there were heavier albums released in 2009, but it’s still a damn fine slice of dark metal and bodes well for a great gig tonight.
See you all there.

Authors: Monk

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