Katatonia Dethroned and Uncrowned Review

How do you top a great album like 2012’s Dead End Kings? You don’t, you strip it bare and make it even better. Katatonia is spoiling us.

You may remember that I really enjoyed Katatonia’s Dead End Kings – though I readily admit I still prefer Night Is The New Day of their most recent works. So I was delighted to hear that Katatonia were re-releasing the record in a different form.

Dethroned and Uncrowned strips back Dead End Kings – removing the drums and the heavy guitars – leaving a largely acoustic and keys work that is even more melancholy and ethereal than the original. Some electric guitars do remain – for the occasional lead – and the album is by no means the clich├ęd “unplugged” version.

Instead Katatonia have explored the emotional and darker aspects of the music and while obviously this isn’t a heavier record than Dead End Kings it is much more sombre. The result is a resounding success. In almost every case I prefer the Dethroned version of each song to the one presented last year. Jonas’ duet with The Gathering’s Silje Wergeland on The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here is even more haunting.

If I was going to nitpick I’d say it is a shame that the vocals were not re-recorded. In many cases it sounds like the Dead End Kings vocal lines remain and this does mean that sometimes the emotional emphasis isn’t in keeping with the gentler music on offer.

That aside Dethroned and Uncrowned is a fabulous moody, haunting and progressive take on a great heavy metal record. Highly recommended. And of course it’s the second great record of the year to feature the vocal talents of Jonas Renkse.

Katatonia’s Dethroned and Uncrowned is released by KScope on September 9th 2013.