Friday, April 2, 2010

Katatonia - Live Consternation

This release is a good deal right from the start: the CD and DVD of the band's Summerbreeze performance are packaged together in what I'm told is all editions, whereas I know of many (also good) bands who would drag a little extra out of you by releasing both formats separately, or just releasing one and not the other. On a second pleasing but entirely non-musical note, that's some beautiful cover art. It matches The Great Cold Distance in tone, shade and style, yet it stands wonderfully on its own as an expression of the band's bleak, melacholy style.

The band themselves are in top form. Blakkheim's various screams and backing vocals seem to rip or soothe the very air around him - much stronger than on the studio releases. The production pays heed to the band much moreso than a fan-oriented atmosphere, which does take away -some- of the raw live feel, but it actually makes the instrumentation seem a lot more powerful than in the studio - just listen to that opening riff of Right Into The Bliss. Wonderful.

I can see where the qualms about the setlist come from: no material from no less than four records, but by this point I'm pretty sure the band was completely done playing their doom metal material - a shame for sure, but having all songs here being from their rock era helps the setlist to mesh and flow much more in the woefully short running time. Speaking of which, this show only runs under an hour - but I'm to understand this was an open-air festival, though it brings to mind why the band didn't just record a one-off date or something.

The visual quality on the DVD is crisp and clear - maybe not Rock In Rio quality, but very close, and the tasteful, appropriate cutting gives equal screen time to all band members. Some fun visual tricks are used, like superimposition of images of two band members - but they never go overboard with it, so this spices up the show and doesn't really detract anything.

I've started to become of the mindset that Katatonia has become, with their rock records, a darker, heavier and more modern equivalent of Pink Floyd in some regards, especially Jonas's subdued but emotive vocal performance which seems to channel David Gilmour through its tones. Well, this two-disc set is no Pulse, but my recommendation for all Katatonia fans is to 'meddle' on down to your local store and plunk down for this live album. It's worth the buy.

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