Welcome to day 28 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016′ top 30 countdown and with it, we’re into the top 3 of the year. Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me over the past month, I hope you’ve found it as fun as I have to write.
As ever, if you are new to this blog, you’ll find links to my previous 27 choices at the bottom of this post along with links to the full series’ from previous years. I hope you enjoy them if you decide to take a look.
Now, I have a bit of a confession to make at this point in the proceedings. The final three choices of mine are so damn-near inseparable that in all reality, they should be a joint no.1. All three have seriously kicked my backside this year and deserve all the accolades that can be bestowed upon them. In my heart, they are as one and cannot be separated.
However, in the spirit of this countdown and to demonstrate that I am able to make a decision however impossible it might be, I have put these three albums into some semblance of an order, based on one simple thing: how they made me feel. They are all superb in their own right, all written and executed with care, passion and finesse.
With that firmly in mind, here’s the bronze medal winner…
The Fall Of Hearts
“…in short, it is almost impossible for me to not laud ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ as one of the very best releases in the band’s 25-year career. I have weighed it up thoroughly as I’ve lain on the sofa late at night, almost every night, soaking up the music on offer here within album number ten.
…it is a huge album. At nearly 70 minutes in length and spread over 12 tracks, you certainly get value for money and any concern that Katatonia may have been lacking inspiration or drive coming into this recording is immediately expunged. Come on, this is Katatonia after all and so, if anything, it’s exactly the opposite, as if the quintet has come out of the blocks with all guns blazing to prove that the recent instability has not impacted on the band in anything other than a positive manner.
I feel emotionally drained yet elated as it dawns on me that I have just spent an hour in the presence of greatness. Is it their best release ever? It’s too early to say for sure. However, it has had a huge impact on me, just like every release before it. As far as I’m concerned, music is all about the here and now though – how it makes you feel as you listen, how it makes you think and whether or not it gives you strength or a sense of comfort. Right now, ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ calls to me, it speaks to me on a myriad of different levels and I feel stronger and more enriched by it. And that’s more than enough for me right now.
Majestic and peerless, where there is darkness, Katatonia is your master, so allow your heart to fall to them.”
At the time of my review, I gave ‘The Fall of Hearts’ a perfect 10/10. I stand by this decision wholeheartedly. It deserves this score because of its genre, if such a thing even exists, it is at the very pinnacle, a superlative slab of melancholy dark rock/metal with a progressive sheen. And, if you’ll forgive a further quote from my review:
“Not only is their music of the highest calibre, it is also one of the strongest links between my late brother and I. You see, he had great music taste and it was he that got me to see the light about Katatonia many years ago. Subsequently, whenever I hear Jonas Renkse’s delectably emotive voice or that unmistakeable guitar tone of Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nystrom, my little brother’s face looms large in my mind every time, usually accompanied by a smile and the odd tear. For that alone, I owe Katatonia a debt of thanks.”
So not only is the music out of the very top drawer, there is a more personal connection between the music of Katatonia and I. It all comes together to create something immensely powerful but intangible and hugely difficult to express in words.
What makes ‘The Fall of Hearts’ so special, even above some of their own extraordinarily strong back catalogue, is that it is the sound of a band still growing, still experimenting and still learning even after so many years. They’ve never stood still but there’s an even greater feeling of exploration and soul-searching on this record.
And inevitably, it is a success. Listen to any of the songs on this record and you can feel the magic. And you can hear something incredibly vibrant and explosive yet poignant, fragile and bleak. What a combination; it is something that Katatonia have mastered and, I hope, will continue to master for many years to come.
In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:
Album of the Year 2016 – number 8
Album of the Year 2016 – number 9
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30