Album Review: Sky Void of Stars – Katatonia

Band: Katatonia

Album: Sky Void of Stars

Label: Napalm Records

Release Date: January 20, 2023

Genre: Progressive/Gothic/Doom

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

“Here are musicians who truly speak from the soul to the soul—a dialogue seldom as intense, as emotionally challenging, and as visceral as the gloomy and irresistible preciousness that is Sky Void of Stars.”

Since the early 1990s, Katatonia has been an unstoppable, ever-evolving (mostly) doom and gloom organism. Fans have come to expect Katatonia to present their vision with absolute honesty and another attempt at improving a sound no one knew needed to be improved.

No one has ever asked me what I think, but since you’re here and still reading – I’ll tell you. Katatonia hasn’t ever released a bad record. It took them a few albums to find the sweet spot on the zig-zaggy gothic-death-doom crossroads they started traveling early on. Happy to take the scenic route on day drives between Paradise Lost and Swallow the Sun.

Katatonia‘s last two albums – The Fall of Hearts (2016), and City Burials (2020) – are lessons in impeccability. It probably isn’t much of a stretch for me to think most fans would agree. Before the end of 2022, we heard two singles from Sky Void of Stars. “Atrium,” and “Austerity,” and they’re both excellent tracks. In this case, though, I think they’re much more powerful as parts of the whole.

I understand singles, but when a band is clearly focused on making great albums, singles chop up the flow. So, if you have yet to hear Sky Void of Stars, do yourself a favor and listen to “Austerity” first. It’s track number one on an album full of excellence, so don’t rob yourself of the journey. When you get to “Drab Moon,” and “Impermanence,” you’ll understand more clearly how “Atrium” emboldens “No Beacon to Illuminate Our Fall.” Trust me on this.

What’s the rest of the album about? How do tracks two through eleven stack up? What are standouts? What do the lyrics mean? The answers are all up to you, and that’s what makes the whole experience so great. I’m aware this might sound like a cop-out – a way for me to avoid the complexities hidden in the cracks. But the truth is, if you follow the band, you don’t need me to tell you how another hour of Katatonia listening will make you feel.

Sky Void of Stars is a soul-crushingly beautiful record. The same can be said of their last album and the one before that. That’s how Katatonia rolls.

Rating: 4.5/5

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