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Throwback Thursday: KATATONIA The Great Cold Distance

Posted by on August 24, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. So sit back, relax, and grab a hot tottie, because we're going on a journey in search of modern albums that have primed the canvas of today's metal music scene.

The contemporary albums in this series serve as tributaries that have, for better or worse, altered the course of the flowing blackness that is the metal steam of life. For this, the fifth edition of this series, we're talking about an album from a band who describes themselves as follows:

"Melancholy’s cry is never far from our ears, even in the happiest of times. But while there is no true answer to the meaning of our brief lives, music will always be a reliable and trustworthy companion through fear and uncertainty."

Keep reading if you want to understand the beauty of…

Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance

Release Date: March 13th, 2006

Record Label: Peaceville Records

In their seventh studio release, Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance takes an even further departure from their early black metal roots. Embracing the melodic and progressive elements brought about by their previous album Viva Emptiness, The Great Cold Distance hits a terrific stride in explicit story telling, bitterness, and controlled elegance. This albums shows a welcome technical progression while sounding unapologetically like Katatonia.

Branding Katatonia as 'moody' is inaccurate, because it doesn't explore the depths of sound Katatonia manage to find in The Great Cold Distance. Check out the first single and music video from the album "My Twin":

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Their lyrics are explicit, and almost piercingly personal. Many of the songs feel as though they've been written with someone or something specifically in mind. In that way, each song is a story; a furiously penned diary page brought to life. These compilations of bitter snapshots have helped Katatonia develop their signature sound. The clean vocals always take a half-step turn when you least expect it, giving the biting words a hypnotic, dangerous feel. The droning, doom guitars freshen up with softer, gentle interludes that sound like torrents of snowflakes twisting in a winter breeze. This album is far from uplifting, but there is a indulgence in The Great Cold Distance, and Katatonia in general, that I find crushingly freeing. What The Great Cold Distance does best for Katatonia at this point in their musical career is meld honesty with a refinement in both their musical expertise and lyrics.

No one can accuse Katatonia of being one-dimensional. The Great Cold Distance is a fantastic mix of quiet reflection and scathing mid-range guitar work that really marks the tone of this album. Here is another fitting example, and my favorite track of the album, "July":

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It has a transparency to it, not hiding behind extensive distortion to 'convince you how how serious this album really is'. Coupled with expressive drum work and composed riffs, The Great Cold Distance slows the listener down to great effect. Instead of rushing into blast beats and quick guitar work, we're taken steadily through each song like a long, contemplative drive. Here, you'll find no lapse of Katatonia's thumbprint of grinding sincerity.

Stockholm, Sweden has no shortage of metal exports. Katatonia formed in a golden age of metal, in approximately 1991. They've been through a few line-up changes since their black metal roots, at one point hosting Opeth front man Mikael Akerfeldt. I wouldn't call this Katatonia's best album, since the journey over their incredible ten full-length studio albums provides a new insight into their progression as a band and as people. Each album has its own appeal. This progression is reflected in fan favorite "Soil's Song":

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If you're anything like me, you ordered this vinyl drunk one night, willing to pay the over 60 dollar price tag for a limited edition red-pressing. If you're not like me and tend to hide your credit cards when drinking, you can reward yourself with a re-pressing of the album released this January. You can scoop up a much less expensive limited edition HERE.

In a 2016 article from record label Peaceville, Founding guitarist Anders Nyström is cited as saying,

"Looking back at our set lists from a historic perspective, it dawned on us that there’s been no other album from which we played more songs than ’The Great Cold Distance’, so in the light of its 10th anniversary this year, it’s with much pride and joy to announce the ultimate edition featuring all the scattered bits and pieces related to this album."

And it's true, The Great Cold Distance is over-all a fan favorite. I'm a huge Katatonia fan, and I love the poetry in the lyrics with this particular album. Perhaps it's the mix of poetry and exploration of progression which makes The Great Cold Distance such a remarkable album.

What's your favorite Katatonia album? Sound off below! As always, thanks for stopping by and I'll see you next week.

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