Sunday, February 1, 2009

Katatonia - For Funerals To Come (1995)

For Funerals to Come is the third release from Swedish Doom Metal band, Katatonia. This album is the last to feature the harsh vocals of Jonas Renkse. It is said that after this EP, and then October Tide's Rain Without End album, his throat was too damaged to continue with this style.

The album begins, abruptly, with the song "Funeral Wedding". The melancholy guitars and tortured vocals immediately reach into your chest, like an icy hand, to tear and claw at your heart. The melodies are down-tempo and somber, yet there are many changes throughout the course of the song. There are, somewhat, hopeful-sounding riffs that emerge from the bleak clouds if only to lull you into a false sense of optimism, before sending you crashing back into the jagged ice. After a sorrowful lead, there is a section of mostly bass that precedes even more tormented vocals. It might be more pleasing if there were less riff changes and if the mood was more consistent (as on Rain Without End) but these odd moments of uplifting riffs may be similar to when some ephemeral peace comes into one's life. The dark forces that feed on our suffering need more than that which we can give. We all get used to the misery, at some point or another. It becomes a part of us or we simply become empty, thus dulling the effect. These dismal shadows become displeased with this. They must provide some impetus that will allow us to begin to feel again, for the sole purpose of sending us crashing back down so that the misery and pain is fresh, once more. As this depressive opus nears its conclusion, the screams are beyond agonizing, as those of one who is torn from his comfortable grave and thrust back into the abysmal torment of eternity. His throat sounds absolutely shredded, as one who has gone into a suicidal frenzy and taken a razor to their neck.

"Shades of Emerald Fields" is less epic than the previous song. As it begins, it is really nothing so special. A couple minutes in, there is a nice tremolo riff that gets far too little time to grow. About midway through, the atmosphere of despair returns to strangle you. It gets very silent, with but a soft guitar and the appearance of bleak and dismal clean vocals, sounding like one who has almost no energy left to continue living.

"For Funerals To Come" features a very mournful guitar melody. This is, quite possibly, the darkest piece of the whole EP. The atmosphere is gloomy and hopeless. You are laying on the cold ground, weak and dying. A bloody blade is there next to you. Your flesh is mutilated beyond repair, and your crimson life has flowed freely. You then hear the nightmarish chanting...

"Through the bleak window of my soul
In marble halls of falling snow
Winter touch the Earth undone
Embittered, we embrace the funerals to come"

"Epistel" is a brief outro of screeching noises, perhaps to represent the sounds of your spirit being torn out of your body and transcending to a realm beyond, where what we know as pain is but a mere shadow and true suffering awaits all, for ever.