Katatonia's Night is the New Day: Track-by-track with frontman Jonas Renkse

(Image credit: Ester Segarra)

With their roots planted in death-doom, Swedish metallers Katatonia have grown into one of the most interesting and diverse metal bands in the world right now, incorporating progressive rock, heavy metal and even gothic elements into their forever developing sound.

One album in particular that encapsulates the band's multifaceted identity is Night is the New Day. Released in 2009 via Peaceville, the record expanded upon the more progressive elements of their sound and followed up what could be considered their break-through album, The Great Cold Distance.

"We didn't want to repeat ourselves" explains vocalist and founding member Jonas Renkse. "So we made Night is the New Day a bit more mellow than The Great Cold Distance.

"I think sound-wise it has a lot of layers on it, maybe a bit too much, but at the time we thought that was the way to go. It was also the album that we toured for the most to this day, actually. Just relentless touring.

""So now when I look back on it, I have very fond memories of the whole cycle, the whole album cycle, basically, because I haven't listened to it since we rehearsed songs for it the last time we toured for it."

(Image credit: Ester Segarra)

The band recently toured the album once again, playing six shows across Europe in celebration of Night is the New Day's ten year anniversary and have re-released the record as a deluxe edition, with new cover art from long-time collaborator Travis Smith.

"I had to listen through the whole album because there are a few songs we had never played live before this tour," Jonas adds. "And when I listened to it I thought it was much better than I thought it would be [laughs] so all in all it's an album that I am very proud of."

We caught up with Jonas on the last date of Night Comes Down Over Europe: 10th Anniversary Night is the New Day Tour 2019 in London to learn more about each track from their incredible record.

1. Forsaker

"I think it's the song that we wanted to be, it was kind of written to be the opener for the album and we wanted it to be sort of attached to the previous album with this more, a little bit more jaggy riffing. 

"So we wanted the album to start with that kind of mood because we knew we have a lot of very mellow songs. It's still one of the songs that we always play live, in our original live set. It has to be there, people like it a lot. It's still fun to play, so it's become a little evergreen in our catalogue."

2. The Longest Year

"We did a video for it and it had potential to be a little bit of a 'hit song' in our kind of world. I think it is, but we used to play it a lot live and then we stopped playing it. 

"I mean, every time you release a new album you have to take in a bunch of other songs every time, so sometimes some songs that you really enjoy playing and that people seem to like you can forget about them because there's always new songs to try.

"But this one was made in a sense uptempo, a bit like a hit song, i don't mean a hit like on national radio but [laughs] for us it would be a hit song but it somehow got a bit forgotten afterwards. But I really like it, it's very.. it's not too complicated, it's very straightforward.

"I was a bit confused when we first started rehearsing this tour. When we had to rehearse this song I remember feeling really well playing it, it has everything in it. But somehow we just stopped playing it. I am sure it will be back in the set after this."

3. Idle Blood

"It's kind of a folkish ballad that Anders wrote, the guitar player. It reminds me of Opeth quite a bit, it's in there – at least what they were doing at the time. 

"So it got a lot of shit for that, people saying Oh you're trying to sound like Opeth now. But we always shared a lot of mutual influences with them and we're good friends so it's not like we're trying to copy Opeth.

"But it's a song that was fun to sing, a little bit difficult for me because Anders [Nyström, guitarist] wrote not just the music but also the lyrics and the vocal lines. 

"When he does that it differs a little bit from my sort of preferred notes and it's always a little bit of a challenge. Which made it more fun to record but also a little bit more demanding. 

"And also live, it's not my natural flow of things, but it makes it more interesting, I think."

4. Onward into Battle

"One of my favourite songs on the album actually. I wanted this song, because it's pretty depressing [laughs] it's kind of dark and the lyrics are as well and then I wanted the title to be quite the opposite – but also reflecting on, if you have depression or something but you still now you have to go through this, it's like 'onward into battle' everyday until it sort of lights up. 

"So the title is kind of fun because it sounds like a Manowar song and I wanted that to, but at the same time reflect what you can be going through i you have some kind of low point in your life. 

"I think it's a beautiful song. It also has the most recorded tracks for any other song ever, I think there are like 130 tracks in the session, so it was tough to mix [laughs] everything has to find its place – took a long time. But the outcome is good so..."

5. Liberation

"It's a heavier song again. We didn't have so many heavy songs for this album so we wanted to put them in the track listing where they would fit, you know, people may get bored of the mellow stuff and then... It's also one of my favourite songs, it's very nice to play live. 

"Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be an instant hit with the audience so we rarely play it live. But maybe after this tour it can come back because it's kind of easy to play, it sounds good. 

"It's just very rewarding the sound of it because it's so heavy and it's you know.  me I felt that people would be more into it but they weren't.

"I've done songs where I've thought this is going to be the perfect Katatonia song and then it just flies under the radar, which is fine... it's all about what people have in their personal taste. If they don't like a song, that's fine!"

6. The Promise of Deceit

"It's a strange song. We only played it once before this tour, so we had barely touched it and I don't its a favourite song for people. But on this tour we've seen a lot of bobbing heads out there, which is fun. 

"It's also kind of a strange song, structure-wise and it has some chubby parts but it's also kind of folkish and the chorus is a bit weird. 

"I remember when I wrote it I was really happy with it and now when I revisit the whole thing, I think it's still a cool song."

7. Nephilim

"That one we have played live quite a lot because it's very doomy and very heavy, for us at least and it always seems to go down well with the audience. 

"I remember when we wrote it, because back in the day, like 10 years before this album was released, we were much more of a doom metal kind of band and so we said, 'well, why shouldn't we go back and see if we can bring something of that back?' but also incorporate the way we sound now and that is the result of that.

"Also, lyrically it is different from the rest of the album because when I think about doom metal the real kind of stuff that I grew up with it always had like biblical themes and a bit more serious than just everyday life shit, you know? 

"So I wanted to write something like that and also one of my favourite bands of all time is Fields of Nephilim, so I thought I can get in this little tribute thing here [laughs]"

8. New Night

"It was the first song that I wrote for the album so it kind of, to me at least, led the way on what kind of sound it was going to be for the rest. It's a mix between classic mellow Katatonia with some more guitar flavoured parts. 

"We rarely play it live. It's kind of difficult to play, it's not a difficult song but it's just something in there that you don't always grasp, to me at least. 

"But I really like it, I think the lyrics on that one are one of my favourite lyrics that I've written because they are very much describing what I felt at the time. When I look at them now it's like 'Oh that's so spot on what I was about at the time'. 

"I didn't know it when I wrote them really, I was just trying to describe some vague thing but when I see it now it's like, 'Oh fuck', it's maybe too personal. I mean it's kind of abstract as well so people wouldn't... it doesn't feel like that. But it's a beautiful song I think.

"It was influenced by the name of the album. The title of the album I already came up with before, but then I thought this should be like a mini version of the title."

9. Inheritance

"That's a strange song. That one, I think the one that we'd never played live before a week ago. So it always stuck out as being like, 'that's not a live song'. We said that we'd probably never play it and we're fine, you know, it's an album track. 

"It's very very atmospheric, it's just full of layers. But now, when we had to rehearse it because we were doing this tour, in the beginning everybody was like 'how can we ever get this song into something that people can enjoy at the gig?'"

I mean I can understand people enjoying it listening in headphones and stuff, but at the gig it's like [sighs] this is going to be tough but at some point it just clicked for everyone and I think now the version sounds good and it's actually fun to do it. But I'd never ever thought when I wrote it that we were going to play it live."

10. Day and Then the Shade

"We did I think two videos, so for The Longest Year and for this one. It's also a song that we play a lot live. It's a bit uptempo, it's very happening, it's fun to play. I believe it's fun to listen to it. 

"So, we felt when we recorded the album this has to be a video song as well. It's really, I believe it's easy to get into – feel the groove. It's not too depressive, it's a little bit more – I wouldn't say happy – but it has a bit more of a positive something [laughs]"

11. Departer

"It's a wonderful song because, I think the song itself is real good, but for me it's very important because it has guest vocals by Krister Linder, a Swedish singer that I have admired since the late 80s basically. 

"He used to be in some really big bands in Sweden, not metal bands, but he was on the radio and stuff. And then he stopped singing for many years, he did something else – I think he was DJ'ing and stuff. 

"I wrote him an email in 2006 I think, just to express my gratitude for all the music that he'd done, because I found him, he was on MySpace at the time. I'd never written like fan letters before but I felt 'what the hell!' I told him about my band, you know, I'm influenced. 

"Then he said, 'Oh send me your album, I want to hear it' and he fell in love with the album. So he called me and said, 'If you do another album soon I want to do a duet thing with you' I was like 'Ooof!' 

"It's the biggest thing that ever could happen to me and it turned out so good. So I am very very happy with this finale on the album, it couldn't be better. 

"And it's also a very mellow track but with the energy between my vocals in the beginning and then when he's taken over, it just grows all the way to the end. It's beautiful. So very happy with that! [laughs]"

The limited edition deluxe version of Night is the New Day is out now and features the album in CD format, b-sides, remixes and live recordings, a DVD featuring a hi-resolution stereo remaster, 5.1 mixes and promos, a 10-inch Longest Day EP in red vinyl and a 48-page hardback book.