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Katatonia: Sanctitude

Reveries from Sweden’s melancholy kings

While Katatonia’s stripped-down performance at London’s Union Chapel in the spring of 2014 was ostensibly in support of the band’s Dethroned & Uncrowned album, the Swedes plainly saw the show as an opportunity to revisit mothballed sections of their catalogue, reimagining some overlooked songs in a more sonically spacious and intimate manner.

Few bands in the metal world are as well-suited to such a conceit, of course. Given Katatonia’s undisputed stewardship of the midpoint between heaviness and fragility, Sanctitude’s elegant intensity and devastating dynamics amount to a gentle celebration of the progressive mindset that has long set the band apart from their supposed peers.

Despite claiming to be nervous, frontman Jonas Renkse is an endearing master of ceremonies and his voice provides an enduring focal point throughout. Recent songs like The Racing Heart and Undo You were always going to work brilliantly in this setting, but it’s the more obscure likes of Gone and One Year From Now that deliver the greatest spinetingling revelations.

Ignore the rather sullen and lightweight bonus interviews and stick with the main event; it’s a beautiful thing and a testament to the power of one of our most consistently brilliant bands./o:p

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.