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Katatonia – ‘Mnemosyne’

Peaceville Records
Evergrey, The Man Eating Tree, Opeth
Release Date
October 1, 2021
Peaceville Records
Gothic/Progressive Metal/Rock

How does one express sadness for another to comprehend? How can you paint grief with words upon a tongue? For can you show the warmth of the sun with mere words, can you let another feel the cold of the rain against the skin with a fragment of a picture? It is but difficult to bottle the magic or sometimes the curse of a raw unbridled emotion for even a loved one to feel…to understand. As absurd as it may sound to the reader, Katatonia has always been a band which has come close to translating that which drowns the shores of joy into melodies where each note reverberate and echoes the very despair that racks a soul.

‘Mnemosyne’, while not a full length album can be viewed as a celebration of all that has come before, even though it is a compilation album, it carries with it a culmination of B-Sides and rarities condensed into one cohesive package.

Like a spirit that looms over the past, revisiting all that once beckoned joy, and those moments where light had forsaken the sacred inner halls, Katatonia manages to capture these delicate snapshots by travelling through albums such as ‘The Fall of Hearts’, ‘Dead End Kings’, ‘Last Fair Deal Gone Down’, where a different light is illuminated upon these work of arts, angles and details that were never seen before, and like viewing a portrait from different eyes, the soul drinks the finer details…cherishing these miniscule moments.

‘Vakern’ and ‘Sistere’ are bonus tracks from ‘The Fall of Hearts’ album, and what is appreciated is that these songs feel not lackluster or the dregs of a creation, quite the contrary, for in terms of quality, it feels like the missing pieces of a puzzle that was unknown. As these tracks (as well as the others) interweave into the same fabric of the atmosphere in which they belong to but at the same time, adding a different shade of grey to solemn skies. ‘Act of Darkening’, a bonus track from the album, ‘Dead End Kings’ is another gem that gleams in all its radiant beauty, for it is one that relies on Jonas’ melancholic vox coupled with the acoustic elements casting a serein glow, like a silver light that shines upon a lake…rippling calmly like liquid quicksilver.

This is another highpoint of the compilation, for every track, while sculpted to perfection can also stand on its own and be admired for its scintillating features. A single rose that blooms alone on a vast field, can bring forth radiance with its singular being, but the same rose amongst the other flowers can exude a magnified essence, so too does the tracks compare alone as well as together.

Katatonia throughout their tenor have mastered the art of drawing different colors from sorrow, for they never paint the same brush strokes nor do they keep shading that which has already been filled. This variation is also showed on the compilation, especially where the bonus tracks for certain EP’s are concerned. ‘Sulphur’ and ‘March 4’ both taken from the ‘Teargas’ EP transports the listener to that era where Katatonia harnessed both the calm of the ocean as well as the same winds that stirs great waves, for both tracks are testament to that time period where Jonas’ clean vocals accentuated the gritty yet space-like aura of the band but at the same time expressed the underlying frustration behind solemn notes. ‘Quiet World’, taken from the ‘Saw You Drown’ EP, interlocks with the same links fostered by the compilation, for it represents another depth of the band, another facet in displaying how these dismal elements can be unveiled.

While not necessarily a negative, the only aspect which hinders, ‘Mnemosyne’ are the remixes such as ‘Hypnone’ and ‘Soil’s Song’, in my opinion, these were already masterpieces in their own rights, and such works need not any reinterpretation. Here, I feel as though the remixes rob the pure essence of the original track and absconds it with a new skin not akin to the former. But again, these are merely nitpicks, for it is like a hair-like splinter within the palm, barely recognizable only when scrutinized to the finest detail.

Usually I am not the one to recommend compilation albums, for why would advise to another to purchase ‘Best of The Beast’ when they can have ‘Number of The Beast’. For it is like gazing upon a starry night’s sky and focusing only on one star, missing all the wondrous creation before your very eyes. But…where ‘Mnemosyne’ is concerned, I won’t really consider this your typical compilation, as these tracks could only be gleaned from buying a different edition of a standard album or the EP, as such these standalone tracks which acts as a continuation, in their own unison strangely form an album that can be compared to the connective tissue that exist amongst Katatonia’s discography.

That being said, would I recommend this to a newcomer who may be new to these waters? Yes I would, for everything that is special about the band has been injected into ‘Mnemosyne’, for it exudes a spirit like that of the seasons upon a tree, for even though the leaves may wither and fall, that which has shed its old skin will be in bloom once more, and to me, this is where the release captures that cycle superbly.

"Katatonia reveals the treasures of melancholia within this compilation album".

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