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Review of the Album "Dance of December Souls" by Katatonia

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Basic Details and the Members That Play On the Album

Length: 53:26

Genre: death metal

Members playing on the album

Jonas Renkse: vocals, drums, and lyrics

Anders Nystrom: guitars and songwriting

Guillaume Le Huche: bass guitars

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The Musical Style of Katatonia's Debut Album

Dance of December Souls is the 1993 debut album by Swedish death metal band Katatonia, one of the longest active Swedish death metal bands on the scene. It was only natural that I was going to get into the discography of this band after being so familiar with their countrymen Opeth. The style of this debut album from these guys is very much like the musical style at that time. This means that it sounds very dark and somber but the drums are the most noticeable part of the album sounding like how drums should.

Even the Really Long Songs Are Manageable to Listen To

As we get into the latter stages of this album, the slow, heavy pace should remind listeners of Theatre of Tragedy without the old English lyrics. The epic 13 plus minute song “Velvet Thorns (Of Drynwhyl)” speeds up and then it feels like more of a doom/death combination song. The same thing continues in the next 13 plus minute song called “Tomb of Insomnia.” Usually these long kinds of songs can indeed be very difficult to sit through but not in this case, as the song changes tempo to include a more progressive touch.

A Classic Album in the Genre of Death Metal

Katatonia is one of those bands that we might as well include on a large list of death and doom metal bands that were part of this “golden age” of European death metal bands. Dance of December Souls their debut came out in 1993 one of the most memorable years for Scandinavian death metal as a whole. Katatonia basically got things started along with Dark Tranquillity and In Flames, two of the pioneering bands of the death metal genre. We will include Katatonia in that discussion as well because they have death metal combined with doom metal and progressive metal touches that creates an award-winning formula in this perspective. “Tomb of Insomnia” will not cause you to be an insomniac but it is one of those songs that is just oh so superb! Listening to Dance of December Souls makes me wonder why I didn’t listen to this album years earlier. But the saying that it is better late than never can apply here.

After the 45 second intro “Seven Dreaming Souls” then the second song “Gateways of Bereavement” is a good example of how the early Katatonia material was. Some of you will develop nostalgia for this material because what would come in 1998 and thereafter is nothing like what is on this debut. Listening to the vocal style and the guitar work this is definitely better than the music of Novembre. Sweden is a country that has perfected death metal and made it into an art form.

Final Thoughts About the Album Dance of December Souls

In spite of the somber and dark mood of this debut by Katatonia, you will not have to worry that it may depress you and send you into despair because this album will not do that to you at all. One example of the songs not depressing you is the song “Without God” which has a really beautiful acoustic mid-section as the riffing slowly resumes. “Elohim Meth” is a short instrumental song which was typical of that time period. It is classically influenced as I’m sure that you can tell.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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