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Review of the Album "Viva Emptiness" by Katatonia

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

This empty jar symbolizes a part of this album's title.

This empty jar symbolizes a part of this album's title.

Introduction to Katatonia's 2003 Studio Album

Viva Emptiness is the 6th studio album by Swedish metal band Katatonia and it was released in 2003. The album’s title if you wanted to translate it literally is living emptiness or live emptiness. For this album Mattias Norrman the brother of Fredrik plays on this album and plays bass and slide guitar. Playing the drums is Daniel Liljekvist.

Viva Emptiness is a Very Full and Mature Heavy Rock Album

This album is a sort of heavy Gothic rock style and the mood of it is very somber though it is creative at the same time. However, the word empty does not even describe the music of this band at all. In fact, it is the contrary. Katatonia’s music has a fullness in it that fans can enjoy. Even if the subject matter in the album is of a morose nature, the songs will not make you feel that way. That can be considered a sort of delight or a relief. I look at it as a sort of delight that the songs will not make the average listener become gloomy or morose. The album’s cover depicts a young girl that is walking along the road and she has a very sad look in her face. You can tell by the expression of that girl on the cover if you take a good look at it. It is this album that shows that the band members more than likely were going through some hard times in their lives and by this point in the band’s career, there were early lineup changes which can have an effect on the band.

Lyrical Themes of Viva Emptiness

The lyrical themes of Viva Emptiness are based around topics such as lying, depression, crime, and social relationships. The band wants to bring up the fact that in this world in some instances there are people that will let you down and lie to you.


How Are the Songs Like?

There is a definite heavy rock kind of feel to the album as well such as in the song called “Criminals.” You can get the sense that Jonas Renkse is expressing his anger and frustration at people the way in which he sings in that song. The song “Wealth” lyrically is about the fact that as humans accumulate wealth, that wealth breeds a sort of emptiness in them. Is it really that obvious? The band may be bringing up the topic for thought out of frustration with some of life’s challenges. Wealth is actually a symbol of our freedom. It is that wealth that allows us to become flexible enough to take vacations without worrying how we will finance them for instance. Then we have the slower paced song “One Year From Now” which sees a different vocal side to Jonas as his vocals are clearer and more audible. Sometimes we wonder whether a year from where we are now, will we be able to deal with what we have become. By this point in their career Katatonia had become a band that had a mature sound to their songs as well as a lineup of members that lasted for a while.

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How Does This Album Compare to Katatonia's Other Releases?

Viva Emptiness is not the best release in Katatonia’s long history but it is a very musically mature kind of release in which the band expresses their frustrations in a healthy way. On the other hand, this album is not one of their worst albums either but how can we say which Katatonia album is their worst when all of them are pretty much going to be good? It is like everything these guys touch musically turns to gold. You could say that they provide a sort of Midas musical touch to these songs.

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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