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Brave Murder Day - * * * * 1/2

If you like any of the following bands: Opeth, Amorphis, My Dying Bride, or Tool, then you should definitely do yourself a large favor and pick up a copy of this shit as soon as possible. These guys are playing psychedelic death metal, which probably sounds like a bad idea until you hear this band play. The vocals are mostly straight out death, courtesy of a guest appearance by Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth. The instrumentation however seems to be taking most of its inspiration from progressive metal and psychedelic bands, along the same lines of Amorphis' last couple of albums. Katatonia from what I understand is usually classified as doom metal, which I can definitely see in some of the minor chord arrangements during the heavier sections and in the overall bleak tone of the music. Akerfeldt is probably one of the only vocalists who could make death metal vocals convey enough emotion to match the music that Katatonia wrote here, and their use of him is an asset to everyone involved. There are a ton of effects on everything here and the guitar is more often than not drowned in reverb and echo. Straight up prog metal riffs are switched off with slow acoustic passages and psychedelic keyboard arrangements. The drummer really holds his own between all these switch ups, never once falling out of place and he shows a lot of talent for keeping this band moving during its slower parts. The band doesn't weigh itself down like Opeth because it keeps the songs relatively short and avoids putting too many different parts in the same songs. Whereas Opeth would write one 20 minute song with 6 different parts, Katatonia wrote 6 different songs with a few short parts each. There are also a good deal of clean vocals on some of these songs which adds a lot of depth to the music. Overall I can't really say anything bad about this album. There are times I get the feeling that it's bordering dangerously close to death metal emo, but the sheer talent of this band and their ability to keep the music fresh and original keeps them from losing focus of their overall direction. You should all be grateful that Scandinavian bands are busy writing music like this and exploring the possibilities of heavy music because records like this will save metal from its own worst intentions and keep moving the genre forward. That's the true meaning of progressive music.

* * * * 1/2

Reviewed: March, 2003

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