Katatonia’s “Dance Of December Souls” Still Solemn After All These Years (12/14/93-12/14/13)

If Lord Seth only knew what he was setting in motion when he began penning the words for “Dance Of December Souls” so very long ago.

So this might shock some of the younger Metal fans out there but today is the 20th Anniversary of the debut album by Katatonia; a crushing, Doom-laden piece of Atmospheric Melancholy that snares you upon your first listen. The band was only three members in the proper lineup at this time with Blackheim (Anders Nystrom) on electric/acoustic guitars, Lord Seth (Jonas Renkse) on drums, percussion and voices, and Israphel Wing (Guillaume Le Huche) on bass. The keyboards were delivered by a session musician Day DiSyraah. Now I will admit that I would not find myself exposed to this band for a very long time and several albums later and I guess one of the primary reasons was based on 1993 being a very different geography for music (especially Metal) here in the United States. Our local region record stores (yes there were still plenty of those at the time) we stocked in full with the Grunge movement stuff and the debut by Radiohead but this kind of Metal was not going to be too easy to chance upon. Remember also that the World Wide Web was still only building as far as the public was concerned so your chance of discovering this kind of music as an early adopter was on the limited side. You would be most successful if you had friends from the country where the band came from who were letting you know about it or by digging deep into a European Metal magazine like Kerrang!!!

As you listen to the album in today’s world you can pretty much tell immediately how much influence for a couple of different genres grew out from it. While Katatonia has always been heavy on the Melancholy in their output, this debut has elements of Atmospheric Black Metal and even Doomish Death Metal at some turns. It’s brooding, solemn but also so very, very heavy and bleak. All in all a very satisfying listen for sure. The tracks are listed below and while all lyrics were penned by Jonas Renske, the music composition was via Anders Nystrom.

Track Listing:
1. Seven Dreaming Souls (Intro)
2. Gateways of Bereavement
3. In Silence Enshrined
4. Without God
5. Elohim Meth
6. Velvet Thorns (of Drynwhyl)
7. Tomb of Insomnia
8. Dancing December

Where you following this crushing band from the beginning? I wonder how this release first hit you when you picked it up and what were your favored or most played tracks. I’ll leave the comments open for all to offer up their thoughts on the band when they first snagged this debut.

Official Wiki Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_of_December_Souls

Fans of the band who might not have this release can order a copy for themselves via the handy Amazon.com link below. The band still tours extensively and are a worthwhile concert experience.

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