100% HEAVY / 100% Free / 0% Spam


Share This:

Words by Matt New
Photography by Angie New Photography

Katatonia has a habit of timing their visits to Sydney when the weather is gloomy and ominous. This serves as an appropriate backdrop to complement their melancholic sound, further enhancing the mystique surrounding this highly respected band. Over the past 30 years, the quintet from Stockholm, Sweden, has continuously evolved their sound, influencing countless others in the process. Notably, Katatonia has showcased remarkable musicians who have achieved incredible success in their own right, such as Mikael Äkerfelt (Opeth) and Per Erikkson (Bloodbath).

It has been quite some time since Katatonia last graced Australia, with their previous visit dating back to 2016 in support of the critically acclaimed album The Fall Of Hearts. I was fortunate enough to witness this unforgettable show at Sydney’s Manning Bar. This time around, they are performing a number of important Australian shows in support of their newest release, Sky Void of Stars, which was released back in 2023. It is an amazing album that, personally, I felt flew under the radar and exceeded many expectations. But this tour would not just be a showcase of songs from their latest release; it would also be an opportunity to treat their loyal fans with an anthology of hits.

The support acts for this show highlighted an extensive variety within the sub-genres of heavy metal music. The opening act, Evocatus, hailing from Newcastle, blurred the lines between groove, death, and thrash metal. They had an amazing stage presence and all the thematic hallmarks of a Viking/pagan gimmick akin to bands like Amon Amarth. Their performance was intense and powerfully technical, with many big riffs and drum fills that immediately got heads banging.

I was impressed with the band’s professionalism on stage; however, they did have a few moments where they seemed to lack a bit of stamina to match the intensity of their music. A very small flaw indeed that did not really detract from a top-notch performance. For the most part, Evocatus did not feel like a band from Newcastle, but more like a band you would see on the festival tours of Europe. They even got the circle pit to participate in a group row, which I know seems very clichéd, but evoked so much fun and happiness. Their very short 30-minute set flew past and was not nearly long enough to truly understand and enjoy this fine band.

An increasing trend over the past few years is the lack of local talent getting the call to support touring international bands, with that privilege generally falling to a band outside of Sydney. A disappointing reality that really highlights the struggles of recent times, but fear not, Sydney’s Flaming Wrekage would be that band to proudly fly the flag for our fine city in support of the mighty Katatonia. The Sydney-based melodic death metal quartet was electric from the very first note. I absolutely loved the fusion of old-school thrash metal riffs, doom-laden breakdowns, and the melodic scream vocals that instantly drew a comparison to Gojira.

They exemplified the highest levels of musical ability, as every guitar solo and blast beat was meticulously precise. Performing their latest single, Witchhunt, their home audience was completely transfixed and lost within every note of this new song. I have seen this band listed on posters many times around town, but this would be my first experience of Flaming Wrekage, and I was extremely impressed.

Katatonia may not be the most energetic live band in the world, but what they lack in physical intensity, they make up for with absolute musical perfection and conviction to their sound. Their songs always evoke feelings of melancholy and introspection, and seeing them performed live only amplifies these emotions. From the opening notes, the audience was captivated, and the band effortlessly transported us into their world of dark beauty.

Well documented on this tour was the absence of founding member Anders Nyström due to personal family-related reasons. Many people speculate he has chosen not to tour due to the lack of connection to the new album, which is an absolute load of crap if you ask me.

This being said, the overall feel and sound of the band evidently felt hollow on many occasions. As incredibly talented as the musicians in Katatonia are, the backing tracks were not enough to cover the loss. A set that included some absolute bangers such as Dead Letters, Forsaker, My Twin, and July, the fans were also treated to several new songs from Sky Void of Stars that seamlessly fit into the set nicely. The set list also included ballads such as Decima and The Racing Heart for a heart-warming sense of contrast.

Frontman Jonas Renske showed his awkwardly sarcastic sense of humour by commenting on how warm it was in Sydney. A mere cool 20 degrees, which he deemed to be a Swedish Summer. His introverted persona drew you in with every sombre melody he sang, the defining characteristic of this band. I was completely transfixed for the better part of this set by drummer Daniel Moilanen, who was an absolute beast on the kit. His fusion-inspired complexity added a vast dimension to the heavy sound that Katatonia possesses. In addition, lead guitarist Roger Öjersson showed he is a world-class guitarist deserving of the highest acclaim, as his guitar tone cut through the Metro like a hot knife through butter.

Overall, the night was a celebration of the diverse and powerful sounds within the heavy metal genre. Each band brought their own unique style and energy to the stage, creating an unforgettable experience for all in attendance. Katatonia, Evocatus, and Flaming Wrekage all delivered exceptional performances, leaving the audience hungry for more. It was a night that showcased the talent and passion within the heavy metal community and served as a reminder of the enduring power of live music.

Discover more like this on HEAVY:

Our Picks.

Get the HEAVY

Get the HEAVY Digi-Mag in-boxed weekly. 100% HEAVY / 0%SPAM.