Words by Matt Gabites
Back in the year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty eight, whenever a band released an album of rarities and b-sides, it had only one audience, die hard fans. Reason being that a C.D cost 30 bucks, and only completionists were willing to blow their hard-earned cash on it.
Now, in the age of streaming, we have the luxury of exploring these curios without worrying if we’ll still be able to afford to feed the cat.
So now with that peace of mind we can delve into Mnemosynean, twenty-seven songs of rarities and b-sides by Sweden’s Katatonia.
Beginning life in the early nineties, Katatonia were a far heavier band than the one that is showcased here. Morphing from borderline death metal into heavier doom before discovering the calmer waters of prog tinged, atmospheric metal. And this is where Mnemosynean directs its focus.
An abundance of slower to mid-tempo songs that capture an atmosphere of beautiful sadness. From Night Comes Down that would sit comfortably on any latter-day Opeth albums to Dissolving Bonds, a song Paradise Lost would have loved to have written for Draconian Times.
From here, the majority of this double album’s tracks resides amongst acoustic, atmospheric tracks that deliver an aching melancholy. And even when the band do show a different side to themselves, like the more uptempo Wide Awake in Quietus and Displaced, that mood of melancholy prevails. But after all, this is music for a wake, not a bucks night.
This is not an indulgent release by a band trying to remain relevant, or struggling for new material. No, this is a celebration of not just survival but success over a thirty year (and counting) career.
And perhaps the best endorsement I can give Katatonia and this raft of rarities is…just about any other band inhabiting their musical realm would be labelling Mnemosynean as a Best Of.