Katatonia Viva Emptiness

With a dark and brooding beauty, Katatonia’s Viva Emptiness works its way under your skin and into your blood till you need it like a drug. Heavier and quieter all at once than Last Fair Deal Gone Down, this latest masterpiece has so much going on — a little art rock exploration, a little goth and doom atmosphere, a bit of groove. It’s more brutal alt-rock than metal, but defining Katatonia becomes more difficult with every release. Viva Emptiness offers down-tuned aggression in "Ghost of the Sun,” with its hint of Eastern melody and background screams. The band’s dreamier, more Cure-influenced side surfaces with a hint of folk in "A Premonition,” while "Omerta” rolls along like a minstrel’s ballad, almost passing for a traditional folk song. "Sleeper” reveals a familiar jangly guitar sound, and songs like "One Year From Now” and the lethally catchy "Criminals,” swirl the intensity together in threads of loud and soft. And not to forget, there’s my personal favourite, "Evidence.” Put aside all distractions and let Katatonia wind a filmy grey web between you and reality for a while. (Peaceville)