Review by Saxy S for Katatonia - Brave Murder Day (1996)
One of the great things about Death Doom/Gothic Metal is how it incorporates atmosphere and texture into the music; not to overshadow the songwriting, but to compliment it. This is what allows for the stellar albums by artists such as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Swallow the Sun, etc. to resonate with such frequency for me. Meanwhile, the earliest Katatonia records that incorporated this sound may have some nice texture and the songs lure the listener into a trance, but nothing about the individual songs stand out. In fact, I find Brave Murder Day to be a monotonous album.
The album kicks off with a ten minute opener, "Brave" that sees the group embark on a ten minute dirge that is devoid of structure or form. The use of one riff unaltered and unedited throughout the duration is mind numbing. And while it sounds nice from a production point of view, there is no good reason for me to traverse further into the song. This songwriting technique persists into the next song "Murder" as well as "Rainroom" and for the life of me, I couldn't tell you the distinguishing features between these two tracks. These two songs are broken up by the slower and cleaner "Day", which is a good change of pace, but it follows in step with the others with its songwriting technique. It feels too much like Katatonia took composition lessons from Drone Metal.
"12" actually has a form to it and does not sound like it is just borrowing the same riff from the previous four tracks, making it a standout. The closer "Endtime" starts with promise, but eventually just modulates back into same tempo/riff/melody that I've already heard far too much of for a relatively brief forty minute album.
In the end, I liken Brave Murder Day to a modern day Harakari for the Sky album. These albums are loaded with texture and atmosphere and they sound beautiful, but the songwriting is so painfully lacking in any development or structure that my attempts to latch on to any melody or groove is gutted when the artist refuse to do anything with them. I found that, following this album and the band began ditching the Death Metal adjacent tones for more Alternative rock, while still maintaining their Doom/Gothic aura, it opened up many more opportunities for them as songwriters. I for one am glad, alongside Within Temptation, that they dropped this sound as quickly as they did.